The majority of people in America do not accept that unchangeable truth exists.1 One of the consequences of this rejection of absolute truth is passively accepting the manipulation of words to advance a cause. For instance, “gay” was traditionally defined as a state of happiness but has been appropriated to describe a group of people who clinically exhibit a much lower level of happiness than the general population. “Choice” has been used as a banner to remove the most basic freedom (the freedom of life) from the most innocent of life (an unborn child). “Family” has had the long standing definition of a mother or father with children. It is currently being redefined to mean any group of people who reside together for any length of time. Rather than adding dignity to non-family groups, it undermines traditional families, the basic building block of society. Of particular concern in our society is the negative use of the word “fundamentalist”.
Fundamentalist is frequently used as a label for any individual or group of people who are accused of having closed minds and of being hate-filled and bigoted. It is typically used as the ultimate insult for those who dare oppose the politically correct values of the liberal media. However, just as being a Democrat does not automatically make you an abortion advocate, accepting the fundamental beliefs of Christianity does not make you a dangerous fanatic. On the contrary, those who truly accept the classic fundamentals of the Christian faith undergo a remarkable change to become more productive citizens. What are these fundamentals? That the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore without error (interpretation can be erroneous but not original content); Jesus Christ is God; He died to pay the penalty for our sins and only by believing this and receiving Christ as Savior can you “get right” with God (John 1:12); He rose from the dead; He will return again. Either these things are true or they are not. Believing them makes you a fundamentalist regardless of your particular denomination. Likewise, not believing them means you are not a Christian in the classical understanding of the term.
The Christian faith has never been a blind faith. Christianity describes the world around us, explains our history, and has a positive effect upon the lives of those who embrace it. This is not to say that Christians are perfect people or that the Church has never erred. Christians are wrong whenever they exhibit a hateful attitude. A true follower of Jesus will freely admit this. The absolute truths of Christianity teach love, care, hope, and justice for all people but intolerance for harmful, sinful behavior.
Chuck Colson is a living example of how acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Bible as truth can change a person’s life and attitudes. He was Richard Nixon’s right hand man during the heyday of President Nixon’s power. By his and other’s admission he would have steam rolled over his own grandmother to maintain his position. Twenty years after his conversion to the fundamental truths of Christianity, he runs a worldwide non-profit ministry to prison inmates. He daily confronts inmates with the reality of their sinfulness, but always with love toward the person. Chuck will often hug inmates who are dying of AIDS as a demonstration of his love for human beings made in the image of God.
The next time you hear about a fundamentalist don’t picture someone who has a closed mind or is hateful and bigoted. Rather picture someone who would lay down his life in defence the innocent, or the Christian principles upon which America was founded.
1. George Barna, The Barna Report:What Americans Believe, Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1991, p. 83-85.