Which of these best fits your view of what "The Fundamentalist movement" means?

1. An early 20th century effort to reclaim the mainline denominations from the inroads of Modernism
13% (4 votes)
2. A coming together of believers to fight the spread of unbelief, especially modernism
41% (13 votes)
3. A loosely connected collection of institutions that were once (but are no longer) bound by the fight against modernism
22% (7 votes)
4. A bunch of legalistic, anti-intellectual cranks looking for good excuses to control everybody
13% (4 votes)
5. Other (please post something to explain)
13% (4 votes)
Total votes: 32
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There are 19 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I voted #2 because I see even the historical phenomenon we call the "movement" as having a broader objective and spirit. For that reason, I'm not ready to say the movement is dead or that it ought to be. It needs to shift its focus toward more modern forms of unbelief, but continue that fight. (And, personally, I'm no more ready to let one dysfunctional subgroup or another hijack "fundamentalist" any more than I'm willing to let all the messed up Baptist churches out there take "Baptist" from me... but also no less willing Smile )

Ron Bean's picture

I voted #2 as well.

I am reminded of a sermon I heard about 20 years ago that somewhat predicted what we're seeing today and followed this line of reasoning:

The first generation fights the battle and raises a standard.

The second generation fights to form machinery (fellowships, institutions, etc.) to maintain the standard.

A third generation fight to maintain the machinery.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jim's picture

I voted for # 4. I don't think this was the foundational raison d'être for the movement but I think this closely approximates what it has become. (Although # 4 is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration)

Jim's picture

I think the flaws (generally speaking) of fundamentalism are:

  1. Tolerance of error on one side: (eg. towards the hyper-fundies, the Finney-esque, the legalists, the pragmatists) while
  2. A lack of graciousness towards the others side ( eg. to John MacArthur)
  3. Local church submission to and dominance by institutions (the tale waging the dog)
  4. Major personalities have ruled. Less so today but has been a giant (pun intended) issue
  5. A certain faddism: Eg. "must have bus ministry", or "must have a Christian school", or "Christian courtship"
  6. Agreement is not about a doctrinal position but about fundie mores (We will tolerate a doctrinal deviant as long as they don't do (bad things on the list)
  7. A flatness about theology where everything is primary. And then it folds itself over or inside out where the fringe things become the primary things and the primary things are forgotten
  8. We have made missions to be far-away missions and forgotten to reach (or even attempt to reach) our own Jerusalems. A church with scores of missionaries but no real burden to reach one's own community is still considered a "missions minded church"
  9. A certain Amishness about life. While the Amish are stuck in the 1790's ... Fundamentalists still want to live in the 1950's
Jay's picture

I actually think #3 is closer, but I disagree that it's a coalition of institutions. It seems like the institutional coalitions have largely disintegrated and the movement [still to be defined ] consists of individuals. That may be changing with orgs. like T4G, but it's still largely a movement of individually lead pockets and not truly a cohesive group.

"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

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Jim Peet wrote:
I think the flaws (generally speaking) of fundamentalism are:

  1. Tolerance of error on one side: (eg. towards the hyper-fundies, the Finney-esque, the legalists, the pragmatists) while
  2. A lack of graciousness towards the others side ( eg. to John MacArthur)
  3. Local church submission to and dominance by institutions (the tale waging the dog)
  4. Major personalities have ruled. Less so today but has been a giant (pun intended) issue
  5. A certain faddism: Eg. "must have bus ministry", or "must have a Christian school", or "Christian courtship"
  6. Agreement is not about a doctrinal position but about fundie mores (We will tolerate a doctrinal deviant as long as they don't do (bad things on the list)
  7. A flatness about theology where everything is primary. And then it folds itself over or inside out where the fringe things become the primary things and the primary things are forgotten
  8. We have made missions to be far-away missions and forgotten to reach (or even attempt to reach) our own Jerusalems. A church with scores of missionaries but no real burden to reach one's own community is still considered a "missions minded church"
  9. A certain Amishness about life. While the Amish are stuck in the 1790's ... Fundamentalists still want to live in the 1950's

I'm thinking that your assessment may be an accurate map of how Fundamentalism has progressed, but I voted #2 to answer what I think the Fundamentalist movement means. I could be splitting hairs, but then I have plenty to split, unlike some other people around here. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-fc/old.gif[/img ]
Bob Hayton's picture

I'm choosing #5 other.

#3 is close, but I think that there's an organic unity to fundamentalism stemming from the 1920s movement. It may be coalesced around institutions primarily. But I would say there still is a fight against something which still binds fundamentalist groups together as separate and distinct from evangelical groups.

#2 would characterize SI members. But some of those members (myself being one of them) are actually outside movement fundamentalism. So this is too broad to describe fundamentalism "the movement". T4G would fit under this point, and most here would not characterize them as being part of the movement of fundamentalism.

