I was reading this evening, as I usually do, from a variety of excerpts. One, in particular, attracted my attention. It was an article written and published online by the Huffington Post in 2013. I disagree with most of the article; however, there was a gem included. In the introduction, the author utilizes a significant quote from Reverend Cornel West who said, “the fundamentalist Christians want to be fundamental about everything, except . . . ‘love thy neighbor.'” I find this very interesting, especially since I am reading Luke 13:10-17.
In these passages, Luke recounts the events of Jesus healing on . . . the Sabbath! Jesus is in the synagogue teaching. In the audience, there is a woman who has been crippled for eighteen years. Her disability was so severe she could not stand up straight. Jesus, as He is teaching, notices this disabled woman, and He calls her to Him. As she shuffles her feet awarkdly, the audience could not help but take notice. Her ability to walk . . . well, it is painful for her to accomplish and painful for others to watch. Finally, after what seems an eternity, she stands in front of Jesus. Nothing was moving now. Everyone was . . . silent. All eyes were upon Jesus and this woman. Finally, Jesus speaks: “Woman, you are freed from your disability” (Lk. 13:12). After speaking these words Jesus “laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God” (Lk. 13:13). I really wish this was the crescendo, BUT . . . it is not!
Immediately after this woman stands up straight, the leader of the synagogue speaks out saying, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day” (Lk. 13:14). In fact, Luke, in the first part of verse 14, says that this leader became . . . indignant!
I believe this dude is a fundamentalist! Now there is nothing wrong with a fundamentalism that offers grace. There is nothing wrong with a fundamentalism that believes in the inspiration of Scripture. There is nothing wrong with a fundamentalism that believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with a fundamentalism that believes in the fundamental teachings of Orthodox Christianity! If you do not know what those are . . . well . . . that is another problem altogether! HOWEVER, a fundamentalism that demands a KJV version over a NASB, ESV, Holman Christian Bible, or NIV is an extreme fundamentalism. After all, Jesus did not speak 17th Century English! A fundamentalism that wants to demand a specific stance on eschatology, is a fundamentalism that may very well extend into elitism. A fundamentalism that believes it knows all the answers is a fundamentalism that KEEPS THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM WORKING MIRACLES! It is a fundamentalism that is VERY MUCH LIKE this leader of the synagogue!
Wait Jesus, you can’t do a miracle today! It’s the law! Now you can do miracles any other day because it is permissible. I just love Jesus’ reply to this fundamentalist! He points out with pinpoint accuracy that this leader is fundamental on the law with one exception . . . when he would benefit from not being a fundamental! I wonder . . . would this cat care about the law if he had been disabled for eighteen years? Would he have been indignant if Jesus had healed him on the Sabbath? Which brings me to my point . . .
I once heard Johnny Hunt say this: “I have often heard many people say they err on the side of grace. Ladies and gentlemen, Grace is never an error! It should be the standard! It is where we should . . . live!”
Even though I am a conservative Southern Baptist at heart, and will always be so, I will never be so fundamental about everything but . . . loving my neighbor!
Just think, if Jesus had been as fundamental as the fundamentalist, then this crippled soul would not have been healed! I wonder how many people in Tallapoosa have been refused grace because of a fundamentalist’s stance on the non-essentials? I fear what that number may be!