In the film Austin Powers, the villian Dr Evil introduces one of his henchwomen as belonging to the militant wing of the Salvation Army, it’s a good gag, as the Salvation Army is one of the most loving, compassionate and peaceful movements on earth.
My colleague Sam used to introduce himself as a Christian Extremist or Religious Fundementalist which I always found a bit awkward, and Sam thought was hilarious.
The word ‘fundamentalists’ stems from Church history when various religious movements ebbed and flowed about what it meant to be a Christian, and one group said that there were some doctrinal fundamentals that were non negotiable truths for Christans to be Christians.
Am I a fundamentalist? Justin Welby said “I am an orthodox Christisn which means I can say the creed without crossing my fingers!” -So, I guess the Archbishop and I are a couple fundamentalists!
The word Evangelicals like to use is ‘sound’, I know my theology is pretty sound because
I believed in the Virgin Birth years before I knew what a virgin was!
Don’t get me wrong I am nerdishly passionate about theology (theology according to the Archbishop is trying to find out the least stupid thing to say about God).
I have seen so many Church websites and job descriptions over the years filled with statements of faith, displaying their orthodoxy, and now I long to see our Churches’ faith making a statement, rather than simply having a statement of faith!
I’m not sure we are meant to be recognised by our theological soundness but actually by our love (by this will all people know you are my (Jesus’) disciples that you love one another).
Sadly many Churches maybe sound, but the danger is they might also be sound asleep!
We hear a lot about orthodoxy (right beliefs) but we rarely talk about orthopraxy (right living) -in fact most people don’t even know the word!
The problem is we often turn the great truth of the Christian faith that we can actually KNOW Christ into simply KNOW ABOUT him, which is sadly not the same. I believe when we know Christ, we should become LIKE Christ.
The problem is (as Ghandi sadly pointed out) “I like your Christ but I don’t like you Christians you are so unlike your Christ”.
The problem I believe is our Orthodoxy is sometimes selective, but we need to realize Jesus actually meant the stuff he said: “loving your enemies”, putting skin on the teachings on the sermon on the mount and embodying the work of the sheep in Matthew 25 who fed, clothed, sheltered and loved Jesus (what you do for the least of these you do for me).
Shane Claiborne writes of a guy called Andy telling someone off for being stingy with the food they were distributing at Mother Teresa’s project who said “put some more gravey in that plate Jesus is gonna have to eat that”.