Friday, January 25, 2019

Fed Up with Fundamentalism, Still

It has already been nearly 15 years since I started writing Fed Up with Fundamentalism, which has been out of print for some time now. Even though Christian fundamentalism may not as be prominent now as it was in 2004, this book still seems to be needed.
The Difficulty/Ease of Publishing
When I finished writing Fed Up with Fundamentalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Fundamentalism, I fully expected to find a publisher for what I thought, and still think, was a good and important book.
However, publishers are, of necessity, interested in making money, and publishing the first book of someone virtually unknown in this country was not a risk the publishers I contacted were willing to take.
Rather than go through the lengthy process of submitting my manuscript to publisher after publisher and waiting each time for their evaluation/decision—who knew how long that would take?—I decided to publish the book with a Print on Demand company. Thus, the book was issued and on the market in 2007.
Although there was a sizeable number of books sold, I’m not sure I ever broke even with the initial cost of having the book published.
Things are different now, though: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is available, and soon I will publish my third book, Thirty True Things Everyone Needs to Know Now (TTT), with them—at no cost to me.
And now, I am planning to do the same sort of thing as I did last year with TTT. Beginning today, I plan to post a blog article each month based on a chapter of Fed Up . . . and then publish the (slightly) updated version of the book by KDP at the end of the year.
I will appreciate you Thinking Friends reading the blog articles based on Fed Up and giving me serious feedback as I work on re-publishing the book. 
The Preface of Fed Up
By clicking here you can read the updated Preface of Fed Up, and I hope that many of you will do that.
The Preface largely gives the rationale for my choosing to spend the many, many hours necessary for doing the research and writing the book. As you will see if you open the webpage linked to above, I wrote the book from my Baptist context at the time.
I also indicate how for years I was an “embarrassed Southern Baptist,” so I shifted from being a Baptist to becoming a small b baptist. But still, I was a Baptist until I was well past 70, so that is the Christian denomination I wrote most about in the Preface.
Christian fundamentalism, of course, is much larger than the Southern Baptist Convention—and much larger than Christianity—so the book deals mostly with the broader sweep of fundamentalism.
What do you think? Is fundamentalism less prominent now than it was in 2004~07? Or because of the Christian Right’s support of DJT, is it even more problematic now?
The Tone of the Book
At the end of the Preface, I emphasize that I intended to write “with an irenic spirit and with the earnest hope that even where there is definite disagreement there still might be fruitful dialogue.”
That is also the tone with which I seek to write each of my blog articles, so I hope that you will call me out if you think I am ever unfair or disrespectful of other people and/or their views.
In keeping with these comments, please consider the last section of the Preface: “‘Ten Commandments’ for the Author and the Readers of This Book.”
Even if we are fed up with fundamentalism, let’s be civil in our criticism.


  1. I think it's less prominent on the whole. I suspect, however, it's still an issue for some in denominational service and for those who are, themselves, fundamentalists. I think the issues fundamentalism espouses are never taken care of. Until Jesus comes, there will always be a moral issue to defend. But for those of us who have moved well beyond the SBC and MBC fights of the 80s and early 2000s, I believe we've moved beyond getting riled up about things we used to.

    The main reason I think it's less prominent is that a new generation is on the scene much more open, inclusive, and embracing than their fundamentalist forebearers. The social and moral issues so important to fundamentalists a decade ago are non-starters to this new marriage (let alone whether someone is LGBTQ), trans people, etc.

    But fundamentalism won't go away. There will always be places to find it. And at some future time, new issues will arise making fundamentalism necessary and vogue in the culture and in the church. I'm just grateful that in my life now and for my son that this is not the burning issue it was 10-15, even 30 years ago. Thanks be to God!

    1. Thanks for your pertinent comments, David.

      Yes, for those of us former Southern Baptists who are no longer in SBC churches, fundamentalism is not the problem for us it once was. But there are people in other denominations who are right now facing the same problem that many moderate Baptists did in the past. (See the comments following.) And, who knows, there may even be some people in SB churches still for whom fundamentalism is a problem--although I assume that by now most who were/are fed up with fundamentalism have left the SBC.

  2. I was pleased to receive the following comments from a Thinking Friend in northwest Missouri:

    "'NEVER' unfair or disrespectful. -- I personally think fundamentalism is a greater problem now. Perhaps it is because our church (United Methodist) is going through its own painful reckoning at this time, as well as the ascendancy of DJT. It may also be a result of more people willing to speak out with a loud voice, through social media platforms, with direct push-back against fundamentalist ideas that are more accessible through those same platforms than they were in 2004-2007.

    "Enjoyed your preface and amazed once again with the thoroughness of your research and documentation. Keep up the good work with God's help."

