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What does "fundamentalism" mean?


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#21 Max Percy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 04:40 PM

I could not answer your questions very well because I am not a theologian. And I am not a proponent of women priests or gay marriage. I am obedient to the Church...and that is good enough for me.


This, I think is the point I was trying to address. Obedience to the Church does not preclude, but, rather, invites or even requires theological engagement of these cultural questions as an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Few of us are theologians, myself included. However, engagement of the actual circumstances of our culture and time is part of what we are called to: to proclaim Christ and His Kingdom to those who are not in the Church and invite them to Christ.

I am concerned, perhaps wrongly, that to rely only on my or your obedience to the Church runs the risk of edging into a kind of solipsistic and perhaps too comfortable notion of salvation. Perhaps this is part of a fundamentalist impulse? This is all very tricky business that I think we need to encourage one another with.

#22 Michael Albert

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 04:44 PM

I am concerned, perhaps wrongly, that to rely only on my or your obedience to the Church runs the risk of edging into a kind of solipsistic and perhaps too comfortable notion of salvation. Perhaps this is part of a fundamentalist impulse?

If someone is going to label me as a fundamentalist because of my obedience to the Holy Orthodox Church and Her Sacred Tradition....then so be it.

#23 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:19 PM

The gender/sexuality issue is indeed a good example of the divide between Orthodox conservatives and Orthodox fundamentalists.

Case in point: Last fall I published in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly a long article entitled "The Problem with Hierarchy: Ordered Relations in God and Man." The article defined a new concept called archy and constrasted it with both egalitarian anarchy and subordinationist hierarchy, providing (IMNSHO) the best explanation of and justification for the distinction of gender and traditional sex roles, including the subjection of the woman to the man. Yet despite my very conservative conclusions, I was taken to task by an Orthodox friend for daring to say that the Church doesn't already have a good explanation for gender, that some of the Fathers (namely Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor) were perhaps wrong about gender (in devaluing it), and that the Church for many centuries has had too much hierarchy and not enough archy. His was a characteristically fundamentalist reaction, demonstrating reflexive resistance to new thinking, insistence that the Orthodox Tradition is both perfect and sufficient, umbrage at any criticism of any sainted Father, and rejection of reason as a guide to truth.

#24 Max Percy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:28 PM

If someone is going to label me as a fundamentalist because of my obedience to the Holy Orthodox Church and Her Sacred Tradition....then so be it.

Please forgive me. I am not accusing or labeling YOU with anything. I am only trying to have a conversation with you and others about these difficult issues. I am trying to talk about tendencies I see in myself and articulations of others' positions as candidly as I can, but I am not trying to label you or anyone else. Sorry.

#25 Max Percy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:31 PM

Last fall I published in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly a long article entitled "The Problem with Hierarchy: Ordered Relations in God and Man." The article defined a new concept called archy and constrasted it with both egalitarian anarchy and subordinationist hierarchy, providing (IMNSHO) the best explanation of and justification for the distinction of gender and traditional sex roles, including the subjection of the woman to the man. Yet despite my very conservative conclusions, I was taken to task by an Orthodox friend for daring to say that the Church doesn't already have a good explanation for gender, that some of the Fathers (namely Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor) were perhaps wrong about gender (in devaluing it), and that the Church for many centuries has had too much hierarchy and not enough archy. His was a characteristically fundamentalist reaction, demonstrating reflexive resistance to new thinking, insistence that the Orthodox Tradition is both perfect and sufficient, umbrage at any criticism of any sainted Father, and rejection of reason as a guide to truth.


This sounds interesting and I look forward to reading it.

Thanks

#26 Michael Albert

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:58 PM

Please forgive me. I am not accusing or labeling YOU with anything. I am only trying to have a conversation with you and others about these difficult issues. I am trying to talk about tendencies I see in myself and articulations of others' positions as candidly as I can, but I am not trying to label you or anyone else. Sorry.

My dear brother in Christ...I am not saying that you have labeled me. I am saying that if "someone" projects that label on me.......then so be it.

The gender issue is tricky indeed. I have seen what the call for woman’s ordination has done in some Roman Catholic circles. And I have seen what the approval of female clergy and gay marriages have done to some of the protestant groups.

I was Byzantine Catholic when the Revised Divine Liturgy (RDL) was introduced in 2007. The word "man" and "mankind" were eliminated from all text (including the Creed). This was explained as being respectful to the sensitivities of women. Many were offended by the changes--especially some of our women (including my wife). I have recently discovered that the Antiochian Orthodox Church has designated March as "women's month." During the month of March, females are assigned to read the epistle, collect the tithe, hold the Chalice cloth while the faithful are receiving, and sometimes even give the homily. This confused me and my wife. Does it mean that the other eleven months are not for women? When is men's month? I believe this type of political correctness gender neutral nonsense opens the door for a whole lot more nonsense....and possible trouble.
But hey...that's just me.

