I have decided to endorse fundamentalism. The Upside Down World version of fundamentalism, that is. It works a little differently than the other version.
First of all, this version of fundamentalism can be embraced by Literalists and Catholics and Episcopalians and Evangelicals and the hyper-religious as well as the spiritual but not religious. With this fundamentalism, it doesn’t matter that we disagree about every-freaking-thing. It’s what we agree about that matters here.
The second difference is that this version of fundamentalism doesn’t cut you off from other people – it connects you with other people.
The third difference is the catch, though – this version of fundamentalism demands quite a lot from you. You can’t just mentally agree with it and be in. You actually have to give your heart AND your actions to it.
The fourth difference is that The Upside Down World’s fundamentalism produces good fruit in your life and the lives of those around you. Unfortunately, for all the best efforts of its adherents, the other kind of fundamentalism can rarely achieve that. Interested? OK – allow me to introduce the new
Statement of (The Upside Down World’s) Fundamentalist Faith:
There is great disagreement within the church regarding whether the bible should be taken literally and if so, which parts must be taken literally. Unfortunately, this ongoing disagreement has often kept us from paying enough to those verses which we can all agree ought to be taken literally. So, although there is freedom in Christ which allows for a variety of ideas and understandings to be held by those who follow Jesus, I propose that the following scripture verses ought to be universally embraced, considered literally true and defended against all challengers:
- God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,
male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27**
- Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40
- If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 John 4:20-21
- Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48
- The LORD said to Samuel, “. . . The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
- Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. – Deuteronomy 1:17
- God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 1 John 4:16-17
- And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8
- My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.You are my friends if you do what I command.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. – John 15:12-17
- “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
- “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:34-40
- Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15
- “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
- Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
- Guard your heart with all vigilance,for from it are the sources of life. – Proverbs 4:23
I know there are tons more verses we could argue should be taken literally. Which is kind of the point – we’d argue. But I think that if all Christians were to take this list as literally true, we’d work the rest out just fine. So who’s going to be a fundamentalist with me?
** It occurred to me that this verse could be contentious given the reality of people who are transgendered or even those born hermaphrodites or who have other gender/genitalia related physical or identity issues. However, my understanding is that this verse establishes that all of humanity is created in God’s image without any limits, caveats or barriers related to gender. Also, even (especially?) in cases where the answer is both/and rather than either/or, gender is profoundly important to our experience of being human. And that’s “very good” even if it’s sometimes also very hard.