Following my earlier post on the Dunning-Kruger effect, I concluded by noting that I believed this afflicts some believers also. I was thinking specifically of those I would term as “Biblical fundamentalists”.
Briefly, this fundamentalism is characterised by Scriptural literalism with a special dislike of ‘institutional’ churches such as Anglicanism and Catholicism, which are viewed as ‘deceived’ or ‘pagan’. Accompanying this is a cast iron certainty of being ‘right’ and a guardian of ‘the truth’ and if anybody deviates from these specific beliefs, they’re probably not saved anyway.
How do I know this?
Well, I don’t know this through interacting with fundamentalists; which I do from time to time, I know this because I was a Biblical Fundamentalist.
And when I was in the grip of fundamentalism there is no doubt that I was also afflicted with the Dunning-Kruger effect.
My knowledge and ‘truth’ were all based on private revelation and interpretation of Scripture; I was my own Pope and Magisterium and the Church was simply in error. Not that I knew what the Church really believed anyway, as I was busy watching God TV, believing in the Prosperity Gospel, and under the delusion that theology was a ‘man-made deception’.
The irony of course, was that at the very time I was under the fundamentalist spell, I was completely sundered from the traditions and teaching of the accumulated body of knowledge revealed to the Church over two millennia.
I didn’t know that I didn’t know anything about Christianity, and so had the utmost confidence that I was right in my beliefs and anybody that didn’t agree with me was simply wrong.
Why do I bring this up?
Because I shall be answering the call for papers and submitting an Abstract for consideration of my essay being included in a book that deals with moving away from Christian fundamentalism.
Now depending on where you are on the spectrum this will elicit one of two responses:
If you’re one of those that consider me a fundamentalist, you’ll now be choking on your lentils. If you’re one of those that consider me a wishy washy liberal, you’ll now be repeatedly banging your head on the desk.
Either way, I’m still going for this even though I don’t feel confident; which given the Dunning-Kruger effect, is probably a positive sign.
I’ll hand over to Joel to explain the project further:
People who move out of deep-seated fundamentalism, of any stripe of Christianity, often have deep anguish. They more often meet a personal crisis of some sort which leads them to break with all that they were. Perhaps it is intellectual or even spiritual or perhaps they were met with a sudden choice of morality. They have hit a wall, or perhaps suffered the humpty-dumpty affect, and lay shattered waiting for the King to put them back together again. The black and white world they formerly inhabited has been flooded and destroyed with doubt. How do they survive, or rather, do they survive? Some go the route back to fundamentalism, that is to say, to a militant atheism. As much as their world was defined by believing in a ‘literal’ interpretation of Scripture, their new world is defined by disbelieving in a ‘literal’ interpretation of Scripture. But, what about those who make it? What about those who continue to believe and more, grow in faith? Those who, even if all the pieces no longer fit like they are supposed to, get put back together again?
This book will be a collection of essays of personal stories from those who have otherwise changed their anchor in fear of fundamentalism. They are now seeking a path which entertains the notion of doubt. We are seeking stories of this crisis and how believers made it through. Specifically, most essays will involve some of these points: