Category Archives: Real Gospel in the Real World

Fundamentally Non Fundamentalist

Have seen this a lot, five features of fundamentalism. Can you see at least three of them in your own view?

(1) Dualistic Thinking: Fundamentalists are inclined to divide the world into clear binary categories. You are either good or bad, right or wrong, with us or against us. There is little room for nuance, qualification, and probabilities in the mind of the fundamentalist.
(2) Paranoia: Fundamentalists tend to have deep feelings of suspicion, bordering on rage, directed towards those who fall on the wrong side of the dualistic dividing lines. This paranoia is usually brought to the surface in a group context.
(3) Apocalypticism: An obsession with the ultimate ends for society and humanity. Usually has two components. First, the desire to witness or bring about the demise of the present form of existence; and second, the desire to participate in a new beginning.
(4) Charismatic Leadership: Fundamentalist groups are often founded by charismatic leader(s). Followers tend to be devoted to these leaders. A cult of leadership often arises.
(5) Totalised Conversion Experience: If the fundamentalist enters the group from the outside (either from another ideology or from a state of apathy), then they become totally immersed and committed to the fundamentalist viewpoint.

I LOVE diversity. I think our God is an artist and uses the full palette in the ongoing God-Roll of Creating. One of the things I really like about my life is my facebook list of friends. Rich and poor, gay and straight, old and young, Christian and all forms of “other,” white or not, traditional, contemporary, progressive, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Flaming Liberal, Dogmatic Conservative. It’s all there to see, in all its beauty and too, all its butt-uglyness!

The one diverse category that I don’t value is…Fundamentalism. And lately, it is creeping into unlikely places from unlikely sources.

Hard as I try, I find as I grow older that I tolerate it less, which I guess means it is becoming a fundamental for me to be NON fundamental. All of this is giving my mind and my theology a feedback loop that is screaming as painfully as when that piercing hum creeps into the sound system of a worship service, gnawing itself between me and the beauty of the musical harmony that brings me closer to God’s voice. Can I be fundamentally non fundamental?

Politics and theological discussions seem to bring out the worst in us as a society. I think since I have no candidate this year that I am even remotely “for” has made me step back and see things I have missed before. But maybe I’m just older and crankier.

Recently, I’ve seen some things that quite simply turn my stomach.

When the Chic-Fil-A bruhaha reared its ugly head, I saw good people on all sides draw lines in the sand. With most, I understood the line they drew, but hated to see it. I watched as people shocked me with comments that could not be anything less than a slap in the face against their gay and lesbian friends while proclaiming it was all to support free speech. Then they took it further and decried anyone who didn’t agree with them as anti American or even antichrists. And I watched helplessly a few my gay and lesbian friends proudly and (seemingly happily) unfriend dozens in their pain, declaring anyone who ate a chicken sandwich as un-Christian. All of this without trying to “get” the other side. Drawing a line and declaring if you are on the wrong side of this line, you are not a “real” Christian, not a “real” American, not a “real” friend. But then what about those caught in the middle. My friend who has worked at Chic-Fil-A for years, being treated well, supported and moving up the ranks. He’s a Christian. He’s also openly gay. Lord, it seemed for a while, he was beat up and labeled by all sides.

Again, I actually get it in some cases. I see your pain, recognize and value your convictions, but it pains me to see lines drawn between friends, Americans, and Christians. It hurts the WE in the long run.

The other area is of course politics. I’ve seen some of the most hateful posts on Facebook, blogs, etc lately from both major sides of the political arena. People posting the latest talking points turned into a funny picture–I get it, hell I’ve done it. My issue is with a few posts I’ve seen this last week or so. In one, a more liberal friend said anyone not voting for his guy was an idiot. In another, a more conservative friend said anyone not voting for her guy was stupid. Now, I don’t mean just lol name calling joke or cartoon. I mean, they are idiots or stupid because they disagree with the one true path of whatever ideology is being sold by the seller.

