Is Anti–Fundamentalism The Fundamentalism Of The Anti Fundamentalists?

1892 words - 8 pages

1 Proposed title
Is anti–fundamentalism the fundamentalism of the anti-fundamentalists?

2 Background
This study is, in the first place, not a study about the object of fundamentalism, the fundamentalist, but rather about the subject, the anti-fundamentalist – about the accuser rather than the accused, about the prosecution not the defence. I use the word ‘anti-fundamentalist’ instead of ‘non-fundamentalist’’ to make a distinction between those who publically oppose fundamentalists and those who can not be classed as fundamentalist.

The meaning of the word ‘fundamentalism’ has been redefined so often that the meaning became ‘obscured’ (Carpenter, 1997: 4). Definitions became relative to changing contexts and have almost been denatured as a descriptive term. It became evaluative and pejorative with the aim to stigmatize. Juergensmeyer says the term is “less descriptive than it is accusatory.” (De Sousa, 2007:86).

Yet, the word remains emotionally charged. The question is – why would people use such a strong word? This question is at the core of this study.

Karen Armstrong describes fundamentalism as a reactionary movement against modernity, and globalization, and as a reaction against Enlightenment ideals such as Darwinism and empirical science. (Armstrong, 2004:ix-xi). Or as Ruthven says, fundamentalists “do not or cannot fully accept religious pluralism” (2004:46). Is it equally possible that liberalism, the secular society or liberal theology have difficulties in dealing with principled commitment to the established, sacred and transcendental values of conservative Christianity? ” Reactions are fierce which is clear from James Barr’s feelings: “I think we have to be clear … that we must get rid of the whole thing, that is, that the entire apparatus of fundamentalist belief about scripture has to be dismantled, and that we have to be clear that we are doing this, and why.” (2002:88).

Did those who revolt against barbarism themselves became barbarians? I plan to show that it could well be that anti-fundamentalists object to one ‘absolutist credo’ because it is in conflict with their own ‘absolutist credos’. Was Hamlet right? “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Hamlet, Act III, Scene II).

Theology has been characterised by reactionary movements since the reformation. During the19th century we saw an increase in the influence of science and the rise of biblical criticism. This led to the rejection of supernatural character of the Bible such as miracles. "Classic Liberalism" became very influential during that time. Reactions against liberal theology resulted in several reactionary movements of which fundamentalism, within evangelical Protestant circles, became prominent. Liberal theology could never annihilate the consistent influence of the more conservative Reformed and evangelical Christianity and suffered further in recent years under the criticisms of postmodernism. The point is that what we observe over the years...

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