In his book The Case for Orthodox Theology, Edward J. Carnell commented on the difference between orthodox Christianity and fundamentalism, and identified tendencies of fundamentalism of any stripe. I am reminded of these characteristics of fundamentalism in the context of various contemporary political and social controversies when I listen to advocates of various positions – even positions with which I may agree! Present day discourse is so… absolutist? I’ll leave further application of that thought to the reader, however.
Critics also brand orthodoxy as fundamentalism, but in doing so they act in bad taste. Not only is it unfair to identify a position with its worst elements, but the critics of fundamentalism often manifest the very attitudes that they are trying to expose. The mentality of fundamentalism is by no means an exclusive property of orthodoxy. Its attitudes are found in every branch of Christendom: the quest for negative status, the elevation of minor issues to a place of major importance, the use of social mores as a norm of virtue, the toleration of one’s own prejudice but not the prejudice of others, the confusion of the church with a denomination, and the avoidance of prophetic scrutiny by using the Word of God as an instrument of self-security but not self-criticism.
The mentality of fundamentalism comes into being whenever a believer is unwilling to trace the effects of original sin in his own life. And where is the believer who is wholly delivered from this habit? This is why no one understands fundamentalism until he understands the degree to which he himself is tinctured by the attitudes of fundamentalism.The Case for Orthodox Theology by Edward J. Carnell, (c) 1959, by W. L. Jenkins, The Westminster Press, p. 141.