What Can We Learn from Christian Fundamentalists? James MacDonald 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.

James MacDonald

macdonaldI was raised in a Fundamentalistic Baptist church and attended a Fundamentalistic Bible college. In the negative I believe Christian Fundamentalism in North America during the last century became too focused on an extra biblical code of conduct as a measurement of orthodoxy. Many good people, who agreed with the doctrinal positions of Fundamentalism, left because they knew that “mixed bathing,” music/movie choices, and length of hair or dresses were not accurate assessments of an individual’s commitment to biblical holiness.

Worse than the legalism was the tone often expressed in enforcing these codes. Fundamentalism’s angry assessment of all who disagreed led to the oft repeated axiom, “no fun, too much damn, and not enough mental.” In my experience it was Fundamentalism’s uncharitable attitude toward those outside their camp or even toward those inside but within a different faction, that precipitated the exodus of the past 25 years.

On the positive side fundamentalism taught us to earnestly contend for the faith. They were willing to separate from people who denied the explicit statements of Scripture. They were willing to confront error and argue for biblical fidelity. That kind of courage is hard to find in the church today. Doctrinally I would consider myself a Fundamentalist, I’m just not mad about it. J

James MacDonald is the senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois and the author of Ancient Wisdom (B&H).

March/April 2008, ©9Marks

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