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An Authoritative Guide to Fundamentalisms

Recently there have been some fun and casual tossings around of the horrific epitaph, “fundamentalist.” Fundamentalist is one of those lovely words like “liberal” or “stupid ugly butthole” that people often apply to others with whom they disagree in the hopes of shaming them into submission in the course of an argument. Now, given my impassioned revulsion at over-ambitious rhetorical flourish, needless redundancy and unclear obfuscation, I think it is in all of our interests to clarify the nature of what a fundamentalist is. The entire future of theological discourse depends on what you’re about to read.

There are three kinds of sensible uses of the term fundamentalist. First there is the historic Christian notion of a fundamentalist. This is the image that people generally want to conjure up and associate with you if they are calling you a fundamentalist. Historically, Christian fundamentalists believed in biblical innerancy (the Bible is a science book that is utterly precisely factual about everything), hated evolution, loved the virgin birth, and had an unnatural fixation on being able to control the hortatory practices of the public school system. Today the remnants of these kinds of fundamentalists can be found protesting homosexuality, arguing with Mormons and such, and erecting monuments of the ten commandments on state property whenever possible.

The second type of fundamentalist is far worse and far more ethnic than the first. This is contemporary terrorist fundamentalist. The terrorist fundamentalist is usually Muslim, wants nothing more than to blow himself up taking as many people with him as possible to secure a blissful eternity. Terrorist fundamentalists are distinguished from historic Christian fundamentalists by 1) being Muslim, 2) being irrationally violent all the time as opposed to just most of the time and 3) by not being white 99.9% of the time. Usually people aren’t going to try to bludgeon you out of a theological argument by literally calling you a terrorist. But if they do let me know and I’ll mail you a dollar for being awesome (depending on my evaluation of the context of the epitaph).

The third kind of fundamentalist is what we might call the ubiquitous fundamentalist. This sort of fundamentalist is someone who strongly believes a fairly large number of things and, as such, gets in arguments with other such fundamentalists who believe different things. The reason this sort of fundamentalist is termed ubiquitous is because every single person in the world is one of them. You, me, that guy over there. Her? Her.

There is no way to avoid being this sort of fundamentalist. Now, people who disagree with you will see that you believe stuff they don’t believe and this will piss them off. Depending on how much it pisses them off they will try to make other people think that you are either a historic Christian fundamentalist or even a terrorist fundamentalist if they are particularly threatened or unsettled by your beliefs. The proper response at this point is to refer back to the above description of the ubiquitous fundamentalists, and then remind your interlocutor that in fact, you are both fundamentalists and now that we’re clear on that we should get about the business of learning how to have reasoned and meaningful arguments. This is the hardest job in the world. You’ll probably never succeed at it. I almost did once. Then I called the other guy a terrorist. It was awesome. I totally felt good about myself afterwards.

40 Comments

  1. Amen, amen.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:27 am | Permalink
  2. Andrew Bowles wrote:

    I disagree.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 5:52 am | Permalink
  3. WTM wrote:

    Halden,

    I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed one of your posts more than I did this one. The first paragraph is particularly well done.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  4. Tom wrote:

    You are a fundamentalist because of your never ceasing resentment of the modern world. Paradoxically this makes you a hyper modernist because only the conditions that define modernity could allow for the generation of your theological distinctives. Fundamentalism is hyper-modernist in the sense that its existence is not in the realm of possibility outside of the advent of modernity. Once again, your disdain for the world (and the sectarianism that is the logical consequence of this) has more to do with an element of the counter culture of the 68 generation being Christianized. This combined with an Evangelical heritage that seemingly reverts back to its pre-Evangelical roots makes for and even more egregious conception of the world outside of the church.

    What is clearl to me is that you are a fundamentalist in the social and historical sense of the term. Outside of violence (and of course you need not be violent to be a fundamenalist as American Christian fundamenalist of the early 20th century demonstrate) you share many things in common with radical Islam. (seemingly extreme disdain for the powers that be, sectarinism. apocalyptic language and imagery accompanied by calls to some type or form of martyrdom, a plea for a return to true religion, and identify ever informed by an enemy other).

    Once again, the good news is that you are not violent so we have nothing to worry about. Even better news is that the US, unlike many places, even in Europe, tolerates religious zealots, sects and fanatics.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:33 am | Permalink
  5. Roger Flyer wrote:

    Tom-

    I think Halden has already acknowledged that he is a fundamentalist (of a ubiquitous sort.)

