Sunday, January 30, 2011

What do you mean?

I have come to realize, and have heard others say similar things as well, that nobody understands what another person is saying anymore.

We often hear certain Christian groups referred to as fundamentalist. The church body to which I belong has been called fundamentalist by some. What does that really mean? What is really being expressed by those who refer to groups of people as fundamentalists?

When I hear a report about fundamentalist groups the sense I get from the reporter is that this group of people are somehow a little "off." That they are not the mainstream within their group. That the people are somehow scary, brain-washed zombies.

But that is not really the meaning of the term "fundamentalist." Within Christian usage it goes back to an attempt to bring about unity in the Church by finding agreement in the every core basics of Christianity. In a sense the attempt was to identify those things that could not under any circumstances be altered. Within a wider framework it means a strict adherence to a certain set of beliefs.

So - really when someone is referring to someone else as a fundamentalist they are saying: "so, you really believe what you say you believe." or: "you really mean what you say!"

So when I say that the Bible is the Word of God - I mean it. This, according to some, makes me a fundamentalist. Some Lutherans of another stripe have referred to me in just such a way. So - when they say the Bible is the Word of God, don't worry, they are not fundamentalists - they don't really believe it.

When I say the Apostles' Creed - I actually mean and believe what I say. In a historical and physical sense. The things that I say I believe happened - I believe happened. But those who would call me a fundamentalist - don't worry, they don't.

Those who accuse others of being fundamentalists are just play acting. They say the same things as I say but think themselves too enlightened to actually believe it. They say the words but wink and grin at each other while they mock those who actually hold to it. It is how elitists lie. For some reason this group is unable to say what they really believe - that what the Christian Church has held as true for 2000 years is not really true. That they are more enlightened now than everyone before them. That they actually deny the very basics of the Christian Faith. They reinterpret the Christian Faith to make the realities of the historic Christian Faith irrelevant. It is a lie wrapped in pious actions and language that goes down smooth and easy.

It is made me all the more appreciate a church body's public confession of what they believe. It is sad but true - I need the public confession of another church body so I know what they mean when they say - I believe in Jesus Christ... . What do you mean? The Lutheran church is blessed with a robust explanation of what we believe. There is not a lot of ambiguity. Here it is. This is what we believe. Take it or leave it. And we believe what we say.