Proud Fundamentalist

proudpup.jpg

Lots of people claim to be fundamentalists. Far more are labeled “fundamentalist” by media outlets or Christian leaders who wish to distance themselves from more traditional—or just more feisty—brethren. Those who want to use “fundamentalist” in a historic sense can only avoid confusion by using the term with qualifiers and explanations—in other words, by including context.

So when I say, “I am a proud fundamentalist,” I mean “fundamentalist” in the historic sense. Two statements from one of SharperIron’s “About” pages sum up the concept:

In a religious sense, the term “fundamentalist” was first used in 1922 in reference to a group of Baptists who were seeking to establish doctrinal limits in the Northern Baptist Convention. Their goal was to uphold the Bible and rid the convention of the philosophy of Modernism, which denied the infallibility of Scripture, rejected miracles, and gutted the Christian faith of defining principles such as the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. In short, the fundamentalists thought the Northern Baptist Convention ought to at least be genuinely Christian.

At SharperIron we’re still clinging to the term in its historic sense. Here, a fundamentalist is someone who believes in the foundational principles of the Christian faith and also believes in separation from apostasy. Opinions vary as to the degree of separation, the process and the methods. But we are committed to the principle.

Proud?

The term “proud” needs clarifying as well. If your initial reaction to “proud fundamentalist” is something akin to “Last time I checked, pride was sin,” your response is a healthy one. But our view of pride needs some nuance. In English, we use the term “pride” in a positive sense as well as a negative sense. Negatively, we use the word for various forms of thinking of ourselves “more highly than [we] ought to think” (Rom. 12:3). In this sense, pride is the opposite of humility.

But we also use “pride” to refer to a kind of moral confidence and eagerness to identify, as in “I’m proud to be a part of this team,” or “I’m proud of what I did,” or “the proud parents of beautiful baby girl.” In this sense, pride is the opposite of shame. Paul’s “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” might well be paraphrased as, “I am proud of the gospel of Christ.”

With that as context, I am proud to be a fundamentalist.

Another clarification

At the risk of giving the statement the “death of a thousand qualifications,” one more is needful. It isn’t really a qualification, though. It’s a bit of heightened precision by way of careful reasoning.

In most of everyday life we understand how groups work. We understand that if two entities are in the same group, each is not necessarily in all the same groups as the other. In a bowl of apples, all are in the group “apples,” but only some are in the group “green apples” or “rotten apples.” The red and ripe apple is not less of an apple for failing to be green or rotten. Greeness and rottenness are not components of appleness.

My dog, Sweetheart, is in a group called dogs. To her chagrin (don’t ask how I know) she shares that group with the strays that wander the neighborhood. But Sweetheart behaves differently from the strays. She doesn’t produce patches of dead grass in people’s front yards or raid the garbage cans in strangers’ garages or breed at random. (Whether she would do all of these if she could is beside the point!) It would be silly to reason, “Sweetheart is a dog; strays are dogs; therefore Sweetheart is a stray.” It would be even more absurd to surmise, “Sweetheart is a dog; strays are dogs; being a dog means being a stray.”

It’s absurd because strayness is a distinct quality from dogness. She is no less of a dog for staying home, raiding only her own trash cans and never breeding at all. Would anyone suggest she is only 75% dog?

But when we talk about the group “fundamentalists,” many seem to slip into a group logic fog of some sort—a strange world in which apples should become oranges because so many apples are rotten, and dogs should become cats because so many dogs are strays. Some enter an even weirder world where appleness is the same thing as rottenness and dogness is the same thing as strayness.

In the world I live in, even if every dog but Sweetheart became a stray, she should hold her head high and be proud to be a dog.

With that as context, I’ll say it again: I am a proud fundamentalist.

Some loose ends

The accusation occasionally surfaces on the Web (and perhaps in the real world) that SharperIron is always critical of fundamentalism and never publishes anything completely positive about it.

To these—and any inclined to believe them—please note that this essay is 100% positive about fundamentalism (as are this one and this one). I could post links to literally hundreds of others that are 0% critical of fundamentalism.

On the whole, I hope SharperIron is down on rotten apples and strays. On the whole, we are certainly not critical of apples and dogs. The truth of this is not hard to see. If the reasoning involved was rocket science, you wouldn’t be hearing it from me! But this isn’t even junior chemistry.

