History of Fundamentalism

A Brief History of Fundamentalism

Republished from Voice, Jan/Feb 2020.

Back in the 1970’s when I was teaching at a Bible college, one of my students asked me, somewhat tongue in cheek, what descriptive terms he should use to describe his ministry views in order for him to be, in his words, “the top dog.” He meant, like “fundamentalist.” So I, also somewhat tongue in cheek, listed “fundamentalist,” “Baptist,” (this was a Baptist college after all), “separatist,” “dispensationalist,” “premillennialist,” and “Republican.” We both chuckled then. But fifty years later I wonder if these descriptive terms are still appropriate. I teach in a nondenominational seminary, but our doctrinal statement is baptistic. I identify myself as a separatist—that it is unbiblical to work together with theological liberals in order to fulfill the Great Commission. I continue to be delighted to call myself a dispensational premillennialist. But what about “fundamentalist”? That seems to be the elephant in the room for some of us.

As a starting place for our brief analysis, let’s define historic fundamentalism as the religious movement within American Protestantism that stresses the literal exposition of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible and the militant exposure of any deviance therefrom. If this definition is acceptable, we can be more specific and investigate three key concepts in the definition.

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A Statement by the Two Laymen & Foreward to Volume 12

(About this series)

A STATEMENT BY THE TWO LAYMEN

Rev. A. C. Dixon, D. D., in the fall of 1909, while pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago, organized the Testimony Publishing Company. He also edited the first five volumes of “THE FUNDAMENTALS,” but upon being called to London early in the summer of 1911 to become pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, founded by the late Charles H. Spurgeon, he found it necessary to give up the editorial work on the books.

The next five books were taken in hand by the late Louis Meyer, a Christian Jew, who worked so strenuously in the securing and editing of matter for “THE FUNDAMENTALS” that his health failed. He departed to be with Christ July 11, 1913, in Monrovia, California. His widow and children are now residing in Pasadena, California.

Rev. R. A. Torrey, D. D., Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, edited Volumes XI and XII, two articles, however, in Volume XI having been approved by Dr. Meyer and passed on to Dr. Torrey when he took up the work.

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