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2008-08-11 | |
Most people use to say that fundamentalism is a bad thing. But, let’s see what the initial meaning of “fundamentalism” is. That means to respect some fundamental principles – that make a foundation - of a philosophy, doctrine or religion. So, being Islamic fundamentalist means to respect that which is the foundation of Islamism, that is to respect Muhammad and to follow his example. And Muhammad was a warrior, who made himself an empire by war. Therefore, to be Islamic fundamentalist means to be a warrior, like Muhammad, who imposed his religion by force and by death threats. And by extending the warrior character of the Islamic fundamentalists to other religions one would conclude it is very bad to be fundamentalist. Still, are the things really so with Christianity? Being a Christian fundamentalist means to respect Jesus and His apostles and to follow their example. And none of them had the character of a warrior. But Jesus died crucified saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23.34) and threatened nobody when He was on the cross. And the apostles were martyred and none of them ever taught anyone to commit violence. So, the ones that fought in the crusades and those that made the inquisition were not Christian fundamentalists in the true sense, for, if they were, they would have turned the other cheek when one slapped them in the face ...
Well, you may say then. You’ve said what the Christian fundamentalists don’t do, but what are they in fact, and what do they do?
Being Christian fundamentalist means to believe that “every Scripture is divinely inspired and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work” (2 Tim. 3.16-17). That means that any text in the Bible is in-breathed by God and has a well-defined meaning, even when it happens that we do not understand that meaning.
Then, that should mean that the Christian thinks he is superior to other people because he has in the Bible all that it takes? Certainly not! He considers he is a sinner – who, in some respects, may be even worse than some people that are not Christians – saved by the faith in Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29), for “we were once ourselves also without intelligence, disobedient, wandering in error, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Tit. 3.3), but, if “the wages of sin is death”, “the act of favor of God, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6.23). Salvation, that is being saved from the lake of fire, that is prepared for the devil – the primary source of all the evil in the world -, is not acquired by efforts to do good deeds, the way an employee would get his wages from the employer, but it is through grace, a favor from God, for “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him may not perish, but have life eternal” (John 3.16). So, salvation is a free gift from God, not something one deserves, “for all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23). And the good deeds are inspired by God and accomplished by the power that God gives and are by no means arguments by which the man that not only has sinned, but also has inherited a sinful nature from Adam – the first man that has sinned – may justify himself before God. The price for the redemption of the believers was paid by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came on earth in a human body and offered Himself to pay that redemption price that no one else could have paid. Therefore, a true Christian does not boast that he is better than other people, but praises the Lord and has all the confidence in Him for anything.
Once we have said that, having the Bible, the Christian is fit to every good work, that should mean that those Christians will make the world a better place, isn’t it so? Well, it isn’t, for “the whole world lies in the wicked one” (1 John 5.19) and the world as economic, social and politic system is against God and Jesus, so that the true Christian does not expect in this world other than suffering, like Jesus had only to suffer in this world when He came to save us. He is waiting for Jesus, the risen from the dead, to come and change all the things on earth when He will come again to establish His kingdom. Yet his hope is not tied to the earth, but it is in heaven, for he knows he will be in heaven with Jesus. He knows that, if he will die, he will be in eternity with the Lord. The death will bring him “home with the Lord”, but he never thinks to commit suicide knowing that, if he is still in this world, that is because the Lord has still to work on him and through him. Not that the almighty God would could not do without him, but because He likes to honor man making him His co-worker. And, if he does something for the Lord, the Christian does it feeling, that it is his duty, and, at the same time, he is privileged to and do that work. He will not “hold gain to be the end of piety” (1 Tim. 6.5) and will not seek to profit by the faith, knowing that the Lord will reward him. It hurts him to that so many, despising the Lord Jesus, are heading towards the eternal punishment. Yet he knows that, if anyone repents – meaning that he admits he is a sinner that deserved death and the lake of fire and recognizes that only through the Lord Jesus he may have life eternal – this being a wonderful change that only the Lord can produce in one’s heart - that being “born again” – “is not of blood, nor of flesh’s will, nor of man’s will, but of God”, so that he has not reasons to take pride in his accomplishments, but all the reasons to praise the Lord.
Then, is this intended to be a creed? So that based on it one would found a church named “Fundamental Christian”? No way! I would refrain from formulating a creed, for, like one said quite some time ago, I fear, firstly that it may not comprise everything that should be in it, then, secondly, I might put in that some things that should not be there. Should I make a new church? Certainly not. For I am convinced I could not make it better than other man-organized institutions that are called churches. But I know that “the Lord knows those that are his” (2 Tim. 2.19), whether they be in the Catholic Church, in some orthodox church or in various protestant or neo-protestant churches. Those that are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus may be found, by tradition or by chance, in different human organizations called churches, and, all those, scattered as they are, compose the Assembly of the Lord Jesus, and all those will the Lord gather together and unite with Him at his coming. The human attempts to unite the various Christian denominations lead only to compromises that may partly satisfy the pride and pretensions of some persons, but that definitely do not honor the Lord. And knowing that everyone who names the name of the Lord should withdraw from iniquity (2 Tim. 2.19), a true Christian will not enroll in any organization called church where there are some doctrines or practices contrary to the teachings given in the New Testament and to the practices recommended by Jesus and the apostles. But he does this without condemning altogether all those that happen to be in a church where there are some things contrary to the Scripture: maybe among those there are some that are redeemed by the same price of the blood of the Lord Jesus, but have not been enlightened to understand some truth of the Scripture ... In fact, the history that the Scripture sets forth shows that anything that was confided to the responsibility of man got to be corrupted. And that is what has happened to the church, but the Lord, in his grace, will save those who trust in Him, even if they fell badly.
I have written this holding the hope that at least one of those who will read these lines will have all the faith in the Lord Jesus.
“For if I announce the glad tidings I have nothing to boast of; for a necessity is laid upon me ...” (1 Cor. 9.16).
And it is with shame that I must confess that, as to my behavior, I am not fundamentalist enough in my Christian life, and, moreover, I do not believe that, ever since the apostles, there was one fundamentalist enough ...
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