I’ve been called a racist (more than once) this week because I don’t like the idea of our having four more years of President Obama (I really don’t like the idea at all). I’m not. I’ve been called a socialist because I can’t find any comfort at all in the idea of a President Romney (Really, I can’t). I’m not that either. But in the midst of not particularly liking either of those men in the top office, I have yet to yield to name calling or judging for those who do. I still assume those who like either of them are sincere and are decent, upstanding Christians (if they are Christians), Americans (if they are from this country), Humans, friends. Well, I have the tools not to be exposed to those and have chosen to use those tools. I love ya, but don’t need to be considered less American, less Christian, or less human, less intelligent, etc.—I AM NOT LESS THAN just because I don’t agree with you or your particular ideology.

And so, herein lies the conundrum for me. As I peruse the above list (not anything official, but it rings true), I see two things.

1) As I think of MY traditional understanding of fundamentalist, I’ve always thought of theology and conservatives, but oddly enough, I’ve seen more of it from the liberal end of things this week and quite frankly, I find that disheartening. They should know better. Seriously. It does nothing for your cause for you to act the same way about judging others as those you seem to disavow.

2) I remember a conversation at one point with one of you about being tolerant of the intolerant. I may have to revise my thoughts on that. If I am going to be anti fundamentalist, can I be fundamentalist about it? You see, I have a predisposition against exclusion. Fundamentalism is ABOUT exclusion–you either fit in these parameters or you’re not in. I’m beginning to feel, to really believe, that you are not “really” following God if you decide to build walls out of fundamental bricks to keep the children of God at bay (doesn’t matter if your bricks are liberal or conservative, by the way)–to keep them out there, judged, marginalized, separate.

And yet, in my own thoughts of thinking them OUTSIDE the will of God–outside of God’s kingdom here on earth–I’ve crossed the same line.

The line that was crossed can be found in these very lines. I’ve moved somehow from being NON fundamentalist to being ANTI fundamentalist. And that’s the common theme. If you are acting out of a pro freedom of speech, good for you. If you are protesting against gays, bad for you. If you are fighting for gay rights, good for you. If you are anti Chic-Fil-A, bad for you. If you are pro Obama, good for you, anti Romney, bad for you, pro Romney, good, Anti Romney bad, etc, etc, etc.

I seem to have drawn a line in the sand. I have become fundamentally anti fundamental. God forgive me. God forgive us all. We can do better.


Comments Off on Fundamentally Non Fundamentalist

Filed under Christianity, politics, Real Gospel in the Real World


I have to say, I don’t want to pick on anyone and mean zero disrespect, I promise.  I have stated publicly my belief that folks need to follow their own conscience in deciding how to vote on Amendment 1 in NC this Tuesday, but I’m also vocal in my attempts to see it defeated.  Amendment 1, for those outside of NC, will (if passed-and it looks likely to pass right now) add to the constitution of the state that the only recognized union will be a legal marriage between a man and a woman.

Now a facebook friend (whom I really don’t know well at all) has posted a couple remarks, not many, that would be steadfastly in the OTHER court–that is, in favor of making said change to the constitution of our state.  She is PRO marriage (whatever that means in this discussion, as she is only PRO marriage for heterosexuals).  I’ve not commented on her posts any response.  She seems to be a sweet but misinformed southern, Christian lady.

But today she posted something from a facebook page called “Positive Outlook.”  This was the picture:


Now, I laughed a bit–well a lot.  Harvey Fierstein is a writer, director and actor.  For me, I remember him most in the movies Independence Day and Mrs. Doubtfire:


So, for one who is campaigning against marriage equality in the name of all that is Christian to find his quote, THIS quote in particular, to be inspiring, is well…ironic.  A post from a very openly gay, Jewish by birth but openly athiest man saying to not let others define who you are and not to be bullied into silence, that  in all likelihood (based on his writings and activists history) is speaking directly about Gay Rights.

But I guess she thought it was pretty.  LOL

Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.