    What I hear you saying is that in your definition of fundamentalism there must include a ‘resentment’ or disdain for the ‘world’: the fuel of fundamentalist rhetoric? I think then Halden is probably guilty as charged.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  6. Tom wrote:

    the blogger’s confession of fundamentalism is rhetorical move which would make everyone a fundamentalist. it is almost like calling someone a fundamentalist because they are fundamentally in need of food and water. i think it is clear that i am suggesting something quite different with my use of the term. of course my approach here is comparative. i am taking what appears to me to be quite obvious features of what falls under the rubric of fundamentalism (the term is only 100 years old) and am suggesting that the popular ideas of this blog meet this general criteria. i am also suggesting that there are good historical reasons for this. what is puzzling to me is that the term sectarian is just as backward as fundamentalist (the two almost always go hand-in-hand – i mean even stanley hauerwas does like the term) and yet the author of this blog has no problem identyfing himself with it.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  7. Tom wrote:

    that is, “even stanley hauerwas does “not” like the term

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink
  8. Theophilus wrote:

    Halden’s “fundamentalism” certainly don’t need to spring from the “’68 generation” in the least. Mennonites like myself have been “fundamentalist” by your definition since the sixteenth century. There is no way that being Mennonite/Anabaptist has been hyper-modernist since the early days of the Reformation. We’ve been practicing “extreme disdain for the powers that be, sectarinism [sic], apocalyptic language and imagery accompanied by calls to some type or form of martyrdom, a plea for a return to true religion, and identify ever informed by an enemy other” for a lot longer than Modernism has been around. Thing is, this was something the Anabaptists picked up from reading the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus demonstrates:

    •Disdain for the powers that be (silence in the face of his accusers before Pilate and Herod)

    •Sectarianism (Jesus’ comments in John suggesting that the disciples are not of the world)

    •Apocalyptic language (those “weeping and gnashing of teeth”
    references are just all over Matthew’s account of the Gospel)

    •Calls to martyrdom (that whole business of taking up your cross to follow Jesus, plus his warnings to his disciples that they may be killed for bearing witness to Jesus)

    •Pleas for a return to true religion (Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, plus his accusations that Pharisees, teachers of the law, etc., were distorting and/or ignoring the Law and the Prophets)

    •Identity informed by an enemy other (Jesus says he is “not of the world” throughout John)

    So clearly, Tom, Jesus was a fundamentalist. So what’s Halden’s problem? Is it that he actually follows Jesus’ example and teachings?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  9. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Tom, we all get it. You think Halden is a fundamentalist, and that is that. I really don’t think any of us are going to change your mind about this. So, perhaps we should move on. By the tone of your comments, you plainly think that Halden’s “fundamentalism” is a bad thing. If you think Halden’s views are bad or theologically misguided or whatever, then why don’t you support your position with a substantial theological critique? I think this would be totally reasonable. Trying to make the case that Halden’s theological views, despite what he says, are actually rooted in early twentieth century American evangelicalism is just plain unhelpful. Even if you were right about this connection, this would not amount to an actual critique of Halden’s views.

    So, if you have actual theological criticisms, let’s hear them. In other words, why is it wrong, theologically speaking, to be a Halden-style “fundamentalist”?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  10. Dan wrote:

    This is wonderful… and Tom, since everyone else is chiming in on your comments, I’ll through mine chimes in also…. from my reading of Halden, your “point” is the “point” that Halden makes.

    This reminds me of something I read in a little book by… well, I can’t remember now and I can’t locate the book, but the quote goes something like this, “If something is true to me it must then be true for all others.” Or as this post points out, we all are fundamentalists of one sort or another.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  11. Christian wrote:

    I’m not sure what Tom is trying to accomplish here. He has created a label and claims that it fits Halden… neat. So now what? Is Tom trying to suggest that since Halden fits his label of both a fundamentalist and a sectarian that people should stop reading this blog? If that is the case, then I would recommend that Tom be the first to take his own advice.

    Or, Tom, are you suggesting something a little more, well, fundamentalist: that people and blog’s like Halden’s should be eradicated for the benefit of the common good?

    It could be neither… but I would certainly like to hear what is gotten you so worked up.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  12. roger flyer wrote:

    I’d just like to say that I have never met a fundamentalist as gnarly as Halden.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  13. Halden wrote:

    Oh Roger, you shameless flatterer!

