(Published in GralsWelt 55/2009; status 2001)
Believers of today's religions consider the words of Plato opposite to be outdated; because they believe that the founder of their community has long since given this enlightenment that Plato hoped for, and that it is only up to us to implement the spiritual insights that are accessible to us.
To other religious people the quote seems strangely topical.
“We have to wait for someone to come and teach us how to sacrifice and how to behave towards our fellow human beings. Only a god can give us enlightenment ... In the meantime it is necessary to navigate the stormy sea of this life on the ruins of the truth that are still left to us, as it were in a boat. ”Plato (427-347 BC)
As long as the former strive for their personal spiritual development, their sometimes passionate efforts are acceptable. However, if they feel called or even obliged to impose their convictions on those who think differently with pressure or perhaps even with violence, then one can speak of fundamentalists who lack respect for human freedom and self-determination. Because freedom of religion, like free will, is given to us by God, and no church, no sect, no religion is entitled to touch these high gifts of the Creator.
Since September 11, 2001 in particular, religious fundamentalism has become a catchphrase that, above all in the mass media, is undifferentiated and related to Islam without any mention of the origin of this word.
What is fundamentalism?
The name goes back to tracts that were published between 1910 and 1915 under the title "The Fundamentals". (7). These are expressions of Christian endeavors whose program was "back to the basics".
This so-called fundamentalism arose in Protestant circles in the USA at the beginning of the 19th century. End-time movements (e.g. Adventists, Pentecostal churches, Presbyterians), as well as other groups who insisted on a literal interpretation of the Bible, turned against Darwin's theory of evolution.
This dispute between scientific research and the biblical creation story came to a climax in the famous "Scopes Trial" in Dayton (Tennessee) against a teacher who nonetheless taught the legally forbidden theory of evolution. This sensational process of 1925 was also made into a film.
After the First World War, Protestant fundamentalism in the USA disappeared from the public eye, only to gain influence again towards the end of the 20th century, now sometimes together with conservative circles in a joint fight against the decline of morals and for traditional values .
The fundamentalist "back to the roots" has played a more or less important role in almost all religions, at different times. So in Martin Luther (1483-1546), who with his catchphrase “sola scriptura” did not allow post-biblical revelations, teachings of the church fathers, papal bulls, etc. to be considered the basis of faith, see a fundamentalist theologian.
In the Catholic Church today Opus Dei, denounced as a secret society, is just as fundamentalist as the arch-conservative archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991), who rejected the results of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), or the Comunione e Liberazione. There are also other extremist groups within, on the fringes or outside the church, such as the Engelwerk (Opus Angelorum).
Fundamentalist associations can also be found in the esoteric scene.
In Islam, Shiites in particular, but also the Sunni movement of the Wahabi, which originated in Saudi Arabia, are viewed as fundamentalist.
From about the 1990s onwards, fundamentalist endeavors had gained political weight in the USA. The most influential organization of this kind is the Christian Coalition, which represents traditional American values, seems to relate biblical end-time expectations to the present, and ascribes particular importance to the state of Israel in the fulfillment of end-time promises.
It is safe to assume that such thoughts went as far as the White House. For example, George W. Bush has proven to be "Born Again Christian" referred to, who was under the influence of the famous American preacher Billy Graham (1918-2018) was able to free himself from alcohol addiction and drug addiction. For example, I've heard that currently (2001) the day-to-day work in the White House begins with Bible readings.
Obviously, in the second half of the 20th century, fundamentalist endeavors also gained in influence in Islam.
In Iran, Shiites who had always claimed religious and political leadership gained through the Ayatollah Khomeini (1900-1989) control of the state. Khomeini and his followers fought against the westernization of Iranian society, which they believe contradicts the Koran and destroys Islam.
The majority of Muslims belong to the more liberal Sunni creed, but here too fundamentalist ideas are gaining influence. The Wahabites have already been mentioned. Fundamentalist Muslims are in power in northern Sudan, Islamists were able to achieve important key positions for a short time in Egypt, Sharia law, which is not covered by the constitution, was introduced in northern Nigeria, and extreme religious ideas, often combined with anti-Western tendencies, are gaining ground in other Islamic countries , of influence. In Afghanistan, for example, the Taliban could only be forcibly expelled (temporarily); in Algeria, Islamists would probably form the government after regular elections; even in secular Turkey an Islamic party is the government. In almost all Islamic countries, other religions are disadvantaged or even suppressed (sometimes by law).
Hindus, too, are not always as peaceful as one would expect from the forbearance attributed to them. In India, for example, there have been hundreds of attacks on Christian or Muslim minorities, the murder of church workers and forced conversions in the last few decades. (9).
