Fundamentalism

The Hijacking of Fundamentalism

Republished from Voice, Jan/Feb 2020.

John Fea noted two decades ago that “the term fundamentalism has become the most elusive term on the American religious scene.”1 Today a fundamentalist is often viewed as anyone who holds to a strict religious system.2 The task I have been given here is to note the attempted “hijacking” of the designation “fundamentalist.” While I can, in the main, appreciate the faithful heritage of historic fundamentalism, at the same time I also reject the extremism that can often be found in too much of what I term Movement Fundamentalism. It is easy for me to note the faults within fundamentalism, but at the same time it is hard to take issue with all fundamentalists; many of whom are faithful, sincere, sacrificial and dependable saints.

Fundamentalism Today

Over the years I have used a taxonomy to explain to insiders as well as outsiders the nature of contemporary fundamentalism in order to demonstrate the fractured nature of what fundamentalism had become over time. The basis for this present article is my original work which was entitled, “Three Lines in the Sand”3 which enumerated three varieties within contemporary fundamentalism.

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Fundys, Evangelicals and the Eye of a Needle

I minister in a church sub-culture that has no understanding of the fundamentalism/evangelical debates. I received theological training from an excellent fundamentalist seminary. But, the church I serve has no self-conscious fundamentalist identity, even though it’s a member of the GARBC. It’s an “evangelical” church, though many members might not know exactly what that means.

Recently, a church member asked me what an “evangelical” is, what a “fundamentalist” is, and how they’re different. This article is basically how I answered. It’s a short answer. But, I think it captures the basic distinction between the two groups.1

Fundamentalism in America began as a protest movement within conservative Christian circles in the late 19th century. Christian leaders in churches, bible colleges, seminaries and denominations began to be aware of a revisionist, unorthodox approach to the Bible and theology. There was a willingness to reevaluate the integrity of the Bible, how it was transmitted and preserved, whether Adam and Eve were real people, whether Moses really wrote the Pentateuch, whether Isaiah really wrote all of Isaiah, whether Jesus was really conceived by a miracle of the Holy Spirit, whether miracles really happened, and more. This openness to “new ideas” began in seminaries and gradually filtered down to the pulpits in local churches of many denominational stripes.

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A Simple Way to Distinguish between Fundamentalism and Liberalism in Christian Theology

Shall the Fundamentalists Win? (Part 1)

In this landmark 1922 sermon, Harry E. Fosdick, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New York, called for an open-minded, “tolerant” view of Christian fellowship. He delivered this address in the midst of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. As is plain from his sermon, he did not want the fundamentalists to win!1

This morning we are to think of the fundamentalist controversy which threatens to divide the American churches as though already they were not sufficiently split and riven. A scene, suggestive for our thought, is depicted in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Acts, where the Jewish leaders hale before them Peter and other of the apostles because they had been preaching Jesus as the Messiah. Moreover, the Jewish leaders propose to slay them, when in opposition Gamaliel speaks “Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.” …

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New Book: "The Making of a Battle Royal" by Jeff Straub

A Report Card on Baptist Fundamentalism in 2018

In this short article, I’ll briefly present an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Baptist fundamentalism in 2018. This assessment is entirely my own, and it reflects my own particular experiences and education. Of course, my observations are limited by my own context — just as yours are.

The Spectrum of Fundamentalism

Any movement has different flavors, and Baptist fundamentalism is no different. Over the years, several prominent Baptist fundamentalists have offered their own taxonomies of the movement. Here is my own simplified chart which broadly outlines the lay of the land as I see it today:

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