South of the Hugh River, NT 2016

Definitions

There needs now to be some further definition of the term 'Fundamentalism'. This is because, as I have already said, certain features may be attributed to Fundamentalism which would be denied by a person calling themselves a Fundamentalist.

First of all then, there is what I will continue to call Fundamentalism. This is a belief system, a reality construct, a way of looking at the world. Whatever variations may be found in its expression the system has at its core the notion of biblical inerrancy.

There are then two particular relevant groups of people who relate to this system who may or may not call themselves 'fundamentalist'. The first are the 'explicit fundamentalists'. These people are explicitly aware of the nature of the system to a greater or lesser degree. They understand, that is to say, the notion of biblical inerrancy and that their belief system is intimately connected with and dependent upon it.

The second group are the 'implicit fundamentalists'. The nature of this term will become clearer below. At the moment we may say that even if they identify with the name 'fundamentalist', they are not aware of the nature and implications of the system, particularly with respect to inerrancy. They may also live, and relate to God, in a way quite inconsistent with the notion of inerrancy. Or, they may be people who would quite strongly deny any connection with Fundamentalism, but have a theology that "remains..., a diluted and milder version of the basic fundamentalist conceptuality." [Barr, J. Escaping from Fundamentalism pp178]

These possibilities must be remembered in the pastoral meeting with any aspects of Fundamentalism or the analysis of this essay will become judgemental. What this essay says about Fundamentalism is said about the system, not the people affected by or within an expression of it.

Next: The Threat of Fundamentalism


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