Why I can never be a fundamentalist…
Can we truly understand the mind of God when we read the Bible? As a Christian I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. It is God’s revelation of His will and purpose for my life. That same Bible tells me something about God’s thought and my thoughts in Isaiah 55: 8-9. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” If that is so, could I really understand the Bible fully? Or as it tells me in 1 Corinthians 13 that I can only know in part, but when I finally stand before God that I will fully understand all things.
I believe that theology is our understanding of God seen through our own cultural lens. Whilst God’s Word is truth, my understanding of God’s Word is my interpretation of the truth. That is why as Christians, none of us can say with authority that our interpretation is God’s truth. Things get in our way from understanding God’s truth; stuff like our traditions, presuppositions, prejudice, ignorance and so on influence our interpretation of God’s truth. Brian McClaren states on his Facebook “Texts don’t exercise their authority until they are interpreted, and all interpretation involves the mind, values, and interests of the interpretive community in and for which the text is interpreted. So when people claim to be under the authority of the Bible, they may in fact be under the authority of an interpretive community’s interpretation of the Bible, whether they realize it or not.” I disagree with him that texts don’t have authority. I believe if the text are the Laws of a nation, they are authoritative. But these laws are interpreted by lawyers and a judge then needs to decide which interpretation is closest to the laws’ intentions. In the same way I believe that the Bible is authoritative in that it reveals the mind and purpose of God. However, we have within the church multiple interpretations of the truth. At the end of the day, it is the sovereign judge that finally reveals the intents of His Word, and not the different communities that interpret His Word.
That is why I am convinced that no Christian group can say they have their theology right. Christian groups have used the Bible to support and promote slavery, crusades, holocaust, segregation, the subjugation of women thus preventing women from entering ministry, child abuse, abuse of power, the removal of the supernatural work of the Spirit in and through the church, the demonization of science and views that go against religious beliefs, the exploitation of the world around us, the list goes on. If a person did not believe in the ways of that particular community interpreted the Word, then they are not seen as true believers. This has been and will continue to be the story of the church.
How can we change this story? It must start with each group realizing that what we hold on to is our interpretation of the truth. Instead of judging other groups and focusing on bashing certain groups of people, let us focus on the simple invitation of Jesus, “Come follow Me”. In following Jesus we learn what it means to love God fully and to love others. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5: 14 that when we love others, we fulfill the entire law.
I feel for the various Christians who want to be faithful followers of Jesus but do not fit into the box of other Christian groups.They have been put down long enough. I have to admit, I can never ever be a fundamentalist. I hold on to what I believe are the fundamentals of my faith in Jesus. But it will definitely differ from the fundamentals of another follower of Jesus. Besides the word itself stirs pain within my heart because of all the things that have been done in the name of fundamentalism. This is me. At the end of the day, as a follower of Jesus I want to love God and love others and live a life where I walk humbly with my God.