In my 7/10 blog article (and Chapter 18 of Thirty True Things . . .), I asserted that one doesn’t have to be a fundamentalist in order to be a good Christian. I am convinced that that is the case. But does opposing fundamentalism make one a liberal? Not necessarily, and that is the main point of this article (and Chapter 19 of TTT).
It Is Not Necessary To Go from One Extreme to the Other
My distaste for Christian fundamentalism is so strong that, as most of know, I wrote an entire book published under the title Fed Up with Fundamentalism (2007). Consequently, some people have assumed that I must be a liberal. One of my Facebook friends once referred to me as a “proud liberal.”
But does opposing fundamentalism make one a liberal? No, one doesn’t have to be/become a liberal to reject fundamentalism.
Coincidentally, the very week I was working on the first draft of the 19th chapter of TTT, I received the first shipment of my second book, The Limits of Liberalism (2010). In that book I call for finding a position between the extremes of staunch fundamentalism and thoroughgoing liberalism.
The Difficulty of Finding the Middle Position
In The Limits of Liberalism I wrote about how in ancient Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were the names of two sea monsters situated on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy.
Those fearful monsters, representing a hazardous whirlpool and a dangerous reef, were located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to sailors who sought to pass between them: avoiding Charybdis usually meant passing too close to Scylla and vice versa.
I certainly agree with those who seek to escape the “monster” called fundamentalism, as evidenced by the content of my book Fed Up with Fundamentalism. Still, I see the danger of fleeing the “monster” on the right only to be gobbled up by liberalism, the “monster” on the left.
Unfortunately, some have been so intent on escaping Charybdis (fundamentalism) that they have sailed straight into the jaws of Scylla (liberalism).
Seeking the Radiant Center
While working on The Limits of Liberalism, I came across a delightful book by Adam Hamilton. He is the dynamic pastor of Church of the Resurrection, a Methodist megachurch here in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. The book is titled Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White (2008).
While I largely agree with the centrist position Hamilton takes on most issues, I decided I did not like to talk about that position as being gray, for generally gray is not a very appealing color. So I went on to suggest that perhaps we can seek a position “between the extremes” of black and white, one that is a brilliant blue, a gorgeous green, or a rousing red.
Even though I like Hamilton’s position and found his calling for a “radical center” appealing, I decided to call my vision for the desired middle position the radiant center.
The radiant center is the gathering/rallying place for those who reject fundamentalism as well as for those who recognize the limits of liberalism.
It is the between-the-extremes place for all who realize that one doesn’t have to be a fundamentalist to be a good Christian as well as for all who recognize that one doesn’t have to be a liberal to reject fundamentalism.
[Here is the link to the entire Chapter 19 of TTT, which amplifies and gives examples related to this brief blog article.]