Fundamentalism: Whence? Where? Whither? Part 10

NickOfTime

The Social Shift

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.

To hell with the Twentieth Century!
—Billy Sunday, New York City, April 15, 1917

Ideas always precede movements. Movements (by which I mean large numbers of people sharing a common set of concerns and working together toward a common goal) grow out of ideas. As the idea turns into the movement, however, other ideas and influences get mixed in. The result is that movements rarely or never reflect purely the ideas that produced them.

The Fundamentalist Movement embodies the Fundamentalist idea only imperfectly. One of the most common mistakes in discussing Fundamentalism is to confuse the two, to speak of the movement as if it were the idea or vice versa. The idea of Fundamentalism (which we have not yet discussed) is certainly a component in the Fundamentalist movement, but Fundamentalism as a movement has also assimilated other ideas and ceded to other influences.

Attempting to tell the story of Fundamentalism, I have tried to describe some of the intellectual and social influences that shaped the early Fundamentalist movement. Fundamentalism emerged as an identifiable movement around 1920, but it came from and displayed the characteristics of an earlier American evangelicalism. I have suggested that this earlier evangelicalism was deeply influenced by at least three trends: Scottish Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism. Though not alone in succumbing to these influences, Fundamentalists certainly did evidence them.

My thesis has been that the early Fundamentalist movement was deeply influenced by Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism. Over the past several essays I have taken a digression, answering certain objections to this thesis. First, I tried to show how Common Sense Realism represented a metaphysical dream that differed substantively from the metaphysical dream of premodernity. Second, I tried to demonstrate how a genuinely historical-grammatical (literal) hermeneutic need not rely upon either Common Sense or populism. Finally, I attempted to explain the difference between congregational polity and that version of church democracy that grows out of American populism.

Because of these three influences, the Fundamentalist movement was never dedicated purely to defending the faith. To some extent, its defense of the faith always presumed and included a defense of the ideals of Common Sense, populism, and sentimentalism. In other words, the early Fundamentalists were men of their times, reflecting their own situatedness and displaying the concerns not only of historic Christianity but also of their own intellectual and social location.

Because they were committed to more than historic Christianity, the commitments of the Fundamentalist movement have tended to place Fundamentalists in double binds. By this I mean that Fundamentalists and their heirs have regularly found themselves in situations in which their ideals have come into conflict with each other. They have had to choose between their commitments and, with each choice, they have lost some aspect of the original consensus of the movement. The result has been a Fundamentalist movement that has necessarily grown weaker over time.

For purposes of illustration I will cite only one example, namely, the Fundamentalist commitment to populism. This commitment was formed within American evangelicalism at the very time when popular culture was coming into existence. Popular culture is not the same thing as folk culture. Folk cultures reflect and grow out of the traditions and values of a people, while popular culture is imposed through commercial means. Popular culture is mass culture. It is produced for consumption, requires vehicles for mass distribution, and thrives on commercialism. It is culture for sale.

Popular culture requires an efficient engine of propagation. No such engine existed before the invention of the steam-powered printing press. This new technology came into widespread use at almost exactly the moment when American Christians were being led to shape their ministry after the methods of politicians, advertisers, and entertainers. Thus, the evangelicalism out of which Fundamentalism emerged was profoundly shaped by and committed to Victorian popular culture with its individualism, subjectivism, and sentimentalism.

Emerging as a distinct and identifiable movement after the Great War, Fundamentalism was a thoroughly inculturated exemplar of Victorian popular values. Already by 1920, however, the Fundamentalist movement also found itself faced with a massive social and cultural shift. The social consensus of Victorianism, which had begun to unravel in the early years of the century, was rapidly dissolving in the face of what would become known as the “Jazz Age.”

With the Jazz Age, the individualism of the Victorian era gave way to a passion for personal autonomy. The characteristic of the age was a yearning for freedom. Typified by the “Flapper,” the spirit of the age was the rejection of restraint. The flouting of social and sexual traditions was enhanced through the availability of new technologies: the movie theater, the phonograph, and the automobile. The new music, jazz, had come a long way since the rags of Scott Joplin, and its improvisational methods both reflected and encouraged the autonomy of the times. In spite of some setbacks during the Depression (which technically marked the end of the Jazz Age), the same spirit continued to flourish through the Second World War, resulting in the explosion of youth culture after the war.