I am a proud fundamentalist.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

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James K's picture

Good read Aaron. The attempts by some to reinvent fundamentalism into their brand of separatism must truly be failing. Are those people really so fearful of their young minds reading on this site and concluding something except what they were badgered into believing? I guess so. They just perpetuate the stereotype of the mafia mentality. Keep up the good work.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Charlie's picture

Ideologies do not have existence independent of the persons, structures, and media embodying them. So, it's valid to associate ideologies with the actions of those who purport to follow them. Otherwise, we would have to say socialism didn't cause mass slaughters in Europe and Asia, bad socialists did. Roman Catholicism didn't persecute Jews and religious nonconformists in medieval Europe, bad Roman Catholics did. Now, there is some truth in those statements, but I don't think it's so simple to dissociate in the way you have here.

More importantly, we have to distinguish between "fundamentalism" as an attribute indicating one's attitude toward certain doctrines and as a primary identifying term. To change the term, let's consider trichotomy, the belief that man is composed of three distinct ontological "parts": body, soul, and spirit. Many people in church history have been trichotomists. However, let's say a new group arises, the Trichotomist Church. They build Trichotomist schools where young people won't have to encounter dichotomy. They write Trichotomist hymnals and start Trichotomist mission boards. Trichotomist intellectuals write Trichotomist Systematic Theologies and histories of Trichotomy, insisting that certain church fathers and sundry theologians were Trichotomists. They refuse to hold fellowship with dichotomists.

This Trichotomist Church is a unique socio-cultural phenomenon that can't simply be identified with the belief in trichotomy. In fact, an early-church father who believed in trichotomy may have much more in common with other contemporary dichotomist churches than with the Trichotomist Church. In fact, other contemporary churches that believe in trichotomy may move to distance themselves from the Trichotomist Church.

Fundamentalism is the same sort of phenomenon. In the twentieth century, there were Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and others who embraced certain ideas and attitudes that were called fundamentalism. But, as the story progressed, a new socio-cultural group emerged, one that defined itself (and everyone else) primarily in terms of that Fundamentalism. Other identifiers remained, but receded. So, it won't do to reduce this group to an ideology. You can't de-historicize in the name of an abstraction.

When people critique "fundamentalism," in many cases it's the socio-cultural manifestation of Fundamentalism that they're critiquing. That's completely legitimate. You can't defend the idea when the idea isn't what's being attacked. That's like a spokesperson from the Roman Catholic Church dealing with child abuse by saying, "That's not real Roman Catholicism."

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Yes, there are ways for a term to become no longer useable. That's a different debate... and why I defined it before I claimed it.
As for dehistorizing, I'm not recommending that or practicing that. The term has lost usefulness in society at large as others have dehistorized it.

I'm also not faulting people for criticizing the "socio-cultural manifestation." Some of that would be the rottenness or strayness in the analogies I used.

At root, I'm arguing from definition here.... when people expand or change the definition then find fault with the newly defined term, their criticisms may be quite accurate but they are no longer talking about the same thing.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jim's picture

The problem I have with the term "fundamentalist"

Who is the real fundamentalist?

  1. Jack Schaap?
  2. Bob Jones?
  3. Bob Jones and Jack Schaap? http://emmanuelbaptisttemple.org/media/bcflyer2011.pdf (the inconsistent separatist)
  4. http://sharperiron.org/filings/3-24-10/14345 ]Jack Schaap & John Vaughn ? (another inconsistent separatist (but I really like him (Vaughn)))
  5. The host of I-won't-name-them ANGRY fundamentalists?
  6. The KJVOers?
  7. The shallow read-a-verse-tell-many-stories fundamentalists (See Stuff Fundies Like)
  8. The misrepresent-then-thrash-the-straw-man anti-calvinist fundamentalist? (think Ron Comfort or Dan Sweatt)
  9. The what I would call "reasonable fundamentalists" (eg Kevin Bauder)?

    Of the above many consider # 9 to be a FINO (fundamentalist in name only) or pseudo-F.

    Thus I have chosen to reject the label altogether. It has become (the label) an antimorphic mutation, non-monolithic blob

    Then there is the fundamentalist that will think that because I have posted the following that I am worldly (but I am just keying off "the blog" above)

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Yes, there are ways for a term to become no longer useable. That's a different debate... and why I defined it before I claimed it.
As for dehistorizing, I'm not recommending that or practicing that. The term has lost usefulness in society at large as others have dehistorized it.

I'm also not faulting people for criticizing the "socio-cultural manifestation." Some of that would be the rottenness or strayness in the analogies I used.

At root, I'm arguing from definition here.... when people expand or change the definition then find fault with the newly defined term, their criticisms may be quite accurate but they are no longer talking about the same thing.

