How Historians Are Quietly Rewriting the Typical Story of American Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism

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Steve Newman's picture

"History is written by the winners." Do you think this is a case of evangelicalism seeing itself as having "won" over fundamentalism, and thus rewriting history, or a legitimate distinction?

There is an awful lot put on Moody in this view. While he was very prominent, was he really trying to create a movement? And would that movement have more in common with fundamentalism or evangelicalism? 

They appear to see Fundamentalism as having what appear to be the "evils", dispensationalism, Arminianism, (racism?), and denominationalism. 

It seems to me convenient to just write off fundamentalism as having all the bad stuff, then marginalizing it. 

Andrew K's picture

Steve Newman wrote:

"History is written by the winners." Do you think this is a case of evangelicalism seeing itself as having "won" over fundamentalism, and thus rewriting history, or a legitimate distinction?

There is an awful lot put on Moody in this view. While he was very prominent, was he really trying to create a movement? And would that movement have more in common with fundamentalism or evangelicalism? 

They appear to see Fundamentalism as having what appear to be the "evils", dispensationalism, Arminianism, (racism?), and denominationalism. 

It seems to me convenient to just write off fundamentalism as having all the bad stuff, then marginalizing it. 

I thought the researchers were actually claiming that "fundamentalism," ala Moody, was undermining a traditional sense of denominationalism.

Jay's picture

  1. There was no single coalition--no single fundamentalist movement--that organized itself in the early 1920s. The three major battles of the fundamentalist-modernist controversies were fought by three separate coalitions that had hardly any overlapping personnel.
     
  2. There was another major battle of the fundamentalist-modernist controversies, one that was resolved before the other three. This was a dispute over the meaning of the term “fundamentalist.” By late 1923 the modernists and their progressive allies had won this fight, developing the definition of fundamentalism that we now accept as the scholarly consensus.
     
  3. The fundamentalist battles did not generate a new movement. The popular movement that after 1925 came to be called "fundamentalism"--that is, the movement based in independent Bible institutes, missionary organizations, and large autonomous urban churches--had been organized in the late nineteenth century by Dwight L. Moody and his lieutenants. Before World War I it already had a self-conscious identity, an institutional network, and recognized leaders.

 

That first point makes a lot of sense when you start reading the history of the Fundamentalists or Marsden.  Even Dr. Bauder's recent series on the history of the FBF kicks off with the fight to reclaim/separate from the Northern Baptist Convention.  It also explains why so many of 'our fellow fundamentalists' are usually Baptist Dispensationalists (which isn't a bad thing, but we would also acknowledge that there is a broader stream of Fundamentalism than just us).

"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