The popular culture of the Jazz Age, and the youth culture that emerged from it, contrasted sharply with Victorian ideals and sensibilities. This contrast left Fundamentalism with a difficult choice. Either Fundamentalists could perpetuate their loyalty to Victorian ideals or they could continue to seek relevance and effectiveness by following the popular culture, but they could not do both.

Billy Sunday was typical of those Fundamentalists who rejected the new culture, though he embraced its technologies. Part of Sunday’s appeal—and part of the appeal of Fundamentalism in general—was that he gave voice to the concerns of the older Victorianism against the new culture. In doing so, however, he was not so much defending Christianity as he was defending an older cultural consensus. Neither he nor the churches rejected the pursuit of popular culture. Instead, they drove a stake into the air and attempted to fasten Christianity and American culture in general to the older Victorianism, trying to halt the slide into the new culture.

Sunday’s sermons in New York on April 14-15, 1917, are a good example. To be sure, Sunday did mention certain Christian verities, such as the reality of “hell, fire, and brimstone,” the “shed blood of Jesus Christ,” and the “bleeding form of the Son of God.” The bulk of his sermon, however, was an attack on frappish parties, social sophistication, made-up women, frivolous music, miniature dogs, girls’ hair styles, liquor, tobacco, divorce, pew rental, and urbane ministers. Sunday also denounced the Germans for their apostasy and the French for their impiety. He noted, however, that God had been with America from the days of Columbus. Reporting on the event, the New York Times noted that some of Sunday’s expressions “cannot be printed.” The one that it did print, however, was Sunday’s anathema: “To hell with the Twentieth Century!” The crowd loved it.

These tactics worked as long as there were Victorians to rally. By the end of World War Two, however, they had nearly died out. Sunday himself had passed away in 1935, and even he saw a marked decrease in influence during the closing decade or so of his life. The pressure was increasing to give in to the new and growing social consensus.

The question was not whether Fundamentalism would follow the popular culture and (as Fundamentalists have sometimes put it) employ the world’s methods. Doane, Sankey, Bliss, and Rodeheaver were all direct reflections of Victorian popular culture. Sunday was a showman in the truest Victorian sense—a Christianized P. T. Barnum. Whether he was climbing to the top of the pulpit, pretending to slide into home plate, or slugging it out with the devil, Sunday always provided great entertainment. And Rodeheaver (the Christian alternative to the Barber Shop Quartet) was indispensible, setting the mood for Sunday’s sermons with the vapid but sprightly Brighten the Corner Where You Are.

These amusements, however, lost their appeal during the next generation. What is worse, they began to seem simply goofy, and with good reason. Nothing is ever less relevant or more eccentric than a fashion that has just gone out of style.

By World War Two, Fundamentalists found themselves in a dilemma. Their commitment to Victorian forms of expression was hurting their popular appeal. Their commitment to popular culture exerted an increasing pressure to move into the Jazz Age. They had built their movement partly by their opposition to the mores and expressions of the new culture. Could they now adapt to it without surrendering their identity?

A Meditation of Death

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

Death, the old Serpents Son,
Thou had’st a sting once like thy Sire,
That carried Hell, and ever-burning fire:
But those black dayes are done;
Thy foolish spite buried thy sting
In the profound and wide
Wound of our Saviours side.
And now thou art become a tame and harmless thing,
A thing we dare not fear
Since we hear
That our triumphant God to punish thee
For the affront thou didst him on the Tree,
Hath snatcht the keyes of Hell out of thy hand,
And made thee stand
A Porter to the gate of Life, thy mortal enemie.
O thou who art that Gate, command that he
May when we die
And thither flie,
Let us into the Courts of Heaven through thee.
Allelujah.


This essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.
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There are 45 Comments

Paul Matzko's picture

Ironically, William G. McLoughlin noted that "Brighten the Corner Where You Are" became a popular drinking song. Might be why it's not in Majesty Hymns...(-;

Or it could just be the vapid lyrics:

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Refrain:
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear,
Let not narrow self your way debar;
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are.

mounty's picture

Chintzy, yes, but the point of the song is still valid - don't live the Christian life in just the "big adventures" (eg. VBS, Missions Conference, and the thousand and one other much-publicized things the church organizes); live it in a day-to-day way taking advantage of every chance in front of you to serve Christ.