Aaron, you are essentially correct in what you say but we cannot turn back the clock and reclaim the Fundamentalism of 1922. After all, we're talking about different times, different people, different circumstances, etc. We do not share the same common ground as the Fundamentalists of 1922. The common enemy of Modernism-Liberalism is not the looming threat to unite us and our differences have proliferated to separate us. We can't just go back home again.

O. T. Spence once wrote that God in His sovereignty raised up movements in history to accomplish His will and purpose during a specific period. Afterwards, the movement would wane and vanish. Perhaps, Fundamentalism has served its purpose. Although I am not shucking the label just yet, we must be careful not to make the preservation of a movement or institution our purpose or focus at the expense of God's work.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Great read.

Anyone who says SI is down on Fundamentalism probably defines the term by a more sectarian definition. That is the problem with terminology, as you duly noted. Jim Peet has a good argument, namely, that the term has been hijacked and so discolored that we need a new one. I agree. I also agree that Dr. Bauder represents a healthy strain of what is now labelled fundamentalism. When I look at some of Dr. Bauder's articles, I find a well thought out and balanced view of fundamentalism.

On this site, sarcasm and mockery is a bad way to argue a point, as it should be. I do not find a lot of that here. I do not find a lot of straw men, personal attacks, etc. Part of being ethical is arguing fairly, reasonably, and objectively. Some of the fundamental legacy is based upon arguing emotionally -- it doesn't matter HOW you persuade, as long as you reinforce the party line. And that is sad.

SI is an amazing site with some amazing contributors. R. Ptimann put it well:

Quote:
Aaron, you are essentially correct in what you say but we cannot turn back the clock and reclaim the Fundamentalism of 1922. After all, we're talking about different times, different people, different circumstances, etc. We do not share the same common ground as the Fundamentalists of 1922. The common enemy of Modernism-Liberalism is not the looming threat to unite us and our differences have proliferated to separate us. We can't just go back home again.

But I also agree with Jim Peet that we need a new name to distinguish ourselves from those who hold a party line and really are not first and foremost concerned with objectively and fairly interpreting and applying the Word.

"The Midrash Detective"

Don P's picture

One will never understand fundamentalism without taking into account that separation from apostasy was not a fundamental. Only in the 1920s and later did some fundamentalists trumpet separation from apostasy and then separation from those who would not "come out." Even among those who did come out from their denominations and started new ones, there were those who would continue to fellowship with their fundamentalist brethren who stayed in.

The separatistic fundamentalists became watchdogs, quick to call all others new evangelicals if they strayed from the party line. But there was and is a large number of fundamentalists who never entered into that fray. These "historic fundamentalists" may not be called fundamentalists anymore for several reasons. They were labeled new evangelicals by the "fundamentalists" and kicked out of the movement. They left on their own to fellowship with other historic fundamentalists (conservative evangelicals). They found a home in denominations that virtually bypassed the fundamentalist/modernist controversy (Evangelical Free Church). They simply stopped using the name because it came to represent only one strand of fundamentalism. They stopped using the term because it became incomprehensible and worthless as an identifier.

If one looks at all of the institutions that developed out of the fundamentalist/modernist controversy, most of them would take the label "conservative evangelical" while still claiming that they hold to the fundamentals of the faith. This is the group that has the right to the label "historic fundamentalism." But because of the socio-cultural baggage mentioned by Charlie, they don't want the label anymore. The term fundamentalism has come to mean mean-spirited along with all of the other things Charlie has identified.

What is somewhat sad is when schools like NIU claim that they aren't changing when they ought to be trumpeting their change from the rafters. It is a good thing that NIU is expanding its borders and seeking fellowship with other historic fundamentalists like MacArthur. NIU should publicly decry their association, if by name only, with fundamentalists who are divisive (BJU) or heretical (PCC). NIU should state in no uncertain terms that those schools do not represent who we are. NIU should reclaim the true history of the family that started the college instead of holding on to the false revisionist story that the BJU leadership at the school crafted.

So let's raise our voices for historic fundamentalism, and let's remove ourselves from the heresy that is much of separatistic fundamentalism (KJVO, false divisions, man pleasers, etc.).

