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This began with the revolution which took place in our understanding of the Bible. This had long been regarded as the receptacle for the divine voice: it was the Word of God in written form. By using the tools of historical and literary criticism, however, biblical scholars such as Reimarus, David Strauss and Julius Wellhausen revealed the human origin and character of the Bible. The doctrine of divine revelation had come to its end, even in respect to the Bible. Bishop Stephen Neill did not exaggerate when in he referred to Strauss's Life of Jesus as a "turning point in the history of the Christian faith".

This biblical revolution was accompanied by a radical shift in Christian thought, as it endeavoured to accommodate itself to the new intellectual climate. Friedrich Schleiermacher , sometimes known as the first modern theologian, shifted the base of theological thinking from divinely revealed dogma to human religious experience.

This was a very radical change which cannot be overestimated. By the end of the 19th century the scholars of Protestant liberalism had fully accepted the humanistic origins of the Bible, come to terms with the scientific notion of biological evolution, and were completely confident that the essential core of Christian doctrine could be salvaged intact and re-expressed in terms relevant to the modern age.

This was taken a stage further in America in an address given in by a progressive educationalist, Charles Eliot , who had been President of Harvard University for 40 years. Harvard is not only the oldest university in the United States but, being a Unitarian foundation, had long been known for progressive thought.

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At the age of 79 Eliot sketched what he called "the religion of the future". He said it would consist of practical service to others. It would no longer need churches, scriptures, and dogmas but would promote education, social reform and preventive medicine. No wonder the people who would soon become known as the fundamentalists took fright. Such ideas might be acceptable in educated circles in the cities, but churchgoers in small-town America were shocked by what was becoming known as "the social gospel".

That brings us back to the publication of The Fundamentals, but now we can appreciate the deep-seated causes which led up to it. Muslim Modernists. Although the chief impact of the Enlightenment has been on the Christian West within which it emerged, eventually it began to influence other cultures.

Jon Mills (psychologist)

In the latter part of the 19th century a small but influential group of leading Muslim figures became known as the Muslim Modernists. It prompted Muhammad Iqbal, who later played a leading role in the foundation of Pakistan, to write The Reconstruction of Islamic Thought. He noted that there was a time when European thought received inspiration from the world of Islam, but conceded that "for the last years religious thought in Islam had been practically stationary". He believed the younger generation of Muslims in Asia and Africa were demanding a fresh orientation of their faith.

So he set out to provide this, discussing the basic ideas of Islam in the light of such Western thinkers as Kant, Whitehead, Bergson, Einstein and Carl Jung. Such people were confident that Islam could absorb the full impact of scientifically based modern thought coming from the West. But what happened to these modernists? I put that question to the lecturers of the Department of Islamic Studies in the University of Jordan when I visited them in I was told: "The modernists were not true Muslims! Thus, in both the former Christendom and the Islamic world, religious thought has becoming polarised.

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The only alternatives seemed to be either a return to the pre-modern form of the religious tradition that ends in fundamentalism, or the radical shift to secularism which, seeing no possible re-interpretation of the tradition, rejects the tradition in toto. Either way, religion has been losing its public face.

It has become a matter of personal choice, to be practised privately within an increasingly secular state.


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After its defeat, Kemal Ataturk turned his country into a modern secular state by means of a far-reaching cultural revolution. Ataturk made no attempt to undermine the importance of the Islamic heritage, but left Turks free to practise Islam as a personal option.

In a very short time he effectively privatised Islam, in much the same way as Christian allegiance has become slowly privatised in the West. Jewish responses. The effect of the Enlightenment on Judaism has been quite different. Initially it was a great boon, bringing a release from the severe restrictions Jews had long lived under within Christendom. They were now free to leave the ghettos and register as normal citizens of whichever country they lived in.

Moses Mendelssohn, grandfather of the celebrated composer, not only strongly encouraged his fellow-Jews to follow his lead but he embraced many of the Enlightenment values. But this led to a new crisis in Jewry. The new freedoms and atmosphere of cultural change entered so much into German Judaism that many converted to Christianity, including, for example, the father of Karl Marx.

Others changed their day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday to be more in keeping with their Christian fellow citizens. A widely publicised conflict broke out in one of the synagogues between a conservative elderly rabbi and a radical young rabbi who was all for change. Surprisingly, the council of rabbis sided with the young rabbi on the grounds that it was not true to the spirit of Judaism to be opposed to all change.

