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Fundamentalism refers to a belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life.[1][2][3][4]

The term fundamentalism was originally coined to describe a narrowly defined set of beliefs that developed into a movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century, and that had its roots in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of that time. Until 1950, there was no entry for fundamentalism in the Oxford English Dictionary;[5] the derivative fundamentalist was added only in its second 1989 edition.[6]

The term has since been generalized to mean strong adherence to any set of beliefs in the face of criticism or unpopularity, but has by and large retained religious connotations.[6]

Fundamentalism is commonly used as a pejorative term, particularly when combined with other epithets (as in the phrase "Muslim fundamentalists" and "right-wing/left-wing fundamentalists").[7][8] Richard Dawkins has used the term to characterize religious advocates as clinging to a stubborn, entrenched position that defies reasoned argument or contradictory evidence.[9] Others in turn, such as Christian theologian Alister McGrath, have used the term fundamentalism to characterize atheism as dogmatic.[10]



Christian origins

Fundamentalism as a movement arose in the United States, starting among conservative Presbyterian academics and theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary in the first decade of the Twentieth Century.[11][12] It soon spread to conservatives among the Baptists and other denominations during and immediately following the First World War.[11][12] The movement's purpose was to reaffirm orthodox Protestant Christianity and zealously defend it against the challenges of liberal theology, German higher criticism, Darwinism, and other "-isms" which it regarded as harmful to Christianity.[11][12]

The term "fundamentalism" has its roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897) which defined those things that were fundamental to Christian belief. The term was also used to describe "The Fundamentals", a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by Milton and Lyman Stewart[11][12] This series of essays came to be representative of the "Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy" which appeared late in the 19th century within the Protestant churches of the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church which distilled these into what became known as the "five fundamentals":[13]

By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the Five Fundamentals came to be known as "fundamentalists."

Since then, the focus of the movement, the meaning of the term Fundamentalism, and the ranks of those who willingly use it to identify themselves, have gone through several phases of re-definition,[11][12] though maintaining the central commitment to its orthodoxy.

Christian Fundamentalism Today

It is important to distinguish between "Fundamentalism" as the name of a group and "Fundamentalism" as a theology. In America, prior to the late 1800s, most protestants held to a core understanding of Faith Alone, Inerrancy of the Scriptures, and Christianity as the only way to heaven. Since then, Conservative Evangelicals have generally held to all of this, Moderate Evangelicals have generally given up belief in inerrancy (more precisely, they often interpret inerrancy as referring to doctrine, not to individual words, and may be more willing to accept the idea that certain passages in the Old Testament are not literal history), and Liberals, in addition to giving up faith in inerrancy, also have generally claimed that followers of other religions can also be saved. Also, those who consider themselves Fundamentalists distinguish themselves from Conservative Evangelicals.

While Conservative Evangelicals often will participate in events with groups who don't hold to the essential doctrines, those who consider themselves Fundamentalists, the Moderate Fundamentalists, choose not to participate in events with groups who don't hold to the essential doctrines. This is 1st degree separation. A more extreme group of people who call themselves Fundamentalists, the Militant Fundamentalists, will not participate in events with other groups who, (though they have correct doctrine) participate in events with groups who do not hold to the essential doctrines. This is 2nd degree separation. This use of "Fundamentalist" as referring to these two groups is distinct from the "Fundamentalist" theology of The Fundamentals which many Conservative Evangelicals hold to. [14]

Later usage

The Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80 marked a major turning point in the use of the term "fundamentalism". The media, in an attempt to explain the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution to a Western audience which had little familiarity with Islam, came to describe it as a "fundamentalist version of Islam" by way of analogy to the Christian fundamentalist movement in the U.S. Thus was born the term "Islamic fundamentalist", which would come to be one of the most common usages of the term in the following years.[15]

South Asian Fundamentalism

The Kashmir conflict is a representation of ‘fundamentalist’ religious empowerment. This conflict is not a stand-alone phenomenon.[16] The origins of this South Asian conflict could be traced back to the fundamentalist Islamic mindset that preceded the two-nation theory of Pakistan and subsequent Islamisation by decades, especially the way Islamic institutions were protected and flourished during the colonial period. The cited study develops a framework of understanding how India and Pakistan are constantly perched on the precipice of war since 1947, caught in “a paired-minority conflict”,[17] engaging occasionally in the battleground but increasingly in games of stealth and intelligence. The cited study develops an argument on how this fundamentalist conflict gradually progressed to an insurgency in Kashmir with implications beyond South Asia.

