Why Fundamentalism Is Not Faith

In this article I am going to argue that Christian fundamentalism is not a faith position. The former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, declared, “the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty.” As their language and actions show, fundamentalists are absolutely certain.

We have a risen Christ, unquestionable proofs, and, as if we needed it, God has thrown in a host of unarguable evidences all around us!

(Accelerated Christian Education Science 1096, p. 31)

Sources of certainty

Fundamentalists claim certainty from three main areas: miraculous occurences, Creation science, and the historical accuracy of the Bible.  To the fundamentalist, the evidence for these is beyond doubt. While they still say that their belief in God is based on faith, how much faith is needed if the whole of science and history is on your side?

[Jesus’] life, death and resurrection should prove beyond any shadow of a doubt to anyone seeking the truth that the latter is the case: Jesus is Lord, the true Messiah of God.

– Eric Holmberg, Hell’s Bells (citation, at 02:17). Holmberg also refers to “irrefutable evidence” at 01:23.

Creationism

I was educated in the Accelerated Christian Education system (ACE), and it was made clear to me that Creationism was the only credible scientific theory for our existence on earth.

Fellows, for the Creationist, little faith is required to believe in a young Creation or a great, world-wide Flood… As far as I’m concerned, enough scientific evidence has been found to convince anyone of the truth of God’s Word.

Accelerated Christian Education Science 1096, p. 26

The same page describes evolution as an “indefensible theory.” ACE does not just teach that evolution is “only an unproven theory,” as its advocates in the UK claim. It continually derides evolution as a ludicrous, last-ditch attempt by atheists to disprove God. I was taught, in church and school, that even evolutionists secretly knew their theory was absurd, but that they clung to it desperately in order to avoid God.

No branch of true science would make these kind of impossible claims without proof. Because evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative – that the universe was created by God – they declare evolution is a fact and believe its impossible claims without any scientific proof!

Accelerated Christian Education, Science 1107, 1996 revision, 1989, p. 24.

Biblical Reliability

The Muhammed Ali of fundamentalist apologetics is Josh McDowell. With a whopping 50 million books in print, Josh has done more than anyone else to persuade the world that the Bible is completely consistent, completely accurate, and entirely supported by historical and archaeological evidence. His books are dedicated to providing supporting proof for Christianity, with titles like Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Here’s what he has to say:

 The only way to determine God’s true identity is through open-minded consideration of the evidence. Christianity does not revolve around a list of spiritual exercises and practices, but around a core of verifiable, historical facts about a person and his claims to be God. Jesus Himself appealed to people’s reason and the evidence of His deity. “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” He asked. “Or at least believe because of what you have seen me do (John 14:10-11). Christ wanted His followers to believe in Him for whom He claimed to be, so He appealed to the evidence that established that He was, in fact, the Son of the one true God. The evidence was and is there to convince our minds that Christ’s claims are objectively true.

My ACE Bible elective courses all taught the fundamentalist line that, for example, the Gospels were contemporary eyewitness accounts written by the disciples. Matthew’s Gospel was actually written by the Apostle Matthew, and so on. Furthermore, I was told that all historical and archaeological evidence supported this, so the Gospels were confirmed fact. This is not the opinion of most scholars, and most Christians accept that Matthew’s Gospel was written near the end of the first century by an unknown scribe (see here, page 296). They are able to hold this view without their faith being compromised. The intellectually honest thing for ACE to do would be at least to admit there is some debate, but I was taught only the fundamentalist line, as though it were fact. That’s because, to my teachers, it was fact.

Miracles

Not all fundamentalists would be so keen on miracles as the Charismatics I surrounded myself with. Plenty of fundamentalists are not big fans of Oral Roberts. Nevertheless, for me, the continual testimonies of supernatural healings were proof as if proof were needed. On Benny Hinn’s TV show, I saw people healed of cancer and climbing out of wheelchairs every week. There could be no explanation for this besides the hand of God.