RPittman's picture

Don P wrote:
One will never understand fundamentalism without taking into account that separation from apostasy was not a fundamental. Only in the 1920s and later did some fundamentalists trumpet separation from apostasy and then separation from those who would not "come out." Even among those who did come out from their denominations and started new ones, there were those who would continue to fellowship with their fundamentalist brethren who stayed in.
Although there seems to be the intimation of a superior understanding here, one cannot explain or comprehend the Fundamentalist phenomenon by arbitrarily choosing a fixed point in time and bench-marking Fundamentalism to that point without factoring in the diversity and progression of the movement. To do so is only to view a minute detail of Fundamentalism attached to a single point in its varied history. It is not as if the tenets of Fundamentalism were delivered to the saints at a single time and place. There's evolution here, my friend! :bigsmile:

Don P's picture

RPittman wrote:
Don P wrote:
One will never understand fundamentalism without taking into account that separation from apostasy was not a fundamental. Only in the 1920s and later did some fundamentalists trumpet separation from apostasy and then separation from those who would not "come out." Even among those who did come out from their denominations and started new ones, there were those who would continue to fellowship with their fundamentalist brethren who stayed in.
Although there seems to be the intimation of a superior understanding here, one cannot explain or comprehend the Fundamentalist phenomenon by arbitrarily choosing a fixed point in time and bench-marking Fundamentalism to that point without factoring in the diversity and progression of the movement. To do so is only to view a minute detail of Fundamentalism attached to a single point in its varied history. It is not as if the tenets of Fundamentalism were delivered to the saints at a single time and place. There's evolution here, my friend! :bigsmile:

Understood, my friend!

But the point is that those who have commandeered the term fundamentalism have isolated one branch of fundamentalism to the exclusion of all others. They claim that they alone have the right to the term. The truth is that a much larger, quieter branch has more of a claim (or at least an equal claim) to the term than they do. Today, this branch is known as conservative evangelicals.

Blessings!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Don P wrote:
One will never understand fundamentalism without taking into account that separation from apostasy was not a fundamental. Only in the 1920s and later did some fundamentalists trumpet separation from apostasy and then separation from those who would not "come out."

Fundamentalism was born in the 1920s... I would argue that it was born pretty much at the moment believers in the fundamentals of the faith realized it was time to separate from apostasy in that place and time.

Curtis Laws used the term to refer to those who believed they needed to "do battle royal" against unbelief.

The merits of continuing to use the term are interesting, but not really what the essay is about. That is, you could replace every occurrence of "fundamentalist" in it with, say, "W" and the argument still works:

  • whatever a "W" is, the existence of persons in that group who are also in other groups cannot, in itself, change what the "W" group is.
  • whatever a "W" is, the existence of persons in that group who are also in other groups (say, X, Y and Z) does not mean that any other person in the "W" group is in any of those other groups.

So the group that is defined as "people who believe in the fundamentals and separation from apostasy" is only that group and is distinct from other groups such as "people who are arrogant, power-hungry, nasty or poorly-educated."

I agree that the term itself is only useful when you use it in the hearing/reading of those who know what it means... but this is pretty much the case with all terms. And you can sort of control whether those hearing/reading you understand the term by defining it before you claim it.

It ultimately makes no difference to me if the word is "fundamentlist" or "metadorsalist." We know this group exists, and I'm proud to be in it, though I really hope I'm not in several of the other groups others in it also happen to be in (sorry that last sentence is so tangled.... language can be so ball-of-yarn, post-cat).

Maybe this touches on one of Charlie's points earlier, too. I don't think it especially matters if the definition I'm using is even the "correct" one. It's just shorthand for a group we all know exists. So when I say "I'm a proud fundamentalist"--at least in this discussion--I'm saying nothing more than "I am not ashamed to be among those who embrace the fundamentals of the faith and believe in separation from apostasy."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I am humbly grateful to be a fundamentalist - a person who is devoted to the fundamentals of the faith and who is willing to separate over them.

I humbly reject hyper-fundamentalsm - where there is devotion to the fundamentals of the faith and a willingness to separate over them as well as a willingness to separate from and even shoot other fundamentalists over secondary issues.

RPittman's picture

Don P wrote:
But the point is that those who have commandeered the term fundamentalism have isolated one branch of fundamentalism to the exclusion of all others. They claim that they alone have the right to the term. The truth is that a much larger, quieter branch has more of a claim (or at least an equal claim) to the term than they do. Today, this branch is known as conservative evangelicals.

Blessings!