I'm not really looking for an argument over this song in particular but I do think that there are a few other songs that could have been chosen and would have made a better point. Brighten the Corner is hardly the worst of the vapid and sprightly. There were plenty of other meandering and bubbly songs from that era that were little more than sentimentality and sap that didn't carry any meaning whatsoever. At least this song says something. Might say it in a different musical and textual language and some may look down their noses at it because of that difference, but at least it has some meaning.

Aaron Blumer's picture

As a symptom of the cultural conflictedness of fundamentalism, "Brighten the Corner" is a good example... as some of the songs he mentioned in earlier posts in this series exemplified the cultural influences of the time. Not that they are terrible songs in themselves, but do help us understand the times and the shifts going on.

I appreciate the article and look forward to what's next. Though I've never been all that interested in Fundamentalism's relationship w/ Common Sense Realism, it's long been evident that there were two movements mixed together: the movement against theological liberalism and the movement against cultural changes that were happening at the time. And the Movement routinely spoke of both as if they were equally important and equally founded on Scripture.

The same thing was going on during my own childhood in reaction to the cultural changes of the 60's. (As an example, in lots of ministries beards were not allowed simply because the hippies had made them fashionable again, though they had gone out of style during the "Jazz Age").

It's not hard to see that the Movement continues to be confused about how to handle popular culture... though, from where I sit, it appears mostly to have given up on addressing popular culture at all. Some are trying to do it and taking a more thoughtful approach, but the sort of "if it's new it's bad" reactionism that went on in earlier decades has become such an empty, tinny refrain, nobody much listens anymore.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Quote:
The idea of Fundamentalism (which we have not yet discussed) is certainly a component in the Fundamentalist movement, but Fundamentalism as a movement has also assimilated other ideas and ceded to other influences.

This is Tony the Tiger "Great!" Many fundamentalists have failed to make a distinction between the Biblical and the Victorian, treating them as one and the same.

As for me, the era from 1925-1935 is my cultural specialty (almost all the music I listen to is from this era; I am a card-carrying member of the International Al Jolson Society --seriously). The era of the 20's was America's "feel good" party time. But it was not all about being risque' or rejecting Christian values (though those at the forefront were often this way). On a popular level, it was about being social and the legitimacy of doing things for pure fun. Although some lost inhibitions they would have been better to retain, most simply discarded some of the silly inhibitions of the Victorian era.
In 20's music, you can find representations of a variety of themes, many of them extolling marriage and family; others about that wild and wooly woman, Lulu.

I think fundamentalists should have chosen to follow a cleaned-up version of the 20's culture, rather than anchoring to the past. But I think Dr. Bauder is exactly on the mark in this article. This era, and this choice, was a major crossroads that set the course of fundamentalism, for better or worse.

"The Midrash Detective"

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Dr. Bauder's latest essay offers a critical analysis of a concern that I had immediately upon my introduction to Fundamentalism more than 20 years ago. I always felt that some Fundamentalists, instead of applying Scripture to their own day and seeking to "understand the times," were calling us back to relive the 1940s -- in terms of dress, standards, music, Bible translations, church services, etc.

Even as a young Christian, I realized that there was no Biblical or even objective reason for doing so.

This can be done on a philosophical level -- where Bauder is examining it -- or even on a much more practically sentimental level, where we often struggle with it in the church still to this day. Either way it is extra-Biblical and erroneous.

To paraphrase a statement I heard recently, it boils down to this piercing question: Is our authority the Scriptures alone, or is it the way we have always done things, or the way Brother So-and-so taught us to do it?

Also, the antics of Sunday and Rodeheaver may not be entirely to blame for showmanship in the pulpit -- by both preachers and songleaders -- but this "genre" of pulpiteering offered a kind of nonsense which has done irrepairable harm to the Fundamentalist cause.

I remember one songleader who did "the Olympic high jump" while leading the congregation in a certain song. May God spare us from such foolish diversions.

Editor in Chief – Dispensational Publishing House

Bible Teacher, Minister, Educator, Author, Journalist

Aaron Blumer's picture

One thing I'd love to see--and maybe KB tends to go there eventually--is a case for why the pre-Victorian culture ought to be viewed as superior to the pop culture of Victorian era and later Jazz Age and 60's pop culture.
What I mean is, he makes a distinction between pop culture (comes with steam powered printing press and is characterized by commercialism) and regular culture. But why would commercially driven, mass-produced culture necessarily be inferior to the stuff that came before it? I say this with a strong bias toward agreeing with him, but I'm still curious as to the what case is... I'm not willing to assume it.