In the long run Judaism found it easier to come to terms with the changes of the Second Axial Period than did Christians or Muslims, partly because each synagogue is democratically ruled and is relatively independent. This has meant that Jews have been free to make a wide variety of responses to the modern secular world. Many have assimilated to the secular world and largely lost their Jewish identity. The synagogue-going Jews are divided into orthodox, conservative, liberal or reform, and reconstructionist. It is largely because the traditional anti-semitism did not disappear as a result of the enlightenment, as it was expected to, but rather intensified in Russia and Poland that the Zionist movement was formed in This has been secular and nationalist, rather than religious.

plurhamphorslickro.gq The Nazi Holocaust served to spread Zionism among nearly all Jews, with the result that since the modern State of Israel was founded in , its strongest supporters are now often referred to as Jewish fundamentalists. Religious fundamentalists see themselves as the champions and faithful guardians of the ancient truths and moral commandments which constitute the essence of their particular faith. In other words, they claim to be the true exponents of the religious tradition they represent. They often speak of themselves as Torah-true Jews, born-again Christians or true Muslims.

I wish to show that fundamentalism, while appealing to the past, is actually a new and modern religious phenomenon, and one that does not faithfully represent the faith in the way it claims to. It is new because it is a reaction to the advent of the modern secular world, and this is something which none of the great religious traditions has had to encounter before. That is why the term "fundamentalism", as we have seen, is less than 90 years old. Far from being the loyal defence of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, fundamentalism is a religious aberration.

For the fundamentalist Christian, God has been replaced by the Bible. Their respective Holy Scripture has become their object of their faith — their God. This was not so in the pre-modern world. This may be illustrated by a remark made by a perceptive Muslim to Wilfred Cantwell Smith, an authoritative western scholar of Islam: "Muslims no longer believe in Allah in the way our forebears did. Today Muslims believe in Islam". This subtle but important difference is reflected in the fact that Muslim fundamentalists are rightly referred to today as "Islamists" rather than "Muslims".

In this age when the culture of modernity has been fast eroding the traditional belief in God, along with the transcendent spiritual world supposedly surrounding him, the conservative devotees of the religious past hold ever more firmly to the most tangible form of the past: Holy Scripture. And that makes them fundamentalists. So fundamentalism may be described as a modern religious disease, for it distorts genuine religious faith in the same way as cancer distorts and misdirects the natural capacity of body cells to grow. Instead of bringing spiritual freedom and the realisation of a spiritual goal, as all sound religion should, fundamentalism imprisons people into such a rigid system of belief that they find it difficult to free themselves.

Fundamentalism takes possession of human minds and blinds them to the realities which most others accept as self-evident. Fundamentalism fosters a closed mind, restricts the sight to tunnel vision, hinders mental and spiritual growth, and prevents people from becoming the mature, balanced, self-critical persons they have the potential to become. Deceptive appeal to Scripture.

The fact that fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon is not at all obvious at first, simply because it makes its claim on the basis of something which has long been central to the religious tradition in question: the appeal to Holy Scripture. This claim, by its very subtlety, often deceives even non-fundamentalists.

Elizabeth Drescher

They sometimes feel themselves at a disadvantage, for the fundamentalists appear to have claimed the high moral ground. What is novel about fundamentalism is not the honouring of Holy Scripture, but the way in which it is done. Fundamentalists treat Holy Scripture as the starting point of their faith tradition when in fact it is the product: it gathered its authority only after the tradition had started.

This is especially so with Judaism and Christianity, both of which existed long before they had Holy Scriptures. It is rather less so with Islam. But Judaism, Christianity and Islam each evolved out of an initially fluid faith tradition, in which there was still much freedom for creative change and development. As each produced its Holy Scripture, there certainly was a tendency for that creative spirit to diminish and for the living faith tradition to become frozen into a static and lifeless form.

This was overcome, however, by devising a variety of methods of interpretation to accommodate the text to the changing circumstances in which people lived. Up to the advent of the modern world, Jews, Christians and Muslims certainly gave their respective Scriptures all due respect and honour — but they were not fundamentalists, even though there was the potential to become so.

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They felt free to interpret their scriptures in the light of new knowledge and fresh experience. Moreover, they were reading and interpreting their Scriptures in a cultural and religious context which, while not the same as that in which they were written, was at least in reasonable harmony with it.

For example, even in the 16th century Protestants and Catholics, in spite of their differences, were both closer to the world view of primitive Christianity than they were to that of the modern world. A new world view. Till the advent of the modern world it was relatively easy for Jew, Christian and Muslim to acknowledge the words of their respective Scriptures to be self-evidently true, as well as being divinely revealed. This is no longer the case. The advent of modern culture, with its accompanying knowledge explosion, has changed all that.

The task of interpreting the Holy Scriptures in a way which is relevant to the changing cultural context and self-evidently true began to reach breaking point from the 19th century onwards. It was this that led to the modern religious aberration of fundamentalism. Fundamentalists reject much of the modern world view and insist, somewhat blindly, on remaining within a world view consistent with their particular Holy Scriptures.

What all fundamentalists have in common is not a set of specific beliefs but an attitude of mind. It is the conviction that they possess a knowledge of absolute truth of which they have become the divinely ordained guardians. This conviction then gives them a feeling of extreme confidence and of inner power in relation to all who differ from them.