I don't see how the present day Conservative Evangelicals lie in the historical lineage of Fundamentalism. Their roots are in the camps maintaining orthodox theology, although not separation, in face of Liberalism-Modernism such as the Old Evangelicalism, Neo-evangelicalism, the Reformed community, or the SBC. The SBC was never in the Fundamentalist camp although the rank and file were fundamental in doctrine. They were simply apart from the movement. Only within the past decade or so have we seen significant migration into the Conservative Evangelical camp from Fundamentalism.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Don P wrote:
One will never understand fundamentalism without taking into account that separation from apostasy was not a fundamental. Only in the 1920s and later did some fundamentalists trumpet separation from apostasy and then separation from those who would not "come out."

Fundamentalism was born in the 1920s... I would argue that it was born pretty much at the moment believers in the fundamentals of the faith realized it was time to separate from apostasy in that place and time.

Curtis Laws used the term to refer to those who believed they needed to "do battle royal" against unbelief.

The merits of continuing to use the term are interesting, but not really what the essay is about. That is, you could replace every occurrence of "fundamentalist" in it with, say, "W" and the argument still works:

  • whatever a "W" is, the existence of persons in that group who are also in other groups cannot, in itself, change what the "W" group is.
  • whatever a "W" is, the existence of persons in that group who are also in other groups (say, X, Y and Z) does not mean that any other person in the "W" group is in any of those other groups.

So the group that is defined as "people who believe in the fundamentals and separation from apostasy" is only that group and is distinct from other groups such as "people who are arrogant, power-hungry, nasty or poorly-educated."

I agree that the term itself is only useful when you use it in the hearing/reading of those who know what it means... but this is pretty much the case with all terms. And you can sort of control whether those hearing/reading you understand the term by defining it before you claim it.

It ultimately makes no difference to me if the word is "fundamentlist" or "metadorsalist." We know this group exists, and I'm proud to be in it, though I really hope I'm not in several of the other groups others in it also happen to be in (sorry that last sentence is so tangled.... language can be so ball-of-yarn, post-cat).

Maybe this touches on one of Charlie's points earlier, too. I don't think it especially matters if the definition I'm using is even the "correct" one. It's just shorthand for a group we all know exists. So when I say "I'm a proud fundamentalist"--at least in this discussion--I'm saying nothing more than "I am not ashamed to be among those who embrace the fundamentals of the faith and believe in separation from apostasy."

Again, Aaron, you are right in your overall approach but I think you are wrestling with an unnecessary detail. After having defined Fundamentalists as "people who believe in the fundamentals and separation from apostasy," you just need to leave the definition alone and accept the fact that some Fundamentalists are "people who are arrogant, power-hungry, nasty or poorly-educated" regardless of how repugnant it may be for you.

RPittman's picture

Hey Aaron! I just gotta ask. Is that your beagle in the picture or is it stock photo? Beautiful dog! Now, that's my kind of dog!

Don P's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Don P wrote:
One will never understand fundamentalism without taking into account that separation from apostasy was not a fundamental. Only in the 1920s and later did some fundamentalists trumpet separation from apostasy and then separation from those who would not "come out."

Fundamentalism was born in the 1920s... I would argue that it was born pretty much at the moment believers in the fundamentals of the faith realized it was time to separate from apostasy in that place and time.

Curtis Laws used the term to refer to those who believed they needed to "do battle royal" against unbelief.

The merits of continuing to use the term are interesting, but not really what the essay is about. That is, you could replace every occurrence of "fundamentalist" in it with, say, "W" and the argument still works:

  • whatever a "W" is, the existence of persons in that group who are also in other groups cannot, in itself, change what the "W" group is.
  • whatever a "W" is, the existence of persons in that group who are also in other groups (say, X, Y and Z) does not mean that any other person in the "W" group is in any of those other groups.

So the group that is defined as "people who believe in the fundamentals and separation from apostasy" is only that group and is distinct from other groups such as "people who are arrogant, power-hungry, nasty or poorly-educated."

I agree that the term itself is only useful when you use it in the hearing/reading of those who know what it means... but this is pretty much the case with all terms. And you can sort of control whether those hearing/reading you understand the term by defining it before you claim it.

It ultimately makes no difference to me if the word is "fundamentlist" or "metadorsalist." We know this group exists, and I'm proud to be in it, though I really hope I'm not in several of the other groups others in it also happen to be in (sorry that last sentence is so tangled.... language can be so ball-of-yarn, post-cat).

Maybe this touches on one of Charlie's points earlier, too. I don't think it especially matters if the definition I'm using is even the "correct" one. It's just shorthand for a group we all know exists. So when I say "I'm a proud fundamentalist"--at least in this discussion--I'm saying nothing more than "I am not ashamed to be among those who embrace the fundamentals of the faith and believe in separation from apostasy."