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  14. Scott wrote:

    Maybe others know Tom better than I; I didn’t read any explicit or implicit negative judgment about Halden in Tom’s classifying Halden as a fundamentalist of the type he has in mind. Perhaps I’m just lousy at blog hermeneutics.
    I loved your post, Halden. It was very entertaining and provocative. I think there is more to be said about the phenomenon of American evangelicals trying to distance themselves from the fundamentalist label while still being fundamentalist in a classic/historic sense. Perhaps this is driven by political rather than doctrinal concerns.
    I teach world religions; the text I am presently using defines “fundamentalism” as a kind of postmodernism that rejects modernity (characterized by its removal of religion from the public/political sphere and by its elevation of scientific knowledge which goes hand-in-hand with its maligning of religious dogma) and seeks to return to its conception of historic, authentic, premodern religious life as much as it is possible. (Although premodernity is distinct from all forms of postmodernity in that in the premodern world one’s religious identity was given, not chosen–in the premodern world one’s religious identiy is always chosen.)
    Theophilus – do you really think the Radical Reformation counts as premodern? I’ll grant that Jesus was. :)

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  15. Billy Sunday wrote:

    Dan, you get the prize for succinctly stating the indubitably obvious point that Tom has not even grasped momentarily in his brief tenure of railings around here. You must join Christian and me for a round of drinks. Billy Sunday’s tavern is open!

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  16. Matt Shafer wrote:

    Fascinating post…
    Where would you classify people like “Christian” abortion clinic bombers, who are fundamentalists in both the historic Christian sense and in the terrorist sense?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  17. Halden wrote:

    I suppose they would be some sort of middle category, the Christian terrorist fundamentalists.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
  18. Bobby Grow wrote:

    So you’re saying that the latter of your “fundamentalisms” is critical in nature; while the former two, are not?

    By the way, I agree with your critique, in general; of course there is more nuance to be had under the first two fundamentalist categories (well maybe not the Muslim, but the Christian).

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  19. Chris wrote:

    Halden, I can’t tell if you put the FUN in fundamentlism or the DAM(N) in fundamentalism. Whichever, this string has been damn fun.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  20. Halden wrote:

    Well I know for sure that I put the ‘fist’ in ‘pacifist’.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink
  21. Ken Smith wrote:

    I loved this post — but I do think there are important differences within the third (ubiquitous) flavor of fundamentalists. There’s a sort of fundamentalist attitude which can be evidenced equally by atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians (even those who aren’t particularly tempted to violence), but which isn’t necessarily shared by members of any of those groups. Yes, we all have strong opinions that we want to argue for, sometimes emotionally: but there’s a world of difference between arguing with a thoughtful opponent who takes your counter-arguments seriously, and a “fundamentalist atheist” (say) whose only interest in religion is to show how evil it is.

    Or to paraphrase Potter Stewart’s famous quote from a somewhat different context, “Fundamentalism is hard to define, but I know it when I see it.”

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink
  22. Kent Eilers wrote:

    You made me laugh outloud reading this just now. Thanks!

    (it was a much needed break from dissertating)

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  23. james wrote:

    I think of Halden as a closeted fundy but more precisely — Anabaptist chic.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  24. Tom wrote:

    I value religious freedom so I have no problem with fundamentalism per se. A wonderful feature of the American constitutional tradition is that it tolerates religious dissenters of all stripes (to reiterate, this is a great upshot from many European countries which attempt to curtail religious liberities). If there is a general point to my remarks is that the tone of this blog shares a considerable amount in common with groups that are generally labeled as fundamentalist (I have serious reservations whether this blogger and his hatchlings have ever read a study devoted solely to the study of fundamentalism).

    What I think we are really dealing with though is more of heresy here and that heresy is Gnoticism. In the name of a community that can only provide solace from the evils of a horribly wicked world, the author of this blog postulates escapcism. If you want my theological critique, I would suggests that this blogger posits a conception of creation so tainted, blackened, denigrated and irreverant that he can find no place for himself outside of the esoteric narrative of his community. Esoteric in the sense that only fools of another world can understand its narrative, that it is completely non-sensible and anemic to the sensible.

    What we are witnessing here is not the return to real Christianity but the hatching of a rabbid infestation of gnotistic thought. When you make up in the morning and leave your intentional community, if you cannot make any sense of your self because the world outside of you has no real meaning then you are blinded by gnoticism.

