I used to be a Fundamentalist. In fact, I subscribed to the Fundamentalist Journal (yes, a real magazine!). But today I wouldn’t refer to myself that way.
Fundamentalism is no longer about doctrine, is it? Today it’s about style and standards. I still believe the same things I believed then. My doctrinal stance is the same. But, today, if I tell someone that I am a fundy, they assume that I am narrow and unforgiving. They just know that I would put them into a box filled with terrible sinners bound for the reject pile. No matter how much I might protest, they would never look to me for kindness or love.
It’s too bad, really. I do still believe in the fundamentals of the faith. I still love the old hymns. I still read the Bible and believe what I read. I still believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation and I still pray that my friends and family will know Him and His love for them. Not much has changed in my heart.
But people need love. They need to hear about the love of the Lord who gave Himself for them. They long for welcome among God’s people, rather than judgment and condemnation. The old message of guilt and shame has done its cruel work in our culture. Most people aren’t concerned about Heaven; they have already given up. There is no way for them to meet the standards, to live the life, of the old message. So they just don’t care anymore. That’s what the performance message has done.
That was never the message of the gospel. The gospel is about Jesus—who He is and what He has done for you and me. The gospel is good news. The gospel offers hope and promise, especially when we feel least able to find those things for ourselves. Tell a struggling sinner that he is doing wrong and he will probably believe you, but it won’t help. Tell him that Jesus is ready to forgive completely and welcome him into a full and loving relationship, and you offer something of value. He may be a homosexual. She may be a prostitute. They already know that you think their lifestyle is wrong. But what do you offer that would make a difference?
When fundamentalism no longer stood for hope in the love of God through Jesus, it stepped away from what it was supposed to be. Too bad.