Ninety years ago we gave ourselves a name: Fundamentalists.
“We suggest that those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal for the great fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists,’” wrote Curtis Lee Laws in the July 1, 1920 issue of the Watchman-Examiner, a Baptist newspaper with loose ties to the Northern Baptist Convention.
And 90 years later, we still discuss the implications of the Fundamentalist label. Back then, the issues seemed crystal clear: either you believed the Bible was true, or you didn’t. Simple to articulate and easy to defend, the idea of Fundamentalism was expressed as core doctrinal beliefs. Lines were drawn. Positions were staked. Ink was spilt, often.
But language is elastic, meaning is elusive, and sometimes words just wear out.