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You Might be a Fundamentalist if...

Most of us who attend progressive congregations such as the United Church of Christ would not declare we are "fundamentalists" in anything — doctrine, scripture, authority, etc. What if someone called you a "fundamentalist," how would you respond?

I was recently reading where someone was making the assertion that "most of us are fundamentalists about fundamentalism. We think we are either fundamentally against it or fundamentally for it." However, contrary to what some of us may think, "fundamentalism" isn't the private domain of one group of people. "Fundamentalists" can be found in all walks of life.

Consider these "fundamentalists:

  • The jogger going out at 5:30 a.m. on a dark, blustery, blizzardy morning is a fundamentalist about her exercise regime.

  • The carpenter whose workshop looks like a display ad is a fundamentalist about the location of each and every one of his tools.

  • The office manager whose weekly staff meetings always take exactly the same form, no matter what crisis is surging through the office, or who insists that everything that takes place be "according to plan" or "according to Robert's Rules of Order" is a procedural fundamentalist.

  • The strict party-liners who world never consider voting for a candidate not run by their party are political fundamentalists.

And there are countless other kinds of "fundamentalists" as well. Monday Night Football fundamentalists, the toilet-paper-rolls-under vs. the toilet-paper-rolls-over-fundamentalists, No-nuts-in-fudge fundamentalists, Christmas presents opened on Christmas Eve fundamentalists, no white shoes after Labor Day fundamentalists.

Even within the defined domain of "religious fundamentalism" there are many varieties. There are enough Facebook posts that allude to a church claiming flexibility and receptivity to new ideas from a new pastor's job description to worship times and worship music to know it is apparent that even within the most "liberal" congregations we tend to develop "fundamentalism" ideals!

Why do I bring up this issue as we are preparing to enter into Holy Week next week with the Parade of the Palms and the exhortations that the Messiah has arrived to the Day of Resurrection? While we will not look at the "traditional" (fundamental?) reading of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, we will be looking at what happens when groups of various "fundamentalists or traditionalists" transpose their believes upon Jesus and his ministry of love. In particular, we will look at the scripture in Mark's gospel that addresses the words from Exodus 20:8 — "Remember the sabbath and keep it holy." Jesus not only created a way that the religious leaders said was improper but was a sacrilegious belief.

This coming Sunday we will look at Mark 2:21-28 to discover when our "fundamentalism" creates "rocks of certainty" that bring about their "stoniness" to the depth of our souls, or create immovability in the compassion in our hearts.

Pastor Steve

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