Many extremists become myopically fixed on certain issues. They cannot see that the Lord is more concerned about winning people to Christ, discipling them and growing churches that reflect all of His loving attributes. The church of today does not necessarily consist of the good, but of those who want to be better and do better. Yet, sadly, many of our churches are paralyzed with timidity and are gradually dying of indignity. A great church should be of such character that it is easy for people to find God and easier yet to forget themselves.
Most religious reactionaries struggle to trust people because of their abiding belief in the sinful nature of mankind. Often, an ultra conservative will quote Jeremiah 17:9 which says, "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked who can know it?" With this built in tendency to not trust oneself, the fighting fundamentalists have a hard time loving or trusting others. Love does not keep a ledger of the sins and failures of others. A great number of religious reactionaries struggle to have a healthy self-image because their security is rooted in obedience to a very exacting image of God. They tend to believe that God expects them to constantly strive to a higher level of theological understanding. For this reason it is difficult to be able to feel relaxed around these folks because of their nagging sense of self-doubt and inadequacy. Love is a fabric that never fades, no matter how often it is washed in the water of criticism, adversity or grief! Quite a few reactionaries are hard to read because of their hesitancy to reveal much of what they are thinking. They are afraid someone might disagree with their convictions. This seeming lack of transparency is in fact a planned response. By masking their feelings they believe they are better able to live a lifestyle based on raw objectivity rather than subjective interpretations of their situations. For example, some members of the religious right have difficulties in deciding whether to identify more with the fundamentalists or with the evangelicals. William Martin describes the two poles that many oscillate between in his book: God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, when he indicates, 'If to be a fundamentalist used to mean to be separate from the world, then to be an evangelical implied that one should regard the world lost in sin nevertheless still under the control of a sovereign God.
It is like a pendulum swinging back and forth between;
1). Kingdom anticipation (God will bring His kingdom so we are to faithfully wait and serve Him in whatever way we can) - A fighting fundamentalist's perception
2). Kingdom building (God will bring His kingdom in quantitative and qualitative fashion. Therefore, it is a part of our responsibility to work toward His kingdom coming in all of its dimensions) - An evangelical's perception.
Paul the apostle challenges us where he writes, "We demolish argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) Some of the masks often used by the reactionary religious right include some of the following:
A). THE MASK OF TRADITION - Some people carry an illusion in their minds that as long as one is living consistently according to their forefathers' identities, roles and responsibilities, they will be all right. Jesus made it clear that those who hold their traditions higher than the oracles of God are hypocrites. They tend to use their traditions for an excuse for not loving people. Often, traditions can hinder people from seeing God as He really is. Behind the mask of tradition, people hide many feelings of inadequacy.
B). THE MASK OF CULTURE - Many questionable activities have been carried out in the name of culture. Some people assume that as long as their actions fit the culture of their fellowship, they will be all right. However, a cultural mask can be a pretense for hiding something that we do not want outsiders to know about. One man I met in Nigeria insisted that polygamy is so embedded in his culture that the church should allow polygamists to occupy positions as elders. When the church finally consented, that chief took control of the church and turned it into a cultural extension of his own beliefs and practices.
C). THE MASK OF POSITION - Throughout the world, people are scrambling to get into positions of power, influence and authority. People often hope that once they get this position they will be able to do what really pleases them. However, the superficiality of this mask wears off quickly when one looks at the track record of people who used it as a pretense for their selfish