Knowing That You Know

The net result of all this was that I, and my Christian friends, did not merely believe in God; we knew God. This is clear in the language. The titles of popular worship songs included Hillsong’s “I Know It”, “This I Know” (and again), and of course “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

As Oral Roberts (and consequently every preacher I ever heard) put it, “You come into a state of knowing that you know that you know.” (When You See the Invisible, You Can Do the Impossible. Destiny Image 2002. p. 67)

That sums it up. Fundamentalists know that they know. Do you disagree? Well, they know you are wrong.

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About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on April 25, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Fundamentalism. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. In many ways the way fundamentalist christians treat their approach to science & learning is very similar if not identical to the way it is approached in stalinist communism.
    In that there is a set of fairly high level core beliefs that everything else must work around or be considered suspect.
    For the christian & muslim one of these is creationism, for some brands of communism it was the concept of cooperativeness.
    If you view everything from a set ideology and reject that which challenges that ideology, because it challenges that ideology, is essentially placing your foundation on something that is unstable and unable to be shored up.

    • I agree. The ironic thing is just how much the Christian right hates communism. Political propaganda within ACE is something I’ll be covering in the next few weeks, but suffice to say they depict communism as the greatest evil in the world. Meanwhile, as you say, they rely on absolute dogmas and treat students with no individuality whatsoever.

  2. Even though I did not grow up in a christian fundamentalist enviorment, I can empathize with many of the words you are saying. Especially on the eyewitness-noneyewitness accounts of the Gospels. In fact I did a post on the topic cause it bothered me. http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/where-did-cain-find-himself-a-wife/

  3. The ancient Greeks believed that volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, earthquakes, the creation of stars and planets were all influenced by powerful, unseen deities; amazing monsters like the Kraken, Medusa and the Minatour were part of conspiracies and punishments meted out to mere mortals….these tales are found under myths and legends. Yet, there is a plethora of questionable inconsistencies crammed in the Bible and fundamentalists are hell bent on hammering this into perfectly healthy minds? There is a cause of action for attempting to pass off fantasy as fact…sectioning.

  4. You are seriously over-generalising here. “Fundamentalist” or “Bible-believing” Christians are the majority of Christians, and as such cover a hugely diverse range of beliefs, etc. To categorise them all under the banner of one small group (however accurate your perception of them might be) is just dishonest. Fundamentalists, ie most Christians, are not evil, or dogmatic, or un-moving, or arrogant, or anything else. They simply try their best to follow the teachings of Jesus, & the love of God.

  5. It’s strange how I used to ‘know’ Jesus existed, without a shadow of a doubt, for many years when I was an Evangelical Christian. Then some stuff happened, and then with equal certainty I suddenly knew he didn’t exist. It seems to me that this ‘knowing’ isn’t actually knowing or genuine certainty at all, its an absolute and willful refusal to consider any alternatives. But once you do, with a little thing, then quickly the whole edifice collapses. That is why they are so concerned that you dogmatically stick to one form and one form only of Christian belief: start thinking that maybe gays are OK, or evolutionary theory has a point, or maybe God doesn’t answer your prayers, for one second and its like a chink of sunlight on a vampire.

    Which is why so many atheists were brought up strictly religious.

  6. The Iniquitous: Church Crimes

    Reblogged this on The Iniquitous: Church Crimes.

  7. If the opposite of faith is certainty, that is not a view I want to have. I like to think there is evidence for my faith, as opposed to a blind faith where you don’t know for certain but you just take everything on faith.

    Any worldview involves faith that the information used to draw one’s conclusions was correct.

  8. Reblogged this on The Here and the Hereafter and commented:
    There is comfort and even value in “knowing God.” But, once one sets up one’s own faith perspective as the inerrant standard, then any possibility of coming closer to God is actually lost. What you believe now becomes the standard, and an idol. And, God’s voice becomes hard to discern, if not entirely silent.

  1. Pingback: Why Fundamentalism Is Not Faith | Progressive Christianity and Liberal Politics | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: Why has no one noticed the British Creationist schools? | The Heresy Club

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