September 18, 2005

Deconstructing Christian Extremism

What exactly is "Christian extremism?" The first step to understanding this dangerous phenomenon so that it can be effectively opposed involves some form of definition.

The starting point in our definition of Christian extremism requires a definition of Christian fundamentalism. Although Christian extremism subsumes fundamentalism, it is probably not accurate to characterize all fundamentalists as extremists. Although there is considerable controversy over exactly how to define fundamentalism, I have seen the following components listed in multiple respected sources:

1. Biblical Inerrancy
2. Evangelism
3. Premillenialism (expectation of second coming, rapture, etc.)
4. Separatism/Sense of Persecution
5. Biblical Literalism (at least with regard to creation)

I propose that Christian extremism includes these 5 components of fundamentalism but adds additional components. I offer the following as potential aspects of the definition. Consider this a work in progress.

6. Exclusivity (conviction that those who do not share their religious viewpoint
are not "real" Christians)
7. Anti-Intellectualism
8. Social Conservatism and Anti-Liberalism
9. Intolerance
10. Theocratic Strivings
11. Militant Opposition to Modernism

What did I miss? Do you believe that there are other components which should be considered part of this definition? If so, I would be grateful for your input.

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