Filed under Christianity, civil rights, Real Gospel in the Real World

Da Evil of changing (insert gasp here) Da Bible


Oh dear, it seems I’m in league with Satan.  A blogger posted a concern about some new translation and stated in his comments specifically that the new translation leaves out names as in says Jesus the Anointed One rather than Jesus Christ (leaving out Christ or rather using the definition of the word Christ is someone leaving out the last name of Jesus?).  Anyway, I posted specifically in regards to that, trying to reassure him that the end was not near, when along comes Short Little Rebel ( ) responding to my post about the “ancient movement afoot” to replace Jesus with Satan and it all starts with the evils of changing scripture like this, and attaching it to the Freemason conspiracy and ends with:

“This type of new Bible is attempting to make God’s commands and Person EASY for weak Christians. It is also inviting brotherhood by diminishing the requirements of faith. It attempts to seduce those who wish for the promises of God but do not wish to fulfill their end of the bargain.

A great tool for Satan. We must pray for those seduced, pray for justice and do our part by alerting the world to these types of efforts. Thank you for the heads up. I will repost and spread the word…”

Not sure why an experienced blogger would reply with that to MY post instead of the original post, but she did, so I assume she was talking to me specificaly.  I got a bit cheeky and told her maybe we should go back to the original Greek and Hebrew and require that the church tell us what to believe about Scripture, then went on to tell her that my belief is the biggest danger to Christianity today is our own refusing to adapt and change, denying truths and causing our young people to believe we are lying to them.  I also reminded her that God’s WORD is not the Bible, but Jesus and that while we may understand him differently, he hasn’t changed one bit.

The biting response came in simply saying she saw through my evil facade and knew in fact that I wasn’t even a Christian, but rather some evil minion there with ulterior motives…whatever that means.

She went on to repost it on her on blog, to which someone of course blamed the Muslims for this new evil translation and in fact the whole attempt to water down Scripture….??

Is it any wonder the Church is dying?  We have people who defend the Bible so strongly not even knowing what it means–to the point of getting ready to start a holy war because some new translation calls the Son of God: Jesus the Anointed One rather than Jesus Christ when Anointed One is the DEFINITION of the word Christ!  People are simply not interested in joining our faith when we act like this…sad.

And just a few quick steps later, the entire thing is a conspiracy dreamed up by Satan and The Muslims across the world in order to destroy Christ.

Ayy, we are still our own worst enemy in the Body of Christ, killing ourselves with ignorance and holier than thou lack of knowledge about our own sacred writings.

Lord help me!


Filed under Real Gospel in the Real World, Scriptural Interpretation and Translation

Welcome to the sometimes wacky world of pastor Tommy’s Theological Thinking.

I have had an earlier blog, but wanted to start fresh.  I grew tired of it before, always feeling like I beat my head against the wall.  More daily, short stuff with occasional rantings and long soapbox posts, some just sharing pictures and quotes, some of those probably sacrilegious.  I am in fact a pastor, ordained by the United Methodist Church.  I am a student of the Bible.  I am more progressive in many areas.  I am much more liberal theologically and hard to read politically.  I am honest and open, not believing you have to check your brain or your fun when you are ordained or answer God’s Call to PREACH the gospel (more through actions than words).  I am human.   I am me!

In this place you are free to comment–in fact, I cherish the discussion, but be nice.  It’s all about love!  Ugly, hurtful posts that are aimed generally at a group or at an individual will not long remain on this site.  I am the master of this domain :).

We’ve grown up learning about the gospel, but perhaps what we learned needs to be questioned, redacted, or even done away with–perhaps it needs to be affirmed and confirmed, but it definitely needs to be REAL.  Jesus sent us into the real world to spread the gospel.  We can’t do that without being REAL about it–real honest, real open, real talk, real world.

I love to present food for thought and to challenge us all to re-think church, re-think evangelism–re-think theology, and of course yes–RE-THINK Jesus.

site is still under construction and getting used to a new site may take time–be patient with me! 🙂
What sorts of things should I talk about? or what should I avoid? What do YOU want to talk about?


May the musings begin!

Comments Off on Welcome to the sometimes wacky world of pastor Tommy’s Theological Thinking.

Filed under Real Gospel in the Real World