Second, I don't believe the church has ever conducted worship in a cultural vacuum, so if we're going to say "Hey, we need to go back to the pre-pop culture era to get things right," we are also going to have to make a case for the suitability of whatever culture we identify with. Am I making sense?
I'm inferring from Kevin's reasoning that if pop-culture got us off track, the better course is a pre-Victorian milieu.
I don't personally find that hard to believe, but it's a hard sell. A strong case will need to be made.... and a strong case is a case that is accessible to today's pop-culture saturated, common sense loving (I myself being in that category to a degree), populistic, sentimentalist mindset.
This is a tall order. ... it would have to include very few Latin phrases. Smile ... and it might help, too, if it's kind of rhythmic so it can be rapped. Biggrin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Second, I don't believe the church has ever conducted worship in a cultural vacuum, so if we're going to say "Hey, we need to go back to the pre-pop culture era to get things right," we are also going to have to make a case for the suitability of whatever culture we identify with. Am I making sense?
I'm inferring from Kevin's reasoning that if pop-culture got us off track, the better course is a pre-Victorian milieu.
I don't personally find that hard to believe, but it's a hard sell. A strong case will need to be made.... and a strong case is a case that is accessible to today's pop-culture saturated, common sense loving (I myself being in that category to a degree), populistic, sentimentalist mindset.
This is a tall order. ... it would have to include very few Latin phrases. Smile ... and it might help, too, if it's kind of rhythmic so it can be rapped. Biggrin

If we assume that folk culture could be just as detrimental to the faith (for example, the superstition of Europeans in 1300 or the earlier Corinthian culture, etc.), then we are not necessarily better off in ANY era. Because most of us are ignorant of the cultures of these eras (or think that Western culture = British culture), we can create a "better time" in our minds that never existed.

So I think we SHOULD explore the contributors to fundamentalism, as Dr. Bauder is doing. But I hope Kevin is not headed in the direction that Aaron suggests, namely, "the better course is a pre-Victorian milieu." I think the Victorian mentality was as much better as it was worse than what preceded it.

I wonder what the Lord's perspective is on all this? I mean, even now, a lot of wrongs passed down to us from the Victorian era have been righted (racism, denying molested children justice/protection, etc.). But, as we all know, a lot of right things from that era have been lost, particularly in the realm of sexual morals. Put it all together, and I am.....confused.

"The Midrash Detective"

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

As someone who was not a part of the Fundamental Movement (FM), I arrived at Bob Jones University (BJU) in the early 1990's. I did not exactly know how to pronounce "Rodeheaver Auditorium," nor had I ever heard of evangelist Billy Sunday (although, he may have been tucked away somewhere in my public school history textbook).

However, as I came to embrace the FM, I also accepted Rodeheaver and Sunday as symbols of a time when God was working in a mighty way to bring America to repentance. I looked around campus, and I noticed "Nell Sunday Dormitory." As a library worker, I saw the famed shoe of Billy Sunday in the archives room. Shortly after my graduation, faculty member Bert Wilhoit published a biography of Rodeheaver (through BJU Press) entitled, "Rody."

My question: Is Bauder specifically aiming his guns at "BJU Fundamentalism?" It seems that, in this post, he is singling out two of the men that I was taught at BJU to hold in high esteem.

Jim's picture

C. D. Cauthorne Jr. wrote:
Is Bauder specifically aiming his guns at "BJU Fundamentalism?" It seems that, in this post, he is singling out two of the men that I was taught at BJU to hold in high esteem.

What's "BJU Fundamentalism"? How are the tenets of "BJU Fundamentalism" different from standard fundamentalism?

Aaron Blumer's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
I wonder what the Lord's perspective is on all this? I mean, even now, a lot of wrongs passed down to us from the Victorian era have been righted (racism, denying molested children justice/protection, etc.). But, as we all know, a lot of right things from that era have been lost, particularly in the realm of sexual morals. Put it all together, and I am.....confused.

