“The fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.”
George Smiley, author of spy novels, said this. I have no idea what the context is because I do not read spy novels.
I will, however, use my ignorance of the context to pontificate on an idea.
A fanatic is someone, in my opinion, completely sold out to an idea to the extent of being willing to fight for it. Not just willing to fight if a fight comes, but itching to fight for it, starting fights for the sole opportunity of fighting for it.
People who yell and scream and get mad at those who disagree with them. These are fanatics.
To paraphrase Shakespeare: Me thinks thou dost protest too much.
People who make a scene of defending their cause, who use violence, vitriol, and red-faced arguing, are actually displaying their insecurity.
Emotional rage is a substitute for intellectual reasoning.
Observe our modern political landscape. There are few calm voices. Everyone is yelling. Most Americans who are yelling can’t name the three branches of their government or the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Theologically, Calvinists are largely fanatical. Calvinists have no monopoly on fanaticism, but they are a handy example since this response is prevalent among them, which makes a guy like me have that much more confidence in my own stance on the issue.
One Calvinist posted on this page for years, made everything about Calvinism, and argued every post. I eventually blocked him.
He changed his username and email and tried posting under a new identity. But I had ways in place to block him and knew it was him changing his identity. He then sent me emails for months, few of which I read, continuing to fight.
This was all very weird to me. I make no secret of not liking Calvinism. But I do not hunt them down to fight with them. I do not troll their blogs.
The reason behind our responses, in my opinion, is because I have confidence the Bible is on my side; he did not.
Several times in our discussions over the years he could not answer my arguments and told me to talk to his pastor or read some book someone wrote.
Anytime someone says that to you it’s because they do not know what they are talking about. People who don’t know what they are talking about have doubts. People with doubts get loud and argumentative.
It is a waste of time to argue with fanatics. They are not listening. They are just arguing to give them a confident feeling their intellect can not. They go to bed at night knowing they defended the faith against the nay-sayers.
Watch out for yelly, argumentative fanatics of any camp: political, doctrinal, religious, etc. They don’t know what they’re talking about and use the number of fights they are in as proof of certainty.
Don’t give them that certainty. Calmly state your opinion and then move on.
Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.