Edited by Michael Albert, 11 May 2011 - 06:23 PM.


#27 Max Percy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:29 PM

I believe this type of political correctness gender neutral nonsense opens the door for a whole lot more nonsense....and possible trouble.[/SIZE]
But hey...that's just me.


To me this is exactly what points to the need for a theological articulation of these issues, so that we are not entirely driven by the culture on the one hand, and so also that we can engage and proclaim the Gospel on the other.

#28 Max Percy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:32 PM

So after kicking this around for the last few hours, it now occurs to me that perhaps fundamentalism and sectarianism are part and parcel of one another.

#29 Michael Albert

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:39 PM

To me this is exactly what points to the need for a theological articulation of these issues, so that we are not entirely driven by the culture on the one hand, and so also that we can engage and proclaim the Gospel on the other.

The Church should not be driven by the culture. The Church changes the world....the world does not change the Church. But when the Church allows the world to change Her....She has a 2000 year old model for reference and correction. :)

#30 Max Percy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 08:19 PM

The Church should not be driven by the culture. The Church changes the world....the world does not change the Church. But when the Church allows the world to change Her....She has a 2000 year old model for reference and correction. :)


While this is true enough, the Church must be responsive to the culture in order to preach the Gospel. Further, we are all part of the culture and the culture has its effect on us, especially in areas the Church has not addressed theologically. One only has to go to any variety of parish or Church meetings with the invocation of all sorts of corporate models, language and techniques to unfortunately see this in effect.

#31 Olga

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:00 AM

Returning to post #2 on this thread:

I would define it as an irrational insistence upon an infallible authority as a final defense against the perceived dangers of critical thinking.

For Protestant fundamentalists, the infallible authority is the Bible; for Catholic fundamentalists it is the Pope; for Orthodox fundamentalists it is the Tradition.


Tradition, spelled with a capital T, is generally recognised among the Orthodox as referring to Holy Tradition, which includes and reflects the scriptural, patristic, liturgical and iconographic deposit of the Church. Are you suggesting, Fr Patrick, that Holy Tradition is not an "infallible authority"?

#32 Kosta

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:41 AM

To a secular person anyone who attends religious services regularly and dresses modestly are fundamentalists. Every single person who regularly posts on this forum is a fundamentalist to the nominal orthodox adherent. Others may call it traditionalist or simply 'old fashion' its all in the eye of the beholder.

#33 Ryan

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 10:40 AM

The gender/sexuality issue is indeed a good example of the divide between Orthodox conservatives and Orthodox fundamentalists.

Case in point: Last fall I published in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly a long article entitled "The Problem with Hierarchy: Ordered Relations in God and Man." The article defined a new concept called archy and constrasted it with both egalitarian anarchy and subordinationist hierarchy, providing (IMNSHO) the best explanation of and justification for the distinction of gender and traditional sex roles, including the subjection of the woman to the man. Yet despite my very conservative conclusions, I was taken to task by an Orthodox friend for daring to say that the Church doesn't already have a good explanation for gender, that some of the Fathers (namely Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor) were perhaps wrong about gender (in devaluing it), and that the Church for many centuries has had too much hierarchy and not enough archy. His was a characteristically fundamentalist reaction, demonstrating reflexive resistance to new thinking, insistence that the Orthodox Tradition is both perfect and sufficient, umbrage at any criticism of any sainted Father, and rejection of reason as a guide to truth.


I think I get it. He didn't like your article, so let's define "fundamentalist" so you can call him one. I suppose it beats the laborious process of demonstrating why your position is right and his is wrong.

#34 Max Percy

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 11:44 AM

I think I get it. He didn't like your article, so let's define "fundamentalist" so you can call him one. I suppose it beats the laborious process of demonstrating why your position is right and his is wrong.


Does this kind of ad hominem really move the conversation forward?

#35 Rick H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 11:51 AM

I think I get it. He didn't like your article, so let's define "fundamentalist" so you can call him one. I suppose it beats the laborious process of demonstrating why your position is right and his is wrong.


No, I don't think you do get it Ryan. The question here is "What does fundamentalism mean?" Father Deacon is providing an illustration that answers the question very well.

Actually, I have never seen in one place so many good descriptions/definitions of fundamentalism! Father David, Max, and others . . . there is some very valuable writing/thinking here. This is a gold mind for students who need to write papers. Especially, the above phrase in Father Deacon's writing, "reflexive resistance," this is perfect. I am glad to see the inclusion of this kind of passion which has been described in many of the posts above in terms of mood, attitude, etc.

