Opdracht week 4 Religious Pluralism

What is fundamentalism?

Marty and Scott Appleby (1991) give different features of fundamentalism in their article. The first feature is the importance of a communal and personal identity, which has its basis in the transcendent reality. The more people trust this transcendent and divine reality, the more is the integrity of the religious identity. This is why fundamentalists see their divine truth as the only possible one. But the religious identity is threatened by post-Enlightenment secular rationality. The identity has therefor to be protected against outsiders with all possible means (Marty and Scott Appleby 1991: 817, 818).
Other features are summed up very nicely in the following quotation (Marty and Scott Appleby 1991: 820): “Readings of texts [...] provide fundamentalists with [1] a cosmic enemy, [2] imbue fundamentalist boundarysetting and purity-preserving activities with an apocaliptic urgency, and [3] foster a crisis mentality that [4] serves both to intensify missionary efforts and to justify extremism”
Lawrence (1998) at first says that there is but only one fundamentalism and many forms of "fundamentalist self-expression" (Lawrence 1998: 88), because people who are fundamentalist believe that their religion holds the one and only truth. After saying this he goes on about the pluralizing of fundamentalism to fundamentalisms in the contemporary discourse about fundamentalism. This discourse holds three main views towards fundamentalist movements: the literalist, the terrorist and the political activist. Lawrence says that fundamentalism actualy encompasses all these three views, but the way how fundamentalism manifests depends on the place and time.
According to Lawrence fundamentalism is at all events related to the ‘modern capitalist world’. Fundamentalists use modern features but are not willing to relativize their worldview and human values to modernist standards
Casanova (1994) says in opposite to Lawrence that next to a negative view on fundamentalism there is also a positive view. In the negative point of view there is the threat of restoration, which is actually a historical impossibility (Casanova 1994: 158-161). On the positive side there is the hope for a national revival, an evangelical revival, and a revitalization of the public sphere (Casanova 1994: 161-166)
At first I was very pleased with the article of Lawrence, because he took a look at fundamentalism from the fundamentalist point of view, saying that multiple fundamentalism isn’t possible. You can’t speak of fundamentalisms when the fundamentalists themselves see their religion as the only truth possible, denying all other religions. But then he became inconsistent, using the word fundamentalisms to show there are different views possible on fundamentalism. Other articles often show an outsiders view on fundamentalism, so I think it should very good to also look at the insiders point of view. Do people, who are seen by outsiders as fundamentalists, see themselves also as fundamentalists? I must say that most scholars describe the period before colonialisation as some static period in which hardly anything happens. But from the colonial period on a lot of new movements occur. My question is whether fundamentalism really is such a strange thing? Is it not normal for a movement seeing itself threatened to defend itself? How this defending happens depends on the movement, the amount of threat and ofcourse other things like place and time, etc. Is it really only occurring since the Enlightenment period in the West? Can we not see fundamentalism along the Celts encountering the then modern Romans? To me fundamentalism is a term which is highly dubious, because of the innneutrality of the term. I think what is normally called fundamentalism should be placed somewhere in the line of ways of believing. We might have to look for another or perhaps, because of it’s multiple sides, more other terms instead of ‘fundamentalism’.

Casanova, José
1994 Evangelical Protestantism: From Civil Religion to Fundamentalist Sect to New Christian Right. In: Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Pp 135-166.

Lawrence, Bruce B.
1998 From fundamentalism to fundamentalisms: a religious ideology in multiple forms. In: Paul Heelas (ed.), Religion, Modernity and Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell. Pp 88-101.

Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby
1991 Conclusion: An Interim Report on a Hypothetical Family. In: Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalism Observed. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Pp 814-842.

Thursday 01 January 2004 - 12:07 pm | | Culture and behaviour, All
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