The fundamentalist phenomenon

The pattern of the conflict between Fundamentalism and Modernism in Protestant Christianity has parallels in other religious communities, and in its use as a description of these corresponding aspects in otherwise diverse religious movements the term "fundamentalist" has become more than only a term either of self-description or of derogatory contempt. Fundamentalism is therefore a movement through which the adherents attempt to rescue religious identity from absorption into modern, Western culture, where this absorption appears to the enclave to have made irreversible progress in the wider religious community, necessitating the assertion of a separate identity based upon the fundamental or founding principles of the religion.

This formation of a separate identity is deemed necessary due to a perception that the religious community has surrendered its ability to define itself in religious terms. The "fundamentals" of the religion have been jettisoned by neglect, lost through compromise and inattention, so that the general religious community's explanation of itself appears to the separatist to be in terms that are completely alien and fundamentally hostile to the religion itself.

Some fundamentalist movements, therefore, claim to be founded upon the same religious principles as the larger group, but the fundamentalists more self-consciously attempt to build an entire approach to the modern world based on strict fidelity to those principles, to preserve a distinctness both of doctrine and of life.

Basic beliefs of religious fundamentalists

For religious fundamentalists, sacred scripture is considered the authentic and authoritative word of their religion's god or gods. This does not necessarily require that all portions of scripture be interpreted literally rather than allegorically or metaphorically - for example, see the distinction in Christian thought between Biblical infallibility, Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism. Fundamentalist beliefs depend on the twin doctrines that their god or gods articulated their will clearly to prophets, and that followers also have an accurate and reliable record of that revelation.

Since a religion's scripture is considered the word of its god or gods, fundamentalists believe that no person is right to change it or disagree with it. Within that though, there are many differences between different fundamentalists. For example, many Christian fundamentalists believe in free will, that every person is able to make their own choices, but with consequence. The appeal of this point of view is its simplicity: every person can do what they like, as much as they are able, but their god or gods will bring those who disobey without repentance ("turning away from sin") to justice. This is made clear by the commands of Jesus in the New Testament concerning any kind of revenge ("Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord" for one). The Judaist belief is similar, but they do not believe that it is wrong to take vengeance. The fundamentalist insistence on strict observation of religious laws may lead to an accusation of legalism in addition to exclusivism in the interpretation of metaphysical beliefs.



A Japanese school of Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, which believes that other forms of Buddhism are heretical, has also been labelled fundamentalist. There are several sects of the Nichiren School, the most widely known is the lay Buddhist organization the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). The SGI, however, demonstrates cultural exchange and interfaith initiatives. A fuller understanding of the history and contemporaty impact of Nichiren Buddhism can be found in other Wikipedia pages on Nichiren Buddhism. Some Nichiren sects contain influences from Shintō and a strong nationalistic streak.

Tibetan Buddhism

The 14th Dalai Lama has agreed that there exist also extremists and fundamentalists in Buddhism, arguing that fundamentalists are not even able to pick up the idea of a possible dialogue.[18] The Dalai Lama has thus far refused to engage in dialogue with Dorje Shugden practitioners, a justification cited by the Western Shugden Society for their recent protests.[19] For example, the Dalai Lama has never responded to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's open letter that was sent to him in 1997.[20]

In an interview in 2005 the Dalai Lama referred to radical Dorje Shugden followers who, according to him, "were strongly suspected of having killed a lama who was very dear to me, the director of the School of Tibetan Dialectics in Dharamsala, and two monks, translators who were playing an important role in interpreting with the Chinese." He states that "These same people have beaten up and threatened other Tibetans in the name of their vision, which I would define as Buddhist integralism." In 2007 Interpol issued red notices to China for extraditing Lobsang Chodak and Tenzin Chozin, who are accused of the "ritualistic killing" of those three monks.[21]

A decade ago, in 1997, at the height of the Dorje Shugden controversy, Robert Thurman claimed: "It would not be unfair to call Shugdens the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism," referring to the Muslim extremists of Afghanistan.[22] This characterization was repeated in other newspapers in 2002 when reporting about death threats against the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, northern India.[23][24]

