Fightin’ Fundies, Part 1: Narrow My God to Thee

Posts in the Fightin' Fundies series

  1. Fightin’ Fundies, Part 1: Narrow My God to Thee
  2. Fightin’ Fundies, Part 2: Evolutionary Fundamentalists

This is my first official Addison Road blog, and because it has been percolating in my brain for some time I feel a little like the youth pastor who gets the “big church” pulpit only once a year and feels the need to give a 36-point sermon. I’ve decided to divide my musings into three daily installments, sort of a serial without cliffhanger endings but perhaps a concluding teaser or two. I’ll strive for brevity in the future, but don’t count on it.

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Last summer, while I was checking a reference for a Chuck Swindoll quote for a writing project, my friend Mr. Google led me to what I would have to nominate as the most fiercely fightin’ Christian fundamentalist website. I was surprised to find that the creator of the site lambasted Swindoll as a “full-fledged advocate of the gospel of religious humanism.” With a mix of curiosity and amazement I followed links to dozens of other pages within the site assailing the doctrinal integrity of every evangelical leader on the planet:

James Dobson – “…did not believe that the Scriptures were sufficient to communicate God’s will concerning families.”
Charles Colson – “A Catholic sympathizer… His blindness is incredible.”
R.C. Sproul – “…guilty of psychoheresy.”
Tony Campolo – a “pantheistic new-ager.”
Jack Hayford – “Evidence abounds of Hayford’s hyper-charismatic, ecumenical, and occultic tendencies…”
Billy Graham – guilty of “ecumenism” and “conforming to the world.”

I began to wonder… Is there anyone who meets this person’s criteria for doctrinal purity? What about John MacArthur? Surely he would pass the test. No way… “His teachings border on heresy, if not blasphemy… One only has to browse around the Grace Church campus and/or listen to tapes or read the various publications emanating from The Master’s Fellowship complex of ministries to come to the conclusion that spiritual discernment there is a commodity in extremely short supply.”

Whoa…

The big surprise, though, was to find that Bob Jones University, the place I would consider the most unassailable bastion of fundamental viewpoints and theology, did not get the stamp of approval from this site. It turns out that one of the descendents of the first Mr. Jones (Bob IV) had attended (horror of horrors) Notre Dame. Also, BJU has a strong drama department, and the site’s author contends that plays cannot be used by God because the actors playing the various roles are lying. (Don’t ask). Worse, the University has an art collection containing some classical specimens that might be construed as expressing Catholic thinking or beliefs. “Can it please our Lord that any BJU student would be directed by Dr. Bob to learn how to be ‘cultured’ and ‘enrich’ his life through the appreciation and study of Catholic art depicting false Catholic doctrine?” (Emphasis in the original. Interestingly, a friend of mine who attended Bob Jones for a couple of years says that the art gallery was his one refuge of sanity on campus.)

The whole sad site, whose name and address I won’t even bother to identify, is epitomized in a diatribe against BJU’s 1996 affiliation with the Dominion Satellite Network:

But shouldn’t Christians also be concerned about the other so-called ‘Christian’ programming coming into their homes via the Dominion system? Who would want anyone in their family nurtured on the teachings of John Osteen, Jack Hayford, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Oral & Richard Roberts, Dwight Thompson, Tim LaHaye, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Chuck Smith, Jerry Falwell, Tony Evans, Marilyn Hickey, Kay Arthur, James Robison, Fred K.C. Price, Bill Bright, Robert Schuller, John & Ann Gimenez, David Mains, Josh McDowell, Steve Arterburn, Frank Minirth & Paul Meier, James Dobson, Tony Campolo, Jack Van Impe, J.R. Church, Luis Palau, Greg Laurie, and a host of other DBS program providers? Or how about the “melodies” of Carman, Bill Gaither, ZMUSIC (Youth-Contemporary), THE BEAT (CCM), and SOLID ROCK V.D.O. (“Christian” rock-n-roll Music Videos)? To top it all off, Dominion allocated several programming time slots to two Catholic priests and a Catholic nun!

Obviously, this website is haunted by an infinitesimally limited number of people who have painted themselves into a very tight doctrinal corner. It reminds me of a verse in a satirical ditty sung by the Chad Mitchell Trio, back in the good old 60s, about the Communist-obsessed John Birch Society.

We’ll teach you how to spot ‘em in the cities or the sticks,
For even Jasper Junction is just full of Bolsheviks!
The CIA’s subversive and so’s the FCC –
There’s no one left but thee and we, and we’re not sure of thee!

This stuff is funny, and sad, and cautionary all at once. Among those we know (or don’t) in Christendom, we’ve all got our own “naughty and nice” lists, whether based on doctrinal or political stances, cultural attunement or cluelessness, vocal or musical cadences, or any number of other variables. If the opening chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians – with its pointed rebuke of some early “Jesus camps” — is any clue, it would appear that the Founder of our faith isn’t terribly impressed with all of our various subgroups, especially when they engage in sniping at each other.

That being said, I would hasten to point out that fightin’ fundamentalism isn’t unique to zealots carrying their sputtering torches in the name of religious traditions, whether Christian, Islamic, Hindu or NASCAR. I would now like to nominate another vocal contingent, one that disingenuously claims a lack of any particular faith, for membership in the fundamentalist elite, with all of the rights and privileges appertaining thereto.

Who could that be? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s action-packed installment!

Next in series: Fightin’ Fundies, Part 2: Evolutionary Fundamentalists

9 thoughts on “Fightin’ Fundies, Part 1: Narrow My God to Thee

  1. grammy

    Whoa, honey…you should have surgery more often. Who knows WHAT you could write if you had another three post-op recovery days on your hands?

  2. michael lee

    The theological implications of that kind of extremism aside, I’ve often wondered about the psychological motivations for this. What motivates a person to view themselves as part of such a selective group that the only members are you and Paul? (Jesus would be in, but his exegesis of Old Testament scriptures is quite suspect).

    It seems almost pathological.

  3. aly hawkins

    I’m waiting with breath officially bated for the next installment…but dare I guess the secular left?

    I’m in a place personally where “in” and “out” are just too exhausting and lonely to manage. Keeping track of everybody’s evil is a full-time job with lousy benefits, and the co-workers are a-holes.

  4. Simone

    I couldn’t resist tracking down your fundie friends. The site is slightly amusing and very sad. But what concerns me the most is that they are sincerely trying to be godly. By separating themselves from ‘the world’ and from every hint of heresy (as they define it) in the church they are trying to avoid being contaminated. A hopeless battle this side of the new creation. Praise God for a saviour who makes the unclean clean!

    I may not be a separatist as they are, but I have my own ways of putting myself into a selective group. Anyone to my right is a fundie, anyone to my left is a liberal. I’m in the middle. Perfectly balanced. I’d let you join me, but… you know…. you’re a bit …

  5. michael lee

    [quote comment="88466"]I may not be a separatist as they are, but I have my own ways of putting myself into a selective group. Anyone to my right is a fundie, anyone to my left is a liberal. I’m in the middle. Perfectly balanced. I’d let you join me, but… you know…. you’re a bit …[/quote]

    Bingo! I do exactly this.

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