Friday, November 1, 2013

Fundamentals without Fundamentalism

In a recent e-mail discussion with Anonymous D, he sent me a message to which I responded: "That is so going on the blog!"

From D:

Yeah, I have a problem with the fundamentalist thing. I don’t know how to define it. By some accounts I’d be one. I mean, I believe in God and Christ as literal. I believe the Book of Mormon to be scripture and that there are such things as Angels and spiritual gifts. I believe the miracles of Jesus and those in our day. I’ve seen a few. On a certain scale I’d be thought of as a fundamentalist.

I believe God talks to men today as in other ages. I believe abortion to be a great evil, but no more so than the conditions that often bring it about - rampant poverty.

I don’t believe the first few chapters of Genesis to be a science text but a Temple text (there's some pretty good info on that too, and that it should be read in the context as a drama - as exposition, not all of it literally).

I’m even so liberal as to believe that the flood wasn’t a universal, worldwide event but a local one, yet I believe the story of the flood and the ark.

I believe in organic evolution. I guess those two ideas would make me a religious liberal in the eyes of many Mormons.

I do believe people should be free to choose for themselves - that there should be an opportunity to be pulled in either direction - meaning, I believe in opposition in all things. I believe in balance.

I believe poverty and inequality to be our single greatest evil. That would make me a liberal in today’s society but on pretty good terms with Jesus as long as I do something about it.

So I’m not a fundamentalist, but I believe in fundamentals. I come away from my discussions with most religious people very discouraged (Mormon and non-Mormon alike). At the same time I see nothing wrong with the doctrine of the church, its teachings, or what it’s trying to accomplish. Who am I to judge anyway? I come away from discussions with my non-religious friends equally discouraged. We get the idea sometimes that we are moral, that the ideas we have are the only just and true ones, that somehow because we have the computer, the internet and Google, the motor car, and electricity that we possess a sophistication that no other people have ever possessed. We are wrong. We have a profusion of gadgets but the same basic questions. Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? What should I be doing while I’m here? Ask Google for an answer to those questions. In actuality we are barbarians with gadgets. 

Look at us - just on the Wasatch front we’ve had story after story the last week of the most awful sort. I can tell you from years of reviewing police stats that the worst things don’t get reported. We are in no position to judge anyone on anything - certainly not those from another time or place, and especially not Joseph Smith or Brigham Young - or Thomas Monson. 

The whole purpose of the Gospel is for us to confront our evil nature and to change it, “because of the fall our natures have become evil continually,” and eventually to be redeemed. Where on earth is there such a promise outside of the Gospel? Where can you go to get those questions answered?

Thank you, Anonymous D!

My thoughts branch off tangentially to one of the best blog pieces I've seen in a long time [well, besides this one]. I won't go into the controversy that sparked it. Ardis takes care of it all so well.


1 comment:

  1. I should clarify that in our discussion of "fundamentalism" we were referring to Christian Fundamentalism - not Mormon Fundamentalism which is essentially modern polygamy groups.


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