I talked about the good, the bad and the ugly of Christian fundamentalism in an effort to defend those who labored to defend the orthodox beliefs of the Christian faith. The aggressive theological militancy was heralded as positive while the isolation and the cultural activism were viewed as negative. However, such a view is proving to be less than idea and not nearly as heroic.
The bad is still bad and the ugly still ugly. The good, though, is not so good.
The militancy towards challenges to the orthodox doctrines essentially turns a servant of Christian into a kind of revolutionary activist. In leftist revolutionary movements, militant activism proves to be destructive and disruptive, accomplishing its goals through a form of chaos and subversion rather than the honest exploration and challenging of ideas. For a Christian to essentially use Marxist tactics is adding chaos to chaos. It is little surprise that Christian fundamentalism has done as much damage as it has.
There is a danger in moving away from a fundamentalist stance, as needed as the move is. Available is the option of moderation, of finding a middle ground between preserving established doctrine and adopting modern thought through compromise. In such a place, the fundamentalist meets with theological liberals and for the sake of moderation compromises their stance without reciprocal compromise from liberals.
Though theological conservatives are criticized for their lack of militancy, it is that lack of militancy that may prove to be much more effective. Being moderate in the presentation of ideas need not equate with a compromise those ideas. Theologians can be careful without self-censoring.
Liberal theology continues to be a corrosive force on church doctrine, but countering that erosion can be met with rational and clear discussions in defense of orthodoxy. And as always, the best endorsement of orthodox doctrine remains leading by example in daily life.
I will confess, though, that there is a sadness in laying aside a militant stance. A sense of surrender and defeat hangs like a cloud over the field of conflict. Perhaps the idea of defeat is what drives fundamentalist today. Given just how important and profound the basic claims of Christianity are, the thought of losing them to a world of liberal skepticism is the stuff of nightmares.