Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
January 3rd, 2014 by Joel Watts

Pope Francis and Fundamentalism

“It is not a good strategy to be at the center of a sphere. To understand we ought to move around, to see reality from various viewpoints. We ought to get used to thinking. I often refer to a letter of Father Pedro Arrupe, who had been General of the Society of Jesus. It was a letter directed to the Centros de Investigación y Acción Social (CIAS). In this letter Father Arrupe spoke of poverty and said that some time of real contact with the poor is necessary. This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life-experiences of people. If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy.”

This is from an interview published recently. It can be found here.

So fundamentalists have lost touch with reality…



Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


4 Responses to “Pope Francis and Fundamentalism”
  1. “Fundamentalism” is one of those dangerous, undefined words that can be too many shades of a color. Everytime someone says “Fundamentalists are. . .” or “Liberal agenda . . . ” or anything like it, I cringe.

    But I applaud the sentiment of broadening intellectual horizons without being “open-minded,” which is worthless. I applaud being certain of certainty, with humility and open eyes.

    • I agree that the terms are a bit… open. It would appear that Fundamentalism as defined by the Pope are those people who cannot consider another position, but stays in one state all the time.

      • I heard a sermon last Sunday in church. On Psalm 103. How God loves us. I saw the program, and wondered how it would be covered. True to form, the pastor conveniently forgot to mention God loves you, “if you fear him”, which is the part I wanted to hear. To me, fundamentalists fear God, because they are hung up on the OT, and therefore want to go around judging everyone, and want to tell everyone else what they should do, instead of paying attention to what they are doing.

    • For a while, the word ‘Fundamentalism’ has become like the word ‘Socialism’ in that it is used as a pejorative. And whatever technical meaning it does have pertains to personality traits rather than beliefs.

      But when we look at who Fundamentalists were when they first used the term to identify themselves, there are possible problems that are partially identified by what the Pope said here. His complaint is that Fundamentalists don’t spend enough time listening to the facts on the ground broadcasted by real people. And considering our emphasis on inerrancy and our love of ‘sola scriptura,’ it is not difficult to see how legitimate fundamentalists act like ideologues by using only a book to define everything in life. It is an error that Fundamentalists like myself must be aware of.

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