Should Christians be fundamentalists?

No, although it would serve Christians well to live by the fundamental teachings of the Bible, fundamentalism can lead to the kind of artificial righteousness Christ accused the Pharisees of practicing (Matthew 15:7-9, Mark 7:6-9, 12:38-40). There is nothing wrong with a literal interpretation of scripture, as well as living by it and teaching it, however, if it is not in the heart, then it amounts to nothing. The true sign of a Christian fundamentalist is love. If it's all an outward show, then go so far as to cut off your hands and feet and gouge out your eyes (Matthew 5:29-30, 18:8-9, Mark 9:43-47).

        Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadduccees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40)

Although Jesus didn't call the righteous to his service, but sinners (Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32), he did say that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, followers would have to be more righteous than the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Matthew 5:20). This righteousness, however, is not in the eyes of man but of God (Matthew 6:1-18). Jesus said simply that his yoke is easy and his burden light (Matthew 11:28-30), not a heavy religion with strict regulations for pious living. When asked by his disciples what the work of God was required of them, he replied, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:29). It gets no more complicated than this. Of the fundamental teachings of Christ, without preaching or sermons, the basics include the following:

  • "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28) "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6:25)

  • "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34)

  • "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1-2) "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned." (Luke 6:36-37)

  • "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12) "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others what you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31)

  • "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8) "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17-18) "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20)

  • "As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." (Matthew 10:12-14, Mark 6:10, Luke 9:4-5, 10:5-11)

  • "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Luke 10:2)

  • "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4) "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Mark 10:15)

  • "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 19:18-19, Mark 10:19)

  • "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21)

  • "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26-28, Mark 10:43-44) "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35)

  • "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40) "...There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31)

  • "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:18-20) "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15) "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

  • "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:24-25)

        A Caananite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession." Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." He answered, "I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel." The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:22-28, Mark 7:25-30)

Jesus came primarily for the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6, 15:24, Mark 7:27), most of his ministry on earth being dedicated to the Jews, albeit with warnings that he'd give the kingdom of God to whoever produced its fruit (Matthew 21:43). It wasn't until after his death and resurrection that the apostles were allowed to preach to the Gentiles. The early church struggled to overcome the customs and traditions of Jewish laws and tried to limit their expectations of conduct on Gentile converts (Acts 15:19-20, 28-29, 21:25). Even so, after two thousand years, the orthodox church has had enough time to re-instigate its own customs and traditions and force its members to adhere to following them as crucial to their salvation. Yet even this is not fundamentalism. Fundamentalism has seen a revival in the last century as a conservative evangelical movement primarily in the United States, whereby adherents support a literal interpretation of all Bible scripture, wherein is found the final authority on all matters. This in itself is not so bad, except that the fundamentalist movement was a reactionary one to the rise of modern liberalism and degradation of Protestantism in post-Civil War America and, as such, was a counter-attack to anyone or anything deemed a threat to Christian doctrine and values, including Christians themselves who were seen as weak or too apologetic. This has inevitably led to hostitility and intolerance toward secular society, deemed the enemy, and a legalistic approach to life and society that seeks to control government as well. Rather than share the Gospel and shake the dust from their feet of those who reject it (Matthew 10:14, Luke 9:5, 10:10-11, Acts 13:51), fundamentalists continue to pressure non-believers, as well as other denominations of their own Christian faith.

        "The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul -- men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell." (Acts 15:23-29)

Note: The fundamentalist movement in the U.S. identified early on the "five fundamentals" of the Christian faith: 1.) inerrancy of the Bible; 2.) the virgin birth and deity of Christ; 3.) the atonement of Christ's sacrificial death; 4.) the bodily resurrection of Jesus; 5.) the second coming of Christ and 1,000 year reign upon the earth. Most Christians share these fundamental tenets, although many who are targeted as fundamentalist will deny the title because of its association with militant right wing fanaticism.