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What does "fundamentalism" mean?


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#41 Kosta

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:41 PM

Within certain circles of protestantism the term fundamentalist is not derogatory, this is precisely why some orthodox have adopted it to label their opponents. Call me a fundie but it is not an appropriate orthodox terminology just as 'valid', 'illicit', 'annullment', and 'confect', are not true Orthodox words to describe things. I have even heard the term used for monks by a priest simply because he doesnt support monasticm in America.

#42 Nina

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:47 PM

I don't get it. Are you saying fundamentalists don't get invited to parties?


lol I never thought of it, but that's a good way to look at it.

P.S I do not like to label anyone as fundamentalist. Ever. It is just labels, labels, labels we humans come up with to make ourselves feel better and superior to others.

In the Last Judgment people will be judged if they had love or not, Fathers say. I do not think God will ask us if we were fundamentalists or not. He will ask us if we had/showed love. Because if you look deep into it if someone let's say taliban does what it does against women, it does it because of lack of love (if someone will start asking now how to define love, Orthodoxy has it defined by Christ Himself).

And let's say the word fundamentalist was created for extreme cases like what we see today taliban etc. and that's fine - here comes in picture Eris, because these people similar to her provoke, cause discord etc.

And there is the mythical component in this whole issue because I feel that on the other hand there are certain words, such as the one analyzed here, which are used, and misused, and abused for attacking one's opponent. I think this is not correct. And to read in this thread that we can apply this word to other Orthodox brothers and sister, forgive me, but it is insane, because not even Holy Fathers have used this word to describe someone (the deeds of someone) they condemned.

These kinds of words in my opinion start pure and little like an avalanche starts, but then they gather so much throughout history and can have very devastating effects if used within a Family like our Church. We must be careful not to throw this word around to others because it is indeed very negatively charged. If someone calls me a fundamentalist I will take offense. But if someone calls me traditionalist, zealot I will have no problem with it.

Listen to this. Nestorios, who started the heresy, was a very zealous Orthodox when he started out, actually. I never ever read any Orthodox source label him as fundamentalist - although the guy killed Arians, persecuted them and burned their churches. They simply say he was very zealous (although he had the wrong kind of zeal and had no love and compassion for the heretics thus he fell in the same trap). And the word zealous does not carry negativity. Actually zeal (not the deformed one) for God is very good and that is what drives our good actions. Also there is nothing wrong to be called traditionalist. I am not one but if someone will call me Orthodox zealous and traditionalist, I will be honored. Our Holy Fathers were like that!

What is important for me personally is not to see this word thrown around in the Church to other brothers and sisters in Christ, as it will bring discord, divisions, hatred etc. All the things the Apostles warned us against in the Epistles and also what Christ Himself left to us as the ultimate testament: "Love one another."

#43 Kosta

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:01 PM

It is applied by Orthodox towards other Orthodox many times. Do you know how many times greeks have describes old calendarists and russians as "fanatiki" (fanatical) for wearing head coverings? You dont think a priest would use the term to describe monks? Then read Fr. John Morris book "Orthodox Fundamentalists: a Critical View" , in this silly book your a fundamentalist even if you insist on a strict fast for lent!
Likewise i would be labeled a fundamentalist by my parish because if those modern statues of St Nicholas that Fr Mitchel describes were found outside my parish i would probably make a fuss over them possibly even vandalizing them. Heck im already a fundamentalist for just wanting to get rid of the electric organ. Of course the term doesnt bother me bbecause i put the fun in fundie.

#44 Michael Albert

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:11 PM

Of course the term doesnt bother me because i put the fun in fundie.


LOL! Good one! I hope you don't mind if I borrow that one from you.

#45 Nina

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:22 PM

It is applied by Orthodox towards other Orthodox many times. Do you know how many times greeks have describes old calendarists and russians as "fanatiki" (fanatical) for wearing head coverings? You dont think a priest would use the term to describe monks? Then read Fr. John Morris book "Orthodox Fundamentalists: a Critical View" , in this silly book your a fundamentalist even if you insist on a strict fast for lent!
Likewise i would be labeled a fundamentalist by my parish because if those modern statues of St Nicholas that Fr Mitchel describes were found outside my parish i would probably make a fuss over them possibly even vandalizing them. Heck im already a fundamentalist for just wanting to get rid of the electric organ. Of course the term doesnt bother me bbecause i put the fun in fundie.


lol fun yes.