As I understand the definition of the word passion, fundamentalism is definitely a passion--it overwhelms the person who is dominated by it much as rabies overwhelms an animal infected with it, a loss of control in actions and behavior.

For those of us who are experienced with fundamentalism it is very easy to detect, even in Internet forums. It comes across so crystal clear and with such great speed. The most experienced fundies can hide it for a bit, but usually not for long. Fundamentalism really is not a positive thing, and this is why fundies do not want the shoe to fit! This is why the very subject of fundamentalism itself incites a fundie in a way that brings forth anger and bitterness.

#36 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 01:02 PM

As I understand the definition of the word passion, fundamentalism is definitely a passion--it overwhelms the person who is dominated by it much as rabies overwhelms an animal infected with it, a loss of control in actions and behavior.

For those of us who are experienced with fundamentalism it is very easy to detect, even in Internet forums. It comes across so crystal clear and with such great speed. The most experienced fundies can hide it for a bit, but usually not for long. Fundamentalism really is not a positive thing, and this is why fundies do not want the shoe to fit! This is why the very subject of fundamentalism itself incites a fundie in a way that brings forth anger and bitterness.


I agree any belief system can be or become a passion and that is an excellent insight. This point brings to mind the quote by Barry Goldwater, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (That sounds pretty passionate to me.)

However, I would add one modification. As (some) of the fathers tell us that not all anger is bad or is a passion, that anger at a sin or a passion can be a virtue. I would suspect that 'fundamentalism' based upon well reasoned (i.e. not delusional) value system can in the proper context be considered a virtue. (I know that I am splitting hairs but you know "All general statements are false (including the one I just made."))

I wouldn't know about fundies and the shoe thing, I go barefoot most of the time.

#37 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 01:37 PM

Truth is, there seems to be a sliding scale here and different people do pick different places on that scale to define the word. I generally equate fundamentalism with phariseeism, which I tend to define as an over emphasis on the mechanics and legalism. The letter kills but the spirit gives life.

Having been called a fundie in this forum I might be a little over sensitive but one should be allowed to defend fundamental principles without being charged with the negative connotations of being a "fundie". I think the word is useless and merely another form of ad hominem used to denigrate rather than debate. It is a crutch when the argument is weak.

Herman the fundamental Pooh

#38 Rick H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:05 PM

Having been called a fundie in this forum I might be a little over sensitive but one should be allowed to defend fundamental principles without being charged with the negative connotations of being a "fundie". I think the word is useless and merely another form of ad hominem used to denigrate rather than debate. It is a crutch when the argument is weak.

Herman the fundamental Pooh


Another analogy would be "alcholism" and "alcholic." Instead of typing out or saying Alcholism or Fundamentalism some people just use drunk or fundie. The choice of noun does not serve as a crutch, but I guess certain modifiers could viz. stinking drunk.

And, it works both ways Herman in terms of our response to the drunk or the fundie. That's probably the hardest part for some. For some of us the question is do we have compassion for a drunk or distain in our heart, do we have compassion for the one who is yeilded and passively dominated by fundieness or not. But, a proper response to either of these is not the topic here really.

Or, I dunno . . . Herman, your definition of a fundie above is much like mine. What was the response of Christ to this type of person characteristically?

#39 Rick H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:30 PM

Maybe there is a kind of 'scale' . . . how much do you have to drink before you are drunk? How often do you have to be drunk to be called a drunk?

Some people are sensitive about being told they drink too much or should quit. Some people really resent this. This can really bring out some anger in folks at times if someone wants to take away thier crutch be it alcohol or drugs. Yes, there really are some similiarities.

Who wants the rug pulled out from under them?

If you take the fundamentalism away from the fundamentalist, what does he have left? If you take the whiskey away from the drunk what does he have left?

Or back to Herman's definition of fundamentalism . . . what do the Fathers say about Pharaseeism?

What does the Bible say about this mindset?

#40 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:40 PM

Tradition, spelled with a capital T, is generally recognised among the Orthodox as referring to Holy Tradition, which includes and reflects the scriptural, patristic, liturgical and iconographic deposit of the Church. Are you suggesting, Fr Patrick, that Holy Tradition is not an "infallible authority"?


Olga, does the "iconographic deposit" of your infallible big-T tradition include every icon ever employed by anyone Orthodox? That would be quite a range of graphic works. It would include icons of the Father as an old man with a long gray beard and the rather modern-looking statue of St. Nicholas that now stands outside my cathedral.




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