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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism a lot in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Fundamentalism

Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I am letting all those questions come out and seeking truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works and reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting, I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in His likeness and are loved by Him.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Learn to hear his voice and let your life be a daily communication of his love to others.

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by Jim Gordon

As I look over various postings on social media, it does not take long to realize there are a wide variety of opinions in the christian world. Various biblical interpretations and views on christian doctrine, gun control and a wide variety of issues of our day.

The sad thing is that so often I see the opinions expressed get turned into arguments, name calling and sometimes what seems to be down-right hatred toward one another.

ArguingoverDoctrine

It is sad that we who are christians and supposed to be known for our love for one another get so caught up on arguing over doctrine and interpretation. Why is it we cannot accept that we all have a different view and opinion. We all have a different way of seeing things and interpreting the bible.

As I was in a waiting room the other day, a lady walked in and I heard her tell the receptionist that she was recently widowed. That got me to thinking how a major change in our lives can change our priorities.

When a person hears that they have a serious health condition, or they lose a loved one all the differences of opinion, biblical interpretation and doctrine seem to become less important. The arguing over our views and opinions all of a sudden lose their meaning.

It is times like this that many people come together and encourage and support those who are going through a rough time. It is great that this happens and it is the way it should be.

Yet it is disappointing that it takes a bad situation to bring people together. Why is it we cannot express our views and opinions and accept there are going to be differences of opinion? Why is it we cannot accept one another in our differences and treat one another with respect?

LoveOneAnother

There is certainly nothing wrong with having an opinion. Having different interpretations of the bible and various views on doctrine is normal and good. We can learn from one another when we reasonably discuss these differences. But when we get offended, when we get mad and feel we have to prove our point, that is where the problems begin.

We need to get to a place in our lives that we can discuss our views, listen to the views of others and accept one another in our differences. People need to see that christian people are a family who can love and accept one another whether we completely agree or not.

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by Jim Gordon

Several of my past articles have mentioned modern day church and how it is off base from what it was intended. I want to make clear that I am not against church, but I also want to make clear what I mean when I say church.

Normally when the word church is mentioned, we think of a building we go to on a certain day to learn about and worship God. We also think in terms of how much we go to church as being a guide to how spiritual we are, or how close we are to God. We think of the doctrines, rules and regulations placed on us by the church as ways to make us better Christians.

Church

I think we need to reset our thinking. The Church is not a building. The Church is the bride of Christ, all of us who are saved by grace. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The building is just a place where we can meet and conduct spiritual meetings. It is another place to enjoy christian fellowship. Rather than see church as a place we go, we are to be the Church daily living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and showing the love of God to all people.

Another area where we confuse the meaning of words is in regard to the word of God. When we talk about the word of God we usually think of the Bible. The Bible is inspired by God, but the true living Word of God is Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word of God.

WordofGod1

Far to often we christians put too much emphasis on the Bible, sometimes even thinking of it as part of the trinity. Remember it is not Father, Son and Holy Bible. Again, the Bible is written by men but is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It is certainly profitable to read the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but we need to focus on the fact that the Word of God is alive and living within each of us as followers of Christ.

Although it may seem unimportant on how we think of church or the Bible, I think it is very important that we understand what is really meant. The old mindset of a building and a book need to be replaced with the fact that the Church are those of us who are redeemed through the blood of Christ and the Word of God is Christ Himself, alive and living within us.

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As someone who has grown up in organized religion, I can honestly say that the institutional church has fallen way off course. What we call church today many times seems more like a large corporation run by a CEO and executive board.

We seem to be more focused on our programs, building bigger buildings, having a bigger and better worship band, getting on radio or TV and being a step ahead of the church down the street.

Variousbeliefs

Our churches today are so divided by denominations, doctrines and biblical interpretations that it seems we fight among ourselves more than anything. Many places there is literally a church building every mile or two from each other yet we cannot come together and our world continues to get worse and worse.

It amazes me how upset and defensive people can get when you mention that going to church is not a requirement. They seem to forget that the church is not a building and is not a place we go to, but the Church is the body of believers. Usually the first verse that is quoted when we talk about not going to church is Hebrews 10:25 – not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Nowhere does this verse say that we have to assemble in a building on a certain day at a certain time. Nowhere does it say we have to have a pastor to teach us, or a worship band to lead us in praise and worship.

I feel that sometimes we Christians want to be entertained and told what to believe, then go home feeling satisfied that we have fulfilled our duty until next Sunday. We have become lazy and do not want to spend the time with God, reading His words and letting the Holy Spirit teach us. As 1 John 2:23 states – as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you (the Holy Spirit), and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. That can be in a restaurant, in a home, in a park or any place believers join together. Many people put more emphasis on where we meet and not enough emphasis on spending time with the one we love. Why is it we feel the need to go to a building anyway, God said we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God told us that He is always with us so why is it people say they are going to the house of God to meet with Him. We are the house of God and He is always with us.

Going to an organized religious building is not wrong, but we should call it what it is. The church building that people go to once a week is a place where the members of the Church get together. The Church are those of us who are saved through faith in Christ.