    So here is my take: This blog constitutes a fundamentalist-gnostic-bastardized hippie theological undertaking . It is truly an American home grown theology and could not take place any where else in the entire world. This is why this form of emerging Christianity is really truly only viable in the United States. In so much then as it proclaims itself as a throwback to real Christianity it in actuality promulgates American Manifest Destiny (the true light apparently is only shinning in North America).

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  25. james wrote:

    Halden, by defining fundamentalism anachronistically and using a caricature you allow yourself too easily to be excluded from the first group. You supposedly are simply ‘someone who believes some stuff strongly.’ But you believe very nearly the same stuff:

    Your ‘inerrancy’ (which is not explicit but an operating assumption) generously yields the Old Testament to criticism (since it is allegorically about Jesus anyhow it is ignored) but morphs into a de facto NT inerrancy (gospels and a core of Acts). How much more willing are you to investigate the source relationships of the gospels and how that affects our view of the historical Jesus or early Christianities? Or even just admit John is largely a historical fabrication?

    Are you any less committed to the virgin birth then the fundies were? It appears you still some ‘core’ there – moving stars, slaughter of innocents, magi, angelic choirs, escape to Egypt? I really bet you still ‘love’ it – you love the creedal assertion, but remain silent on the Scriptural one.

    On evolution, I have not seen any way in which you acknowledge the significance of this for the role of sexuality, the significance of reproduction, the meaning of death and violence, life elsewhere in the cosmos, the insignificance of humanity, the meaning of the religious impulse and its diverse expressions. So yes unlike them you allow evolution, but also unlike them you don’t seem to grasp that evolution has implications. This is a form of intellectual sectarianism.

    Perhaps you don’t protest homosexuality or muddle into public schools as a result of your sectarianism, but you appear from blog posts to oppose homosexual practice within the faith for reasons apparently no different than those of current fundies pushing the same line in the public square.

    That your sectarianism saves you from having to defend these positions where the fundamentalists were crushed makes one wonder if it is not just a way to keep the fundie ‘in the closet’ and assert that you just ‘believe stuff’.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  26. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Well, Tom, I think you’ve made some improvements to your approach, but you’re still wanting to throw unhelpful cheap shots. I mean, come on, not only are we all fundamentalists, but we’re also heretics who haven’t done our homework? Really Tom? Do you realize that many of us here actually think about these things for a living? The stuff discussed here might be out of the ‘mainstream,’ but if it is it isn’t that far out. Halden actively engages, with a great deal of charity, a number of the most prominent theologians across the Christian tradition. And guess what? He doesn’t do it just to oppose them and call them all heretics! In fact, most of Halden’s favorite theologians are among the most prominent theologians of the twentieth century. Are you willing to call Barth, von Balthasar, and Bonhoeffer heretics?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  27. Theophilus wrote:

    Tom, do you know what Gnosticism is? It isn’t escapism, as you seem to suggest. Gnosticism is the concept that the body is evil and that the spirit/mind is good. It’s wrong to apply this to Halden. He suggests that Christian action, embodied action, is intimately tied up with Christian thought and spirituality. That is absolutely NOT gnostic. So how exactly is Halden being a heretic. I might not have read as much as you about fundamentalism, but it seems you haven’t read much about heresies, either.

    Scott, historical Anabaptism is probably more premodern than modern. My understanding of modernity is that it was really ushered in by the Enlightenment in the 18th century. The Anabaptists begin cropping up 200 years earlier, in the midst of the Protestant Reformation. However, this does make the movement a child of the Renaissance, which laid much of the groundwork for the Enlightenment. So I’ll happily admit that Anabaptists are less premodern than Jesus.

    James, the only incompatible difference between Halden’s first and third definitions of fundamentalists is their belief-driven activity. Type 1 fundamentalists interfere with the lives of others wherever possible, demonstrated by the obsession with education systems and presenting the Ten Commandments on public property. I haven’t heard a single account of Halden doing this. So even if his beliefs line up somewhat with Type 1 fundies, he can still be a better fit of the Type 3 definition. For that matter, people who believe the same things as Type 2 fundamentalists but just argue with people, rather than running around with guns and bombs and the like, fit Type 3 better than Type 2.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
  28. Theophilus wrote:

    Tom, my apologies for the dropped question mark in my second-last question.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink
  29. Just out of curiosity, Tom, who on earth are Halden’s little “hatchlings”?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink
  30. Christian wrote:

    Tom, lets leave the heresy diatribe alone… it is clear that you don’t know what you’re talking about there.

