Fundamentalism Will Never Bring Peace
By C. Truett Baker,
The core belief of Fundamentalism is the conviction that we are right and everyone else is wrong. Because of this compulsion about truth, it becomes essential that everyone else share the same beliefs. It has been this religious conviction that has brought about the greatest bloodshed in human history. This is at the heart of the Catholic-Protestant war in Ireland and the Jewish-Arab wars in the Middle East. Perhaps the ugliest expression in recent years of this mentality is the Nazi Aryan Supremacy movement which resulted in the death of millions of Jews. Even today, it seems inconceivable that the nation that produced scores of theologians, musicians, artists, and scientist, could produce such an evil movement and evil man. And the underpinnings of these atrocities were religiously based! This is Fundamentalism at its worst.
Closer to home, this egocentricity, both in the political and religious venues, is tearing churches and nations apart as it has done for centuries. There will be no peace in our hearts or in the world until we have the grace to accept differences in others. It should be humbling to realize that we are American, Iraqi, Egyptian, African, Chinese, Christian, Muslim, Jew, by the accident of birth.
Fundamentalism is insidious in that, like alcoholism, it is wrapped in denial. Those who rigidly hold to their belief and want to impose them upon others, feel gratified that they are "uncompromising" and "true to the faith." This rigidity of belief more often than not leads to irrationalism and inconsistency. People captured in this mental prison pick and choose their beliefs and then search high and low (and in the Bible) for justification to support their beliefs regardless of logic or consistency. For example, take the "Right To Life" movement. Think of the logic of killing abortion doctors in the name of the "Right To Life." If the issue in abortion is the right to life, what about the right to life of women and children we burned alive in Vietnam and Korea. Or for that matter, what about the right to life of our enemies or convicted criminals. Strangely enough, many who feel so strongly about protecting the lives of fetuses are perfectly willing to kill our enemies and execute criminals. This is an example of how rigid beliefs force inconsistencies.
I knew a Baptist minister who canvassed several members of his church one Sunday morning when he discovered the supply of unleavened bread was gone. When someone suggested they use regular bread, he declined on the basis that it had to be unleavened in order for the Lord's Supper to be authentic. However, he had no problem using grape juice for every Lord's Supper. When questioned about this, his indignant reply was that "my Lord would never put alcohol to his lips." (The limits of credibility were sorely stretched in a later discussion on the subject with this minister about Jesus' turning water into wine and the parable about putting new wine into old wineskins).
Fundamentalism is dangerous because it will stop at nothing to get its way. How much difference is there in the Muslim who martyrs himself and kills others for Allah and the abortion protester who blows up a clinic killing medical and other people inside. Think about the logic in the term, "fighting for peace!"
In a world of warmongering, rebellion, and bloodshed, Jesus taught peace and asked that His church continue that mission. Instead, the Church today has lost its moral leadership in peace making because of its own divisions, rigid dogmas, and territorialism. Our creeds and covenants are exclusive and designed to foster an artificial unity. Pluralism and inclusiveness are ridiculed while inerrancy and baseless convictions are embraced in the name of orthodoxy and truth.
Christians, Jews, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Hawks, Doves and all others: WAKE UP! Life is about love and not hate. It is about acceptance and not rejection. It is about peace and not war. It is about unity and not division. If we can't accept that, we are surely doomed to an Armageddon of our own making. The Prince of Peace gave us an alternative.