Fundamentalists believe that the inspired words of God were written down by holy men and transmitted to us in an inerrant, inspired, perfectly preserved text of the Bible. The Bible was then translated word-for-word exactly from the original languages into English with absolutely no meaning whatsoever lost (unless a Greek translation is really needed to help a shaky sermon point). This Bible is given lip service as the perfect standard for all belief and practice within every Independent, Fundamental, Bible-Believing, New Testament, Eagerly Awaiting Either The Rapture Or Dinner Time Whichever Comes First Baptist Church.
In reality, however, a fundamentalists really only needs to acknowledge the authority of Scripture in three key areas:
1) The pastor is right.
2) The Bible says whatever the pastor says it does
3) If the pastor’s interpretation sounds a little weird, illogical, or downright heretical refer to point one.
Using this simple formula, fundamentalists can claim that the Bible is their absolute standard for faith and practice no matter what silly or anachronistic path that made lead them down. The Bible may forbid everything from cosmopolitans to chat rooms and from CCM to children’s church. It may command door-to-door soul winning and three services per week. It may regulate everything from birth control to bathing suits. And it does all this without ever actually forbidding or commanding any of those thing in any way shape or form. It’s a good thing we have pastors.
The Bible may still be on prominent display in fundamentalist churches but both their faith and practice more often seem to spring from the mind of man than from the Word of God. Yet every jot and typoÂ receives the status of “biblical” — so it must be in the Scriptures somewhere. If only the rest of us could be blessed enough to see it.