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The Fundamental Difference
Posted: September 20, 2005

What do Bible-believing Christians, pre-Vatican II Catholics, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Wahhabi Muslims have in common? Answer: they are all fundamentalists!

But, just what is a fundamentalist? To answer that, let's take a look at how the term "fundamentalist" appeared in modern Christianity.

Between 1910 and 1915 a series of booklets entitled The Fundamentals was produced. Written, published, and distributed by conservative Christians, each booklet was sent forth as a defense of Biblical Christianity against the onslaught of modernist thought and criticism.

Leading conservative Christian scholars from the Unites States, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany identified key doctrines that had been attacked by liberals and modernists. Key doctrines, such as the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures and the Deity, virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious suffering and death, bodily resurrection, and imminent return of Jesus Christ, were considered fundamental to true Christianity. Thus, these doctrines became known as "fundamentals" and those that held to them became known as "fundamentalists."

You might say that the fundamentals are the essential elements of Biblical Christianity. Consequently, when you reject the fundamentals you reject Biblical Christianity. For that reason, Bible-believing Christians, i.e. fundamentalists, do not view liberal Christians as true Christians and reject other religions as false. Instead, Bible-believing Christians believe it is their duty to evangelize liberal Christians and non-Christians with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are committed to practicing Christianity in its fundamental New Testament form.

Most every religion has its spectrum of adherents ranging from fundamentalists to liberals. And, as in the case of Christianity, it is the fundamentalists who seem to be closest to the original practices and beliefs of each particular religion. They are the ones who defend the essential elements or key doctrines of their faith.

The liberals, on the other hand, have moderated what they perceive as the harsher or more judgmental aspects of their religion, modernized their theology to accommodate current scientific thinking, and embraced ecumenical attitudes towards other religions. It is the liberals, not the fundamentalists that are likely to view other religions as equally valid "faith journeys."

Unfortunately, the term "fundamentalist" has lost its meaning today. From H.L. Mencken maligning Christian fundamentalists in the 1920s as "halfwits," "yokels," "rustic ignoramuses," "anthropoid rabble," and "gaping primates of the upland valleys," to the Washington Post maligning them 70 years later as "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command" it has become a derisive slur instead of a useful and descriptive term (Paul Marshall, November 11, 2004, Fundamentalists and Other Fun People, in Weekly Standard; viewed January 29, 2005 www.weekly standard.com).

Without understanding what "fundamentalist" really means, or the difference between the fundamentalists and liberals in Christianity and Islam, it is impossible to fully grasp what is going on in the current war on terror. Why? Because fundamentalist Islam has declared war and liberal Christianity can't - and liberal Islam won't - see it.

Fundamentalist Islam has been largely influenced by the writings of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya and the 16th century Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. Wahhab embraced the writings of Taymiyya and set out to purge Islam from outside influences, returning it to the pure form practiced by the Prophet Muhammad and the early caliphs (religious leaders) in seventh-century Arabia. In doing so, Wahhab and his followers embraced jihad (holy war) and gave non-Whabbis, Muslim or otherwise, a choice: convert to Wahhabism - true Islam - or die.

Wahhab's daughter married Muhammad ibn Saud who established the first Saudi state. The descendents of both Saud and Wahhab became the leaders of both the original Saudi state and the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It also effectively wed fundamentalist Whabbi Islam to the Saudi state.

Saud's descendent, Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, whose mother was a direct descendent of Wahhab, greatly expanded the influence of Whabbism throughout the Kingdom after he became King in March 1964. Under his reign, fundamental Islam in the form of Wahhabism gained a vice grip on Saudi society and, with the help of increasing oil revenues, began to be aggressively exported throughout the Arab world and beyond. The export of fundamentalist Wahhabism only increased under King Faisal's successors Khalid (1975) and Abdullah (1995).

The Muslim World League (MWL), which had been established in May 1962, soon became one of Saudi Arabia's greatest tools for promoting Wahhabism. Through the MWL Saudi Arabia backed the fundamentalist Moslem Brotherhood (MB) that had originated in Egypt and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), specifically Yasser Arafat and his fundamentalist Fatah movement, which grew out of the MB, and many other fundamentalist movements.

The MB, which had been banned in Egypt and other Arab states, found a welcome home in the Saudi Kingdom. From there, it spread beyond the Arab world. Funded by the Saudis and blessed by the Wahhabis, the MB became firmly entrenched in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.

Along the way the MB and the Wahhabis have spawned a variety of fundamentalist Islamic groups dedicated to spreading jihad throughout the world. Among them are Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and al-Qaeda, just to name a few.

Of special note is NAIT. Generously funded by Saudi Arabia and well provisioned with Wahhabi materials and literature, NAIT has bought, built, and funded mosques throughout the world. In the United States, for instance, NAIT quickly became the entity that owned the largest number of mosques. In fact, it is estimated that half of the mosques and Islamic schools in the USA were built with Saudi money (Hatred's Kingdom, by Dore Gold, Regnery Publishing, Inc., Washington, DC, 2003, p. 149), mostly channeled through NAIT. Consequently, the majority of mosques and Islamic schools in the United States are actively indoctrinating American Muslims in the fundamentalist teachings of Wahabbism and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Remember, fundamentalist Muslims believe that non-fundamentalist Muslims and all non-Muslims are kufar (infidels) and mushrikun (polytheists). They believe that kufar and mushrikun must either convert or be eliminated. And, despite the recently released Fiqh Council of North America's Fatwa Against Terrorism, they still believe in jihad. Besides, at least eight of the 18 signers are connected with Wahhabist and Muslim Brotherhood groups and two are unindicted conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

It kind of makes the Fatwah's statement "We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe." sound hollow and insincere. Sounds like some of the signers are actually fundamentalists in liberal's clothing.

Now, let's bring this back to the current war on terror. Fundamentalist Muslims have declared jihad or holy war against the kufar and mushrikun. Their goal is not to peacefully coexist or even to achieve supremacy. Their goal is to bring the entire world into the faith. Their faith.

Tragically, liberal Muslims and liberal Christians are ill equipped to understand fundamentalist Muslims. Blinded by their own refusal to defend the fundamental or key doctrines of their own faiths, they are uncomfortable with those who do. Instead, they write them off as "extremists," "radicals," "kooks," and "out of the mainstream."

Because the liberals ultimately stand for nothing themselves, they either cannot or will not accept that fundamentalist Muslims do. Whether out of fear or ignorance, to attribute the world-wide actions of the highly organized and extremely well funded efforts of the fundamentalists to the suffering and discontent of impoverished, uneducated Muslims is to greatly misunderstand the nature of the war on terror.

Ironically, Bible-believing Christians are in a far better position to understand what motivates fundamentalist Muslims. As fundamentalist Christians, we understand what it means to take a stand for what you believe. We understand the desire to spread your message and convert the unbelievers of the world. We also understand what it means to be maligned and marginalized by liberals because we believe in the exclusiveness of our message that Jesus Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him] (John 14:6)."

After all, to say, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12)." is not very inclusive or ecumenical. It makes the liberals uncomfortable.

However, the difference between fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims is in how we spread our message. Our motivation is love and our method is the gospel. After all, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16)."

Instead of jihad, we are instructed that "...the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26)."

Unlike the fundamentalist Muslims who employ the sword to enforce and spread their faith, "...the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (2 Corinthians 10:4)."

That is the fundamental difference.

-Pastor Al

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