Okay, the word despise may not be the right terminology. Fundamentalism isn’t entirely bad. However, there have been many possibly bad things which have come out of American Fundamentalism.
I just read a chapter from the book “Baptists in America.” I now understand why I both respect many aspects of Baptist theology but I also detest certain fundamentalist activity and methodology. Interestingly, fundamentalism is a very recent phenomenon in Christianity. It was created in the early 20th century to combat liberal theology. Sadly, it was too combative. The problem with fundamentalism is that it puts having correct, undefiled doctrine over love and grace.
I agree that there are “fundamental” beliefs in Christianity that are immensely important, but the leaders of the fundamentalist in the early 20th century were very harsh. Read about J. Frank Norris. He went as far as to call other Christians “infidels” because they interpreted some Scripture differently than him. He refused to do any ecumenical work, and was one of the early front-runners of the independent Baptist and non-denominational churches. Norris and other fundamentalists may have been saved (I can’t comment on where they stood with God), but I’m not sure how many people they brought into the church through their haughty, know-it-all attitude. I believe that we are living in the aftermath of their actions and teachings.
Many times, when I talk to non-Christian friends of mine about going to church, they cite confusion about different denominations as a reason for not attending a church at all. Fundamentalism wanted to bring people into a perfected Church. Instead, it’s divisive methods lead to the prideful division of the Church. Essentially, going against what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3. These small denominations raise human understandings and differences above unity. Of course, we do have a certain amount of liberty and freedom as congregations. But, when this liberty is taking to the point where we literally dismember the body of Christ, we turn people away from the Church. In turn, we push people away from the Gospel. Even if we don’t get along with each other, unity for the sake of the Gospel should be our priority. As Augustine said, “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.”
In order to learn from these mistakes, I find two important lessons. First, humans don’t and can’t fully understand and grasp everything in the Bible. Therefore, we don’t have a right to be prideful and degrade another person–Christian or not–for disagreeing with our interpretation. Two, sharing the grace, mercy, and love of the Gospel through word and deed need to be our priority. We may not have all the perfect answers, but we know who does. We can point others to Him. As a famous evangelist once said, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” This is Christianity as a nutshell. Jesus became a lowly human because he loved us. We need to live and share this love like He did.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters…Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 3:16, 4:8-10).