Fundamentalism was born in the late 1800s.

Don P's picture

RPittman wrote:
Don P wrote:
But the point is that those who have commandeered the term fundamentalism have isolated one branch of fundamentalism to the exclusion of all others. They claim that they alone have the right to the term. The truth is that a much larger, quieter branch has more of a claim (or at least an equal claim) to the term than they do. Today, this branch is known as conservative evangelicals.

Blessings!

I don't see how the present day Conservative Evangelicals lie in the historical lineage of Fundamentalism. Their roots are in the camps maintaining orthodox theology, although not separation, in face of Liberalism-Modernism such as the Old Evangelicalism, Neo-evangelicalism, the Reformed community, or the SBC. The SBC was never in the Fundamentalist camp although the rank and file were fundamental in doctrine. They were simply apart from the movement. Only within the past decade or so have we seen significant migration into the Conservative Evangelical camp from Fundamentalism.

Conservative evangelicals are that branch of fundamentalism that didn't separate over separation. Conservative evangelicals also consist of those who weren't directly involved in the fundamentalist/modernist controversy such as the Baptist General Conference, Evangelical Free Church of America, Grace Brethren Church, etc.

Conservative evangelicals are young fundamentalists who aren't buying the separation from other believers because older fundamentalists claimed that these "other" believers were new evangelicals, etc.

Direct lineage of fundamentalism:

Northwestern College
Cedarville University
Biola University
Westmont College
Trinity International University and TEDS
Bethel University
Grace College and Seminary
Word of Life
Liberty University
Tennessee Temple University
Bryan College

and on and on.

The number of fundamentalist institutions that are identified as "conservative evangelical" is numerous. The broad swath of historic fundamentalism resides in conservative evangelical institutions, not in BJU, NBBC, MBBC, etc.

Think Conservative Baptists, IFCA, John MacArthur, etc. These and the above mentioned groups are all conservative evangelicals and direct descendants of fundamentalists. They are, in fact, historic fundamentalists of the 1880s to 1930s stripe. They separate from apostasy but not from each other. They band together for the gospel.

Jay's picture

RPittman wrote:
I don't see how the present day Conservative Evangelicals lie in the historical lineage of Fundamentalism. Their roots are in the camps maintaining orthodox theology, although not separation, in face of Liberalism-Modernism such as the Old Evangelicalism, Neo-evangelicalism, the Reformed community, or the SBC. The SBC was never in the Fundamentalist camp although the rank and file were fundamental in doctrine. They were simply apart from the movement. Only within the past decade or so have we seen significant migration into the Conservative Evangelical camp from Fundamentalism.

Roland,

I'm in agreement, I think, with your premise that CE's do not descend from 'movement Fundamentalism' as we commonly use the term. What I'd like to know is why, and how, 'movement Fundamentalism' should be defined, and especially how those who have "left" Fundamentalism actually did so. There are a couple of distinguishing characteristics that I can think of, but I'm still not seeing a clear line of distinction between 'us' and 'them', let alone any clear reason to avoid the proverbial 'them'.

I live in NY state. In the roughly five nearby counties, I know of approximately seven churches that hold to any semblance of historic Christian belief (I'm using that term in place of the 'Fundamentals', since we all have been spectacularly unable to define those famous beliefs). So I'm far more concerned about the Gospel and in proclaiming it or fellowshipping with other historic Christians than I am in abitrary distinctions between those 'within' and those 'without' my particular theological realm.

Why, in your opinion, does it matter if a church in the next town is run by CE's, and why should I not be thankful that there is another (hypothetical) brother there who is conerned with sound doctrine, solid preaching, and disciplemaking?

I guess what I'm trying to say is why should I even care about this seemingly abitrary distinction that exists in the mind of some? If you and I were on the front lines at Omaha's Fox Green sector on June 6, 1944, my biggest concern would be fighting the Nazis, not where you grew up or who you were friends with.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don P's picture

JC,

If the first 50 years of fundamentalism is characterized by banding together (1880s to 1930s) and the next 20 years is characterized by separating and arguing about who the true fundamentalists are, which stage of the movement defines the term?

A small but vocal minority claimed that those who didn't separate from other believers who didn't separate from disobedient brothers were not true fundamentalists. So the separating fundamentalists claimed the term for themselves while the rest of the fundamentalists went about their business of reaching the lost. They no longer used the term because of the demeanor of those who did.

