Are we fundamentalist enough?


Paul writes... Beware fundamentalist, intolerant, determined christians are conspiring against us with "unprecedented political access!" Against the backdrop of the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill going through Parliament this was the message of a Channel 4 documentary last night. The upshot message of "In God's name," filmed by David Modell seemed to me that we should be afraid... very afraid!

Oh and for once that "we" is us in the UK, rather than our American cousins!

Now watching the film last night I found it disturbing at times with some of the views expressed on a range of flash point topics such as: sexuality, Islam, science, and abortion. It was car crash tele at its best, after all the free use of the word fundamentalist and the candid views expressed made me predujiced to begin with. Is there a more emotively negative word in our post 9/11 age than "fundamentalist?"

However sometimes the views of film maker, David, boarded on a hysterical reaction, e.g. filming one of the characters trying some (pretty unsuccessful and potentially demoralising) street witnessing he commented how "scary he found dedication like this" and speculated how that dedication could make a significant impact nationally (the impression i felt was that this impact would be bad rather than good).

Clearly the people involved in the film were selected for their views, it was not going to be balanced tele and it was easy to write them off as "weird," "exteme," and how glad i wasn't like them. Of course it's easy to see the fear that drives such views, the panic that we need clear biblical water between us and society, our duty to be on the front line telling everyone what is wrong and that one weakness in our faith would bring the whole edifice crumbling down.

On 26 May we have a special guest author, Craig Hovey, contributing to a week we have themed as "a faith to live for, a faith to die for" which sounds pretty fundamentalist - is there anything that is worth dying for anymore? I'm much more likely to say i'm dying for sex, dying for a new tv, dying for a holiday, or even dying for a wee! Seldom unless i'm being ultra holy will you hear me talking about dying to myself, or for others or even for my the God I profess to follow - that's far too inconvenient!

So David Modell and Craigh Hovey have challenged me though to ask myself - am I fundamentalist enough? Not a fundamentalist of fear, reactionary justifying anger, or apathy/self indulgence but of sacrificial, self giving love? If someone stuck a camera in my face how would i want my life filmed in response to such emotive issues? How would you?

What is a better way forward to live out our faith in response to issues like sexuality? other religions? salvation/hell? and abortion? Not too mention our own self obsessed consumeristic quest for peronal happiness often at the expense of others and our planet?

If you are a 21st century christian fundamentalist modelling yourself of a 1st century jewish radical what do you look like? act like? be like? Paul Mayers