Fundamentalist Christianity

Fundamentalist Christianity

Fundamentalist Christianity, also known as Christian Fundamentalism or Fundamentalist Evangelicalism, is a movement that arose mainly within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among conservative evangelical Christians, who, in a reaction to modernism, actively affirmed a fundamental set of Christian beliefs: the inerrancy of the Bible, Sola Scriptura, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent personal return of Jesus Christ. Some who hold these beliefs reject the label of "fundamentalism," seeing it as a pejorative term for historic Christian doctrine [ Robbins, Dale A., "What is a Fundamentalist Christian?" Grass Valley, CA: Victorious Publications, 1995. Available online: ] while to others it has become a banner of pride. [ Horton, Ron, "BJU Statement of Christian Education" Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University. Available online: ]

Early history

: "For a more detailed history of fundamentalism's confrontation with modernism within the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, please see the main article, Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy."The contemporary fundamentalist movement has its origins in the 18th century when the First Great Awakening was deeply influencing American religious life. In the same time period the Methodist movement was beginning to renew parts of British Christianity, although this was at first resisted by the majority of the Anglican established church.

Much of this religious fervor was a reaction to Enlightenment thinking and the deistic writings of many of the western philosophical elites. The chief emphases of the fledgling Methodist movement as well as the Awakening were on individual conversion, personal piety and Bible study, public morality (often including temperance and family values) and abolitionism, a broadened role for lay people and women in worship, evangelism, and cooperation in evangelism across denominational lines, (that is, interdenominationally).

Key figures included John Wesley, Anglican priest and originator of the Methodist movement; Jonathan Edwards, American Puritan preacher/theologian; George Whitefield, Anglican priest and chaplain to Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, founder of many revivalist chapels and promoter of associated causes; Robert Raikes, who established the first Sunday school to prevent children in the slums entering a life of crime; popular hymn writer Charles Wesley, and American Methodist bishop, Francis Asbury.

There was no single founder of fundamentalism. Americans Dwight L. Moody (1837 – 1899), Arthur Tappan Pierson and British preacher and father of dispensationalism John Nelson Darby (1800 – 1882), among others, propounded ideas and themes carried into fundamentalist Christianity.

The term fundamentalist, in the context of this article, derives from a series of (originally) twelve volumes entitled "". Among this publication's 94 essays, 27 of them objected to higher criticism of the Bible, by far the largest number addressing any one topic. The essays were written by 64 British and American conservative Protestant theologians between 1910 and 1915. Using a $250,000 grant from Lyman Stewart, the head of the Union Oil Company of California, about three million sets of these books were distributed to English-speaking Protestant church workers throughout the world.

Important early Christian fundamentalists included Baptist pastor William Bell Riley, the founder and president of the World Christian Fundamentals Association, who was instrumental in calling lawyer and three-time Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan to act as that organization's counsel in the famous Scopes Trial. Moody Bible Institute had mainstream appeal, through its presidents R.A. Torrey and James M. Gray. The views of theologian Cyrus I. Scofield represented fundamentalism's antagonism to figurative interpretation, especially as it was used by fundamentalism's liberal opponents to deny basic elements of the Christian faith, such as the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ, and it was through his "Scofield Reference Bible" that dispensationalism gradually gained strong adherence among fundamentalists.

The rise of dispensationalism is an important development distinct from the roots of fundamentalism. In particular, dispensationalism played no part in the "Old-time religion," typified by the southernSpecify|date=June 2008 Methodist revivalism of Samuel Porter Jones, a predecessor of Bob Jones, Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, who later adopted dispensationalism. B. B. Warfield and J. Gresham Machen were key players in the fundamentalism-modernist controversy but wrote against dispensationalism from the standpoint of the Princeton theology, which many regard as the intellectual roots of the movement before it came under the influence of dispensationalism.

As the movement developed, premillennialism, dispensationalism, and separatism began to overwhelmingly characterize the most popular leaders, which also had an effect on the way that evangelicals as a whole were perceived by outside observers. Dispensationalism's literal approach to the Scriptures was increasingly seen as a main protection against the gradual degradation to theological modernism.

Original Distinctives


The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897) and, in 1910, to the "General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church" which distilled these into what became known as the "five fundamentals": [ [ Origin] of "five fundamentals" documented at Presbyterian conference of 1910]

* Inerrancy of the Scriptures
* The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14)
* The doctrine of substitutionary atonement by God's grace and through human faith (Hebrews 9)
* The bodily resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28)
* The authenticity of Christ's miracles (or, alternatively, his pre-millennial second coming) [ (Matthew 8 - healing, Matthew 12 - deliverance, Luke 21 - second coming)

[ Alternative interpretations] of "five fundamentals" in online history by First Presbyterian Church of New York City]

In particular, fundamentalists reject the documentary hypothesis—the theory held by higher biblical criticism that the Pentateuch was composed and shaped by many people over the centuries.Fact|date=May 2008 Fundamentalists assert that Moses was the primary author of the first five books of the Old Testament. Some fundamentalistsww, on the other hand, may be willing to consider alternative authorship only where the Biblical text does not specify an author, though maintaining that books in which the author is identified were written by that person.

