Fundamentalists among the Nazarenes

The Church of the Nazarene is not fundamentalist. We have intentionally and specifically avoided a fundamentalist position on the Scriptures. Theologian Thomas Jay Oord recently discussed why Nazarenes once again rejected turning our statement on the inspiration of the Scriptures toward a fundamentalist stance. You can read it here: http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/nazarenes_reject_strict_inerrancy/#.UktuOIakpAg

However some Nazarenes want us to adopt a fundamentalist view of the Bible and Christian faith. Knowing what I know about the Bible, I can’t embrace a fundamentalist position on inerrancy. However, it’s not their stance on the nature of the Bible that I have the biggest problem with: it’s the attitude that so often accompanies that stance. A book about cross cultural ministry, written by Duane Elmer (from the conservative Trinity Divinity School), in discussing ethnocentrism, describes well the attitudes that are not only ethnocentric, but which I also encounter too often in conversation with fundamentalist brothers and sisters. This attitude is what I think is fundamentalism’s worst mistake. Here is what Elmer wrote:

“Dogmatism refers to the degree of rigidity with which we hold our beliefs, our cultural traditions, our personal preferences. The dogmatic person… tends to see difference as wrong or inferior which must be corrected. … After being around a dogmatic person very long, one can feel put down since there is no room for exploration of ideas or dialogue. Conversations usually become win or lose confrontations. Dogmatic people can easily burn relationships and sometimes are downright obnoxious. They talk as though their way of seeing things is the only way. If you don’t see it their way, you are wrong…. They claim they are (argumentative) in an attempt to find or defend truth.

….there is a subtle tendency for me to believe that all my beliefs are indisputable and all my cultural traditions best. I slide easily into judging you from my cultural, personal or theological perspective.

….Social research says that the most frequent response Americans make to a situation is to evaluate (it) as right or wrong, good or bad. Usually the standard for such judgments is how similar or dissimilar it is to me and my beliefs. … we try to remake those around us in our own image…. People end up looking more like us than like Christ.” (Duane Elmer, Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility; IVP 2006).

It’s that attitude that “we are right and everyone else is wrong; ours is the ONLY way to see it, and those who disagree don’t love God and aren’t even Christians” that repels me from fundamentalism.

 

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