I hear that!
I do think, though, that Kevin would draw a pretty bold, thick line between culture that is pre-Victorian and culture that is Victorian & post-Victorian pop-culture. I'm only surmising, but I suspect he'd argue that after Victorian age, pop culture (which we already know he sees as a thoroughly different animal) and 'regular' culture are intermixed in ways that makes them hard to separate. You don't have that problem before the steam powered printing press.
(On the other hand, I'm sure there are sociologists and the like who would argue that we still had pop culture before Victorian era... just in slow motion and less visibly. Maybe the pop culture was the buzz at the local tavern or in the cathedral courtyard, etc. ... word of mouth. But I'm sure KB would say "not the same" because it's not commercially driven or mass produced).

As for whether Vic. and pre-Vic. was any better... I'm remembering now that I argued in an earlier thread that it probably wasn't much better because of the whole trade-offs phenomenon you mentioned. But I don't want to overstate that. I don't believe all cultures are equal in quality by any stretch and I suspect, that, overall, pre-pop culture was probably better where a Christian influence dominated. But "better" still includes room for lots of serious problems.

Aaron Blumer's picture

C. D. Cauthorne Jr. wrote:
As someone who was not a part of the Fundamental Movement (FM), I arrived at Bob Jones University (BJU) in the early 1990's. I did not exactly know how to pronounce "Rodeheaver Auditorium," nor had I ever heard of evangelist Billy Sunday (although, he may have been tucked away somewhere in my public school history textbook).

However, as I came to embrace the FM, I also accepted Rodeheaver and Sunday as symbols of a time when God was working in a mighty way to bring America to repentance. I looked around campus, and I noticed "Nell Sunday Dormitory." As a library worker, I saw the famed shoe of Billy Sunday in the archives room. Shortly after my graduation, faculty member Bert Wilhoit published a biography of Rodeheaver (through BJU Press) entitled, "Rody."

My question: Is Bauder specifically aiming his guns at "BJU Fundamentalism?" It seems that, in this post, he is singling out two of the men that I was taught at BJU to hold in high esteem.


Personally, I don't think so. It's Fundamentalist Movement that is the target and BJU has always been near the center of that movement, so... But if you read history of fundamentalism--even by solid, credible non-fundamentalist historians like George Marsden--you learn all about Rodeheaver and Sunday and the rest. (Though I remain skeptical of Marsden's Common Sense Realism thesis).

rogercarlson's picture

C.D.,

I don't think that what Bauder is doing either. What he is doing is filtering these men through the grid of Scripture. I agree with Aaron that he has to continue to make his case, but I (as a proud BJu Alumnus) think he is right. Sunday had many admirable qualities, but he did have his warts. Just like Finney had good desires but with his bad theology took us down roads that we are still struggling to recover from. We can put asdie for a moment Finney's governmental theory. Much of what is bad with Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism can easily be traced back to Finney. He was a master manipulator and Showman, so was Sunday. I think the Lord used Sunday in spite of Sunday (just like He uses Carlson in spite of Carlson Smile ).

I really believe Bauder is trying to give an honest assesment of our movement to make it better. In that honesty, some of what we held dear will have to be tweaked.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

BryanBice's picture

Just an observation & perhaps a question.... Would a distinction between pop & folk culture be that folk culture is more "grass roots" in that it arises from the people of a society, whereas pop culture is more "top down" in the sense that the cultural expressions of a few get published/broadcast/disseminated with the result of the masses extolling the celebrity and adopting his/her cultural expression--the pop element then takes on a commercial quality? This is not to say that either expression is inherently good or bad, just differentiates how that expression ends up becoming a defining element within society.

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

While I attended BJU, men such as Billy Sunday and Homer Rodeheaver were held up as models of Fundamentalism. That's what I meant by "BJU Fundamentalism." I agree that it is very much in line with standard Fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism stands on the shoulders of men such as Sunday and Rodeheaver. It has been passed down to us by the likes of Bob Jones, John Rice, Oliver Greene, Lee Roberson, Tom Malone, etc. IMO, if Bauder has deep differences with the founders of modern-day Fundamentalism, then he should start a new movement.

Were our Fundamental forefathers perfect? No. Were they faithful to the Word of God? Absolutely! We should praise the Lord that through them, many of our grandparents (and great grandparents) came to know the Lord. Due to their faithfulness, there is a Fundamental Movement today.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Fundamentalism started out to be about the fundamentals of the Word of God.