    My question is, are you or are you not using fundamentalism in a pejorative sense? Is being opposed to modernity or liberal democracy fundamentally flawed in your view (no pun intended)? You seem to be rather condescending in your statement that you respect the freedoms afforded and protected by the American Constitution, so my assumption is yes, you do see being a fundamentalist as prolematic.

    But I thought I’d ask for it straight from the horses’ mouth.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:27 am | Permalink
  31. Tom wrote:

    You do know that Karl Barth was called a gnostic quite often. He later admitted that the ealier editions of the Epistle to the Romans did contain too many gnostic elements. I am sure you also know that Hans Jonas referred to the post-liberal theological trends of Weimar as inherently gnostic (Jonas was the premier scholar of gnoticism of his time – it is not shocking that his postive conception of creation is inseparable from him being now herald as the father of enviromentalism). Gnoticism is more than just a conception of the body but of the world in general. Hence its threat to Orthodoxy. It can provide no strong justification for earthly laws, governance, etc. Ultimately it can provide no place for meaning in the world. It is a reverse nihilism and believe me this blog’s take on everything outside of the Christian community constitutes a complete nihilistic conception of the world.

    Regarding the blogger’s comments immediately before mine here, I will not succumb to the lazy intellectual move of suggesting that he does not know what he is talking about. I do wonder, though, if he has read much by way of the canon on 20th century gnostic literature. If you have not read Jonas for instance, you probably do not know much about how contemporary discussions of gnosticism received their current conceptualization.

    I am not condescending by any means when I say that religious liberty is something that is truly great about America. If I have a criticism it would be unwarranted because I do not know the blogger. However, it seems to me that fundamentalism is justifiable based on the experience an individual or community has. My criticism would be, assuming I knew the blogger, what is it in his life or communal experience that has lead him to the arrival of such a negative view of the world. Did you go to a secular university and feel intellectually stymied? Did you have a bad drug habit? Were your parents once radical hippies turned Christians and did not want you to experience the world of their youth so they informed you of how bad it was and put you into Christian School? From my own experience, I can say that the world outside of the church is good and has been very good to me (and I have experienced much abuse). And this is why I am not a reactionary fundamentalist, although I can totally understand why some would be.

    My aim here is to only contextualize a movement that reads itself in red letters. Once again, the conditions that have allowed for the ideas of this blog to germenate are uniquely American and could not occur or be success anywhere in Europe, South America, or Asia. This is a classic American exceptionalist theology that like every other form of fundamentalism says it possesses what truly truly is Christian.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 4:34 am | Permalink
  32. Charlie Collier wrote:

    I have been watching, with some amusement, the back-and-forth over Tom’s mounting critique of Halden’s blog. It’s a rather bizarre way of watching a theological critique unfold, but it’s not without its pleasures.

    I think Tom, who indicates that he wants his critique to be taken seriously, owes us some clarifications. The first one is rather elementary. Why can’t he refer to Halden by name? This may be an effort to depersonalize the critique, but it reads disrespectfully nonetheless. The option to have comments posted by strangers on his blog is an act of hospitality by Halden. Referring to Halden as “the blogger” is not.

    More substantively, I’d like to hear more about why the major disanalogies or dissimilarities with fundamentalism and gnosticism are either ignored by Tom or judged by him to be less significant than the similarities. Tom’s way of rather sovereignly presuming he knows the essence of these movements and then applying them to (what he takes to be) the form of Christianity informing Halden’s blog raises a whole host of questions. If fundamentalism is reducible to modernity-resentment, then are Foucault and Derrida fundamentalists? Can you drink as much beer as Halden, and write about the joys of beer drinking, and be a body-loathing gnostic?

    I suspect Tom has developed quite a theological critique of contemporary forms of intentional/radical Christianity, but he has not shared very much of it with us. In his latest post we see the beginnings of an argument that the sort of Christianity informing Halden’s blog has lost touch with the doctrine of creation. I’d like to hear more about this, as I do think a certain way of articulating Christian apocalyptic can make it sound like God “invades” in Christ an evil and alien world. I call this the Mars Attack gospel. But the passing suggestion that Orthodoxy = positive conception of creation = strong affirmation of earthly laws and government is just way too quick. Surely part of the “gnosticism” of Romans I had to do with Barth’s refusal to grant any temporal/material purchase to the incarnation. Yet it is precisely a robust doctrine of the incarnation that generates Yoder’s claim, now serving as an epigraph for Halden’s entire blog, that those who bear crosses are working with the grain of the universe. Notice that this is an affirmation of creation and its “laws” and its government all at once. It won’t get you “public theology,” in fact it subverts it, but it does so by harnessing the power of the doctrine of creation, not rejecting it.

