Fundamentalism

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Fundamentalism is the demand for a strict adherence to specific theological doctrines usually understood as a reaction against Modernist theology, primarily to promote continuity and accuracy. [1] The term "fundamentalism" was originally coined by its supporters to describe a specific package of theological beliefs that developed into a movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century, and that had its roots in the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of that time.[2] The term usually has a religious connotation indicating unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs.[3] "Fundamentalism" is sometimes used as a pejorative term, particularly when combined with other epithets (as in the phrase "right-wing fundamentalists").[4][5]

Christian

See also: Evangelicalism

Fundamentalism as a movement arose in the United States, starting among conservative Presbyterian theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary in the late 19th century. It soon spread to conservatives among the Baptists and other denominations around 1910-1920. The movement's purpose was to reaffirm key theological tenets and defend them against the challenges of liberal theology and higher criticism.[6]

The term "fundamentalism" has its roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897), which defined those tenets it considered fundamental to Christian belief. The term was popularized by the The Fundamentals, a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by the brothers Milton and Lyman Stewart. This series of essays came to be representative of the "Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy", which appeared late in the 19th century within some Protestant denominations in the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which distilled these into what became known as the "five fundamentals":[7]

By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the Five Fundamentals came to be known as "fundamentalists." In practice, the first point regarding the Bible was the focus of most of the controversy.

It is important to distinguish between "Fundamentalism" as the name of a militant style and "fundamentalism" as a theology.

Fundamentalist groups generally refuse to participate in events with any group that does not share its essential doctrines. In contrast, Evangelical groups, while they typically agree on the theology "fundamentals" as expressed in The Fundamentals, often are willing to participate in events with religious groups who do not hold to the essential doctrines.[8]

Islamic

The Shiite and Sunni religious conflicts since the 7th century created an opening for radical ideologists, such as Ali Shariati (1933–77), to merge social revolution with Islamic fundamentalism, as exemplified by Iran in the 1970s.[9] Islamic fundamentalism has appeared in many counties;[10] the Wahhabi version is promoted worldwide and financed by Saudi Arabia.[11]

The Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80 marked a major turning point in the use of the term "fundamentalism". The media, in an attempt to explain the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution to a Western audience described it as a "fundamentalist version of Islam" by way of analogy to the Christian fundamentalist movement in the U.S. Thus was born the term "Islamic fundamentalist", which would come to be one of the most common usages of the term in the following years.[12]

Hindu

See also: Hindutva and Ayodhya dispute

Hinduism is a conglomeration of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid common set of beliefs,[13] thus the basic definition of fundamentalism cannot apply to Hinduism considering that it does not contain any fundamental thoughts to abide to.Template:OR

The allegations such as "A recent phenomenon in India has been the rise of Hindu fundamentalism that has led to political mobilization against Muslims. After eight years of agitation, Hindu fundamentalists destroyed the 450-year-old Babri Mosque in December 1992. The Shiv Sena is a political party founded in 1966 originally to express Hindu fundamentalism. It is allied with the nationalistic Bharatiya Janata Party.[14]" are considered mere speculation and are thought to be aimed at disrupting Hindu nationalist groups such as the Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and others.[15]

Non-religious

Some Christian theologians, some fundamentalists, and others pejoratively refer to any philosophy which they see as literal-minded or they believe carries a pretense of being the sole source of objective truth as fundamentalist, regardless of whether it is usually called a religion. For instance, the Archbishop of Wales has criticized "atheistic fundamentalism" broadly[16][17][18] and said "Any kind of fundamentalism, be it Biblical, atheistic or Islamic, is dangerous,"[19] He also said, "the new fundamentalism of our age... leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that, because God is on our side, he is not on yours."[20]

In The New Inquisition, Robert Anton Wilson, recognized episkopos, pope, and saint of the parody religion Discordianism, lampoons the members of skeptical organizations like the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP—now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) as fundamentalist materialists, alleging that they dogmatically dismiss any evidence that conflicts with materialism as hallucination or fraud.[21]

In France, the imposition of restrictions on some displays of religion in state-run schools has been labeled by some as "secular fundamentalism".[22][23] In the United States, private or cultural intolerance of women wearing the hijab (Islamic headcovering) and political activism by Muslims also has been labeled "secular fundamentalism" by some Muslims in the U.S.[24] Template:Dead link

The term "fundamentalism" is sometimes applied to signify a counter-cultural fidelity to some simplistic principle, as in the pejorative term "market fundamentalism" applied to an exaggerated religious-like faith in the ability of unfettered laissez-faire or free market economic views or policies to solve economic and social problems. According to economist John Quiggin, the standard features of "economic fundamentalist rhetoric" are "dogmatic" assertions and the claim that anyone who holds contrary views is not a real economist. Retired professor in religious studies Roderick Hindery first lists positive qualities attributed to political, economic, or other forms of cultural fundamentalism.[25] They include "vitality, enthusiasm, willingness to back up words with actions, and the avoidance of facile compromise." Then, negative aspects are analyzed, such as psychological attitudes, occasionally elitist and pessimistic perspectives, and in some cases literalism.

