This term has really been coming up a lot lately in the media and in conversations.  I think I mentioned earlier that until recently I didn't even know I was considered a fundamentalist.  I also mentioned that I hate labels, and I believe labeling a person is a way for others to distance themselves from them without really taking the time to get to know the person and what they believe.  So I decided I wanted to clarify what I believe a fundamentalist is and give you the opportunity to tell me what you think a fundamentalist is. 

First of all, the only label that really fits me and that I accept is the one of Christian.  By Christian I simply mean I believe in Jesus Christ and live my life in a way I hope is pleasing to him.  As a Christian, I also believe in the fundamentals of the Bible.  I believe there is a God, that he is the Creator of all, that he came to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, lived a perfect life, died as the supreme sacrifice for my sin, and then rose again and now sits on the throne beside his Father, God.  To be accepted in His kingdom, I only need to acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of his grace and mercy, repent for my wrongdoings, accept the forgiveness he has already provided for me, and walk in  relationship with him.  I'm sure others can say this much better, but to me this is the fundamentals of the Bible and the ones I believe in and live by.  I also believe that the Bible is where the line is drawn.  There are many beliefs that  different Christians adhere to that the Bible is silent on, or can be  interpreted differently.  But where the Bible is clear on an issue, that is where I will stand in my beliefs. 

I've heard it said that fundamentalists are out to force their beliefs on everyone else.  Not so.  Christ doesn't force himself on anyone.  The choice lies with each individual.  I share my beliefs with others because I see many people whose lives can be enriched if they knew Christ.  Living for Christ is a healthy way to live.  Living with morals, learning to love others where they are, having a relationship with someone who promises never to leave or forsake us, having the comfort, strength, courage, etc., that comes from God doesn't hurt anyone.  It helps.  But that doesn't mean I reject the person who doesn't accept Christ.  Sharing my faith doesn't mean I am out to force everyone to believe as I do.  I know  everyone is not going to believe as I do.  But just as anyone else who believes in something, whether God, Amway, GTE, Microsoft, or whatever and wants to share it with their friends and let them in on it, I want to share the answers and the life I've found in Christ.  To try to force anyone to believe as I do, would be to try to take away the very thing God gave us...our free will.   And I want to point out that many of the accusations I've heard pinned on Fundamentalists, can be applied to many other faiths and peoples.  You don't have to be a Fundamentalist to be against murder, sex outside of marriage whether that is same-sex relationships or not, abortions, etc.  As I've said earlier, I know people who don't lay any claim to being a Christian, and certainly not a Fundamentalist, who are against some of the same things and can be very vocal and militant about it, too. 

So my challenge to you is to think through the labels you give to people.  Define what you mean and then check it out.  Get to know them.  Ask them questions.  Then form your opinion about a person based on that individual, not a generic label. 

Please write and tell us what your definition of a Fundamentalist is. 

From Our Readers:

The term fundamentalist means different things to different people. The definition I was taught in a Christian high school years ago was that a fundamentalist is someone who:
1) Believes in the word-for-word inspiration and accuracy of the Bible
2) Believes in the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ
3) Believes that Jesus died in our place (substitutionary atonement)
4) Believes that Jesus rose bodily from the dead
5) Believes that will physically return to this earth (Second Coming).

I'm finding that many of the people who would have called themselves
fundamentalists 25 years or more ago now use the word "evangelical." This is partly due to a controversy over the exact nature of the inspiration of the Bible and also because the term "fundamentalist" carries so many negative
connotations with so many people.

Actually, we aren't all mean-spirited and small. It's too bad so many people
see it that way. I agree, labels are by and large harmful.
David in Wisconsin

I agree 100% with your comments. It may help you to know that others see this rejection and negative labeling of Christian values and believers in our society too. Too many do not realize that they may be diluting their beliefs by not speaking God's truths and that this rejection ingredient is the cause of their silence.

A fundamentalist is one who ignores the fundamentals. You have identified matters close to the fundamentals, but neither hitting the nail squarely on the head nor entirely missing it, so you cannot possibly be a true fundamentalist, who would have missed it completely. Jesus was a true fundamentalist, identifying two prime commandments and that all righteousness flowed from these.

A fundamentalist is a Pharisee. His hands are clean and he accuses the Messiah of being possessed by the devil.

A fundamentalist uses easy and shallow interpretations, the literal for what is spiritual and the spiritual for what is literal, in order to accomplish his own ends. He may burn witches and homosexuals, condemn heretics to death, compel agreement, and, ideally, live from the fruit of others labours, or death as the case may be.

A fundamentalist is supremely self-righteous, intellectually and spiritually dull, bound to burn in Hell and will take as many others with him as possible.

Of course, this is not a true fundamentalist. A true fundamentalist is a holy man who thirsts and seeks and is given wisdom by God, but does not call himself a fundamentalist, realizing that this is the Tower of Babel, and not wishing to be caught up in vain discussion..Jim Short

Hey Annie, you know, it felt so good to have someone speaking my heart out for me......I cannot agree with what you wrote more, but you're so  much more eloquent.

Well, just wanted to let you know I appreciate your website very much - I came across it by searching for Philip Yancey, as I've just finished reading 2 of his books - What's so amazing about grace and The Jesus I Never Knew. 

I'll definitely spend more time browsing through your web. 

In Christ, Cindy (from Hong Kong)