When I first moved here I described myself to Al Ford (for a newspaper article he was writing) as "a fundamentalist with a liberal veneer." One of our members told me recently that she thought I had it backwards. I am actually a liberal with a fundamentalist veneer.
I don't really mind wearing either label as long as I can define the terms. There are all kinds of both liberals and fundamentalists. The biblical scholar who approaches scripture with the unquestioned presupposition that the miraculous cannot and does not ever occur is just as much a fundamentalist as anybody else. I have known some pretty close minded "liberals" too (a supposed contradiction in terms).
Another label that I have been trying on myself lately is "raging moderate." I say "raging" to make it clear that I am a moderate out of conviction. Moderates generally are suspected of having no or very lightly held convictions or of being lukewarm. I'm a hot moderate.
I have become even more comfortable with this choice of personal label after reading the confession of M. Scott Peck in his book, Further Along the Road Less Traveled: "I never thought I would be a middle-of-the-road anything, and here I've found myself a middle-of-the-road Christian. And as bad as that might sound, it is good, I've decided. It is not fence-sitting. It is a path of tension."
Often (but not always--we moderates are fond of qualifications) those at the poles of a particular debate (e.g. pacifism vs. militarism, pro-choice vs. pro-life) wish to avoid tension (at least the inner variety). Thus they often try to make things simpler than they in fact are. We "raging moderates" embrace the path of tension, as uncomfortable as it is, because we recognize that many of the issues we face are too complex for simple formulation, even for the application of labels.
© C. David Hess