Freedom from Fundamentalism
About a month ago, I wrote about how God has been working in me to develop an empathetic heart for the people around me, and how I felt that this empathy was directly connected to my rejection of fundamentalism.
Recently, I’ve discovered another wonderful side effect of leaving my certainty about doctrine behind. I’m far less determined to take life so seriously, and I’m finding it much easier to just live in the moment and take things as they come instead of frantically scrambling to figure out how my experiences and dilemmas ought to be handled within the framework of this “Biblical” principle or that “Godly” way of doing things.
For example, I just started seeing someone. Where before I would have been over-analyzing the rather hasty decision of dating someone I’ve only known for a month, instead I am enjoying getting to know him and letting things happen as they will instead of trying to force the relationship into a “Biblical” mold. It’s very freeing.
My new mindset has also had an enormously positive impact on my theological debates with my family members (well, most of my family members!). See, I’m not so much of a know-it-all now. I’m far less certain about the correctness of my opinions, so I’m not as concerned with “converting” the person I’m talking with to my way of thinking. I’m more prone to listen, more prone to internalize what they are saying and understand why they believe what they are saying, and I’m more prone to admit that I’m wrong. My uncertainty about the truth of so many doctrines goes hand in hand with developing humility, and that is truly gratifying.
Here’s another thing. I’ve realized that I have become more focused than ever on the true meaning of Christianity. I don’t care so much about whether I ought to believe in conservative values or liberal ones. I don’t care so much about proving to everyone around me that the Bible is inerrant and timelessly applicable (newsflash: it isn’t!). I don’t care so much about fitting men and women into rigid, cut-and-dry gender roles. Instead, I find myself aware of the brokenness around me on a daily basis, in the words people say to me and to each other in my workplace, in the stories I read on the web, and in the statistics about global poverty and human trafficking. I’m starting to care about the things that Jesus cared about…things like reaching down and empowering the helpless, things like using softer words in my daily verbal exchanges, things like seeing other people as beloved children of God instead of people who are silly for being frivolous or uncaring or selfish or a thousand other negative descriptors.
I love this change that I am seeing in myself. I don’t want to sound pretentious here, but I really do wonder if all these changes in my outlook on the Christian faith is the result of God working His way through my heart. Of God opening my eyes to see my little corner of existence in the same way that He sees the whole world. Of God coming to me and lifting these invisible shackles of pride, frustration, complacency and ignorance and replacing them all with a deeper understanding of His love—a love that is not bound by dogma, but rather free and wild and inexplicable.
It’s a wonderful feeling to have left fundamentalism behind. It’s a wonderful feeling to realize that my faith is something that is constantly shifting, evolving, being propelled forward in a way that conforms me more each day to the image of God.