In September 2008, the Western Shugden Society wrote an open letter,[25] challenging Thurman to justify his 10-year-old claim: "You should show your evidence publicly through the internet before 25 October 2008. If your evidence does not appear by this date then we will conclude that you have lied publicly and are misleading people." As of November 2009, there has been no response by Thurman on his website.[26]

New Kadampa Tradition

The alleged connection between the New Kadampa Tradition (aka NKT) and radical Indian and Nepali Shugden groups was strongly rejected by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the NKT, arguing: "The NKT is completely independent from Shugden groups in India..." and "This really is a false accusation against innocent people. We have never done anything wrong. We simply practise our own religion, as passed down through many generations."[27] In an open letter to the Washington Times,[28] he stated "In October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue ... everyone knows the NKT and myself completely stopped being involved in this Shugden issue at all levels. I can guarantee that the NKT and myself have never performed inappropriate actions and will never do so in the future, this is our determination. We simply concentrate on the flourishing of holy Buddhadharma throughout the world - we have no other aim. I hope people gradually understand our true nature and function."[28] The editor of the Washington Times article retracted the claim about the relationship between Shugden groups from India and Nepal and the British-based New Kadampa Tradition.[29]

David Kay argued in his doctoral research that the New Kadampa Tradition fit into the criteria of Robert Lifton’s definition of the fundamentalist self.[30] However, most scholars do not agree with this characterization. Inken Prohl expresses hesitation over Kay's use of the word fundamentalist in regards to the NKT because of "the vague and, at the same time, extremely political implications of this term."[31] Likewise, Paul Williams prefers the word traditionalist over fundamentalist in describing the NKT and other Dorje Shugden followers. Reacting to the charge that the NKT is a 'fundamentalist movement,' Robert Bluck said, "Again a balanced approach is needed here: the practitioner’s confident belief may appear as dogmatism to an unsympathetic observer."[32]

Protestant Christian views

Christian fundamentalists see the Bible (both the Old Testament and the New Testament) as infallible and historically accurate.

It is important to distinguish between the "literalist" and "Fundamentalist" groups within the Christian community. Literalists, as the name indicates, hold that the Bible should be taken literally in every part. It would appear that there is no significant Christian denomination which is "literalist" in the sense that they believe that the Bible contains no figurative or poetic language. As the term is commonly used, "literalists" are those Christians who are more inclined to believe that portions of scripture (most particularly parts of the Book of Revelation) which most Christians read in a figurative way are in fact intended to be read in a literal way.

Many Christian Fundamentalists, on the other hand, are for the most part content to hold that the Bible should be taken literally only where there is no indication to the contrary. As William Jennings Bryan put it, in response to Clarence Darrow's questioning during the Scopes Trial (1925):

"I believe that everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there; some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' I would not insist that man was actually salt, or that he had flesh of salt, but it is used in the sense of salt as saving Ebba's people."

Still, the tendency toward a literal reading of the Bible is criticized by mainline Protestant scholars and others.[33][34][35]

According to anthropologist Lionel Caplan,

"In the Protestant milieu of the USA, fundamentalism crystallized in response to liberals' eagerness to bring Christianity into the post-Darwinian world by questioning the scientific and historical accuracy of the scripture. Subsequently, the scourge of evolution was linked with socialism, and during the Cold War period, with communism. This unholy trinity came to be regarded as a sinister, atheistic threat to Christian America...Bruce [Chpt. 9 of Caplan 1987] suggests that to understand the success of the Moral Majority, an alliance between the conservative forces of the New Right and the fundamentalist wings on the mainly Southern Baptist Churches, we have to appreciate these fears, as well as the impact of a host of unwelcome changes - in attitudes to 'morality', family, civil and women's rights, and so on - which have, in the wake of economic transformations since the Second World War, penetrated especially the previously insular social and cultural world of the American South." (Caplan 1987: 6)

The term fundamentalist has historically referred specifically to members of the various Protestant denominations who subscribed to the five "fundamentals", rather than fundamentalists forming an independent denomination. This wider movement of Fundamentalist Christianity has since broken up into various movements which are better described in other terms. Early "fundamentalists" included J. Gresham Machen and B.B. Warfield, men who would not be considered "Fundamentalists" today.

Over time the term came to be associated with a particular segment of Evangelical Protestantism, who distinguished themselves by their separatist approach toward modernity, toward aspects of the culture which they feel typify the modern world, and toward other Christians who did not similarly separate themselves.

