Let’s All Be Fundamentalists!

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.

12 thoughts on “Let’s All Be Fundamentalists!

    1. OK, you will probably think I’m crazy here, but I haven’t forgotten your comment and it recently occurred to me that it’s the first verse listed that is the issue. And I understand and agree that gender is’t so clear cut 100% of the time. Pretty clearly some people are transgendered. And let’s not forget the hermaphrodites or others with physical differences. BUT, I think that 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”. So anyhow, just thought I’d pass that on. See if we can’t get you on board for all 15? 😉

      1. I too have issue with the *literal* interpretation of Genesis 1:27 – because I don’t believe it means the literal physical image. It just can’t make sense that way. God can’t have brown hair and red hair and blonde hair and no hair (for example) at the same time. God can’t have blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, and even eyes at the same time. God can’t be male, female, intersex etc at the same time. It can’t be the literal physical image that is referenced. I think something else is meant – and I think it is the *spiritual* image, if that makes any sense. Our souls are the image of God (IMHO) and this meat wrapping is really only dust.

        Otherwise, yup, on board with the rest. And I wouldn’t even consider myself a Christian (merely someone who likes Jesus and his teachings a lot)

      2. Vicky, see that’s the magic. I agree with your understanding, but someone who thinks of it differently can also affirm it. Maybe after we work on these for a while, we can worry about what we disagree on, but to start, let’s focus on the really bare, core essentials which we all ought to be able to agree with.

  1. I describe family values as responsibility towards others, increase of tolerance, compromise, support, flexibility. And essentially the things I call the silent song of life–the continuous process of mutual accommodation [to legitimate interests and desires] without which life is impossible ~ Minuchin Salvador

    We need not think alike to love alike. ~ Francis David

  2. There are two Saints who might have been wholly sanctified this side of the fullness of Eternity–St. Francis of Assisi and St. Therese of Lisieux.

    Both were distinctively Christian in thier unreserved love for Chrisand both have many Christians who claim them as mentors in their own pilgrimage of faith:

    Christ—as always, the model—never sat back, crossed his arms, and dismissed the annoying, the troublesome, or the unpromising. He never name-called, never judged, never treated a single person with contempt. Christ talked to everybody, he mingled with every body, he shared his message with everybody, and he also loved everybody.
    So we don’t count the cost with anybody, either. We don’t waste our time with people who don’t want what we have to offer. But if they do, one form of martyrdom is to give a listening ear or an understanding smile to all comers: the borderline-personality alcoholic who’s trying to get sober; the friend with the broken heart that refuses to mend; the charismatic prayer group whose sensibility didn’t jibe with mine and whose offer to speak at their quarterly brunch I joyfully, gratefully accepted because we are all in our ways trying to walk toward the light. (Don’t think I didn’t need the $250 stipend either.)
    We’re called to speak to people to whom we often don’t feel like speaking; to refrain from surrounding ourselves with people “just like us,” whose thoughts,ideas and actions we can more or less manage and control; to share not just with the poor, but with the rich, the mediocre, the irritating, the Republicans, the Democrats, because we never know who the poor are. We never know whose heart is hemorrhaging. We never know who needs a kind word, a smile, a helping hand.
    Part of the overall plan seems to be that no matter how sad, wounded, neurotic, or needy we are, that may be exactly what some other person needs us to be at that time. We don’t know the ways we comfort and save each other, not only in spite of our wounds, but also in some cases, because of them. No one is likely to be more sympathetic to an alcoholic than another alcoholic. No one is likely to have more compassion than the person, guided by love, who needs compassion him or herself. That is why we must never judge. That is why we must always look for the good in the other.

    Lord, when the world tells me I am nothing, help me to
    remember that you are not of the world.
    When everything I do turns to ashes, help me to remember
    to turn to you.
    When everywhere I turn is a blank wall, help me to see your
    When I feel like an orphan, help me to remember that you are
    my Father.
    When I feel like a frightened bird in a dead universe, help me
    to remember that love reigns eternal.
    When I feel like I’m being stripped down to nothing, help me
    to know that you are especially near.

    ~ Heather King, SHIRT of FLAME: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux

    “Community is that place where the person you least want to live with always lives. And when that person moves away, someone else arises to take his or her place.” ~ Parker J. Palmer

    I describe family values as responsibility towards others, increase of tolerance, compromise, support, flexibility. And essentially the things I call the silent song of life–the continuous process of mutual accommodation [to non-predatory behaviors] without which life is impossible ~ Minuchin Salvador

    We need not think alike to love alike. ~ Francis David

    God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering. ~Saint Augustine

    “The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved”.
    –Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

    To be redeemed is not merely to be absolved of guilt before God, it is also to live in Christ, to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, to be in Him a new creature, to live in the Spirit.
    ~Thomas Merton

    Becoming a Christian is not so much inviting Christ into one’s life as getting oneself into Christ’s life. ~Orthodox Study Bible

    We all have the power to give love. And if we do so, we change the kind of person we are, and we change the kind of world we live in. – Rabbi Harold Kushner

    “There’s a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.” — Anne Lamott (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)

    From the cowardice that shrinks from new truths, from the laziness that is content with half truths, and from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, O God of truth, deliver us.~ Rabbi Mordechai M. Kaplan

  3. •God created humankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them,
    male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
    ~~~ I’d say “in his own image … male and female” means that God is both male and female, which would pretty much cover everyone’s gender and variations thereof.

  4. If we go with the Bible’s description of God–that He is a spirit–then we can’t really ascribe to Him the *physical* characteristics of male and female. So when the Bible says that both male and female are created in His image, I imagine that to be in the spiritual, emotional and intellectual aspect. But if someone wanted to make the case for the physical aspect as well, it wouldn’t bother me. God encompasses so much, who is to say it’s impossible? Like a woman’s womb, He is the source of life. Like her breasts, He is the source of nourishment and comfort. Like a man’s body, He is the source of strength. I believe it is within the union of man and woman that the whole of God’s essence and character is expressed–He gave each gender (and each individual) something of Himself to emanate. After all, He is our father, and children always have a little of their father in them. 😉

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