    1. I appreciate the kind words from this rural Missouri friend and am praying for him and the UMC during this time of turmoil in that denomination.

  3. Here are pertinent comments by Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson in Kentucky:

    "The great problem I pointed to in articles I wrote, Leroy, was that it shifted from theology to politics. In this Trump era we need to place it under even greater scrutiny. What happened to the Southern Baptist Convention has happened to the country. Compare the two Falwells! E.Y. Mullins wrote one article for 'The Fundamentalist'—about religious experience. He would not write for the neo-Fundamentalists.”

    1. Thanks, Dr. Hinson, for pointing out the main difference between the first fifty years of Christian fundamentalism and that of the last 40 years, namely, their relationship to politics and the desire to change society through political action.

  4. Early this morning I received the following comments from Thinking Friend Eric Dollard in Chicago:

    "Thanks, Leroy, as always, for your comments.

    I read the revised--and very interesting--preface to your book, which provides considerable background about your separation from the SBC.

    "Some have argued that fundamentalism is its own religion. Fundamentalists, regardless of religion or non-religion (yes, there are fundamentalist atheists--I know some of them), seem to share certain psychological traits, two of which is a fear of those who are different and a fear of ideas that are different from their own. These fears betray a weak faith.

    "Fundamentalist Christians prefer the term "conservative evangelical." Fair enough. I disagree with them on a number of issues. What kind of book is the Bible? How should the Bible be interpreted? Should Christianity be inclusive or exclusive? Do modern science and the Bible, or modern science and Christianity, actually conflict? But my biggest problem with conservative evangelicals is their involvement in right-wing politics--not conservative politics, but right-wing politics. There is a difference. (Their support for Donald Trump is especially puzzling. You have written about this in some of your blogs.)"

  5. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments, Eric.

    In my book I deal with the issues you mention in your comments. But as I just posted in response to Dr. Hinson's comments, the main difference between conservative evangelicals now (and they want to use that term because "fundamentalist" became so pejorative) is their active involvement in politics.

  6. For me things have really shifted in the Trump era. Up till now I took fundamentalists seriously on grounds of shared commitment to the realm of God. But now I feel allegiances are manifested that shatter my best hopes. Trumpism is self-destructing before our eyes and I think it will destroy all those aligned, including righwing Christians. Once I would have been at least ambivalent but not today. They have so thoroughly betrayed the values l once felt provided at least a modest point of engagement.

    1. Thanks, Ron, for your comments, and I apologize for being to slow to acknowledge them. I certainly agree with your idea that Trumpism is having, and will increasingly have, a very negative effect on conservative Christianity. But, unfortunately, all forms of Christianity suffer some from the fallout.

  7. Rereading the opening of your book, and the comments so far collected, made me realize I am no longer "Fed Up" but rather tired out of fundamentalism. Indeed, I even saw a shadow over the cover of the book. It was the shadow of Henry Drummond. Drummond was not just the fictional name of the Clarence Darrow character in "Inherit the Wind." He was an historic person himself, and a challenge to the rather limited case made by Darrow in defense of evolution. For instance, in the exchange about Jonah and the Whale/Great Fish, the Darrow character gets his opponent to confess that he did know the source of the whale error. Drummond would have pounced on it. Jesus Christ Himself, as quoted in the King James Version of the Bible is the source of that "error!" They also discussed whether the days of creation were 24 normal hours long. Drummond would have had an answer he could read from the Bible, or sing from the hymnal. Psalm 90 proclaims that a thousand years in the sight of God are but an evening gone. Famed hymn writer Isaac Watts took the rhetorical flourish and ran with it, as he wrote in his majestic meditation on Psalm 90 "O God Our Help in Ages Past" proclaiming "A thousand ages in Thy sight are but an evening gone."

    Psalms and Watts both predate Darwin by quite a bit. It could have been quite a trial. Sort of like calling Huldah as a witness in a discussion of women in ministry. Henry Drummond preached the famous sermon "The Greatest Thing in the World." He also published in 1896 "The Ascent of Man." He worked for a time with D. L. Moody. It was the Christian Drummond who ends "Inherit the Wind" hold Darwin and the Bible together, not the atheist Darrow. It must have been disappointing to the author of "Inherit the Wind" that his subtext remains to this day so deeply buried. To read a little more about Drummond, see link:

    1. Thanks, Craig, for posting all this information about Henry Drummond (1851–1897), who was, as you know but others might not, a Scottish evangelist, biologist, writer and lecturer. I don't remember writing anything about him in the past, but I do remember thinking of the significance of that name being used for the Clarence Darrow character in "Inherit the Wind."