By Kevin J. Cheek
Fundamentalists. Religious Right. Fundies. Everyone seems to have a label for Fundamentalist Christians. The mainstream media and secularists use it as a slur. Either by ignorance or design they tend to regard Fundamentalist Christians as a homogenous subculture. Some speak of Fundamentalist Christian leaders. Some politicians use the term as a goad to spur on party loyalists, in the exact same way some invoked the term Roman Catholic to oppose John F. Kennedy. But most Americans are left with the question: What is Fundamentalist Christianity? And some might be surprised to learn that they themselves are Fundamentalist Christians, even though they may have never thought of themselves in that way.
Christian Fundamentalism has a very simple definition: The belief that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. While all Christians look to the Bible, some put equal or greater emphasis on tradition or on non-scriptural rationalizations. Not so with Fundamentalist Christians, who look strictly to the Bible.
To understand Christian Fundamentalism we must first understand some terminology. You'll frequently come across the term Conservative, Moderate, and Liberal. These refer to broad theological positions and are not to be confused with their political counterparts. On one end we have theologically conservative Christians, which are the same as Fundamentalist Christians. On the other we have theological liberals who reject the core beliefs about Christ and salvation that have defined Christianity for nearly two thousand years, and regard Christianity more as a philosophy. In between are the theological moderates which can have theologically conservative or theologically liberal leanings.
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