The term fundamentalist is difficult to apply unambiguously, especially when applied to groups outside the USA, which are typically far less dogmatic. Many self-described Fundamentalists would include Jerry Falwell in their company, but would not embrace Pat Robertson as a fundamentalist because of his espousal of charismatic teachings. Fundamentalist institutions include Pensacola Christian College, and Bob Jones University, but classically Fundamentalist schools such as Fuller Theological Seminary and Biola University no longer describe themselves as Fundamentalist, although in the broad sense described by this article they are fundamentalist (better, Evangelical) in their perspective. (The forerunner to Biola U. - the Bible Institute of Los Angeles - was founded under the financial patronage of Lyman Stewart, with his brother Milton, underwrote the publication of a series of 12 books jointly entitled The Fundamentals between 1909 and 1920.)

See also: Independent Fundamental Baptist.


Hinduism, being a conglomerate of religious traditions, contains a very diverse range of philosophical viewpoints and is generally considered as being doctrinally tolerant of varieties of both Hindu and non-Hindu beliefs.[36]

Although related, Hinduism and Hindutva are different. Hinduism is a religion while Hindutva is a political ideology. . Some sections of the leftists and opponents of Hindutva, use the term "Hindu Taliban" to describe the supporters of the Hindutva movement.[37] Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize-winning Indian sociologist and cultural and political critic Ashis Nandy argued "Hindutva will be the end of Hinduism."[38]

Islamic views

Muslims believe that their religion was revealed by God (Allah in Arabic) to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, the final Prophet delivered by God. However, the Muslims brand of conservatism which is generally termed Islamic fundamentalism encompasses all the following:

  • It describes the beliefs of traditional Muslims that they should restrict themselves to literal interpretations of their sacred texts, the Qur'an and Hadith. This may describe the private religious attitudes of individuals and have no relationship with larger social groups.
  • It describes a variety of religious movements and political parties in Muslim communities.
  • As opposed to the above two usages, in the West "Islamic fundamentalism" is most often used to describe Muslim individuals and groups which advocate Islamism, a political ideology calling for the replacement of state secular laws with Islamic law.

In all the above cases, Islamic fundamentalism represents a conservative religious belief, as opposed to liberal movements within Islam.

Jewish views

Most Jewish denominations believe that the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) cannot be understood literally or alone, but rather needs to be read in conjunction with additional material known as the Oral Torah; this material is contained in the Mishnah, Talmud, Gemara and Midrash. While the Tanakh is not read in a literal fashion, Orthodox Judaism does view the text itself as divine, infallible, and transmitted essentially without change, and places great import in the specific words and letters of the Torah. As well, adherents of Orthodox Judaism, especially Haredi Judaism, see the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash as divine and infallible in content, if not in specific wording. Hasidic Jews frequently ascribe infallibility to their Rebbe's interpretation of the traditional sources of truth.

Mormon views

Mormon fundamentalism is a conservative movement of Mormonism that believes or practices what its adherents consider to be the fundamental aspects of Mormonism. It should be noted, however, that mainstream Mormon adherents also believe and practice what they consider to be the fundamental aspects of Mormonism. Most often, Mormon fundamentalism represents a break from the form of Mormonism practiced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and a return to Mormon doctrines and practices which adherents believe the LDS Church has wrongly abandoned, such as plural marriage, the Law of Consecration, the Adam-God theory, blood atonement, the Patriarchal Priesthood, elements of the Mormon Endowment ritual, and often the exclusion of black people from the priesthood. The degree to which these beliefs are fundamental to Mormonism, or that the LDS church ever officially accepted them continues to be a matter of debate. Mormon fundamentalists have formed numerous sects, many of which have established small, cohesive, and isolated communities in areas of the Western United States and Canada, often within or near the Mormon Corridor. One of the largest of these sects is the FLDS or Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Common aspects

Fundamentalists believe their cause to have grave and even cosmic importance. They see themselves as protecting not only a distinctive doctrine, but also a vital principle, and a way of life and of salvation. Community, comprehensively centered upon a clearly defined religious way of life in all of its aspects, is the promise of fundamentalist movements, and it therefore appeals to those adherents of religion who find little that is distinctive, or authentically vital in their previous religious identity.