Atheist

See also: Criticism of atheism and Scientific imperialism

The term "atheistic fundamentalism" is controversial. In December 2007, the Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan criticized what he referred to as "atheistic fundamentalism", claiming that it advocated that religion has no substance and "that faith has no value and is superstitious nonsense."[17][18] He claimed it led to situations such as councils calling Christmas "Winterval", schools refusing to put on nativity plays and crosses removed from chapels, though others have disputed this.[26] Winterval was a name given to a whole series of winter festivals, and was not a renaming of Christmas.

In The Dawkins Delusion?, Christian theologian Alister McGrath and his wife, psychologist Joanna Collicutt McGrath, compare Richard Dawkins' "total dogmatic conviction of correctness" to "a religious fundamentalism which refuses to allow its ideas to be examined or challenged."[16]

Richard Dawkins has rejected the charge of "fundamentalism," arguing that critics mistake his "passion"—which he says may match that of evangelical Christians—for an inability to change his mind. Dawkins asserts that the atheists' position is not a fundamentalism that is unable to change its mind, but is held based on the verifiable evidence; as he puts it: "The true scientist, however passionately he may "believe" in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will."[27] Dawkins has stated that, unlike religious fundamentalists, he would willingly change his mind if new evidence challenged his current position.[27] Put another way, Dawkins states:

...Maybe scientists are fundamentalist when it comes to defining in some abstract way what is meant by 'truth'. But so is everybody else. I am no more fundamentalist when I say evolution is true than when I say it is true that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere. We believe in evolution because the evidence supports it, and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to dispute it. No real fundamentalist would ever say anything like that...[28]

Criticism

Template:Refimprove section Many criticisms of fundamentalist positions have been offered. One of the most common is that some claims made by a fundamentalist group cannot be proven, and are irrational, demonstrably false, or contrary to scientific evidence. For example, some of these criticisms were famously asserted by Clarence Darrow in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Sociologist of religion Tex Sample asserts that it is a mistake to refer to a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian Fundamentalist. Rather, a fundamentalist's fundamentalism is their primary concern, over and above other denominational or faith considerations.[29]

A criticism by Elliot N. Dorff: "In order to carry out the fundamentalist program in practice, one would need a perfect understanding of the ancient language of the original text, if indeed the true text can be discerned from among variants. Furthermore, human beings are the ones who transmit this understanding between generations. Even if one wanted to follow the literal word of God, the need for people first to understand that word necessitates human interpretation. Through that process human fallibility is inextricably mixed into the very meaning of the divine word. As a result, it is impossible to follow the indisputable word of God; one can only achieve a human understanding of God's will."[30]

A criticism of fundamentalism is the claim that fundamentalists are selective in what they believe. For instance, the Book of Genesis dictates that when a man's brother dies, he must marry his widowed sister-in-law.[31] Yet fundamentalist Christians do not adhere to this doctrine because there are laws considered addressed to the nation of Israel. The following passage is where the law comes from and it relates to the Israelite not being blotted out.

"If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. (NIV Deuteronomy 25:5-7)"

However, according to New Testament theology, parts relating to sins, such as animal sacrifices (Exodus 29:36) and dietary concerns, are not normative for modern Christians; this is related to the view that Christ sanctified and fulfills the Law for the person.[32]

"Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. (NIV Exodus 29:36)"

Jesus is considered the fulfillment of the law.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (NIV Gospel of Matthew 5:17)"

They may also cite passages such as Template:Bverse.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."