C.D., because "while (you) attended BJU, men such as Billy Sunday and Homer Rodeheaver were held up as models of Fundamentalism," does that make that assessment of them correct? Does that mean that Sunday and Rodeheaver are immune from criticism?

Should not the goal of Fundamentalism instead be to constantly be like the Bereans -- searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11)?

You write: "IMO, if Bauder has deep differences with the founders of modern-day Fundamentalism, then he should start a new movement."

What if he wants to stay in the movement and critique it -- or leave it and critique it? Is Fundamentalism too shallow to withstand Dr. Bauder's benign criticisms of men who are long-since dead and now known to us only by history?

What if "the founders of modern-day Fundamentalism" like Billy Sunday were not really "founders" at all -- but rather showmen and popularizers who were to their day something akin to what the church growth gurus of our time are to us?

There are many of us out here who are starving for a Fundamentalism worth keeping and saving -- a Fundamentalism which is committed to the Word of God above all trends, personalities, party-lines, camps, affiliations, etc. Your call to divide us based on allegiance to silliness which occurred almost 100 years ago is counterproductive to your goal of desiring to promote respect for these "giants" of the past.

Editor in Chief – Dispensational Publishing House

Bible Teacher, Minister, Educator, Author, Journalist

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Another fascinating article. While fundamentalism has been affected by changes in culture, I wonder if there are also changes in theological issues and circumstances that are driving some of the changes today.

For example, while the world has never been a friend of the faith, the animosity towards the followers of Christ is great. We are even being told that more Christians are dying for their faith today than in the days describe by authors like Fox. When Christians find themselves in a situation where their faith is more risky, do they tend to shed issues that are not worth really fighting for so they can be devoted to the ones worth dying for? If so, can we really say that it's culture driving the changes?

Also, how has liberalism changed since fundamentalism began? I know it will never go away but where I live, most of the liberal churches are pretty empty places with empty people living off the the financial legacies left by the rich members of the past. The most exciting thing that ever happens at them is the quarterly roast beef supper where they try to sell enough dinners to pay for the winter heating bills without spending all of the legacy money. Has this affected the younger generation of pastors?

One more question - has there ever been an expression of Christianity that has continued from culture to culture from the beginning of church history until today?

Jason Stamper's picture

Fundamentalism has never been monolithic. Men like Sunday, Jones, Rice, Greene, and Roberson were the forefathers of a branch of fundamentalism, not the entire movement. Many fundamentalists trace their heritage through Machen, Van Osdel, and others. For good or for bad, Sunday and Rodeheaver certainly placed their stamp upon the movement. However, the movement and the idea behind the movement are significantly more important than any of the men mentioned. If there were no Billy Sunday or no Bob Jones, fundamentalism would still exist.

rogercarlson's picture

C.D.,

Again, I think Bauder is trying to get us to grow more Biblically. We can rant against CCM all the time, but on what were the roads of non-biblical music paved? IMHO, the gospel song championed by Sunday and Rodeheaver. Were there intentions bad? NO! Where they good, godly men? Yes! Can we learn from them? Yes - both positive and negative. If we don't do that, we are not being biblical and thus not being true fundamentalists. I mentioned Finney in my earlier post because I firmly believe that he paved the way for much of what is bad with in Christianity as a whole and I think he influenced the Sunday wing of our movement. The Hyles wing proudly proclaims him, so I think it is worth noting.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Rob Fall's picture

Sunday, Rice, Jones, Greene, and Roberson had their spheres of influence. We would be remiss not to acknowledge the contributions of Ketchem, Riley, Wenigar, Cedarholm, Clearwaters, et al..

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

rrobinson's picture

BryanBice wrote:
Just an observation & perhaps a question.... Would a distinction between pop & folk culture be that folk culture is more "grass roots" in that it arises from the people of a society, whereas pop culture is more "top down" in the sense that the cultural expressions of a few get published/broadcast/disseminated with the result of the masses extolling the celebrity and adopting his/her cultural expression--the pop element then takes on a commercial quality? This is not to say that either expression is inherently good or bad, just differentiates how that expression ends up becoming a defining element within society.

Whereas there is some truth in what you say about elements of pop culture being promoted or becoming popular through celebrities or social icons, I think the reality and what most people (young people) is almost the opposite of what you describe...