The fundamentalist "wall of virtue", which protects their identity, is erected against not only other religions, but also against the modernized, nominal version of their own religion. In Christianity, fundamentalists can be known as "born again" and "Bible-believing" Protestants, as opposed to "mainline", "liberal", "modernist" Protestants. In Islam there are jama'at ((religious) enclaves with connotations of close fellowship) fundamentalists self-consciously engaged in jihad (struggle) against the Western culture that suppresses authentic Islam (submission) and the God-given (Shari'ah) way of life. In Judaism fundamentalists are Haredi "Torah-true" Jews. There are fundamentalist equivalents in Hinduism and other world religions. These groups insist on a sharp boundary between themselves and the faithful adherents of other religions, and finally between a "sacred" view of life and the "secular" world and "nominal religion". Fundamentalists direct their critiques toward and draw most of their converts from the larger community of their religion, by attempting to convince them that they are not experiencing the authentic version of their professed religion.

Many scholars see most forms of fundamentalism as having similar traits. This is especially obvious if modernity, secularism or an atheistic perspective is adopted as the norm, against which these varieties of traditionalism or supernaturalism are compared. From such a perspective, Peter Huff wrote in the International Journal on World Peace:

"According to Antoun, fundamentalists in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite their doctrinal and practical differences, are united by a common worldview which anchors all of life in the authority of the sacred and a shared ethos that expresses itself through outrage at the pace and extent of modern secularization."[39]

Non-religious "fundamentalism"

Some refer to any literal-minded philosophy with pretense of being the sole source of objective truth as fundamentalist, regardless of whether it is usually called a religion. For instance, theologian Alister McGrath has compared Richard Dawkins' atheism to religious fundamentalism, and the Archbishop of Wales has criticized "atheistic fundamentalism" more broadly.[10][40][41] Richard Dawkins has stated that, unlike religious fundamentalists, he would willingly change his mind if new evidence challenged his current position.[42]

In The New Inquisition, Robert Anton Wilson lampoons the members of skeptical organizations like the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP - now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) as fundamentalist materialists, alleging that they dogmatically dismiss any evidence that conflicts with materialism as hallucination or fraud.[43]

In France, the imposition of restrictions on public display of religion has been labeled by some as "Secular Fundamentalism."[44][45] Intolerance of women wearing the hijab (Islamic headcovering) and political activism by Muslims also has been labeled "secular fundamentalism" by some Muslims in the United States.[46]

The term "fundamentalism" is sometimes self-applied to signify a rather counter-cultural fidelity to some noble, simple, but overlooked principle, as in Economic fundamentalism; but the same term can be used in a critical way. Roderick Hindery first lists positive qualities attributed to political, economic, or other forms of cultural fundamentalism.[citation needed] They include "vitality, enthusiasm, willingness to back up words with actions, and the avoidance of facile compromise." Then, negative aspects are analyzed, such as psychological attitudes, occasionally elitist and pessimistic perspectives, and in some cases literalism.

State atheism

State atheism is the official rejection of religion in all forms by a government in favor of atheism. When Albania under Enver Hoxha declared itself an atheist state,[47][48][49] it was deemed by some to be a kind of fundamentalist atheism and where Stalinism was like the state religion which replaced other religions and political ideologies. See also North Korea, China and Vietnam.

Atheistic fundamentalism

The term "atheistic fundamentalism" is controversial. In an hour-long documentary entitled The Trouble with Atheism, Rod Liddle criticized atheism, arguing that it is becoming just as dogmatic as religion.[50][51][52] In The Dawkins Delusion? Christian theologian Alister McGrath and psychologist Joanna Collicutt McGrath compare Richard Dawkins' "total dogmatic conviction of correctness" to "a religious fundamentalism which refuses to allow its ideas to be examined or challenged."[10]

Sam Harris has been criticized by some of his fellow contributors at The Huffington Post. In particular, RJ Eskow has accused him of fostering an intolerance towards faith, potentially as damaging as the religious fanaticism which he opposes.[53][54]

In December 2007, the Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan criticized what he referred to as "atheistic fundamentalism", claiming that it advocated that religion has no substance and "that faith has no value and is superstitious nonsense."[40][41] He claimed it led to situations such as councils calling Christmas "Winterval", schools refusing to put on nativity plays and crosses removed from chapels, though others have disputed this.[55]

