An Archetypal Fundamentalism
The Brethren are absolutists: as far as they are concerned, there is one truth: God’s revelation, which is available to all, but which only they have accepted. They are therefore a sect, but are they a fundamentalist sect? The definitive feature of fundamentalism is opposition to modernity, and this opposition is indeed central to Brethren culture. Because of their core belief in the Bible as the universal Word of God, their culture is incompatible with that of the modern world. This is because the essence of modernity is its differentiation into various functional social systems, each with its own culture. The Brethren cannot entertain such pluralism, with its belief in human progress, the acquisition of knowledge, and human rights. The modern and the fundamentalist world views are also incompatible with respect to the explanation of causality, the relativity of values, and the centrality of human agency. The Brethren response is to renounce the evil world and separate from it rather than attempt to change it. In this respect, they resemble the Amish, but differ from such fundamentalists as the Calvinists within the Church of England.