The Rules of Christian Fundamentalism (Part 1)

by Charles S. Garabedian

We begin this blog article with three all important quotations from the Holy Bible. These quotations are from the New Testament. They clearly state what has happened to the Old Testament Covenant and the Old Testament law (ritual law, moral law, and 10 commandments). Jesus fulfilled them all by his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his ascent into Heaven. For every Christian across the past 2,000 years, this is what Jesus has done for you and what has come to pass for you:

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away (Hebrews 8:13).

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6).

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian (Galatians 3:23-25).

For Christians, the written law in the Old Testament has passed away forever—all of it. It is gone.

Do Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals want to hear these scriptures?  No. They want the Old Testament law!!!  They need the Old Testament law!!! They crave the Old Testament law. They cannot live without the Old Testament law!!! In spite of the Holy Spirit living within them, their daily existence gravitates toward a life centered around legalism, statutes, regulations, and rules. Indeed, as one of my favorite Christian pastors once said of the sinful flesh that still lives within all Christians, along with the Holy Spirit (generally paraphrased):

There is just something about the sinful human flesh within us that wants a law. The flesh needs a law. The flesh craves a law. Why? A law gives the flesh a measuring stick. The flesh can measure itself each day against a law—and if it appears to pass muster—it can cry out to the Heavens:  “Look down here!!!  See me Lord!!!  See how great I AM!!!  See how wonderful I AM.  See how holy I AM.

Did you catch the  I AM part, as in the famous scripture where God says from the burning bush to Moses:

I AM is who I am. (Exodus 3:14).

The flesh residing within each Christian still longs to supplant God, to become like God—all by its own merits. That desire of the flesh to be like God—all on its own—is the reason Eve bit into the forbidden fruit—————to become like God. In the Latin tradition of the universal church (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), that desire was the original sin against God that came from deep inside Eve’s heart.

We Christians are not called to live according to the flesh or the laws and rules it craves. We are called to live according to the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ that lives within each of us——and the example of love Jesus demonstrated in Spirit for us by his red font words and his actions in the New Testament. As Reverend Keith Ward best says it:

Love is not something that you write down as a law. Love springs from a heart which is transfigured by the knowledge of the presence of God. It’s the Spirit!!!  So, you live by the Spirit.  That’s true!!!  But it doesn’t tell you what to do.  What?  How do you love God? How do you love your neighbor?  And I’d say immediately: “You love your neighbor by caring for their welfare. By caring about what they want. Never, never by hating them.”

Why are [Christian] fundamentalists so filled with hatred?  I can guarantee that they are because the only phone calls I have had this week….so you get letters from people saying: “You are going to Hell!!!”  That’s not very loving, is it? Or letters saying: “If you believe that kind of thing, you are excommunicated from the true church.” That’s not very loving either, really.  You’d think: “Well, at least they’d be sorry for me. That’s the least you could expect!!!” So, you know, if love is the fulfilling of the law, let’s make it a test of of Christian faith that people always speak in loving ways of people they disagree with and never say: “You are condemned!!!” And I’m not condemning [Christian] fundamentalists.  When I say they are wrong, I think God will forgive them immediately.

Yes, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are wrong about many things in the Bible and in the overall Christian faith. One of those things is their incessant legalism and its tunnel-vision-like focus on the Old Testament law. As the New Testament makes quite clear, the Old Covenant and all the laws in the Old Testament have passed away forever for the Christian man, woman, and child. In fact, for those of us who were born gentiles, the Old Testament laws never applied to us or our gentile ancestors to begin with because we were never part of the Old Covenant and its laws. That covenant was exclusively between God and the Jewish people via Abraham and Moses. We Christians—all Christians—are to live in the Spirit. Period.

Unfortunately, it is not enough for the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals to be yoked tightly to the Old Testament law like a slave, day and night, feeling its crushing weight on their backs. They dive into the words of the New Testament and turn its verses into an entirely new set of laws and precepts that demand iron-clad legal obedience—or else God will punish them. Is even that added amount of laws enough laws for them?  Nay!!!  Of course, it is not.

Just like the Scribes and Pharisees in the New Testament, their two-bit, tyrannical, personality cult preachers make up whole sets of arbitrary rules that the members of their congregations must abide by to ensure they do not accidentally break some underlying Biblical law or precept.  These overlaid fundie rules are where the whole matter of fundie legalism descends into the depths of utter silliness—-and profound sadness. Why? The fundies use these extra, overlaid rules—which are often comical in nature and exist both consciously and unconsciously—-to beat each other bloody. They use them to assault nonfundie Christians and the average nonChristian guy or gal on the street—including even children.

Please stay tuned for an in-depth look at a large number of these extra rules in Part 2 of this article tomorrow.  In the meantime, may God bless all of you.

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