Richard Dawkins has rejected the charge of "fundamentalism," arguing that critics mistake his "passion" - which he says may match that of evangelical Christians - for an inability to change his mind. Dawkins asserts that the atheists' position is not a fundamentalism that is unable to change its mind, but is held based on the verifiable evidence - as he puts it: "The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will."[42]

Philosophical fundamentalism

Although fundamentalism is often related to religions, there is a development to focus more and more on philosophy. In a way the philosophical part of religions is set apart. Fundamentalism is not only found in religious beliefs, but also in philosophical base principles that matches with those religious beliefs. An example of this can be found in Bellevarde philosophy.[56]

Criticism of fundamentalist positions

Many criticisms of fundamentalist positions have been offered. One of the most common is that some claims made by a fundamentalist group cannot be proven, and are irrational, demonstrably false, or contrary to scientific evidence. For example, some of these criticisms were famously asserted by Clarence Darrow in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Sociologist of religion Tex Sample asserts that it is a mistake to refer to a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian Fundamentalist. Rather, a fundamentalist's fundamentalism is their primary concern, over and above other denominational or faith considerations.[57]

A criticism by Elliot N. Dorff: "In order to carry out the fundamentalist program in practice, one would need a perfect understanding of the ancient language of the original text, if indeed the true text can be discerned from among variants. Furthermore, human beings are the ones who transmit this understanding between generations. "Even if one wanted to follow the literal word of God, the need for people first to understand that word necessitates human interpretation. Through that process human fallibility is inextricably mixed into the very meaning of the divine word. As a result, it is impossible to follow the indisputable word of God; one can only achieve a human understanding of God's will."[58]

A criticism of fundamentalism is the claim that fundamentalists are selective in what they believe. For instance, the Book of Genesis dictates that when a man's brother dies, he must marry his widowed sister-in-law.[59] Yet fundamentalist Christians do not adhere to this doctrine, despite the fact that it is not contradicted in the New Testament. However, according to New Testament theology, large parts, if not all of the Mosaic Law, are not normative for modern Christians. They may cite passages such Colossians 2:13-23.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."

Howard Thurman was interviewed in the late 1970s for a BBC feature on religion. He told the interviewer, "I say that creeds, dogmas, and theologies are inventions of the mind. It is the nature of the mind to make sense out of experience, to reduce the conglomerates of experience to units of comprehension which we call principles, or ideologies, or concepts. Religious experience is dynamic, fluid, effervescent, yeasty. But the mind can't handle these so it has to imprison religious experience in some way, get it bottled up. Then, when the experience quiets down, the mind draws a bead on it and extracts concepts, notions, dogmas, so that religious experience can make sense to the mind. Meanwhile religious experience goes on experiencing, so that by the time I get my dogma stated so that I can think about it, the religious experience becomes an object of thought."[60]

American futurist John Renesch expands upon this notion by stating, "For me, fundamentalism is an attempt to comprehend that which cannot be comprehended, to rationalize the unfathomable, “effing” the ineffable. It is similar to trying to measure the immeasurable or the “indefinitely extensive.” It is the human mind doing what it is supposed to do, making sense of things. But some things are ineffable and attempts to make sense of them are fruitless unless one is willing to settle for any explanation just to have one.

Influential criticisms of Fundamentalism include James Barr's books on Christian Fundamentalism and Bassam Tibi's analysis of Islamic Fundamentalism.

Controversy over use of the term

The Associated Press' AP Stylebook recommends that the term fundamentalist not be used for any group that does not apply the term to itself. Many scholars, however, use the term in the broader descriptive sense to refer to various groups in various religious traditions, and the five-volume study The Fundamentalism Project by Martin Marty, et al., from the University of Chicago takes this approach.[61] In popular discussions, the term fundamentalist is frequently used improperly to refer to a broad range of conservative, orthodox, or militiant religious movements.

Christian fundamentalists, who generally consider the term to be pejorative when used to refer to themselves, often object to the placement of themselves and Islamist groups into a single category given that the fundamentals of Christianity are different than the fundamentals of Islam. They feel that characteristics based on the new definition are wrongly projected back onto Christian fundamentalists by their critics.

Many Muslims protest the use of the term when referring to Islamist groups, and object to being placed in the same category as Christian fundamentalists, whom they see as theologically incomplete. Unlike Christian fundamentalist groups, Islamist groups do not use the term fundamentalist to refer to themselves. Shia groups which are often considered fundamentalist in the western world generally are not described that way in the Islamic world.

