We read with great interest the article in the Jan. 26, 2018 issue of The Record titled “Stewart, HMML featured on 60 Minutes.” We believe the work that Fr. Stewart and HMML is doing is to preserve ancient manuscripts from destruction by ISIS is fascinating and worthwhile.
We read with interest until we came to a part we found troubling:
“Stewart didn’t hesitate to draw connections between his experience in the Middle East and radical groups in the United States.
‘We have fundamentalist Christians [in America] who have a particular view of the Bible which doesn’t tolerate any kind of contextualization or interpretation,’ Stewart said. ‘They may not be destroying our libraries yet, but we’re naïve to think we’re exempt from that kind of thing.’”
Fr. Stewart made a blanket statement about “fundamentalist Christians” without bothering to define what he meant by this term, which has many connotations, some of which are quite negative. One connotation of “fundamentalist Christian” is a person who believes in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, as well as fundamental Christian doctrines such as Jesus Christ being God and man and the savior of the world. Among other commonly accepted Christian doctrines (these were outlined in the first part of the 20th century by J. Gresham Machen in his book Christianity and Liberalism)
We frankly don’t see a problem with this type of fundamentalist Christian. Other connotations of “fundamentalist Christian,” however, might be less benign, but we are really at a loss for what people or groups Fr. Stewart might have in mind. Are there really fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. who would want to destroy ancient manuscripts? What evidence does Fr. Stewart have for predicting this threat from “fundamentalist Christians”?
In making the comments he did, we believe Fr. Stewart maligned a large swath of Christendom without any justification whatsoever. With so much hate speech rampant in the U.S. today, we feel Fr. Stewart should have been more careful and considered in his words. In actuality, though, we believe the reference to fundamentalist Christians was a complete non sequitur and should have been left out altogether.
Danielle Glen and Mark Glen
Professor of Nutrition