From time to time, people write me to ask whether I think this or that church or preacher fits the description of “fundamentalist,” “crazy fundamentalist,” or “likely-to-be-taken-into-custody-any-minute-now-for-their-own-protection fundamentalist.” To give some assistance in answering these queries for a fundamentalist taxonomy, I now provide you with the following list of warning signs that you might be in a fundy-style church…or possibly in an Amway convention — it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart.
So get out your pencil and score your church like this…
If your church is run by one man (regardless of actual position) who makes most of the decisions unilaterally without regard for the opinions of others or the consequences to individuals then yell “that’s my pastor!” and give yourself five points.
If your pastor spends more time talking about being “biblical” than he actually does reading and explaining actual Bible passages then give yourself three points and a poem and plan on bringing a nice book to read the next time you come to church.
If the people in your church would feel uncomfortable sharing Jesus with people while sitting in a bar then give yourself no points but do feel free to obtain and drink an adult beverage at some later date for your stomach’s sake.
If sermons preached from your pulpit consistently contain stories told by the speaker that cast himself as the hero and bring more glory to himself than Jesus then give yourself six points and bottle of whiteout to use on the signatures on your Bible cover.
If your church’s organized outreach program consists almost exclusively of cold calling and hard sell techniques involving scripted encounters where at least 2/3 of the people involved are wearing a tie then give yourself one point for each of the soul-winners involved then subtract one for every bogus decision card you managed to wrangle out of small children, deaf senior citizens, and folks who don’t even speak English.
If the last time you observed the Lord’s Supper (last Easter) you refused to serve it to any visitors because you couldn’t be sure they weren’t Catholics or opponents of the Second Amendment and then ended up not taking it yourself because you didn’t want to risk not confessing something, then give yourself one point for every fluid ounce of Welch’s that remained in the little plastic cups at the end of the service.
If your church refuses to sing Steve Green’s music in their choir until the songs have been “cleaned up” by removing the African drums and straightening out the off-beat bits then slowly give yourself one point then three points then another one then another three.
If your pastor is pretty sure that the Holy Spirit packed up his bags and went on vacation right after the Bible was finished being written (with brief return around 1611 to make sure it got translated right) then add one point for each member of the Trinity you’ve totally missed the point of.
If you’re a Christian who is so focused on keeping himself pure and clean from “the world” that you forget the second greatest commandment (and most of the other important ones too) and think that love is measured in the number of sermons you’ve yelled, and sinners you’ve condemned, and gospel tracts you’ve strewn around then award yourself the whole world. And lose your soul.
Because in the end, it’s people not the points that really matter.