See also

Citations and Footnotes

  1. ^ Beit-Hallahmi, Bennjamin. "Fundamentalism", Global Policy Forum (with "consultative status at the UN"), May 2000, Accessed 14-05-2008.
  2. ^ "Fundamentalism", Accessed 14-05-2008.
  3. ^ Google define:fundamentalism
  4. ^ Marsden, George M. "Fundamentalism and American Culture", Oxford University Press US (1980/rev.2006)
  5. ^ Giddens, Anthony (1994). Beyond left and right: the future of radical politics. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-8047-2451-2. OCLC 32371646.,M1. 
  6. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 1989
  7. ^ Harris, Harriet (2008). Fundamentalism and Evangelicals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-953253-2. OCLC 182663241. 
  8. ^ Boer, Roland (2005). "Fundamentalism". in Tony Bennett, Lawrence Grossberg, Meaghan Morris and Raymonnd Williams (PDF). New keywords: a revised vocabulary of culture and society. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 134–137. ISBN 0-631-22568-4. OCLC 57357498 230674627 57357498. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  9. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2006-10-02). The God Delusion. London: Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0593055489. 
  10. ^ a b c Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), February 15, 2007, ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0
  11. ^ a b c d e Matthews, Terry L.. "Fundamentalism". Lectures for Religion 166: Religious Life in the United States. Wake Forest University. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Noll, Mark A. (1992). A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0651-1. OCLC 45748646 49546624 59988987 60882886 61482661 25203267 45748646 49546624 59988987 60882886 61482661. .
  13. ^ Origin of "five fundamentals" documented at Presbyterian conference of 1910
  14. ^ This material was from a lecture at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL, on Dec. 10th, 2009, by Dr. Dan Green for the "Biblical Theology of the Gospels" class
  15. ^ "Google News Search: Chart shows spikes in '79 (Iran hostage crisis), after 9/11 and in '92 and '93 (Algerian elections, PLO).".,2005. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  16. ^ How far can the Kashmir conflict 1989-2009 be attributed to 'fundamentalist' religious empowerment? by Gurtej Singh
  17. ^ Emerging Power India by Stephen P. Cohen
  18. ^ Interview with HH the Dalai Lama by Raimondo Bultrini, Engl. Trans. by Alison Duguid, Merigar, Dzogchen Community Italy, 2005
  19. ^ Tibetan sects protest in US against Dalai Lama NewsX, 2008-07-12, retrieved 2008-12-01
  20. ^ Open Letter to H.H. the Dalai Lama by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
  21. ^ The Times, June 22, 2007, Interpol on trail of Buddhist killers, Jane Macartney in Beijing,
  22. ^ Newsweek, April 28, 1997, [1]
  23. ^ "Death threats to Dalai Lama blamed on rival Bhuddist sect", The Sidney Morning Herald, November 16, 2002 [2]
  24. ^ Washington Times, "Dalai Lama faced with death threats", 23 November 2002 [3]
  25. ^ Official Website Western Shugden Society, Open Letter to Robert Thurman, 10 September 2008, [4]
  26. ^
  27. ^ Reply to Newsweek, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, 1997, CESNUR
  28. ^ a b Open letter from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to Wesley Pruden, editor in chief,
  29. ^ The Washington Times, "Dalai Lama faced with death threats", November 23, 2002
  30. ^ Kay, D. N. (2004). Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain: Transplantation, development and adaptation. RoutledgeCurzon critical studies in Buddhism. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-415-29765-6. p. 110.
  31. ^ Book Review: Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain. Inken Prohl, Free University of Berlin. retrieved 2008-12-09.
  32. ^ Bluck, R. (2006). British Buddhism: Teachings, practice and development. Routledge critical studies in Buddhism. London: Routledge. p. 129.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Fundamentalism
  35. ^ The World of Fundamentalism
  36. ^ India and Hinduism "In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. The Hindu is inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and is doctrinally tolerant, leaving others - including both Hindus and non-Hindus - whatever creed and worship practices suit them best. "
  37. ^ Fritz Blackwell (2004). India: A Global Studies Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 126. ISBN 9781576073483. 
  38. ^ Ashis Nandy (1991-02-18). "Hinduism Versus Hindutva: The Inevitability Of A Confrontation". The Times of India. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  39. ^ Parallels in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Fundamentalism
  40. ^ a b Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru | The Church in Wales
  41. ^ a b BBC NEWS | Wales | 'Atheistic fundamentalism' fears
  42. ^ a b Richard Dawkins, "How dare you call me a fundamentalist: The right to criticize ‘faith-heads’," The Times, May 12, 2007
  43. ^ Robert Anton Wilson, The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. 1986. 240 pages. ISBN 1-56184-002-5
  44. ^ "Secular fundamentalism," International Herald Tribune, DECEMBER 19, 2003
  45. ^ "Headscarf ban sparks new protests," BBC News, January 17, 2004
  46. ^ Ayesha Ahmad, Muslim Activists Reject Secular Fundamentalism, IslamOnline, April 22, 1999. See also Minaret of Freedom 5th Annual Dinner, Edited Transcript, Minaret of Freedom Institute website.
  47. ^ Sang M. Lee writes that Albania was "[o]fficially an atheist state under Hoxha..." Restructuring Albanian Business Education Infrastructure August 2000 (Accessed 6 June 2007)
  48. ^ Representations of Place: Albania, Derek R. Hall, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 165, No. 2, The Changing Meaning of Place in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe: Commodification, Perception and Environment (Jul., 1999), pp. 161-172, Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
  49. ^ David Binder, "Evolution in Europe; Albanian Leader Says the Country Will Be Democratized but Will Retain Socialism," The New York Times, May 14, 1990
  50. ^ Johns, Ian (2006). Atheism gets a kick in the fundamentals. The Times.
  51. ^ David Chater, "Viewing guide: The Trouble with Atheism," The Times, December 18, 2006
  52. ^ Sam Wollaston, "Last night's TV," The Guardian, 16 December 2006
  53. ^ RJ Eskow, 2005. "Blind Faith: Sam Harris Attacks Islam." The Huffington Post.
  54. ^ RJ Eskow, 2006. "Reject Arguments For Intolerance – Even From Atheists." The Huffington Post.
  55. ^ Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
  56. ^ [5]
  57. ^ Tex Sample. Public Lecture, Faith and Reason Conference, San Antonio, TX. 2006.
  58. ^ Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
  59. ^ BLB (KJV) Gen 38
  60. ^ An Interview With Howard Thurman and Ronald Eyre in Theology Today, Volume 38, Issue 2 (July 1981).
  61. ^ See, for example, Marty, M. and Appleby, R.S. eds. (1993). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. John H. Garvey, Timur Kuran, and David C. Rapoport, associate editors, Vol 3, The Fundamentalism Project. University of Chicago Press.


