Fundamentalism: You can look up a dictionary definition, but my experience is with Baptist fundamentalism, not Muslim or Hindu or Catholic, though there are similarities. To me a fundamentalist is someone who can only interpret what they hear or read literally. They also think only in the here and now, they have mostly contempt for history, context or other viewpoints. The future is a place of great fear it permeates their lives with dread. Fundamentalists need others to reinforce their point of view which makes them flock together and try to sell their beliefs to others. Everyone must conform to their world view. If they can't convince those that think differently from them to change they change the rules to force non-believers to think like them. This could be changes in churches, denominations and in the general population. It's called the social gospel. Laws against drinking, gambling, illegal drugs, abortion, etc. They insist on legislating their morality.
To me their greatest sin is taking the Lord's name in vain. This commandment isn't only about profanity. It's about claiming that your words and ideas are God's words and ideas. Their literal interpretation of scripture is sacred. The universe was created in a literal six 24 hour days and anyone who thinks otherwise is going to die and go to hell. This obviously means that if anything is taught to the children in biology class our country is going to punished by God. Any natural disaster or terrorist attack automatically becomes the wrath of God. Only a very vain person would believe that anything they think is also what God thinks.
Eschatology or the study of end times:
Premellinnial Dispensationalism: My what a mouthful!
This is the belief that Jesus is coming again. They have an elaborate timeline for "The Second Coming." A) The world is going to become so sinful that God will want to destroy it again (remember Noah and the flood). B) When it gets so bad God can't stand it again Jesus will come in the clouds. The sea and land will give up the dead and the living will join them, where everyone will go right now is not clear, but they will not be present for the horrible things God will do. This is the dispensation or get out of tribulation free card. The meeting with Jesus is called the Rapture (a word not found in the bible). C) There will then be 3 1/2 years of tribulation where a world wide dictator will rise to power (The Beast) and then the last 3 1/2 years will be Great Tribulation where the Anti-Christ will join The Beast and force everyone to have 666 branded or tattooed on their forehead. D) For some inexplicable reason they will then gather a huge army, march to the valley of Meggido in Israel to attack God. Jesus will destroy them and win the battle of Armageddon. Satan, The Beast and Anti-Christ will be locked up for a thousand years. E) Jesus will then set up a thousand year reign here on earth where everyone will learn how to live in sinless perfection. This is the millennium. F) Satan will then be loosed to temp mankind again, nothing is said about what will happen, but it's assumed that man will resist temptation after a thousand years of heavy indoctrination. G) The great white throne judgement. Finally those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book Of Life will go to heaven and all those whose names are not written will be cast into the lake of fire or hell.
Postmillennialism: These are the scary people. They believe that we are already living in Tribulation and that Jesus can't return to set up his millennial reign until the whole world is converted. In order for that to happen they believe that: A) All Jews will convert, but it will take the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem to accomplish this. B) That government leaders will force the unbelieving to convert. C) Government leaders should be preachers who speak for God and pass laws based on the Ten Commandments.
This is also called Dominionism. Glenn Beck sounds absolutely nuts if you don't understand his dominionist motivation. Sarah Palin is a Dominionist. The United States should be the dominion of Jesus where He is King and a theocracy is established. That's why all the music for churches has had a royal message for the last thirty years. Christ is King, The King is Coming, the buzz words are reign, Lord, master, kingdom, majesty, etc. They've been brainwashing the masses that equality is a bad thing. The wingnuts that spit with rage when a democrat is elected president (Clinton or Obama) distrust our constitution and democracy even more because God's will is not being done. Republicans can do no wrong because after all they are anointed by God.
Amillennialism: This interpretation has as its basis the premise that Daniel and Revelations need to be interpreted by historical context. What did it say to the people who read it two thousand years ago? This interpretation also takes into account that the books are apocalypses or allegorical in nature and need to be interpreted symbolically instead of literally. I'll relate my acceptance of this interpretation in future posts.