What Can We Learn from Christian Fundamentalists? David Wells Responds

Editor’s Note: 9Marks Ministries recently dedicated their recent eJournal issue to discussing Fundamentalism. SharperIron has received permission from them to reprint the articles here for discussion. We will post ten articles over the next two weeks. If you would like the complete eJournal or would like to subscribe to further editions, please go to www.9marks.org.

David Wells

David WellsWe can learn three positive and three negative things from Fundamentalism.

On the positive side: first, Fundamentalists, despite derision from within academia and scorn from the mainline liberal denominations, preserved the Word of God and sought to live by it; second, though laughed at for being socially uncaring, they actually built an astonishing record of caring, missionary work overseas; third, even while huddling together against the storm on the outside, they also showed how important the church can be in people’s lives.

On the negative side: first, we see how crippling can be the sense of being a minority, in this case, a cognitive minority, for Fundamentalists developed a siege mentality that was unhealthy; second, we see the price that they paid for their anti-intellectualism which issued in a lot of bizarre biblical interpretation and a worldview that was stunted and not wholesome; third, we also see how the passion for truth went astray so often and resulted in rancor, divisions, and the cult of personalities.

David Wells is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and author of the upcoming The Courage to Be Protestant: Marketers, Emergents, and Historic Christians in the Postmodern World, to be published by Eerdmans.

March/April 2008, ©9Marks

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