Fundamentalism…

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…acceptance of pluralism relativises truth. Once it is allowed that there are different paths to truth, a person’s religious allegiance becomes a matter of choice, and choice is the enemy of absolutism. Fundamentalism is one response to the crisis of faith brought about by awareness of differences…

This from here. (Emphasis mine.)

I read this recently and have been chewing on it for a couple of days. The logical outcome of a faith that lays claim to absolute truth is the fact that everyone else is wrong. If truth is important, life saving even, then we have to try to convince them of their error, at any cost. Even if it costs us (or them) our lives.

This is the story of fundamentalism in all the different traditions- be they Islamic, Jewish, Christian or Hindu.

In my tradition we are emerging from a mess of what happens when the religion named after a man of the poor becomes the religion of empire- first via Constantine, more recently the British Empire, now America, despite its attempt to separate church from state, is making the same mistakes.  We talk as if the power  and privilege we have is a result of the blessing of God on our embracing of moral and theological truth.

Other forms of fundamentalism grows as a direct result of the mess we have made- it is stoked by a sense of deep injustice, by loss, poverty, by an identity forged outside and in the dark shadow of empire. The truth of this kind of fundamentalism is the truth of a people in exile.

For most of us, fundamentalism is mediated, softened by other things- secularism, separation from people who are different, a gap between our cant and our mission, or… a change in our theology. Some despise the latter as weakness, corruption.

But others see it as the kind of truth that sets us free.

The way, the truth and the life by which we come to the Father.

This is not easy journey, but I think it is one that many of us are on.