#1 is the definition of historic fundamentalism, and many today identify with that while avoiding movement fundamentalism altogether.

#4 fits parts of the movement, but is clearly a broad-brushing over-generalization. There are plenty of crankpots and legalists in other groups outside of movement fundamentalism.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Mike Durning's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
I think the flaws (generally speaking) of fundamentalism are:

  1. Tolerance of error on one side: (eg. towards the hyper-fundies, the Finney-esque, the legalists, the pragmatists) while
  2. A lack of graciousness towards the others side ( eg. to John MacArthur)
  3. Local church submission to and dominance by institutions (the tale waging the dog)
  4. Major personalities have ruled. Less so today but has been a giant (pun intended) issue
  5. A certain faddism: Eg. "must have bus ministry", or "must have a Christian school", or "Christian courtship"
  6. Agreement is not about a doctrinal position but about fundie mores (We will tolerate a doctrinal deviant as long as they don't do (bad things on the list)
  7. A flatness about theology where everything is primary. And then it folds itself over or inside out where the fringe things become the primary things and the primary things are forgotten
  8. We have made missions to be far-away missions and forgotten to reach (or even attempt to reach) our own Jerusalems. A church with scores of missionaries but no real burden to reach one's own community is still considered a "missions minded church"
  9. A certain Amishness about life. While the Amish are stuck in the 1790's ... Fundamentalists still want to live in the 1950's

Brilliant! Can I quote you?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jim,

While I understand the flaws you indetified in fundamentalism, I think several of them apply equally to evangelicalism that resists fundamentalism. Such as:

Jim Peet wrote:

  • Tolerance of error on one side while
  • A lack of graciousness towards the others side
  • Major personalities have ruled. Less so today but has been a giant (pun intended) issue
  • A certain faddism
  • Agreement is not about a doctrinal position but about evangilcal mores (we will tolerate a doctrinal deviant as long as they don't do (bad things on the list)
  • A flatness about theology - where nothing is primary
  • We have made missions to be far-away missions and forgotten to reach (or even attempt to reach) our own Jerusalems. A church with scores of missionaries but no real burden to reach one's own community is still considered a "missions minded church"
  • My point is that perhaps some of these are inherent human flaws rather than simply fundamentalist's flaws.

    Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

    Mike Durning's picture

    Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
    Jim,

    While I understand the flaws you indetified in fundamentalism, I think several of them apply equally to evangelicalism that resists fundamentalism. Such as:

    Jim Peet wrote:

  • Tolerance of error on one side while
  • A lack of graciousness towards the others side
  • Major personalities have ruled. Less so today but has been a giant (pun intended) issue
  • A certain faddism
  • Agreement is not about a doctrinal position but about evangilcal mores (we will tolerate a doctrinal deviant as long as they don't do (bad things on the list)
  • A flatness about theology - where nothing is primary
  • We have made missions to be far-away missions and forgotten to reach (or even attempt to reach) our own Jerusalems. A church with scores of missionaries but no real burden to reach one's own community is still considered a "missions minded church"
  • My point is that perhaps some of these are inherent human flaws rather than simply fundamentalist's flaws.

    Chip,

    I tend to agree if you say this is true of "Evangelicalism", but it is somewhat less true of the much-feared Conservative Evangelicals. For instance, they are actively campaigning against the faddishness of their mainstream Evangelical associates, and they seem to have trouble separating over violations of orthopraxy because they are so oriented toward looking at orthodoxy as the standard.

    Mike D

    Joel Tetreau's picture

    You see fundamentalism can only be understood as a confederacy of three moods (Type A, B and C)........No, I won't do that to you all.

    I would describe fundamentalism as a movement whose roots can be traced from the late 1800's (You might be able to make a case that it's earliest roots show up just after the Civil War). It formerly became a force in the early 20th Century as a coalition of Bible-believers who agreed on a core group of doctrine, and militantly defended the gospel in and out of mainline denominations. My definiition is close to your number 2. I would add that fundamentalism was really just a contemporary "coat" of responsible NT Christianity. There have been a variety of "coats" over the centuries. The important thing is not the coat (a movement) but rather the body (the church). Just as other movements served their purpose and then afterwords died (or became less effective) it probably is the same with fundamentalism (at least as a movement).

    A thought,

    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;

    Aaron Blumer's picture

    EditorAdmin

    Joel Tetreau wrote:
    I would add that fundamentalism was really just a contemporary "coat" of responsible NT Christianity. There have been a variety of "coats" over the centuries. The important thing is not the coat (a movement) but rather the body (the church). Just as other movements served their purpose and then afterwords died (or became less effective) it probably is the same with fundamentalism (at least as a movement).