  • Appleby, R. Scott, Gabriel Abraham Almond, and Emmanuel Sivan (2003). Strong Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-01497-5
  • Armstrong, Karen (2001). The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39169-1
  • Brasher, Brenda E. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92244-5
  • Caplan, Lionel. (1987). "Studies in Religious Fundamentalism". London: The MacMillan Press Ltd.
  • Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
  • Gorenberg, Gershom. (2000). The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. New York: The Free Press.
  • Hindery, Roderick. 2001. Indoctrination and Self-deception or Free and Critical Thought? Mellen Press: aspects of fundamentalism, pp. 69–74.
  • Lawrence, Bruce B. Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Marsden; George M. (1980). Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 Oxford University Press,[1]
  • Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby (eds.). The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    • (1991). Volume 1: Fundamentalisms Observed. ISBN 0-226-50878-1
    • (1993). Volume 2: Fundamentalisms and Society. ISBN 0-226-50880-3
    • (1993). Volume 3: Fundamentalisms and the State. ISBN 0-226-50883-8
    • (1994). Volume 4: Accounting for Fundamentalisms. ISBN 0-226-50885-4
    • (1995). Volume 5: Fundamentalisms Comprehended. ISBN 0-226-50887-0
  • Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Ruthven, Malise (2005). "Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280606-8
  • Torrey, R.A. (ed.). (1909). The Fundamentals. Los Angeles: The Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A. now Biola University). ISBN 0-8010-1264-3
  • "Religious movements: fundamentalist." In Goldstein, Norm (Ed.) (2003). The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2003 (38th ed.), p. 218. New York: The Associated Press. ISBN 0-917360-22-2.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Fundamentalist m. (genitive Fundamentalisten, plural Fundamentalisten)

  1. (religion or politics) fundamentalist


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