My reflections re: Carl F. H. Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947) are admittedly clouded, or, better said, biased. Why? How so? Well, maybe my admitted short-sightedness has something to do with the days in which I live, the thick socio-political atmosphere of my country and the larger world, and/or too much 24 hour news? Whatever the reason(s), I do know this: I have little sympathy for anything labeled “fundamentalism.” So, obviously, my opinion(s) regarding The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism goes without saying … but I’ll say it anyway, of course! Henry’s challenge to press contemporary culture with fundamentalist belief does not resonate with me at all. In fact, I’ll pass, and totally so, thank you.
A few good reasons power my staunch apathy for a Henry-esque fundamentalist full court press on culture. I will, however, only focus upon one during this very brief reflection of the book.
I’m not even sure what Christian fundamentalism is today. Is it a religious expression at all? Is it really just a political statement, dressed in Christian garb? I’m not sure Henry would even recognize Christian fundamentalism today, much less support it and/or attempt to press it into culture. Christian fundamentalism seems more akin to USAmerican politics and a few narrowly specific social issues than basic Christian belief and/or Gospel practice. Is this strange divergence a natural result of a mishandled or reckless embrace of a Henry-esque fundamentalist challenge as advanced in The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism? Perhaps. It is very difficult to determine the exact cause(s) of Christian fundamentalism’s shift away from basic Christian belief toward a much, much narrower socio-political statement. While the catalysts for this shift may escape discernment, tangible examples pointing toward its reality abound. The following is a fairly recent example:
The Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of a nondenominational mega-church in Longwood, Fla., said he resigned as the coalition’s incoming president because its board of directors disagreed with his plan to broaden the organization’s agenda. In addition to opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, Hunter, 58, wanted to take on such issues as poverty, global warming and HIV/AIDS. - Source: Washington Post Article
I think implosion is so obvious. Too, it seems as if a Henry-esque full court fundamentalist press against culture resulted not in culture becoming increasingly dedicated to basic Christian belief and practice, but in a literal collapse of the fundamentalist structure and program. Yet, Christian fundamentalists happily invest enormous amounts of time, energy, and dollars into spiritually shallow and utterly vain political and legal attempts aimed exclusively at the prevention of Sin.
Do we really believe Jesus’ “Then go … and sin no more,” can be attached to a piece of political legislation? I do not.
In conclusion, therefore, I again must unabashedly admit my lack of sympathy for Carl F. H. Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, and the fundamentalist challenge it contains. I think this country - and the world for that matter - has experienced fundamentalism’s intentional press into culture. I think we all have had enough, and from both sides too! Religious liberals are often fundamentalists too! Modern fundamentalism is a left vs. right issue; it is not a Gospel issue. The Gospel of Christ is enough. At any rate, I know I have had enough of all varieties of fundamentalism-s.