Howard Thurman was interviewed in the late 1970s for a BBC feature on religion. He told the interviewer, "I say that creeds, dogmas, and theologies are inventions of the mind. It is the nature of the mind to make sense out of experience, to reduce the conglomerates of experience to units of comprehension which we call principles, or ideologies, or concepts. Religious experience is dynamic, fluid, effervescent, yeasty. But the mind can't handle these so it has to imprison religious experience in some way, get it bottled up. Then, when the experience quiets down, the mind draws a bead on it and extracts concepts, notions, dogmas, so that religious experience can make sense to the mind. Meanwhile religious experience goes on experiencing, so that by the time I get my dogma stated so that I can think about it, the religious experience becomes an object of thought."[33]

Tom O'Golo declares that fundamentalists that use violence to further their cause contravene the root truth of all faiths:

“A genuine fundamentalist is also a radical, someone who tries to get the root of the matter. A major weakness with many or perhaps most radicals is not that they don't dig, but that they don't dig deep enough. Consequently many fundamentalists end up defending or acting upon beliefs which are not really at the heart of their doctrine. For example any religious fundamentalist who harms others in the pursuit of his or her radicalism is strictly out of order as no true religion ever encounters anything but love, tolerance and understanding. 'Thou shalt not kill' is at the heart of all genuine faiths, certainly the three based upon Abraham and God. That trio comprehensively condemns intentional harm to others (and to the self as well) for what ever reason. Dying to protect one's faith is acceptable; killing to promote it isn't. Arguably, it is blasphemous to say that God needs an earthly army to fight Its battles, or perform Its revenge. God is quite capable of fighting Its own battles.[34]
~ [[{{{2}}}|{{{2}}}]]

Albert Camus opposed both Nazi fascism and Stalinist communism, leading to a split with Jean-Paul Sartre. In the Myth of Sisyphus he developed the concept of philosophical suicide. This is any ideological system or belief that claims to bridge the gap between man's yearning for absolute unity versus what he saw as the inherent irrational nature of the universe.[citation needed]

Influential criticisms of Fundamentalism include James Barr's books on Christian Fundamentalism and Bassam Tibi's analysis of Islamic Fundamentalism.

There are also some criticisms against the political usage of the term ‘fundamentalism’. ‘Fundamentalism’ has been often used by a political group to attack their political enemies. The term would be used flexibly depending on the political interests and context of the time. According to Judith Nagata, a professor of Asia Research Institute in the National University of Singapore, “The Afghan mujahiddin, locked in combat with the Soviet enemy in the 1980s, could be praised as ‘freedom fighters’ by their American backers at the time, while the present Taliban, viewed, among other things, as protectors of American enemy Osama bin Laden, are unequivocally ‘fundamentalist.’[35]”"

Controversy

Template:Refimprove section The Associated Press' AP Stylebook recommends that the term fundamentalist not be used for any group that does not apply the term to itself. A great many scholars have adopted a similar position.[36] A good many scholars, however, use the term in the broader descriptive sense to refer to various groups in various religious traditions including those groups that would object to being classified as fundamentalists. That is the way that the term is used in The Fundamentalism Project by Martin Marty, et al., from the University of Chicago.[37]

Christian fundamentalists, who generally consider the term to be pejorative when used to refer to themselves, often object to the placement of themselves and Islamist groups into a single category given that the fundamentals of Christianity are different from the fundamentals of Islam. They feel that characteristics based on the new definition are wrongly projected back onto Christian fundamentalists by their critics.

Many Muslims protest the use of the term when referring to Islamist groups, and object to being placed in the same category as Christian fundamentalists, whom they see as theologically incomplete. Unlike Christian fundamentalist groups, Islamist groups do not use the term fundamentalist to refer to themselves. Shia groups which are often considered fundamentalist in the western world generally are not described that way in the Islamic world.

