Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Religious Extremes Dangerous

In the late 1970s a group of radical Fundamentalists began their take-over of the Southern Baptist Convention. I paid little attention as I knew Southern Baptists were far more conservative than liberal or even moderate in theology and practice.

It took the Fundys nearly two decades to prevail. Mostly by setting up a bunch of “rock-hard beliefs” and condemning any Baptist individual, church or school that did not conform to them. That is, claiming the Bible is without error; that women are not up to the calling of God to preach and pastor; that the Convention leaders decide if a church is worthy and if not to withdraw fellowship. No where in the Bible is there such a “hierarchy,” “denomination,” “church” “church polity” or any group to choose whose church is fit or unfit and exterminate them. These are power grabs and self-promoting stunts that have evolved throughout the history of Christianity.

Baptist heritage has never rested on one creed or hierarchy. Each church decides worship procedure, urges stewardship; seeks to make their community better (and Baptist of course). They do not answer to bishop or superintendents. This system, like American democracy, is a tenuous thing. It is fragile, very easily broken, misled, misunderstood or abused.

Baptists can be compared to the spirit of Forrest Gump’s famous phrase: … Baptist churches are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you might find inside.

Extreme fundamentalists thinking is as close as you can get to the opposite of what religions are all about. They are dangerous in Islam, Hindu, Buddha, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, New Age stuff, fill in the blank and especially Christianity.

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