After reading this article from last November about the future of fundamentalism I’m going to make my own four predictions about where I see fundamentalism headed.
1. It will get competitive
Church attendance across the spectrum is in decline and the cold-calling methodology of the trying to get new members is highly inefficient. Fundamentalists will continue to poach members from each other’s churches or target the very young and very old with offers of transportation but the core tithe-paying memberships will continue to shrink.
2. It will get cozier.
As fundamentalism shrinks and multiple churches begin competing for the same few souls you will begin to see more and more alliances formed between people who previously were once sworn enemies. There was a time when BJU and Hyles people would never have shared a platform but we’re beginning to see a trend towards more cooperation in an effort to stay solvent. Joining forces makes more resources available and opens up new “markets.” Case in point is the Baptist Friends organization which spans the entire spectrum of fundamentalism.
3. It will get crazier
The hallmark of fundamentalism these days is its inability to discipline its own leaders on anything from heresy to harassment. Apologists for fundamentalism always seem to be waiting for one more piece of evidence. They would be happy to do something but they just need a little more proof. They’d definitely not tolerate abuse but nobody has managed to give them absolute certainty that there is any abuse in fundamentalism. I mean what does “rape” really mean anyway? When any organization loses the moral fortitude to be self-policing, the people who inevitably take control will continue the destructive cycle of silencing relatively moderate voices in favor of the hand-picked minions who will let their bad behavior go unchecked.
4. It will get creative
Massive rebranding efforts are underway now on college campuses and in churches. There will always be a few who simply double down on the ways of the past but much of fundamentalism has begun to realize that they at least need to put a fresh new face on the same old Pharaseeism. What they won’t do, however, is apologize. They’ll never even admit that they’ve changed at all. Fundamentalism will continue to exist as long as there are people who are happy to trade the birthright of their minds and morals for the pottage of feeling safe and superior. That’s not going to change anytime soon.