A few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned an article she read: After Fundamentalism. (*She noted and I agree – it is an interesting read, but we don’t agree with all of the author’s points.) A mutual friend of ours asked: “What’s wrong w/fundamentalism? Just curious.”
I have thought about this question many times over the last few weeks and here is my answer…
The typical answer would be: ‘Nothing’, with a sweet smile that doesn’t quite reach a persons eyes. But that’s not true – exactly. The problem isn’t with Fundamentalism as a whole. It’s not the brand of church that is the problem. The problem exists in many brands. The article just happened to be about Fundamentalism.
And here is the problem: The church (Fundamental and others) focus on the wrong ‘key question’.
They focus on:
What: What should we wear? (Are those clothes too short, low, immodest?) What should we listen to? (Is that music to fast, slow, upbeat? We need to get the jazz out of their fingers…) What can we drink or not drink? (Alcohol???) What should I say to God to be saved? (Was the right prayer said?)
Where: Where can we go? (Movies, club, anywhere that serves alcohol?) Where should we worship? (Only at this building, this time, with these people?) Where can we have our teens serve? (At a soup kitchen, or just in our church where they will be safe?)
When: How often should we hold services? (2 times on Sunday and 1 time on Wednesday, or should it be Thursday? Never on a Saturday night!?) How often should we have communion? (Every week, once a month, only on months with 5 Sundays?) When do we read our Bible? (First thing in the morning, right before I go to bed, several times a day?)
Why: Why do we meet together as a Church? (For fellowship, because the Bible tells us to, to check our box (although that is never said!).) Why do we read our Bible? Why do we pray? (So we’ll grow, grow, grow…)
How: How should we act in church? (Solemnly, serious all of the time, reverently, never laughing or smiling) How should we dress? (Never in jeans or pants for woman, never to attract a man’s attention, never in short shorts, never in…) How often should I attend church services? (Every time the doors are open, of course) How should communion be served? (By ushers, people get up to get it?) How will it look if this scandal is found out by ‘others’?
How Much: How much should I give? (Tithe, above and beyond, as the widow with her mite?) How much time should I spend praying? How much time should I spend reading my Bible? How much time should I spend…
All of these questions and they miss the most important one: Who. And if they manage to think about that one it’s the wrong ‘who’ they think about.
Who: We should invite strangers in. (But we can’t associate with unbelievers outside of church.) What will I get out of this? What programs are available for my children?
All of the questions (including the who questions above) focus on the wrong thing/person. None of them focus on God. On worshiping God. On serving God. On what God has done.
So many churches are so focused on worshiping their traditions and man-made rules that they have forgotten about God, who He is, and what He has done.
And that is what is wrong with Fundamentalism (and many other brands of churches).
**Lest I get yelled at: Yes, I know not all churches (Fundamental or otherwise) are focused on the wrong question, but it sure seems as though many of them are.