Sunday, May 11, 2014


source of most of the world's ideological-ethno-religious conflicts... Paradigm-shifts: 'You don't know you're wearing chains until you begin moving...'


Notes not (yet) used in F chapter -

As Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor saw so clearly, people don't want freedom; they want to be told what to do.

Traditionalism - no room for criticism of basic texts/structure of faith
Authoritarianism - no alternative social structure
Fanaticism - control; brainwashing potential deviants; offensive strategies against opponents.

Fundamentalism = orthodoxy in a desperate struggle with modernity.

No wonder --- drifted to the far right of the political spectrum. Phillip Adams (article in The Australian) - Australia's highest-profile atheist: 'F behaving like a virus; all major religions seem afflicted... while masquerading as spiritual, the virus invariably attacks the body politic, where it becomes pathological. Whether it's Christian fundamentalism on the march from Alabama to Queensland, or Muslim fundamentalism causing fever and delirium in the Middle East, or Jewish fundamentalism trying to destroy the secular state of Israel, its symptoms recall those of Fascism.'

Talked with a staff member of the WCC: 'Billy Graham is a fundamentalist'. No - denies that. Bob Jones, leading conservative and founder of Bob Jones University: 'BGra done more harm to the cause of Christ than any man alive!' .  Too ecumenical: cooperates with other mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics - groups which extreme Fs believe are not Christians at all.

Note: across the theol continuum tendency for 'liberals' to lump everyone to their right as 'fundamentalists' and for conservatives to lump everyone to their left as 'liberal'. More nuance needed. No two pianists playing Beethoven sound the same: no single pianist playing a Beethoven sonata twice will sound the same. But if you make a recording - the performance will always sound the same. 'Fundamentalists all sound like a recording.'

Fundamentalist trinity: 'God the Father, God the Son, and the Bible!' Cartoon based on Michelangelo's Pieta, but instead of the crucified Christ on Mary's lap there was a gigantic Bible.

Inerrancy: numerous discrepancies between statistics of the same events recorded in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

Biblical preachers and writers assumed the earth is flat ('He hangeth the earth upon nothing' I read as a teenager in a book called The Seal of God, and was impressed). Assume earth is the centre of the universe. Epilepsy caused by demons.

Gospel accounts - two versions of what seems to be the same event (eg. Jesus' cleansing of the temple) - must be 'harmonized' (he did it twice). If Luke 24:51 seems to suggest Jesus' ascension took place close to his resurrection, whereas Acts 1 says it was 40 days later, how are these 'harmonized'? You guessed it: two ascensions: Jesus went away into heaven but came back to be with his followers before finally ascending into heaven!

If Jesus endorsed the law of Moses, why did he also teach 'You heard that it was said 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' but I say to Do not resist evil; Jesus' authority over the law... (According to Conservative Evangelical John Stott - what Jesus was citing was not Moses' law, but various erroneous Jewish interpretations of it. Jesus overstepped scriptures in many instances.

Jesus: You search the Scriptures --- eternal life. Bible study not worth much because 'You do not believe in me'.

Many F's - /charismatic/Pentecostal renewal is contrary to the will of God, and at worst, 'a work of the devil.' Biblicist Jerry Falwell would never allow a speaker in tongues to preach in his pulpit. 'Tongues will cease' - apostolic times: P's - 'when the perfect comes' ie. afterlife. Fs embarrassed by Ps claim to miracles (like Pentecostal Pat Robertson averting hurricane devastation in Tidewater Virginia by rebuking the storm and sending it back out to sea.

James Barr: Fs believe only one book The Bible which is in all respects infallible and inerrant: on a secondary level other books are 'sound' if they affirm the Bible's inerrancy and attack critics who deny this. F schools colleges - library books scrupulously censored, textbooks without a taint of 'secular humanism'; biology classes - no affirmation of evolution. Bultmann, Tillich - their books best used for stoking up a bonfire.

