How To Practice Spiritual Fundamentalism

Currently, fundamentalism gets a very bad rap. It is difficult to acknowledge it in less than a pejorative light. 

The reasons are abundant. Mention fundamentalism, and most folks instantly think of the brutal, cruel insanity of radical Islamists, the hateful bigotry of the late Fred Phelps, homophobic preacher of the Westboro Baptist Church, and the bizarre rationalizations of some creationists and biblical literalists. They insist that the Garden of Eden allegory is an historical fact. They also attempt to refute science and evolution by claiming that the dinosaurs became extinct by refusing to board Noah’s ark. Thus, fundamentalism becomes synonymous with weird behavior and strange, regressive beliefs. 

Fundamentalism, in the Protestant religion, started in the early 1900s as an attempt by some churches to combat what they called “modernism”. Modernism challenged the validity of the Christian religion’s scriptures and doctrine. 

What really got the fundamentalist ball rolling was an address delivered in 1910 at Harvard University by Professor Charles Eliot. The address was entitled “The Future Of Religion.” 

In the address, Eliot proposed that Christianity could easily be practiced with only one commandment: “The love of God is expressed in service to others.” According to Eliot, the application of this commandment would make churches, scriptures and clergy unnecessary. Many religionists agreed with him, but most in the churches did not. They vigorously fought back. 

Eliot’s heretical idea was attacked by a group of wealthy Protestant businessmen, who created and distributed a line of 90 pamphlets called “The Fundamentals”, or what “Real Christians” were required to believe and practice. 

The essence of the Fundament-als was five beliefs. The first belief was the total inerrancy of the Bible in all matters; historical, scientific, and philosophical. The second was belief in the virgin birth of Christ. The third was belief in salvation via Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross. The fourth was belief in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The last was belief in Christ’s return on Judgement Day. 

Those who adopted the Fundamentals became known as fundamentalists, and their creed is still widely practiced. Some fundamentalists prefer to be called “traditionalists.” 

However, if Mahatma Ghandi, and scores of other modern mystics are correct when they say “God has no religion,” then what god do these fundamentalists worship? 

The Buddha anticipated this conundrum when he said, “ Don’t believe everything you see, read or hear from others. Whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself, give up the bad and embrace the good.” 

Thus, many folks who embrace spirituality are eschewing religion in order to experience God on their own. 

Ironically, there are some universal spiritual principles that could be considered fundamental to spiritual practice. Those who practice the principles could be known as “spiritual fundamentalists.” 

Here’s five “spiritual fundamentals” from some modern mystics. 

“In every moment of your life, you can be a host to God, or a hostage to your ego.” 
— Dr. Wayne Dyer 

“God is present only where God is realized.” 
— Joel S. Goldsmith 

“The people who know God well — mystics, hermits, prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God — always meet a lover, not a dictator.” 
— Richard Rohr 

“When the time comes that nothing goes forth from you other than which you would be glad to have return, then you will have reached your heaven.” 
— Ernest Holmes 

“The 10 positive actions that support wakeful, compassionate living are expressed as the ten commandments, or ten things to refrain from. In terms of bodily action, discipline means realizing that it’s generally harmful to kill other beings, to steal from them, or to behave inappropriately sexually. 
“In terms of speech, we see that it’s generally harmful to lie to others; to make disparaging, divisive remarks; to talk harshly; or to spend our time in meaningless gossip. 
“And in terms of mind, we see the harm that comes from being malicious and envious, bearing grudges, and committing the error of not believing in cause and effect. 
“This last belief is regarded as the most serious problem of all, because if we don’t believe that a negative action is connected to a negative result, then we might think that we can kill, lie, and be hateful and still expect to be free, honored, and happy. This is the epitome of delusion.” 
— Jed McKenna 

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