Even in traditionally tolerant Judaism there are groups with fundamentalist characteristics. These were shown, for example, in attempts to blow up the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the third most important shrine in Islam (1, p. 11), or in the murder of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995), who like Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948) fell victim to an extremist of his own religious community.
Dangers of fundamentalism
A deepened piety who wants to go back to the roots of their faith is sooner or later demanded in almost all religions by those believers who are unhappy with developments in their religious community that are frozen in appearance, rituals and bureaucratism. This search for the actual contents of religious teaching, not obscured by dogmas and ritual regulations, can lead to revitalization, renewal, and reformation.
Often, however, fundamentalist thinking insists on a closed system of convictions that are not open to criticism.
This doesn't just apply to religions. Political ideologies such as Communism, Bolshevism, Fascism, Maoism, National Socialism, and Socialism were and still are substitute religions or anti-religions, whose dogmas are represented with the same zeal as the so-called "basic religious truths". Deviants were and are branded as "enemies of God" or "counter-revolutionaries", as the case may be, and alternative designs are not permitted.
The typical fundamentalist's belief in sole possession of the truth can lead to intolerance in families and violence between peoples. No religion, no ideology could and can speak freely of such a readiness to use violence.
The crimes of Christian churches in the Middle Ages and the first centuries of modern times are well known. But even in our time there have been acts of violence by religious fundamentalists, even in Western countries, for example the USA, where militant anti-abortionists who call themselves Christian murdered several doctors.
It is obvious that extremist Muslims who fear the destruction of their religion and culture by the West can turn to terrorism. The historical and current crimes of western states (e.g. during the Crusades, the Reconquista or through colonialism) serve to justify their own crimes.
Fundamentalist ideologies, regardless of their religious or political foundation, do not allow compromises, have little room for maneuver and are ultimately unwilling to grant those who think differently their rights to live.
Preview of the 21st Century
For decades there has been talk of the beginning Aquarian Age, which, according to New Age propagandists, should become an age of spirituality, the turning away from materialism, humanity and peace. The basis for these speculations is provided by astrological teachings, according to which our earth will enter a new "month" of the approx. 25,800 year "Great Year" for the next two millennia. Since this cosmic force field is dominated by the zodiac sign Aquarius according to the astrologers, one can deduce from its properties about the spiritual currents prevailing in the beginning Aquarius age.
Unfortunately, the new astrological age, which was awaited with many hopes, began with a false start: It was not the expected expansion of consciousness, but religious fanaticism, which resulted in terrible attacks, that made the headlines. Violence provoked counter-violence, the “fight against terrorism” became a political program, and propaganda catchphrases such as the “axis of evil” are reminiscent of Old Testament scolding prophets who through Jesus' Christian message in the New Testament seemed overcome.
Hopefully, the insight, which fortunately also exists on all sides, will soon prevail that problems in the 21st century can no longer be "solved" by suppressing other people, as was actually never the case.
For the astrologers, this unexpected beginning of the Aquarian Age is nevertheless understandable, because modern astrology also teaches that the much-cited influences of the stars must be implemented and lived by people. This implementation can be lived on different levels depending on the maturity of the person or people concerned. The same Aquarius ray can trigger religious fanaticism, but it can also lead to spirituality and spiritual awakening, depending on the inner nature and the spiritual decisions of the individual.
So there is still hope for the 21st century and the time after: Not only individual fanatics are rising up around the world; There is also growing awareness that problems cannot be solved by inhuman acts of violence. Respect for fellow human beings, interest in their traditions and culture is the indispensable basis for a sustainable, peaceful future for the individual as a member of humanity.
Almost everything is said about this in the New Testament, and the traditions of all religions contain a sufficient number of approaches for the necessary international understanding, which in the “age of globalization” must precede economic integration if this “one-world ideology” is not terrible should fail.
Also the work "In the light of truth" under "Book Reviews" is among the messages that offer peace to ALL people.
(1) Andrews, Richard: "Temple of Promise", Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach, 1999.
(2) Hagl, Siegfried: "The Apocalypse as Hope", Droemer-Knaur, Munich 1984.
(3) Hagl, Siegfried: "Chaff and Wheat", Gralsverlag, Eggersdorf, 2003.
(4) Herzinger, Richard / Stein, Hannes: "End-time prophets or the offensive of the anti-Westerners", Rowolt, Reinbeck, 1995.
(5) Jaschke, Hans-Gerd: "Fundamentalism in Germany, God-fighters and political extremists threaten society", Hoffmann & Campe, 1998.
(6) Zimmermann, Moshe: “Wende in Israel, between Nation and Religion”, Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, 1996.
(9) http: //www.jesus.ch.www/index.php/D/article/55/3447/#0.