Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Avoid Fundamentalists

This cartoon rather sums up my experience of fundamentalist extremism! Fundamentalism displays some all too human traits, weaknesses, and foibles and yet seems completely lacking in the self-awareness needed for self-criticism.

Although I regard Jason Lisle (a great user of the omphalos hypothesis in his "mature creation" cosmology) as not the most extreme of fundamentalists he nevertheless gets some quite extreme commenters on his blog.*  Here's an example:


September 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm
Hello Dr. Lisle,
I just finished watching a debate you had with Hugh Ross like in 2013 at the national conference on christian apologetics 2013.
I know that this was some time ago, but i was so deeply hurt or should i say angry.
Hugh Ross considers himself a christian? I now that you might consider him that way but i say he is a heretic and belongs to some cult, not the church of God.
He claimed the we can see in the past now, God creating the Universe.
How can he say such a thing? I would like to see that to… And maybe the day i was born…
I thought that ” Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrew 11:3
If it is through faith then it is not by seeing…
I thought that it was the most disgusting claim i have ever heard…
He also claimed in another debate with Kent Hovind, that we can see the farthest star existing, and that claim was made at least 10 years ago… He shocked Kent Hovind…
I can say that i enjoy your presentations so much. And i would really ask you to keep writing post here.
Maybe you can post some articles like the one you did ”Answering Dr. Norman Geisler’s Comments on Genesis” and do something like that concerning Hugh Ross.
I think he is quite dangerous…
I want to thank you for your work.
God Bless you and stay with the Word(Bible) to the end.

·         Dr. Lisle says:
September 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm
Thanks Mihai. Sadly, Ross’s theology is quite bad. However, I reserve the word “heretic” for someone who denies an essential Christian doctrine such as the deity of Christ, the resurrection, etc. Ross professes these essentials, so I must give him the benefit of the doubt. I hope he is genuinely saved, and that is up to God anyway. But I am more than happy to show why Ross’s theology does not stand up to biblical scrutiny. My latest book “Understanding Genesis” is exactly what you are wanting. It’s much like my response to Geisler’s comments on Genesis, but it deals with Ross’s errors. God bless.


Fortunately we find here Lisle being a voice of moderation among his more extreme followers. Lisle's Romanian admirer shows no sign of being able to resolve out the central and crucial kernel of the faith that Lisle refers to - and I would like to add to Lisle's list atonement, repentance, forgiveness and new life.  Christianity is first and foremost about getting the foundation right and then building on that foundation. (1 Cor 3:11-15).

But for those whose faith is excessively literalist and rule driven each jot and tittle of holy writ tends to be perceived to be of the same level of importance in a grand-slam-swallow-whole-and-digest-slowly package. For Mihai Ursu failure to follow his system of practice and belief to the letter is to disqualify one from the church of God; he does not see Christianity as the gateway to the kind of developing life pilgrimage described by John Bunyan, a pilgrimage that at times goes unpleasantly wrong for the pilgrim. Mihai Ursu's spiritually conceited attitude and rule driven spiritual paradigm is the very bedrock of the fundamentalist cults that oppress their followers with spiritual threats; I've seen plenty of that among fundamentalists! But I'm very glad to see that Lisle, presumably as a mature Christian, can see well past this error. Of course, I don't expect Lisle, who is likely to have been brought up as fundamentalist Young Earther from the cradle, to agree with Hugh Ross, but he is generous enough to give Ross the "benefit of the doubt"; at the very least Ross would undoubtedly have a far deeper grasp of the true nature of faith in Christ than  Mihai Ursi.

However, Lisle nevertheless remains true to the definition of a fundamentalist as a "nasty evangelical". He clearly distrusts Ross' evangelical faith and can only concede "I hope he is genuinely saved". In Lisle's paranoiac conspiracy theorism prone fundamentalist culture disagreement with fundamentalist opinion raises deep suspicions about one's standing before God; one is seen as at best a compromiser with a bad conscience and at worse an apostate or blaspheming heretic. In fact Lisle himself is quite capable of stuffing incriminating blasphemies into the mouths of his Christian detractors

As Lisle's attitude to the faithful Hugh Ross reveals, it is difficult to have a trusting relationship of mutual respect with the out-and-out fundamentalist. That's why I advise moderate Christians, unless they are engaged in research, to stay away from the nastier fundies. As for Jason Lisle I trust his faith as much as he would trust mine!

* William Erwin Thomas says this about the relationship of gurus and their followers:
The gurus are tolerant and merely condescending now because they have no political power; but even without power they show full evidence of human frailty and vanity and tend to think that their own yoga is bigger and better than the other guru’s. And what is often only a case of mild condescension in the guru becomes in the disciples a fever of zealotry. (This comment applies to Christian "gurus" and their followers as much as it does to New Age gurus and their followers).

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