(from an article by Drew Kiser via Reflections volume 5, number 1)
This world uses many names to demean Christians and pressure them to capitulate to its influence, but one word stands out above all others as the most dreaded weapon in society's linguistic arsenal: fundamentalist.
"Fundamentalist" as a formal religious designation was coined in 1920 by Curtis Lee Laws of those ready "to do battle royal for the Fundamentals." The dictionary defines "fundamentalism" as "religious beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible regarded as fundamental to Christian faith and morals," but since the 1920's the word has evolved into a pejorative with political implications, invoking images of bomb-wielding terrorists and intolerant, unloving preachers with a Pharisaical approach to religion. Fundamentalism today is regarded as anti-intellectual, resistant to culture, intolerant of opposing views, anti-science and violent [all false].
Opponents of conservative faiths have worked hard to develop these negative connotations. In an essay entitled, Why Fundamentalism is Wrong, Scott Bidstrup defines fundamentalism as:
any religion, that when confronted with a conflict between love, compassion and caring, and conformity to doctrine, will almost invariably choose the latter regardless of the effect it has on its followers or on the society of whit is is a part.
Note also the statement by renowned atheist Richard Dawkins, whose book, The God Delusion has sold over 1.5 million copies: "fundamentalism...subverts science and saps the intellect."
The danger that results from fundamentalism's bad press is that it tempts Christians to move away from the basic doctrines revealed by God (in his Word) to shape Christianity into a religion that pleases him. If we ignore these elements, Christianity vanishes from existence.
Divorced from its political nuances, a fundamental is a primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the basis for our faith. It is an essential part of the whole. No organization can continue to exist without its fundamentals. The Lord's church has many good works which are not essential to its existence; things like church camps....Bible schools, Christian colleges, visitation programs, etc. While these may be beneficial, they are not essential. We could do away with one or all of them and still have the church for which our Lord died (consisting of believers who respond to the command to obey the gospel.)
Paul spoke of the fundamentals in Ephesians 4:4-6 by listing seven "ones":
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
The apostle left no room for improvement or innovation in these seven matters. Being "one," they are essential to the Christian faith..(.these are fundamentals.)
Perhaps "fundamentalism" is one of those works that has run its course. Having been stripped of its original meaning, it is no longer useful in conveying these important principles. Nevertheless, Christian people cannot forget their moorings. Without the basics, we are nothing.
My comments: Everyone has fundamentals in their lives. On the job, there are fundamental principles of business to follow, and at home there are fundamental ways of doing things. Raising a family requires fundamental beliefs and practices. Even those who send their children to public schools will find that the schools have fundamental rules and beliefs. The important thing is that we know which fundamental beliefs to follow. Like Joshua said, we can follow the fundamentals of this world, or the fundamentals of the Lord.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
All areas of life have fundamentals. You cannot become a seamstress or a good housekeeper without choosing fundamentals to follow. Sciences and musical instruments, construction of buildings, and government, all require fundamental rules and practices in order to be used properly. The confusion comes when modernists take out fundamental rules of life, whether it be fundamental courtesy and politeness, or fundamental orderliness They say, "What does it matter if we are sloppy, dirty, immodest, crude, rude or slothful in our work? Is not it the heart that counts?"
Our actions and way of life are a reflection of our hearts, for the Bible says:Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
Colosians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
We might use the word "fundamental" more prominently, as in "fundamental house keeping," and "fundamental cooking," "fundamental learning," fundamental hospitality" and "fundamental piano lessons."