The Christian fundamentalist movement evolved during the early-to-mid 1900s to become separatist in nature and more characteristically dispensational in its theology.

Fundamentalists also criticize evangelicals for a lack of concern for doctrinal purity and for a lack of discernment in ecumenical endeavors in working cooperatively with other Christians of differing doctrinal views, even though some fundamentalists had been accused by their critics for doing the same (esp. embracing doctrines such as dispensationalism, "King James Only"-ism, the rapture, Christian Reconstructionism, etc. that critics argue have no biblical basis).


The fundamentalists emphasised the command to "be ye separate" [John Brock, " [ A Pedagogical Discussion Related to Biblical and Durable Behavior in Contemporary Society] ", Maranatha Baptist Bible College. Article discusses these issues.] and adopted a conservative social outlook that avoided many items deemed to be sinful, worldy, or inappropriate for Christians.

While there is some variation in approach, most original fundamentalists would share a majority of the following views:

*dancing is prohibited - seen as associated with immorality and immodesty
*visiting the cinema or theatre is unacceptable - perception is that content is unchristian and lifestyles of performers are immoral. Also, it violates the command to abstain from all appearance of Evil.(1 Thessalonians 5:22)
*modest and traditional dress styles are required - women usually do not wear pants in church, men must not have long hair or wear earrings
*no drinking of alcohol or smoking tobacco - seen as worldly and associated with immorality and as a bad example
*traditional gender roles - male headship, woman's role is to raise children, and teach other women that are younger about the Scriptures - seen as the Biblical model
*no sex outside of heterosexual marriage, opposition to homosexuality - seen as immoral and prohibited by the Bible
*abortion is unacceptable - seen as murder (in some cases, all forms of birth control are opposed)


The original 20th century Fundamentalist Movement broke up along clearly defined lines within conservative Evangelical Protestantism as issues progressed. Many groupings, large and small, were produced by this schism. Neo-evangelicalism, Reformed and Lutheran Confessionalism, the Heritage movement, and Paleo-Orthodoxy have all developed distinct identities, but none of them acknowledge any more than an historical overlap with the Fundamentalist Movement, and the term is seldom used of them.

For example, American evangelist Billy Graham came from a fundamentalist background, but became parted company with the movement because of his choice, early in his ministry (1950s), to cooperate with other Christians. [ [ Bob Jones University Drops Interracial Dating Ban | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction ] ] He represents a movement that arose within fundamentalism, but has increasingly become distinct from it, known as Neo-evangelicalism or New Evangelicalism (a term coined by Harold J. Ockenga, the "Father of New Evangelicalism").

Christian Right (USA)

"Main article: Christian right"

The past half-century has witnessed a surge of Christian fundamentalists toward politics. Some attribute this interest to the decisions by the United States Supreme Court in 1962 to prohibit state-sanctioned prayer in public schools in the case of Engel v. Vitale and in 1963 to prohibit mandatory Bible reading in public schools in the case of Abington School District v. Schempp. By the time Ronald Reagan ran for the presidency in 1980, self-described fundamentalists had become more likely to participate in politics than other Christians were. [Zimmerman, Jonathan. "Why Our Fundamentalists Are Better Than Their Fundamentalists," "The New Republic," 2001. Available online: Accessed 09-13-2007]

Credited with this phenomenon are Rob Grant, Jerry Falwell, and other well-known Fundamentalist clergy, who began urging Christians to become involved in politics in the 1970s. Beginning with Grant's American Christian Cause in 1974, Christian Voice throughout the 1970s and Falwell's Moral Majority in the 1980s, the Christian Right began to have major impact on American politics. By the late 1990s, the Christian Right was influencing elections and policy with groups like Christian Coalition and Family Research Council helping the Republican Party to gain control of the White House, both houses of Congress, and a more conservative Supreme Court by the mid-1990s.

