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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Liturgical Fundamentalism

The term, "fundamentalism," derives from a series of tracts, called The Fundamentals, that were published by theologically conservative Protestants in the early 20th century. Twelve tracts were published in all, containing 90 different essays that defended orthodox Protestant beliefs over against ideas such as higher biblical criticism, liberal theology, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, socialism, etc.

Although the term was originally associated with theologically conservative Protestant groups, over time fundamentalism has come to refer to any religious group (usually conservative) that rigidly adheres to a set of beliefs, which is why it is not unusual to here people write or speak about Islamic fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, Hindu fundamentalism, and so on.

Not all fundamentalists are conservative, however. One of the more humorous varieties are those whom I call liturgical fundamentalists, who are often quite liberal on theological issues but are quite legalistic when it comes to following the lectionary or displaying liturgical colors. I know clergy who possess a low Christology (i.e., Jesus may have only been a human not God incarnate) and don't take the Bible literally (or too seriously, for that matter), but heaven forbid you show up during Advent wearing a red stole (Hint: Red is for Holy Week -- see the chart above). I'm preaching on St. Paddy's day, and I hope people don't get too upset when I show up wearing a green stole (Hint: I should be wearing purple -- see the chart above).

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