TheLoveofGod

So often we Christians can get more involved with the things about Christ, the services, the meetings, the up-keep of a building and the money to keep the bills paid that we lose sight of our first love. Jesus is the head, He is to have the preeminence. We should be putting our focus on Christ, loving Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and loving others with the love of God.

Stop the arguing over different interpretations and denominational doctrines and start loving others no matter what. It is then that the world will know we are His disciples and see a difference in the way we live as Christians.

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Most of us who are Christians want to be known as followers of Christ. We want to be known as good Christian people, yet many of us seem to go about this in the wrong ways.

Many feel that if they can be a pastor, evangelist or missionary and tell others about the gospel message they will be known as good Christian people.

Others feel if they can give regularly to their church or to programs to help the poor and do good in society they will be known as good Christians.

Many will base their identity in Christ on their works and all the good things they can do to show that they are good Christians.

Others think they can show how good of a Christian they are by condemning those who are not Christians, by pointing out the mistakes of others or by standing their ground with those of different beliefs.

A-LoveOneAnother

The thing to remember is that we are saved by grace. It is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

The only way that Jesus says we are to be known as His disciples is by the love we have for God and for others. Jesus tells us to ‘believe on the one who God sent’ and ‘love others as you love yourself’ (1 John 3:23).

When we try mixing New Testament grace with Old Covenant law we get away from the true gospel of grace. We get caught up on works, doctrine and law rather than resting in the grace of Christ and loving others with the love of God.

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After being on Facebook for some time and following articles and comments on social media, it does not take long to realize everyone has an opinion. There is nothing wrong with that, it is quite normal. Yet when people start trying to force their opinion on others it becomes a problem.

FacebookOpinionsI have found it best to listen to others opinions but not to dwell on them. We all have an opinion on life issues, a way of interpreting the bible and views on living for God but very seldom do we agree on things.

We each need to follow the leading of the Spirit within us and stick with what we feel is right for us. Obviously this does not mean we are always right, but at the time it is best to go with what you feel is the correct way until the Spirit leads you to a different view.

Do not take the view of any person as gospel, do not let any person guilt you or shame you into seeing things their way. Listen to others opinions and respect them, but listen more for the soft, quiet voice of the Spirit to teach you the truth. Always be open to changing your personal views according to what the Spirit teaches.

So often we read an article that says one thing on a particular subject, then find another article that says just the opposite. It is not long until a heated argument begins in the comments and things can get ugly. Name calling and getting mad because of differences of opinion and interpretation is just not the way it should be. We need to learn to accept that we all have different views and we can all be wrong at times.

Sometimes people argue over bible doctrine or subjects that are highly controversial in our world today. We seem to think we have to defend our view and prove our point or we are not being faithful to God. I personally think God can take care of himself and we do not need to defend our interpretations. We are not called to convert people to our way of thinking, we are only called to love them.

In the christian world today, one of the major areas of arguments and differences of opinion seems to be in regard to marriage equality and gay people.

Many christian people seem so hateful toward people who are gay. I am not sure why we tend to make gay people our enemy. I know many gay people who love God and want to follow Jesus. To say they cannot be christian because they are gay is just plain wrong. Yet whether christian or not, gay or straight Jesus calls us to love all people.

Christian people will say being gay is a choice, yet I never remember making the choice to be straight. I was born that way. Is it not the same with people who are gay?

I think so often people only look at the label and do not see the human being. The fact is there is no difference between straight and gay people other than the people we are attracted too. We all want to find that one special person to love and to enjoy life together.

Rather than forcing our opinions on others whether they are gay or straight, christian or atheist, muslim or jew, black or white, republican or democrat, male or female we should be able to show the love of Christ to everyone and accept them as our fellow human beings who want the same things as everyone else. We all want to be happy, enjoy life and be accepted and loved.

It is fine to have our individual opinions, yet we need to remember that not everyone will see things the same way. We are all entitled to have our views and opinions without having love and acceptance being withheld.

BeKind

Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never said to love only certain people or only people who believes the same. We can have our different opinions yet we can love and respect each other even in those differences.

Once we can get past insisting our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong, it will be easier to accept others. When we realize none of us have it all together and we are all learning, then we can accept people with different views and opinions without the hatred and condemnation.

No matter what interpretation, opinion or view you have, we should be able to believe what we feel is right and still accept the differences of others and love one another with the love of God.

A few verses on loving one another:

Mark 12:30-32 — and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:36,37 — Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.

John 13:34 — A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Galatians 5:14 — For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

1 John 4:20 — If someone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

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Whether you are part of an organized church or not, we as followers of Christ are the Church. It is not a building or an organization but a community of believers loving God and loving others.

We should be able to get past our differences in doctrine and interpretation, get past what church we attend or if we attend at all and focus on our love for God and our love for one another.

We are not going to agree with one another and we are not going to come in contact with every person in the world. Yet we are to be ready each day to allow the Spirit of Christ, who is within us, to reach out to those individuals we do meet along the way to share the love of God with them.

All our organized services and plans to get people to a church building so the pastor can get the good word out will never make a huge difference. It is our job to go out into the world and live a life of love. That does not mean all of us have to become missionaries and go to some far-off land. The people we come in contact with each day during our regular routine are the people we are to show God’s love.

This is the way we will make a difference in our world, when people see the love of God within us for each other and for God.

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