Before I tell you what this book is about, I want to tell you what it is not. This book is not to be used as an offensive tool or weapon to confuse those who are earnestly seeking or walking with Christ. To do so would be hypocritical. Although this can be for the refugees from fundamentalism it is not a book for those who are refugees from Christianity. They will find no solace here. Even though I may challenge my fellow Christian, I do not deny that there is some form of sanctity within his ranks. This is also not a book on cults. There are a lot of good books that deal with the subject of cults and I need not retrample trodden ground. My book is concerned with the groups within the divisions of Christianity commonly identified as fundamentalist. All these groups should fall under the umbrella of orthodoxy. A good historical measure of orthodox Christianity is the Nicene Creed, which I have included in my chapter on creeds. If you are unfamiliar with this, then you may check with your pastor to see if he or your denomination has any objection to any of the particular points it addresses.
What is this book about? Well, growing up in the Bible-Belt was a wonderful experience. I thank God that I was raised here and I thank God that he allows me to continue living here. It is not without its inconveniences. The reason the South earned this dubious title is that a good part of the population shares a passion and energy for their religion. One problem that occurs with this is that when ninety percent of a town is "evangelized," then where does a bulk of enthusiastic, energetic Christians evangelize? Eventually what happens is that they evangelize or reevangelize each other. I call this phenomenon "cross evangelization." This is where one denomination willingly attempts to steal members from another denomination. There will be debates and published assertions about the otherís alleged errors, with an end result of a lot of finger pointing. I can recall as a child being asked by a classmate what church I attended. When I told him, his reply to me was "Do you know your going to Hell?" This is not a good thing to hear when you are a child but it is a fact of life in the Bible-Belt. As I got older the tactics changed but the pressure did not. Invitations to youth gatherings where certain topics would be addressed were extended. I received countless tracts and pamphlets. (My favorite was "Bad Bob" a white trash rocker who dawned Confederate regalia who winds up in jail, another was "The Green Angels" a Christian rock band that sold their souls to the Devil) More recently, surfing the Net has revealed not a few interesting web sites. A person who desires truth can often wonder, "Which of all these has the true religion?" You will come across those who speak and teach with such apparent authority that you have a hard time coming up with a discernable, truthful argument against them. All the while, though, you feel something is just not quite right. Even though it is difficult to argue with them, something keeps you from joining their ranks. Sometimes you become tempted to shy away from Scripture because they seem to know it so well. I began my journey a little over ten years ago when I made a New Yearís resolution to read the Bible cover to cover. I was particularly interested to see if the multitude of assertions that had been pounded into my head by the Bible thumpers could actually be validated by the bulk of Scripture. I did not know how big a bite I was trying to chew. Eventually I saw that the command the fundamentalist had of Scripture was not as good as it appeared. I saw that indeed the Bible that I was reading and the perceived Bible of the fundamentalist were two different things.
My background is what I will call traditional Christian. I define this as the form of Christianity that has been visible and continuous since the day of Pentecost. My church, though reformed, has never been restored. If this seems a curious phrase, be patient, you will know what I mean by the end of the book. One can go through any part of history and specifically identify those who are members of my church. Those who are savvy may be able to discern the particular denomination I belong to, but note that I am not in lock-step with them. I am not an ordained minister. I am very much a lay person, and this is directed toward other lay persons who may have experienced similar situations as I did growing up. I have not attended a seminary and I have not directly consulted any ordained person for guidance in this endeavor. (This will become apparent to the learned reader.)
As I said, this book is an attempt to discern the errors of fundamentalism in light of Holy Scripture. I have restrained from pointing my finger at any singular denomination. Any person mentioned has been dead at least a hundred years and their movements have well fractured. Most of the assertions addressed should have come from at least two separate sources, otherwise this will be an infinitely long book. With this in mind, letís open up our Bibles and move ahead.