The term "grassroots" is definitely used to mean "of the people" and does refer to something that is not pressed on them from above; and in particular, we might think of grass-roots ideas being adopted in a kind of sideways peer-to-peer manner. But don't confuse the fact that the term contains "roots" to mean that it can be associated with folk culture and a person's cultural roots directly, to explain how folk culture is transmitted. One's folk culture, one's roots, is actually more of a top-down thing by most people's definition: you take on a sub-culture by virtue of where you are, how you were raised, your parents and grand-parents, tradition, norms around you, etc. etc. Very top-down, very "imposed". So the fact that there is a unique sub-culture in Appalachia America that is very "grass-roots" is not to say that what makes it unique has not been transmitted top down (or from its cultural roots and heritage).

By contrast, the young people in Appalachia may be discovering cultural elements of other sub-cultures through the internet (commercial). They may actually find more grass-roots affinity for themselves in a very different sub-culture than they were raised with, and they would claim that they were adopting new elements of culture in a very voluntary, populist way (grass-roots), and not in any top-down way, regardless of what pop-icon makes some of the elements they discover popular. An Amish young person may reject his roots/his folk culture, and along with millions of other young people around the world adopt the trappings of a different culture, a pop-culture, in a very grass-roots manner.

They usually do so through or because of commercial means. In fact, it is only through commercial means in recent history that anyone can really experience elements of other sub-cultures and thus choose to adopt them. Whether a celebrity is doing much or not to popularize particular cultural elements is largely irrelevant -- afterall, the celebrity picked them up from somewhere and may have rejected his roots in the process, because he wanted to get away from a sense that his cultural identity had been transmitted to him top-down. If you know anything about Twitter and Facebook, or viral marketing and blogging even, the very definition of grass-roots has almost become synonymous with them.

rrobinson's picture

Just to add to my last comment above, about grass-roots and pop-culture versus folk-culture: I agree with the sentiment in the article and other comments that to adopt something new (cultural or technology-wise) is definitely not wrong in and of itself -- it depends what you are adopting and why. Being "relevant" to culture around you may well be a very good thing. I think that to ignore, postpone or otherwise try to insulate oneself and family and church from the very "grass-roots world" (see my last comment) in which we now live, should not be the goal of Fundamentalism -- bygone Folk Culture is not what we should be spending our efforts trying to "conserve", nor the changes in culture what we must at all costs preserve against. The conserving to be done in our Conservatism, the nurturing of the fundamental roots of our Fundamentalism, should be concentrating on the Gospel and our Faith Heritage, not cultural heritage. I think it is refreshing if this is actually going to be spoken about.

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

Rob,

As a southern Fundamentalist, I failed to note some of the leaders you mentioned. I apologize for that. Another great man was Jack Wyrtzen.

-

Jason,

Here is J. Gresham Machen's view of a sermon preached by Billy Sunday in Philadelphia:

"The total impact of the sermon was great. At the climax, the preacher got up on his chair -- and if he had used a step-ladder, nobody could have thought the thing excessive, so dead in earnest were both the speaker and audience! The climax was the boundlessness of God's mercy; and so truly had the sinfulness of sin been presented, that everybody present with any heart at all ought to have felt mighty glad that God's mercy is boundless. In the last five or ten minutes of that sermon, I got a new realization of the power of the gospel." (Beale, David, "In Pursuit of Purity," Greenville, SC, Unusual Publications, 1986, p.140)

We all, including myself, could learn much from the willingness of a man like Machan to accept the ministry of someone so different from himself. Perhaps, in his statement, we catch a glimpse of the Biblical spirit of unity and acceptance within old-school Fundamentalism.

Joseph's picture

C.D.,

Our of curiosity, what does Beale cite as the original source for his Machen quotation?

Thanks.

Rob Fall's picture

The quote is cited as Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), pp.223-224.

Joseph wrote:
C.D.,

Our of curiosity, what does Beale cite as the original source for his Machen quotation?

Thanks.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Joel Tetreau's picture

Man I love the quote by Machen in regards to Sunday!

It says much about the right kind of attitude different "slices" of fundamentalism should have in regards to each other. Beautiful! Clear is that Fundamentalism in the North typically were more "doctrine-oriented" and in the south more "experience-oriented." Western Fundamentalism has been influenced by both strains.

byw....this observations comes from my ministry brothers....Mike Sproul and Kevin Schaal....The three of us had the thrill of growing up under the ministry of Dr. James Singleton who was a kind of a blend of Northern Doctrinal and Southern Experiencial Fundamentalism.....[please note...even though the three of us came from the same ministry, Mike and Kevin are much older than I am!
Cool ].