Yes, Kosta this is what I am talking about too. It is painful to see this word applied towards other brothers in Christ. But 'fanatical' in Greek is not like fundamentalist is in English. You know how we use fanatical in Greek. Even if you are in love with someone you say I am fanatical and so on. No one has called me fanatical, or fundamentalist (at least not that I know of). I know people have called my mother 'crazy for Church' but this is not bad. They just want to point out how regularly she attended Church and so on.

Yes people throw words around like that all the time. For some I might be a modernist, for some a fanatical. It is all in the eye of the beholder and where one stands in relation to God. It does not bother me. But fundamentalist bothers me because "the fund" part of it has to do with the bottom - from its original language. And it is very offensive. In English it is offensive too but not that much.

P.S While you are at it about the organ in your church, please also stop by mine. lol

#46 Rick H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:28 PM

I agree with your sentiment Nina. That is kind of what I was driving at with my rambling about a proper response to fundamentalism.

I am normally not a fan of categories or labels at all; but, sometimes especially in academic or other quick moving discussions a certain nomenclature can really cover much ground in a short time--although there can be the need for a defining of terms and then a looping back.

So, what are we to do? Fundie is not even close to a politically correct term. But, I wouldn't think anyone here would call someone in particular a fundy over the wires or in person. To do so is to join them on many levels.

Maybe take a cue from Herman's post above and call them Pharasees no that's not any more politically correct or less provocative than fundie.

Hmmm . . . I guess we could take our cue from the New Testament and call fundamentalists snakes or vipers. No, that's not going to work either.

I don't know, I will have to think about this some more. Maybe bagelists? Or, just bagels?

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.


Maybe to use the word "challenged" would be helpful? "[insert word or phrase] Challenged."

Now I really want to know if the Father's speak to this mindset of the "________________ Challenged."

#47 Nina

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:42 PM

Maybe take a cue from Herman's post above and call them Pharasees no that's not any more politically correct or less provocative than fundie.


Noooooooo. To call someone a pharisee is bad too because the pharisee incorporates the hypocrite component in it. I never call another person pharisee. It is derogatory.

Hmmm . . . I guess we could take our cue from the New Testament and call fundamentalists snakes or vipers. No, that's not going to work either.

But, Rick, these words are used by Christ Himself for His own creatures. Who are we to call like this Another's servants? We did not create them, we did not give our blood for them, we did not condenscend ourselves for them.

If we are to follow examples we must heed the advise of the Holy Fathers, who say: "He today, I tomorrow!" It is scary how we usually fall into the same sin/fault we condemn very much.

I hope I do not start smoking because I judge smokers (since smoke chokes me) left and right lol

#48 Rick H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:45 PM

"He today, I tomorrow!"


This is very good Nina. I have not heard this before. Thanks for this. Scary, but good and helpful!

#49 Ryan

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 07:50 PM

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


I don't see how re-defining a label so that it can be slapped on those who disagree with us moves any conversation forward.

That is what this "fundy" talk is- namecalling to avoid addressing actual issues. As has been pointed out before, to some people, all Christians are "fundamentalists." To some "Christians," we are "fundamentalists" because we still hold to ancient practices or believe in the virgin birth. I once saw a Buddhist teacher label as "fundamentalists" her fellow Buddhists who believed in the Buddhist teaching on karma and rebirth.

I have yet to see any demonstration here why "fundamentalist" is a useful term outside of those who apply the labels to themselves or subscribe to the Protestant "fundamentals." Bringing up someone who criticized your article as an example of "fundamentalist" only further demonstrates that the word is cheap rhetorical ammo for those who have an axe to grind with someone.

#50 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 09:19 PM

I have yet to see any demonstration here why "fundamentalist" is a useful term outside of those who apply the labels to themselves or subscribe to the Protestant "fundamentals." Bringing up someone who criticized your article as an example of "fundamentalist" only further demonstrates that the word is cheap rhetorical ammo for those who have an axe to grind with someone.


I started off this discussion by providing a succinct definition of the "fundamentalist" perspective. I then provided an actual Orthodox example of a perspective fitting my definition. Several people here have borne witness that such a perspective exists, that it is recognizable by the characteristics apparent in my example, and that it fails to deal adequately with issues of faith and is therefore deserving of a name by which it can be more easily recognized and guarded against. This is all very reasonable and proves the term's usefulness.

#51 Max Percy

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 09:53 PM

I don't see how re-defining a label so that it can be slapped on those who disagree with us moves any conversation forward.