    Who could object to the idea of contextualizing Halden’s theology? Should he try to climb out of his American skin? Surely it’s one thing to point that Halden’s theology is only possible in America, and another to argue that it’s just a new form of American exceptionalism. If the indigenous character of a particular theology makes it a form of exceptionalism, then we’re all exceptionalists. Does Halden just need to make clear that he does not in fact believe that the holy catholic church only exists in small pockets of Portland and Eugene?

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  33. Tom wrote:

    This will be my last posts. Derrida, and especially Foucault were public intellectuals. Foucault was the intellectual leader of the 68 riots in France, blasting with his loudspeaker encouraging words to young radicals trying to change society for the common good. They may have been post-humanist but they did not withdrawal into isolation concerning the challenges that faced their world.

    Regarding the doctrine of creation, the problem with the gnostic leanings of this blog is that it contains the embryonic seeds of a fervent humanism. When there is no space to see the goodness of god’s creation and the signs of the graced order it entails, it leaves humanity entirely responsible to order it as it sees fit. If there is no meaning in the world and only in the church this will leave many people with no option than to give the world the meaning they want. Hence Kant’s Copernician Revolution claim that our minds do not conform to the world but the world to our mind .

    Regarding the claim of American Exceptionalism, the main point is that the return to the true Christianity of pre-Constantianian religion that is ever so present on this blog, seems to appear only possible in America. In other words, there is a tacit judgement about the spurious condition of Christianity that seems to be prevalent everywhere outside of the intentional communities of the United States. As such it sounds a bit cultic at times.

    Lastly, my tone towards this blog is the same as its author’s tone is towards the world. Sarcastic, biting, unsympathetic, ultra critical, and with never a nice thing to say. You have to understand that those who are not a part of your group perhaps are regulary offended by your take of their Christianity. Also, the blogger is anything but generous towards various secular communities that if he got the opportunity to know would surely embrace him. Letting someone say want they want is not a sign of generosity, rather its what we in the west describe as a basic right to free speech. The blogger has certaintly taken advantage of this right so it is only fitting that he allows others the same opportunity.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  34. GD wrote:

    methinks Tom has missed the humorous element in Halden’s post… Not only does H make some interesting theological assertions, he makes me laugh while doing it. Never a nice thing to say? Nah… he’s nice once in a while. :-)

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  35. Roger Flyer wrote:

    Tom-
    Oh oh. I think I see ‘the blogger’ holding his breath. Wait, he’s turning blue!
    I can’t wait for him to tell you about his drug use, hippie parents and his education at Reed College.

    Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  36. Roger Flyer wrote:

    Oh and Tom when you invite the blogger out for dinner, be sure to go to a place with Portland microbrews. And it better be vegan! Or you’re screwed!

    Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink
  37. gregorylent wrote:

    scientists are fundamentalists, with a vengence

    Monday, January 26, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  38. Steve wrote:

    I’m so glad that it’s an epitaph. That means fundamentalism is dead.

    Monday, January 26, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  39. Scott wrote:

    I’m probably wasting my breath in saying so, but an Anabaptist theology of Church as counter-cultural community doesn’t have to be escapist, or even separatist. Even in its more separatist forms, Anabaptism as I understand it (and I’m not a scholar of Anabaptism, just a recent convert to it) sees itself as being an instrument of God to transform the world by its witness, and not as simply keeping their distance from the world while waiting around for God to bring an end to the world.

    Theophilus, thanks for the clarification on the Radical Reformation as being a post-renaissance movement rather than a modernist movement. I’ll have to do some homework to clarify the finer distinctions, but I grant that there are such distinctions.
    But I tend to think of separation of church and state, the individualism expressed in believer’s baptism (as I understand the doctrine’s motives), and giving the authority to interpret the bible to a gathered community of laypeople as modern ideas.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  40. parishioner wrote:

    Dang! And here I thought a fundamentalist was someone who believes premarital sex is dangerous because it could lead to dancing.

    Well, now that I’ve got the scoop on Halden and his agenda, I’ll have to be extra careful to watch and see if he EVER says anything nice. You really fooled me, Doerge . . .

    Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

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