I would like to introduce the beginning of a new series entitled, “What Fundamentalism Must Do to Survive.” A large part of what has sparked this articles series is due to some recent events in which an extremely large segment (practically the entire movement) of Fundamentalism was attacked. (Without diverting from the issue at hand, I should add that the attack was done in a wrong method as well as included all of Fundamentalism in a critique that is only true of a portion of the movement). However, being quite a critic myself, this attack on Fundamentalism did make me think. Although this attack was invalid in several ways, it provides a great opportunity for Fundamentalists to do some searching and self-criticism in regards to what truth there was in the attack (no matter how small it may be) and to look for further problem areas of Fundamentalism, because that is always a good thing to do.
But first, allow me to give a brief definition of Fundamentalism for those who know nothing anything about Fundamentalism or those who might have a different idea of what Fundamentalism is than myself (so that we are all on the same page on how the term is used). Fundamentalism is a movement that believes in historic Christianity (that is, in contrast to liberal Christianity which reinterprets scripture to fit modernism), the militant defense of historic Christianity, and the doctrine of separation (they are separatists). In reality, evangelicalism and Fundamentalism were one group until about the 1930s when Fundamentalism decided to separate from the corrupt ecclesiastical organizations (denominations, mission boards, etc.) and either form their own organizations with pure doctrine untainted by liberalism or simply become independent churches. Evangelicals differed in that they decided to stay in the liberal infested denominations for the sake of unity and most likely a puritan effort (they were moderates–see footnote 1). However, it has been a long time since the 1930s, and both movements have significantly changed.
Lastly, I feel it is necessary, before I begin making critiques on Fundamentalism, to state where I stand in relationship to the movement. I believe in historic Christianity. I believe in the militant defense of proper doctrine. I believe in separation for the sake of true unity (see my article Theology v. Unity: Some Thoughts on Unity). In that sense, I hold to historic Fundamentalism. However, I am not a “Fundamentalist.” In other words, I simply do not want to bear that name. I feel that it has been too damaged by criticisms and so called Fundamentalists who are not the type with whom I want to be associated (see my article “Labels: I’m a [Insert Label Here]”). However, I am sympathetic towards the part of Fundamentalism that is sound, as opposed to off the deep end. I have an extreme amount in common with this true Fundamentalism. My criticisms are, therefore, well intended and have the goal of edification.
See all “What Fundamentalism Must Do to Survive” posts
The idea of militancy I am speaking of emerged during the controversies over theological liberalism in the 1930s. There were/are three stances on this liberalism. First, there were those who were liberals (those attempting to change Christianity so that is could “survive” modernism). Second, there were moderates–individuals who held to proper doctrine themselves, but were somewhat receptive of liberals. “Militant” is a word used to describe the third stance–those who held to proper doctrine and also fought the false views of liberalism. They were intolerant of liberalism’s existence in the same organizations of which they were apart. Therefore, they separated from the liberal infested organizations and denominations.
* Originally posted on former blog, I’m Calling Us Out.