P J Du Plessis



Fundamentalism does not exist, at least not as a ‘highly self-enclosing ideology’ as James Barr puts it.  What we do have, is a mass of disparate religious and cultural phenomena with identifiable common characteristics. In various part of the world these phenomena are known by various names. They exist wherever the Bible is accepted as the word of God. One of the most basic traits, common to religious fundamentalism, is the totalitarian view of the Bible, i e that the Bible is the inspired and infallible word of God. Therefore it is universally normative.

Concomitant with this point of view we find, to a more or lesser degree, theological themes such as the universality of sin, divinity of Christ, the Immaculate Conception, personal and religious experiences, imminent judgment of the world, and so on. Where one or more of these concepts dominate to the point of becoming totalitarian, the resultant view of life is exclusivism. This in effect means a dualistic view of Scripture and life, viz true as against nominal Christians, conservative as against historical critical examination, and application of the Bible and its message.

This paper explores illustratively the views and issue of fundamentalism in many parts of the Christian world and its theological thinking, with particular attention to their manifestation on the South African scene. The bottom line remains throughout: fundamentalism is a pathological phenomenon, wo which we sincerely and firmly reply: no!


Fundamentalism; Totalitarian view of the Bible

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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