Fundamentalist church groupings

Original movement

* Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International
* Independent Fundamental Churches of America
* Independent Baptist Churches

Modern movement

* Southern Baptist Convention
* Bible Presbyterian Church

List of notable American Fundamentalists

*J. Frank Norris Russell, C. Allyn (1976). ]
*John Roach Straton
*William Bell Riley
*J. C. Massee
*John Gresham Machen
*William Jennings Bryan
*Clarence E. Macartney
*Jack Hyles

See also



* Armstrong, Karen (2001). "The Battle for God." New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0–345–39169–1.
* Beale, David O. (1986) "In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850." Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University (Unusual Publications). ISBN 0-89084-350-3.
* Bebbington, David W. (1990). "Baptists and Fundamentalists in Inter-War Britain." In Keith Robbins, ed. "Protestant Evangelicalism: Britain, Ireland, Germany and America c.1750-c.1950." Studies in Church History subsidia 7, 297–326. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, ISBN 0–631–17818-X.
* Bebbington, David W. (1993). "Martyrs for the Truth: Fundamentalists in Britain." In Diana Wood, ed. "Martyrs and Martyrologies," Studies in Church History Vol. 30, 417–451. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, ISBN 0–631–18868–1.
* Barr, James (1977). "Fundamentalism." London: SCM Press. ISBN 0–334–00503–5.
* Caplan, Lionel (1987). "Studies in Religious Fundamentalism." London: The MacMillan Press, ISBN 0–88706–518-X.
* Carpenter, Joel A. (1999). "Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism." Oxford University Press, ISBN 0–19–512907–5.
* Cole, Stewart Grant (1931) "The History of Fundamentalism", Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press ISBN 0–83–715683–1.
* Elliott, David R. (1993). "Knowing No Borders: Canadian Contributions to Fundamentalism." In George A. Rawlyk and Mark A. Noll, eds. "Amazing Grace: Evangelicalism in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States." Grand Rapids: Baker. 349–374, ISBN 0–77–351214–4.
* Dollar, George W. (1973). "A History of Fundamentalism in America." Greenville: Bob Jones University Press.
* Harris, Harriet A. (1998). "Fundamentalism and Evangelicals." Oxford: Oxford University. ISBN 0–19–826960–9.
* Hart, D. G. (1998). "The Tie that Divides: Presbyterian Ecumenism, Fundamentalism and the History of Twentieth-Century American Protestantism." "Westminster Theological Journal" 60, 85–107.
* Longfield, Bradley J. (1991). "The Presbyterian Controversy." New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0–19–508674–0.
* Marsden, George M. (1995). "Fundamentalism as an American Phenomenon." In D. G. Hart, ed. "Reckoning with the Past," 303–321. Grand Rapids: Baker.
* Marsden; George M. [ (1980)] . "Fundamentalism and American Culture." Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0–19–502758–2.
* Marsden, George M. (1991). "Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism." Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0–8028–0539–6.
* McCune, Rolland D. (1998). " [ The Formation of New Evangelicalism (Part One): Historical and Theological Antecedents] ." "Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal", 3, 3–34.
* McLachlan, Douglas R. (1993). "Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism". Independence, Mo.: American Association of Christian Schools. ISBN 0-918407-02-8.
* Noll, Mark (1992). "A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada.". Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 311–389. ISBN 0–8028–0651–1.
* Packer, J.I., "Fundamentalism and the Word of God." Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8028-1147-7
* Rennie, Ian S. (1994). "Fundamentalism and the Varieties of North Atlantic Evangelicalism." In Mark A. Noll, David W. Bebbington and George A. Rawlyk eds. "Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles and Beyond, 1700–1990." New York: Oxford University Press. 333–364, ISBN 0–19–508362–8.
* Russell, C. Allyn (1976). " [ Voices of American Fundamentalism: Seven Biographical Studies] " (Subscription required). Philadelphia: Westminster Press, ISBN 0–664–20814–2.
* Sandeen, Ernest Robert (1970) "The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800–1930", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0–22–673467–6
* Seat, Leroy (2007). "Fed Up with Fundamentalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Fundamentalism". Liberty, MO: 4-L Publications. ISBN 978-1-59526-859-4
* Utzinger, J. Michael (2006) "Yet Saints Their Watch Are Keeping: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and the Development of Evangelical Ecclesiology, 1887-1937", Macon: Mercer University Press, ISBN 0865549028
* Ward, Keith (2004) "What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists"

External links

* [ Australian Homeschooling Legal Advisory Service] Christian Fundamentalists and Homeschooling
* [ "A. C. Dixon, Chicago Liberals and the Fundamentals" by Gerald L. Priest]
* [ Christian Fundamentalism and the Media] (negative)
* [ Earliest Written Version of The Five Essentials]
* [ Fundamentalism Profile]
* [,1518,448350,00.html My Half-Year of Hell With Christian Fundamentalists] Article in Spiegel Online.
* [ Online version of "The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth"]
* [ The Grace Evangelical Society] Website promoting the doctrine of Faith Alone.
* [ The Christ's Assembly Worldwide] A Conservative, Independent and Unitarian Communion of Saints.

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