Cath fundamentalism - inerrant magisterial pronouncements. Clear rules precise evaluations of sinfulness governing every conceivable moral and religious option. Jesuits notorious hence the term 'Jesuitical' --- crusades and inquisitions. Pope Urban: summoned the First Crusade in 1095 - wanted the knights of Europe to stop fighting one another / tearing the fabric of W. Christendom apart  --- licence to kill those not of his faith - 1096 - army of crusaders marched down the Rhine valley massacring Jews of Speyer, Wurms and Mainz: communities that had lived in peace with their neighbours since Roman times. A viciously anti-Semitic preacher, Peter the Hermit, incited these outrages, the first of many massacres to come. The Holocaust had very old Christian roots. ---> Auschwitz

Jewish f - war = purgative process to bring about messianic times. Some - literally view Arabs (including women and children civilians) as Amalekites or Canaanites and in the tradition of Joshua --- destroy. Thus building settlements on the West Bank --- part of this military campain.

Kung and Moltmann - F as an Ecumenical Challenge: At present we have a clerical dictatorship by a pope who never learned democracy either under Nazism or Communism. Lunch with an informed Catholic leader in the US. on the day he was buried - 'Pope is a bully'. Tended to nominate conservative bishops --- archbishops. Paul VI's unfortunate encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' against contraception. Magisterium --- campaign against birth control and against condoms in the fight against AIDs - accomplice in the misery and death of millions of children and others throughout the world. At 600,000 per year Poland has the highest abortion rate in Europe (main method of birth control).

Credible spiritual orientation - deal with Roman Catholic authoritarianism, Protestant biblicism, Orthodox traditionalism, Jewish/Islamic fundamentalism.

Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: only a matter of time before all vestiges of ecclesiastical oppression of women will come to an end: a woman bishop of Rome, sitting on the throne of St Peter, is inevitable.


2 Cor. 6:14: 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?'
John R Rice = Christians (ie. Fundamentalists) should not cooperate/associate with non-Christians (ie. non-f Christians)

'Saved' so unloving/violent rhetoric damning the 'unsaved'

Kathleen C. Boone, 'The Bible Tells Them So'. Inerrancy doctrine --- problem with modern translations, so KJV is the version of choice for many strict fundamentalists.

For many the Scofield commentary becomes almost sacred scripture itself.

KJV 1611 This translation, a magnificent monument to 17th century prose-style, but full of inaccuracies and based on inferior manuscripts: idolised by F's so that we've had a 'New King James Version - (merits - google).

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Mixing of metaphors? Jesus spoke Aramaic - word for 'camel' and 'rope' are almost identical. If the original was 'it's easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle' - more appropriate metaphor. (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, John S. Spong.


Enormous fear and negativity... Anger - cannot dispel doubt

Problem not with Bible or creeds, but freezing them in a particular era: assumption that somehow they escaped the particular brand of subjectivity of that era. For example, modern literalism is hostage to the 18th century illusion that truth and meaning are the same: they are assumed to be fixed and discernable by the application of the faculties of reason and common sense.

The heart of Christian theology: human logic is inadequate on its own to explain the mystery of God: rationality imprisoned within a fundamentalist Muslim or Jewish or Bible-belt Christian context will have to almost totally eliminate each others' notions of Deity.

'Clear thinking' applied to Ancient Near Eastern sacred texts is sometimes not easy.

From Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore: If we deprive sacred stories of heir mystery, we are left with the brittle shell of fact, the literalism of a single meaning.

Shakespeare's poignant observation: 'Even the devil can cite Scripture for this purpose'.

Snake-handling Pentecostals in Appalachia put their lives on the line each week when they follow literally the words of Jesus in Mark 16. If a church leader berates those who don't take the Bible literally, they'll have to find other ways of dealing with the various ancient endings in Mark.

And how about Jesus' advocating self-mutilation in Mark 9:43-48. Some Christians have actually taken this seriously (including Origen).

And the Old Testament notion of 'Jubilee' where debts are remitted (how often?) - they cannot be moved on to subsequent generations, slaves freed. etc. Some advocate 'sabbath economics' (see Ched Myers, 'The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics'). Many of Jesus' parables have economic concerns: farming, shepherding, being in debt, doing hard labour, being excluded from banquets and the houses of the rich, etc. 

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