Fundamentalism and the Central Problems of our Time

A little more from where I left off yesterday:

Based on Orthodox theology, as expressed by the Holy Fathers of the Church, we can come to beneficial guidelines for the understanding and the overcoming of fundamentalism. As we already stated, fundamentalism expresses the central problems of our time. In the final analysis, it expresses the problem of man’s personhood, as it is experienced today. With the constant deepening of the division in man it has accepted, in our day, the broadest dimensions: neglecting the unity nurtured by religious faith, scattering the cohesive ties of social life, generalizing the non-foundationalism of people, giving a dramatic character to the search for the points of support.  Fundamentalism,  as a movement for the preserving of certain foundational (=fundamental) principles, which existed in the past and are considered of life significance for the present and future, express that search. Especially in times such as ours, the search for certain points of support are not expressed as unnecessary luxuries, but as life necessities.

From the viewpoint of Orthodox theology, which does not divide religious life from social life, the phenomena of fundamentalism is predominantly theological. This applies not only when it appears in its typical religious form, but also when it appears as a sociopolitical and anthropological phenomena.

Fundamentalism searches for that which is foundational (=fundamental), which can be identified with the absolute. This search, in the final analysis, is theological. The answer, however, which is given usually is not theological, seen at least from the viewpoint of Orthodox theology. The aforementioned occurs because that foundational is not presented on the field of the uncreated, but the created, which is considered as the only reality.

But turning the created into an absolute represents the basic theological mistake which abolishes the essence of Christianity. This absolutization means closing it into the real of this world; it means, in the end analysis, idol worship. The absolutization of the created means to simultaneously mutilate anthropology and the truth of man’s personhood. The created, as the corruptible and transient, is found within the limits of death. Therefore, it cannot deliver man from the fear of death and grant him freedom and fullness. It cannot help him in his perfecting himself as a person.

Uncertainties and a feeling of emptiness, which bring us to fundamentalism, are not ethical but ontological states.  Fundamentalism has no real ontology, but it takes in its hand to convince its members that, in place of ontology, they accept morality or deontology. Here is where its main mistake and weakness is, but it is from here that its fanaticism and damage comes from.

Fundamentalism of all shades turns created elements into absolutes: laws, rules, forms, principles. This happens either because the uncreated is not known at all, or because the uncreated is identified with created comprised resources, through which they appear in the world. In ontologies, limited within the boundaries of the created, are founded, not only in apparently religious or even non-Christian, but also in Christian fundamentalism. Ontology framed within the boundaries of the created is theologically unfounded and non-existent. So in all cases of fundamentalism true ontology is missing, which creates an opening to the un-created, and therefore is distorted the perfection of man as a person.


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