Unfundamentalist Christians

What do they believe? What do you think? Talk about religion as it exists today.
Post Reply
User avatar
hjalti
Posts: 244
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:28 am

Unfundamentalist Christians

Post by hjalti »

I've recently stumbled upon a religious group that I find fascinating: Unfundamentalist Christians.

One would conclude from the name that these people are some sort of ol' time liberal Christians. But what I find fascinating is how similar they really are to the fundies.

When I speak about "ol' time liberal Christians" I'm thinking of the Christians who don't think that the bible is authoratative and are generally very un-orthodox. Some living "ol' time liberal Christians" would be Spong, Crossan and Borg (and your local ELCA priest! :P )

When you look at the first two points, the unfundamentalists seem to be very close to the fundies in many issues:
1. Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

2. Following the word of God means taking into account the entirety of God’s words. The Bible itself tells us that it consists of songs, visions, histories, dreams, parables, commandments. It instructs Christians that New Testament moral directives supersede Old Testament moral directives. It asserts that moral principles supersede moral “rules.” The relevant context of any Bible passage is as integral to its meaning as the passage itself. It may be appropriate to give equal weight to each clause within a business contract or a game rulebook. But the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is not a uniform document, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific, and all passages having equal value. The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. Isolating a Bible passage from its context, and then claiming a sort of moral helplessness about that passage because “it’s in the Bible,” is failing to take the Bible either literally or seriously.
When one reads the rest of the points, I think it's possible to say that this is American fundamentalism with some tweaks: 1. acceptance of "modern morality" (divorce and homosexuality is OK), 2. acceptance of modern science (evolution is OK) and 3. rejection of "the wrath of god" (they deny the doctrine of hell). They just say that this is what the bible teaches when properly interpreted. So they seem to agree with the fundie view of the bible, but just have to arrive at a slighty different conclusion (the three tweaks).

So why do they call themselves "unfundamentalists" when they're really close to them? Are "liberal fundies" like this group common in the USA?
User avatar
Doug Shaver
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:08 am

Re: Unfundamentalist Christians

Post by Doug Shaver »

hjalti wrote:So why do they call themselves "unfundamentalists" when they're really close to them? Are "liberal fundies" like this group common in the USA?
I knew some Christians like that back in the days when most people had never heard of the Internet. It's a matter of connotation. They get it that the word "fundamentalist," in the minds of most people, is supposed to be pejorative because it is associated with bigotry, ignorance, and a legalistic construal of biblical commandments. Since, in their own view, they are tolerant, enlightened, and relatively progressive in their interpretation of biblical morality, they see a need to relabel themselves.

It's a little bit like the "brights" movement among some atheists a few years ago, except that the people who joined it did not deny being atheists.
Roger Pearse
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:26 am

Re: Unfundamentalist Christians

Post by Roger Pearse »

hjalti wrote:I've recently stumbled upon a religious group that I find fascinating: Unfundamentalist Christians.

One would conclude from the name that these people are some sort of ol' time liberal Christians. But what I find fascinating is how similar they really are to the fundies. ...

When one reads the rest of the points, I think it's possible to say that this is American fundamentalism with some tweaks: 1. acceptance of "modern morality" (divorce and homosexuality is OK), 2. acceptance of modern science (evolution is OK) and 3. rejection of "the wrath of god" (they deny the doctrine of hell).
If those who adopt the morals of the age, in preference to those of the bible, the apostles, the fathers, and every Christian before 1950, may reasonably be labelled Christians, then the latter term has no meaning.

But what we really see here is people whose real religion is convenience. They adopt a selection of values as convenient for themselves. They find it convenient to call themselves "Christian", so they do. But they aren't. It's merely an accident that they do religious things (except when it gets inconvenient!) - their guiding intellectual position is no different to any other person living by societal values.

The old liberals did exactly the same. The particular worldly shibboleths adopted depend, not on them, but on what Dr Johnson called "the clamour of the age". So these are, indeed, exactly the same people in a new guise.

Poor souls.
User avatar
Blood
Posts: 899
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:03 am

Re: Unfundamentalist Christians

Post by Blood »

hjalti wrote:I've recently stumbled upon a religious group that I find fascinating: Unfundamentalist Christians.

One would conclude from the name that these people are some sort of ol' time liberal Christians. But what I find fascinating is how similar they really are to the fundies.

When I speak about "ol' time liberal Christians" I'm thinking of the Christians who don't think that the bible is authoratative and are generally very un-orthodox. Some living "ol' time liberal Christians" would be Spong, Crossan and Borg (and your local ELCA priest! :P )

When you look at the first two points, the unfundamentalists seem to be very close to the fundies in many issues:
1. Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

2. Following the word of God means taking into account the entirety of God’s words. The Bible itself tells us that it consists of songs, visions, histories, dreams, parables, commandments. It instructs Christians that New Testament moral directives supersede Old Testament moral directives. It asserts that moral principles supersede moral “rules.” The relevant context of any Bible passage is as integral to its meaning as the passage itself. It may be appropriate to give equal weight to each clause within a business contract or a game rulebook. But the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is not a uniform document, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific, and all passages having equal value. The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. Isolating a Bible passage from its context, and then claiming a sort of moral helplessness about that passage because “it’s in the Bible,” is failing to take the Bible either literally or seriously.
When one reads the rest of the points, I think it's possible to say that this is American fundamentalism with some tweaks: 1. acceptance of "modern morality" (divorce and homosexuality is OK), 2. acceptance of modern science (evolution is OK) and 3. rejection of "the wrath of god" (they deny the doctrine of hell). They just say that this is what the bible teaches when properly interpreted. So they seem to agree with the fundie view of the bible, but just have to arrive at a slighty different conclusion (the three tweaks).

So why do they call themselves "unfundamentalists" when they're really close to them? Are "liberal fundies" like this group common in the USA?
It appears that this guy John Shore latched onto a clever marketing term ("unfundamentalist") to peddle a kind of gay-friendly, anti-hell, warm and fuzzy Christianity that is nonetheless still hardcore Christian.

I predict that groups like this will become more common in the USA. Christianity either has to adapt to the times, or die. It always has (adapted, not died).

http://johnshore.com
If you’d like to inquire about my speaking with your group, or during one of your worship services, contact me via my Contact page, or at john@johnshore.com. I can speak from five minutes to as long as you’d like on such topics as:

How and why the Christian paradigm relative to LGBT people is so rapidly changing.
How your church can most carefully, properly and productively go through the discernment process on the LGBT issue.

The role the Internet plays in the conception, perception, and practice of Christianity today.
What it’s like to be thirty-eight years old and suddenly, out of nowhere (and while in a supply closet at your job, of all places) go from being a loather of all things Christian to a Christian.
What non-Christians fairly yearn for Christians to understand.
The inherently difficult practical relationship between the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Why Christianity is nothing if not rationally supportable.
Why it’s time to rethink hell—and how to go about doing that.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp
User avatar
hjalti
Posts: 244
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:28 am

Re: Unfundamentalist Christians

Post by hjalti »

Roger Pearse wrote:If those who adopt the morals of the age, in preference to those of the bible, the apostles, the fathers, and every Christian before 1950, may reasonably be labelled Christians, then the latter term has no meaning.
Roger, so what specific morals are you thinking of?
Mental flatliner
Posts: 486
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 9:50 am

Re: Unfundamentalist Christians

Post by Mental flatliner »

hjalti wrote: When I speak about "ol' time liberal Christians" I'm thinking of the Christians who don't think that the bible is authoratative and are generally very un-orthodox. Some living "ol' time liberal Christians" would be Spong, Crossan and Borg (and your local ELCA priest! :P )
This sounds pretty cowardly.

Why would you hold an opinion that the Bible is not authoritative, but then go to the trouble to belong to a religion of the Bible?

(Wouldn't it make more sense to take up tennis or yoga or something you can really believe in with your whole heart?)
Post Reply