The Jump Up, near Itjinpiri in the Pitjantjatjara Lands

A Powerful Power

We may go on from here to say that Fundamentalism is a 'powerful' power- as the previous page already implies. It is ontologically fuelled. This kind of conservatism is fuelled by the anxiety of non being. This is indeed a limited courage, but we must ask then, "What kind of courage supports the Church?" Is the church faced with the threat of a 'fundamentalist climate' living out of real courage, or something else? If it is not real courage, then "starry eyed reformers", as Dulles calls them, will be worn down by "the staying power of the conservatives." [Dulles. A. Models of the Church pp191] This staying power comes from the fanatical assertiveness [Tillich pp56-7] I mention above, and the 'archonic' nature of the system. Without real courage implicit fundamentalists, those Barr characterises as having a "diluted" version of "fundamentalist conceptuality" [Barr, J. Escaping from Fundamentalism pp178] may easily be subverted into a more explicit fundamentalist stance.

As distinct from the disorganised and 'un-understandable' attack of "future shock" on a person's courage and reality construct, Fundamentalism is a systematic attack against a person's courage to be. It exaggerates, or at least, starkly presents the cost of real courage, by its own apparent certitude, and places the easy apple [Alves speaks of the Genesis 3 temptation as a desire to transcend the limits of existence, p56] of a counterfeit courage in their path. Its own greater cost remains largely unrecognised.

What has been written so far in this section is bound to be attacked as extreme and an overstatement. I do not believe this to be so. I think we are prone to see such a analysis as extreme because the paradoxically ambivalent nature of the antithesis between Fundamentalism and the Church softens and hides the absolute nature of the antithesis.

The nature of the ambivalence is as follows. The very strength of Fundamentalism- its counterfeit nature, and ability to lie dormant and/or implicit and unrecognised within a church, is its weakness. Incommensurability notwithstanding, for Fundamentalism to be active it must allow the proclamation of a kerygma, a kerygma which by the grace of God very often becomes the kerygma, the Gospel, for its hearers. In its systematic attack on the courage of a person it almost unavoidably also points the way towards real courage and must then work to subvert that way. The upshot of this is that the effect of Fundamentalism within a church is often muted by people's discovery of grace. At base, however, Fundamentalism remains antithetical to the church.

Next: In Conclusion


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