I used to be a fundamentalist…

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

As promised, some thoughts from Evolving in Monkey Town on this Tuesday: 

I used to be a fundamentalist. Not the Teletubby-hating, apocalypse-ready, Jerry Falwell type of fundamentalist, but the kind who thinks that God is pretty much figured out already, that he’s done telling us anything new. 

I was a fundamentalist in the sense that I thought salvation means having the right opinions about God and that fighting the good fight of faith requires defending those opinions at all costs. I was a fundamentalist because my security and self-worth and sense of purpose in life were all wrapped up in getting God right—in believing the right things about him, saying the right things about him, and convincing others to embrace the right things about him too. Good Christians, I believed, don’t succumb to the shifting sands of culture. Good Christians, I used to think, don’t change their minds. 

My friend Adele describes fundamentalism as holding so tightly to your beliefs that you fingernails leave imprints on the palm of your hand. Adele is gay, so she knows better than most people how sharp those fingernails can be. And I think she’s right. I was a fundamentalist not because of the beliefs I held but because of how I held them: with a death grip. It would take God himself to finally pry some of them out of my hands.  (p.  17-18)

Have you had any experience with fundamentalism?

How do you define fundamentalism? 

(Note: The Monkey Town Mix songs for this chapter include "Evolve" by Ani DiFranco and "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens.)

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