See also

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Citations and footnotes

  1. George M. Marsden, "Fundamentalism and American Culture", (1980)pp 4-5
  2. Buescher, John. "A History of Fundamentalism", Teachinghistory.org, accessed August 15, 2011
  3. Nagata, Judith (Jun 2001). "Beyond Theology: Toward an Anthropology of "Fundamentalism"". American Anthropologist 103 (2). Retrieved on 2011-01-13. 
  4. Harris, Harriet (2008). Fundamentalism and Evangelicals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. Template:Cite encyclopedia
  6. Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (1992) pp 376-86
  7. George M. Marsden, "Fundamentalism and American Culture", (1980) part III
  8. Carpenter, Revive us Again (1997) p 200
  9. William E. Griffith, "The Revival of Islamic Fundamentalism: The Case of Iran", International Security, June 1979, Vol. 4 Issue 1, pp 132-138 in JSTOR
  10. Lawrence Davidson, Islamic Fundamentalism (Greenwood, 2003)
  11. Natana DeLong-Bas, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  12. Google News Search: Chart shows spikes in '79 (Iran hostage crisis), after 9/11 and in '92 and '93 (Algerian elections, PLO).. Retrieved on 2008-12-09.
  13. Georgis, Faris (2010). Alone in Unity: Torments of an Iraqi God-Seeker in North America. Dorrance Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1-4349-0951-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=vFZrxLjtiI8C&pg=PA62.
  14. Sumit Sarkar, Beyond Nationalist Frames: Postmodernism, Hindu Fundamentalism, History (2002)
  15. PTI (2009-11-24). "Sudarshan contests Liberhan's claim : India: India Today". Indiatoday.intoday.in. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/72219/India/Sudarshan+contests+Liberhan%27s+claim.html. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), February 15, 2007, ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0
  17. 17.0 17.1 Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru | The Church in Wales
  18. 18.0 18.1 "'Atheistic fundamentalism' fears", BBC News, December 22, 2007. Retrieved on May 3, 2010. 
  19. http://www.atheistnation.net/news/?atheist/article,00139
  20. BBC News, 'Atheistic fundamentalism' fears - 22 December 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7156783.stm
  21. Pope Robert Anton Wilson, The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. 1986. 240 pages. ISBN 1-56184-002-5
  22. "Secular fundamentalism," International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2003
  23. "Headscarf ban sparks new protests," BBC News, January 17, 2004
  24. Ayesha Ahmad, Template:Dead link Muslim Activists Reject Secular Fundamentalism, IslamOnline, April 22, 1999. See also Minaret of Freedom 5th Annual Dinner, Edited Transcript, Minaret of Freedom Institute website.
  25. Hindery, Roderick (2008). "Comparative Ethics, Ideologies, and Critical Thought"
  26. Toynbee, Polly. "Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas", The Guardian, December 21, 2007. Retrieved on May 3, 2010. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 Richard Dawkins, "How dare you call me a fundamentalist: The right to criticize ‘faith-heads’," The Times, May 12, 2007
  28. Chris Lawrence 2009, http://thinkingmakesitso.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/delusion-delusion-2/ quoting Richard Dawkins: The God delusion, Bantam, 2006, p282.
  29. Tex Sample. Public Lecture, Faith and Reason Conference, San Antonio, TX. 2006.
  30. Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
  31. BLB (KJV) Gen 38
  32. Stuard-will, Kelly (2007). Karitas Publishing A Faraway Ancient Country.. United States: Gardners Books, 216.
  33. An Interview With Howard Thurman and Ronald Eyre in Theology Today, Volume 38, Issue 2 (July 1981). PTSEM.edu
  34. Tom O'Golo (2011). Christ? No! Jesus? Yes!: A radical reappraisal of a very important life.
  35. Nagata, Judith. 2001. Toward an Anthropology of “Fundamentalism." Toronto: Blackwell Publishing, p.9.
  36. "Can anyone define 'fundamentalist'? Terry Mattingly, Ventura County Star, May 12, 2011, Accessed 2011-08-06.
  37. See, for example, Marty, M. and Appleby, R.S. eds. (1993). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. John H. Garvey, Timur Kuran, and David C. Rapoport, associate editors, Vol 3, The Fundamentalism Project. University of Chicago Press.

References

  • Appleby, R. Scott, Gabriel Abraham Almond, and Emmanuel Sivan (2003). Strong Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-01497-5
  • Armstrong, Karen (2001). The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39169-1
  • Brasher, Brenda E. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92244-5
  • Caplan, Lionel. (1987). "Studies in Religious Fundamentalism". London: The MacMillan Press Ltd.
  • Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
  • Keating, Karl (1988). Catholicism and Fundamentalism. San Francisco: Ignatius. ISBN 0-89870-177-5
  • Gorenberg, Gershom. (2000). The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. New York: The Free Press.
  • Hindery, Roderick. 2001. Indoctrination and Self-deception or Free and Critical Thought? Mellen Press: aspects of fundamentalism, pp. 69–74.
  • Lawrence, Bruce B. Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Marsden; George M. (1980). Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 Oxford University Press.
  • Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby (eds.). The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Ruthven, Malise (2005). "Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280606-8
  • Torrey, R.A. (ed.). (1909). The Fundamentals. Los Angeles: The Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A. now Biola University). ISBN 0-8010-1264-3
  • "Religious movements: fundamentalist." In Goldstein, Norm (Ed.) (2003). The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2003 (38th ed.), p. 218. New York: The Associated Press. ISBN 0-917360-22-2.

External links

Template:Wiktionary

See also: List of new religious movements

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