So who are the true fundamentalists? Those who claim the term and fight for separation, or those who continued to preach the gospel but emphasized unity of the brethren? Which branch is in the lineage of 1880s to 1930s fundamentalism?

I would suggest that it is the conservative evangelicals! Where do you think they came from? They didn't materialize out of thin air. They are the direct descendants of fundamentalists.

Rob Fall's picture

I find it puzzling that men in the FBF and especially the GARBC are not included in the list above. The FBF and the GARBC are the seminal organizations at least for Fundamental Baptists. The late B. Myron Cedarholm was the CBA's executive secretary. The FBF became a stand alone organization in the 60's after disagreements with the direction of the CBA.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Joel Tetreau's picture

Rob is correct in the role played out by the separatists in the NBC (contained in the FF) which seems to have been the seed-bed for what is the FBFI today. The same kind of thing a decade or so earlier with the development of the GARBC and the IFCA again coming out of NB type groups if not the NBC itself.

I mentioned this years ago when I did the Type A, B, C thing. I've never been able to understand how it's healthy to have the kind of pride or loyalty in a specific group or subgroup of men/ministries to the exclusion of other groups who are equally solid and or faithful. I suppose one could say "proud" in the sense of gratitude. I'm good with gratitude....especially with those that have sowed the Word and the work of Christ into our lives, souls and families. Amen on that! As I tried to communicate imperfectly five years ago, I would just be a bit more careful with the word, "pride" or even "loyal." I don't see anywhere in the Scriptures that indicate it's right to give a sense of blind or automatic loyalty to a specific group of Christ's body over/against another part of Christ' body (unless you want to say one should have a higher degree of loyalty to one's pastor or church vis-a-vis the church universal....which I suppose one might be able to argue simply on pragmatic grounds, such as the placement of gifts in a local, etc....). Loyalty in that sense seems to be reserved for King Jesus and those walking with Him (in or out of said group).

Without throwing under the bus our self-descript labels of fund, evang, dispens, reformed, etc.....which no doubt can serve a reasonable purpose - Why can't we be grateful for obedience in all parts of the body? Why can't we be loyal to Jesus and His followers wherever and whomever they are? Also....My heritage is Type A fundamentalism. I'm taking that and charting a Type B fundamentalist kind of a course (for reasons I've talked on and on and on and on.....and I'm trying to simply move on these days). I'm good with being grateful for the good of my heritage as long as we can be honest where we've failed as a group, groups, movement, movements. Often "loyalty" means we praise the good parts and ignore or downplay failure. While I can appreciate a portion of that (love covers a multitude of sins), it aides in my being uncomfortable with the term "loyal."

Just a short thought from the shadows of the cacti here in the desert sands!

As always......you know......."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;

Don P's picture

Rob Fall wrote:
I find it puzzling that men in the FBF and especially the GARBC are not included in the list above. The FBF and the GARBC are the seminal organizations at least for Fundamental Baptists. The late B. Myron Cedarholm was the CBA's executive secretary. The FBF became a stand alone organization in the 60's after disagreements with the direction of the CBA.

Hi Rob,

You are correct. The GARBC was one of the first groups to withdraw from the NBC. Later the Conservative Baptists withdrew. The CBs are certainly considered conservative evangelicals today. My relatives served as missionaries with them and they were later shunned and labeled by a relative at NIU. Now that his own kids are "conservative evangelicals" his tune is apparently changing (Ware invited to teach, Hollind invited to speak). Before this, however, we were labeled new evangelicals. Our only sin was a desire to fellowship with other believers across party lines. Apparently, our sin was that we were right before they were right.

I would imagine that even the GARBC is considered a conservative evangelical denomination.

Rob Fall's picture

As for the CBA, please look at my last line

Quote:
The FBF became a stand alone organization in the 60's after disagreements with the direction of the CBA.
This is neither the time or place to go into the details. Suffice to say, men like Cedarholm, Weeks, and Hollowood had what they viewed as good and sufficient reasons for their actions.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

RPittman wrote:
Hey Aaron! I just gotta ask. Is that your beagle in the picture or is it stock photo? Beautiful dog! Now, that's my kind of dog!