On a separate note all together. Someone kept Billy's shoe? Cool.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Jim's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:
On a separate note all together. Someone kept Billy's shoe? Cool.

The Central Seminary library has a spot for one of your shoes!

Ed Vasicek's picture

Fundamentalism can be conceived of as a set of shared beliefs or convictions, or a trail or notables who have held those convictions.
Bauder stated:

Quote:
Ideas always precede movements. Movements (by which I mean large numbers of people sharing a common set of concerns and working together toward a common goal) grow out of ideas. As the idea turns into the movement, however, other ideas and influences get mixed in. The result is that movements rarely or never reflect purely the ideas that produced them.
The Fundamentalist Movement embodies the Fundamentalist idea only imperfectly. One of the most common mistakes in discussing Fundamentalism is to confuse the two, to speak of the movement as if it were the idea or vice versa. The idea of Fundamentalism (which we have not yet discussed) is certainly a component in the Fundamentalist movement, but Fundamentalism as a movement has also assimilated other ideas and ceded to other influences.

I, personally, have little interest in people like Billy Sunday, for example. I need to know a little about him because I need to understand church history. There are some fundamentalists from the past I do admire (Lewis Sperry Chafer comes to mind), and many in the present I greatly respect (like John MacArthur), but I have little interest in maintaining traditions or "auras" from stomping and snorting revivalists. Not my cup of tea. I do not relate to that culture or way of thinking at all--it repulses me. Other people respond to high intensity preaching and think what floats my boat is boring. Such are our differences as people.

But I am very much dedicated to the idea of fundamentalism, namely defending, believing, and applying the fundamentals of the faith.

It is not just Bauder, but many of us that fully embrace the fundamentals but sometimes find notable fundamentalists distasteful. I myself am not into the entire revivalistic paradigm. This is not to say God did not use these people that I do not personally enjoy, He does and He did. But I do not want a whole lot to do with some of those subcultures.

Whatever fundamentalism is, it is not a dynasty movement and we should not get mixed up in hagiography and hero worship. We may look to past figures to inspire us, but we may not all agree as to where we should find that inspiration.

I love the fundamentals, but I would want no part of a movement that made me bend the knee to Sunday or Rice or Rodeheaver or any of those guys.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jason Stamper's picture

Machen was willing to accept many different allies in his fight against Liberalism. In fact, the end of your quote is, "I like Billy Sunday for the enemies he has." What drew the distinct elements together was their common foe. That is why Machen can be considered the father of one branch of fundamentalism and Sunday the father of another. It is also why the fundamentalist movement is not nearly as united as it once was. We no longer share a common foe.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
I love the fundamentals, but I would want no part of a movement that made me bend the knee to Sunday or Rice or Rodeheaver or any of those guys.

I agree, Ed. I am not a Billy Sunday-scholar, but I have always thought of him as more of an oddity of history and a slice of Americana than "the father of one branch of fundamentalism." He is the kind of figure who can be sanctified through his use in an illustration by Warren Wiersbe or someone like that :), but other than that, I would not put much stock in anything he wrote or said.

"It is also why the fundamentalist movement is not nearly as united as it once was. We no longer share a common foe."

Jason -- Another way of looking at it is that fundamentalists, their enemies and the entire battle has shifted so significantly that we have to look for different types of comparisons to make with those times.

For instance, perhaps a good modern-day comparison to the types of cooperation exercised by fundamentalitsts 100 years ago could be made to a ministry like Answers in Genesis. They are invited into very staunch fundamentalist and Baptist institutions, but also cooperate heavily with people like Dr. MacArthur and the late Dr. Kennedy -- as they together take on the common foe of evolutionism.

Perhaps the fundamentalism of 100 years ago was, to some extent, the child of an age which has long-since disappeared.

Editor in Chief – Dispensational Publishing House

Bible Teacher, Minister, Educator, Author, Journalist

Joel Tetreau's picture

Jim,

I have a pair of snow boots I no longer need. I'll be happy to send them my left snow boot. They could hang it over my D.Min Final Project in the Library. I think it's in the remedial section of the library.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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