That is what this "fundy" talk is- namecalling to avoid addressing actual issues.


I agree that this is a large aspect of the actual use, but I don't think this rhetorical/pejorative use exhausts the meaning, as I have tried to stumble around above.

#52 Rick H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 10:47 PM

Aside from not exhausting the meaning of the term . . . "the issues" (including fundamentalism) are not avoided but met head on! As Father Deacon has said Fundamentalism is to be gaurded against--how much more clear can one be?

#53 Rick H.

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:15 AM

What do you think about this Christina? You asked for definition/meaning and you got a full blown case study suitable for a classroom. This, like other threads, really is a great scenario to consider in and of itself--a real gold mine for educators and students.

And, speaking of 'Learners,' I am reminded of 'Lourens' from this forum who has told me more than once that I should play my part, we should play our part. I wonder if we will find that the Fundamentalist as well as those who would warn about Fundamentalism are all just playing their parts in the End.

#54 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:20 AM

I may not be able to define "fundamentalism," but to paraphrase Justice Stewart, I know it when I see it. I think of fundamentalism as the religious version of ideology. And if you ask me to define "ideology," I will fumble and stumble, too, yet I know ideology when I see it.

#55 Christina M.

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:30 AM

What do you think about this Christina?

Uh oh, Rick... you shouldn't have asked me that! :) Now I will share my opinion.

Many times on this thread, and on many other threads of this forum, I frequently want to write: "Thank you all so much for the answers! This forum is such a great treasure, and a gift from God! I feel so much love for everyone here, I wish I could give everyone hugs and kisses out of my great gratitude! May God bless everyone here!"

But every time I feel like writing that, I hold myself back, saying: "Not only would that not be beneficial to the topic at hand, but it might also be detrimental. You should restrain yourself." I think it can be more difficult for a woman to restrain herself like that, because sometimes (sometimes?!) we can feel more emotional.

Anyway, this time I had an excuse: Rick made me do it. ;) I think Rick should get an infarction for asking that question. lol

#56 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:44 AM

I may not be able to define "fundamentalism," but to paraphrase Justice Stewart, I know it when I see it. I think of fundamentalism as the religious version of ideology. And if you ask me to define "ideology," I will fumble and stumble, too, yet I know ideology when I see it.


I prefer to be exact about the definition of fundamentalism precisely because the word is so often throw out as a thoughtless pejorative against anyone at all conservative or traditional. I define it to say what it is and what it is not.

On ideology, I go the other way, however. The word is used in too many different ways to give it only one meaning.

#57 Olga

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 04:00 AM

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.


Yet again, Father, you are taking a blunderbuss approach, where the tone and content of your comment adds little to meaningful discourse. Need I state yet again that the images you mentioned have been repeatedly denounced as theologically deficient and impermissible going back at least as far as the time of St John of Damascus? This, alas, has not prevented their repeated and continual production, a point I have made time and again over the years. Images of God the Father and the like are outside of Holy Tradition, where Holy Tradition represents all that is true, safe and accepted by the entire Church.

As for the statue of St Nicholas, it stands, quite properly, outside your church, and its purpose would be decorative and monumental, not devotional.

It is interesting that you have not included hymnography in your reply; which elements of Orthodox hymnography would you regard as dubious, unsafe, or non-essential?

Edited by Olga, 13 May 2011 - 04:09 AM.
adding additional material


#58 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:08 PM

Need I state yet again that the images you mentioned have been repeatedly denounced as theologically deficient and impermissible going back at least as far as the time of St John of Damascus? This, alas, has not prevented their repeated and continual production, a point I have made time and again over the years.


The singing of women in church has also been repeatedly denounced by sainted Fathers at least as far back as St. Isidore of Pelusium (4th-5th centuries). Is that Holy Tradition?

#59 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:37 PM

It is certainly PART of our tradition, but not the totality of it. Tradition does not have to be "infallible". In fact I have to suspect that the concept of infallibility is NOT part of our Tradition. That is why we have bishops. This is why God knew we would need bishops and that they would need each other and the traditions of the church to guide the people of God.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the traditional Pooh

#60 Ryan

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 01:55 PM

I prefer to be exact about the definition of fundamentalism precisely because the word is so often throw out as a thoughtless pejorative against anyone at all conservative or traditional. I define it to say what it is and what it is not.


But why is your definition any more valid or authoritative than the others?




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