No, my dog is actually a black lab mix. She just didn't look proud enough in any my existing photos and I didn't have time to shoot a new one.
Had a tri color collie years ago ... it would have been really easy to get photos of her looking "proud." She had a regal bearing. But the lab... she either looks playful, affectionate or sleepy. That's pretty much her repertoire.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

RPittman's picture

Jay C. wrote:

Roland,

I'm in agreement, I think, with your premise that CE's do not descend from 'movement Fundamentalism' as we commonly use the term. What I'd like to know is why, and how, 'movement Fundamentalism' should be defined, and especially how those who have "left" Fundamentalism actually did so. There are a couple of distinguishing characteristics that I can think of, but I'm still not seeing a clear line of distinction between 'us' and 'them', let alone any clear reason to avoid the proverbial 'them'.

I live in NY state. In the roughly five nearby counties, I know of approximately seven churches that hold to any semblance of historic Christian belief (I'm using that term in place of the 'Fundamentals', since we all have been spectacularly unable to define those famous beliefs). So I'm far more concerned about the Gospel and in proclaiming it or fellowshipping with other historic Christians than I am in abitrary distinctions between those 'within' and those 'without' my particular theological realm.

Why, in your opinion, does it matter if a church in the next town is run by CE's, and why should I not be thankful that there is another (hypothetical) brother there who is conerned with sound doctrine, solid preaching, and disciplemaking?

I guess what I'm trying to say is why should I even care about this seemingly abitrary distinction that exists in the mind of some? If you and I were on the front lines at Omaha's Fox Green sector on June 6, 1944, my biggest concern would be fighting the Nazis, not where you grew up or who you were friends with.

Jay, my posts were more about a historical perspective than ecclesiastical separation. Regarding your questions, however, it is important that we establish some boundaries of association. Because we are social creatures who are heavily influenced by our associations, a leader would not want to form ties, give approval, or expose his people to others, although agreed in some basic matters, who would teach different doctrines or practices. Although none of us are in agreement one-to-one on every issue, we must adjust and extend tolerance meanwhile establishing some boundaries of association. Obviously, there has to be boundaries. You would not, for example, want to have a combined young people's meeting with the local JW's. However, there is simply no consensus where the boundaries ought to be drawn.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

For a while there K. Bauder was doing some work on history of fundamentalism. Hope to see him finish that and book it some time. As I recall, he was analyzing cultural, intellectual and theological factors and had worked his way up to a period he was calling proto-evangelical or proto-fundamentalist. I can't remember which. This was in Nick of Time a while back. Anyway, the period was late 19th Century and very early 20th.

That period is especially interesting to me from a history of fundamentalism standpoint for many reasons. You better understand the phenomenon of the fund. movement if you understand the milieu it grew out of.
Both another reason it's interesting is that can help us understand our present times better. A thorough study of that era could probably help answer the question of what today's "not quite fundamentalists but noticeably more conservative than average" types are and where they came from. It can also help us understand what the fund. movement is becoming as it dissolves back into whatever it's dissolving into.

All that to say that I'm not sure it matters now whether the "CEs" are descendent from fundamentalism or if they are descendent from what fundamentalism descended from. These groups are all thoroughly cross-pollinated by now and had the same great grandaddies to begin with.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Gay, bad, crack, huffing, spam, slave, text... lots of words have changed radically over time, or acquired additional meanings. Even opening a window can mean two completely different things. I'm not enamored of the idea of accepting all changes without a scuffle, as some have resulted in a degeneration of language instead of facilitating communication. Even though I agree that desperately clinging to an unavoidably altered phrase can be more trouble than it's worth, I sometimes feel quite stubborn about not accepting every modern usage that comes down the pike, or forfeiting a worthwhile heritage to extremists.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not sure, Todd, if your post is just taking the topic a little bit different direction--which is fine--of if I haven't been clear.

I haven't written about the term "fundamentalist" or offered any reasons to identify with it. Rather, I've written about the phenomenon and why I am proud to identify with that.

It doesn't matter what word you use for it as long as those you are talking to know what you mean. For quite a few years now I have only used the term under two conditions:
1. Those reading/hearing understand the meaning I intend
2. I have an opportunity to define the term as context before/while using it

If those conditions are met, it doesn't matter at all what the actual word is. It's like one of those algebra problems that starts out with X=12. You could use any number of letters and work the problem out just as well.... fundamentalism=12, A=12, (x-y)/j=12. All the same.
Terms are handles for concepts and they work fine as long as there is mutual understanding.

It's a bit like sailing... if I hadn't just pulled the word at random from a glossary of nautical terms, I'd have no idea what a "leech" is, and would probably confuse it with a blood sucking parasite. But on a sail boat with a well trained crew, I could use the term and be confident that they all know it's "the trailing edge of a sail. In the case of a symmetric spinnaker, the side opposite the spinnaker pole."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

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