    I think the coat analogy is helpful. But I'm still trying to figure out, personally, what the difference is between "the movement" and "any movement." That is, to me, every generation must have its 'fundamentalist movement' because every generation has a unique form of unbelief that those committed to the Scriptures must unite to combat. That, 'movement' (as in, motion together toward a goal), is more a right arm of the body than a coat it wears. But the current visible structure and components of a movement--sure, it's just the surface. Take the coat off and put another one on.

    I would add this, though. As one generation's (and I'm using that term broadly--sometimes it might be several actual generations) movement winds down, there should not be a gap before the next movement begins. So, in that case, is it a new movement or the continuation of the old one? This is why I hesitate to say the "fundamentalist movement is dead" or repeat what has become a mantra for so many "I'm an idea fundamentalist, not a movement fundamentalist."

    So, is the 20th century 'fundamentalist movement' dead? Pretty much. And I guess most people are referring to that when they say "The" movement. But is fundamentalist movement dead? Not at all. There is 'movement' of the same sort going on and I believe always will be.

    Now when you throw in the fact that the vast majority of those engaging in fundamentalist movement today were also involved in The Fund. Movement of 20th century, is this something new or a continuation (with major course adjustments) of the old?
    Ultimately, doesn't matter a whole lot whether it's a "refreshed fundamentalism" or a brand new coat, but I'm explaining here why I don't personally engage in much "idea vs. movement" talk. An idea that does not "move" isn't worth much.

    Jay's picture

    Aaron Blumer wrote:
    I would add this, though. As one generation's (and I'm using that term broadly--sometimes it might be several actual generations) movement winds down, there should not be a gap before the next movement begins. So, in that case, is it a new movement or the continuation of the old one? This is why I hesitate to say the "fundamentalist movement is dead" or repeat what has become a mantra for so many "I'm an idea fundamentalist, not a movement fundamentalist."

    So, is the 20th century 'fundamentalist movement' dead? Pretty much. And I guess most people are referring to that when they say "The" movement. But is fundamentalist movement dead? Not at all. There is 'movement' of the same sort going on and I believe always will be.


    Aaron, I think the problem is that the new Fundyism is taking the place of the old [and continuing in it's shoes ], but it doesn't look enough like the old that those who are in the old movement don't think it's the same thing; hence the perjorative use of the Young Fundamentalist term.

    "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

    Duane Braswell's picture

    I voted 3, has to do a lot with my passion for history.

    Now here is, perhaps, a valid question?

    What is/was modernism? If we do not know, how could we be fundamentalists? What movement is fighting the errors of Post-Modernity? Is that movement Biblical? Is it making the same 'mistakes' as fundamentalism? Perhaps my point is that while "hindsight is great" are we looking in the present and to the future? I honestly do not care if I am too old at 45 to be a YF. I do not care what circle the pastor down the road runs with, my struggle is for the Gospel and the doctrine of Christ. man, I feel a soap box forming under my feet and a sermon coming on....

    He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent. - Augustine

    Ron Bean's picture

    FWIW, I think that it was originally # 2, became # 3 and may be becoming # 4.

    To restate a point I made earlier, there seems to be a tendency to make the flag pole more important than the standard.

    "Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

    Aaron Blumer's picture

    EditorAdmin

    Duane Braswell wrote:
    I voted 3, has to do a lot with my passion for history.

    Now here is, perhaps, a valid question?

    What is/was modernism? If we do not know, how could we be fundamentalists? What movement is fighting the errors of Post-Modernity?


    Yeah, I think I've used "Modernism" somewhat sloppily for decades. Not sure I care though. Technically, the movement was arrayed against a particular kind of Modernism/modernism taken to a particular degree... so what we usually mean is "theological liberalism" and the unbelief it expressed.

    But what movement is fighting the errors of postmodernism? I think it ought to be us. To me, the movement should have been alert to new forms of unbelief and organized against them so that transitions from "one fight to another" would have been pretty much seemless. But we've been too busy infighting.

    Edit to add...

    Ron Bean wrote:
    FWIW, I think that it was originally # 2, became # 3 and may be becoming # 4.
    To restate a point I made earlier, there seems to be a tendency to make the flag pole more important than the standard.
    I think an element has been #4 for quite some time. Where I sit, I'm seeing less and less of that, but at least one person who would probably know says the numbers in that cohort are actually growing. I don't know and I hope he's wrong.

    CharlesChurchill's picture

    I almost agreed with #1, but really I think Fundamentalism was an early 20th century effort to re-establish the doctrine of the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. In some ways this is an oversimplification of things, but the Fundamentals really centered around this principle and it's immediate implications. Understanding this helps explain what happened over the next hundred years. In many ways, Fundamentalism achieved it's goals and now is dealing with a "what's next" issue (If the Word of God is inerrant and inspired, perhaps it is also sufficient, perhaps it is also reasonable, etc.) Some of the resulting resurgence of interest in theology and its application to our day to days lives is a direct result of Fundamentalism's victories.