Even those who do not like the name “fundamentalist” cannot escape the reality of these roots.
For myself, the name “fundamentalist” really means little to nothing. At the same time, I don’t mind the name even though I reject many things about the old fundamentalist movement, which will be clear in these studies. When I call myself a “fundamental” Baptist, I am referring especially to the characteristics of strong contention for the faith (fighting) and separation. This is what distinguished independent Baptists of a bygone day with denominational Baptists.
(We would note that there is a difference between “interdenominational” and “non-denominational.” Interdenominational refers to associations between those who are of different denominational stances (e.g., Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Brethren, Holiness). Non-denominational refers to those who do not have a denominational name, such as the Bible churches.
Fundamentalism was a theological war that pitted Bible believers against modernists, but it was much more than that. It was a spiritual revival. There was a great stirring that produced an emphasis on the infallible inspiration and life-changing power of Scripture, the complete fallenness and lostness of mankind, Christ alone as Lord and Saviour and salvation only through Him, the necessity of Christ’s vicarious blood atonement, the new birth through repentance and saving faith, the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy with the focus on the imminent return of Christ, separated, pilgrim Christian living, and single-minded zeal in the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission.
The fundamentalist movement was interdenominational, but there was a strong and unique Baptist side to it that eventually went its own way as the fundamental Baptist (independent Baptist) movement. In fact, by the 1970s, Fundamentalism had largely been subsumed into fundamental Baptists. There were a few fundamentalist Presbyterians, Methodists, and Bible churches left, but the vast bulk of churches that had fundamentalist character were fundamental Baptist. Even the remaining fundamentalist institutions that began as non-denominational, or interdenominational, such as Bob Jones University (founded by a Methodist evangelist), had gravitated largely to fundamental Baptists.
“[Fundamentalism was initially] a broad coalition (conservative Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, etc.), but by the 1960s, ‘predominantly Baptist separatists’” (“The Fundamentals vs. ‘fundamentalism,’” BIOLA magazine, Summer 2014, citing George Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism).
Today, most denominational Baptist churches are deeply compromised, if not apostate, and most of the old non-Baptist fundamentalists are in the same condition. The old-line non-Baptist fundamentalists of the 1940s have morphed into the evangelicalism of today. They have gone the way of New Evangelicalism, compromise with theological liberalism, and conformity to the world.
Evangelicalism today is permeated with heresies such as limited inspiration, theistic evolution, ecumenism, neo-orthodoxy, universalism, annihilationism, Unitarianism, contemplative prayer, homosexual Christianity, psychobabble, charismatic mysticism, and textual criticism.
Many books have documented this sad state of affairs, such as The Battle for the Bible and The Bible in Balance by Harold Lindsell, New Neutralism II: Exposing the Gray of Compromise by John Ashbrook, The Tragedy of Compromise by Ernest Pickering, Evangelicalism Divided by Iain Murray, The Great Evangelical Disaster by Francis Schaeffer, No Place for the Truth by David Wells, and The Coming Evangelical Crisis edited by John Armstrong. We have summarized this documentation in New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit, available as a free eBook from www.wayoflife.org. It has review questions and is designed to be used as a training course for churches, homes, and schools.
Fundamental Baptists are what is left of the old Fundamentalism, for the most part, and they, too, are collapsing and sliding down the slippery slope of apostasy, as we document in this book. (We aren’t saying that fundamental Baptists originated with the fundamentalist movement; we are simply saying that fundamental Baptists are all that is left of the fundamentalist movement.)
If we will know our heritage, and analyze it biblically as God instructs us to do, and hold to the old paths of God’s Word, we can avoid errors that were made in the past so that we can have victory in the present. That is a major purpose of this book.
Some highlights of the history of interdenominational Fundamentalism are as follows:
- Birthed in the Midst of End-Time Apostasy
- An Infallible Bible
- Zeal for God’s Word
- Bible Conferences
- Bible Preaching
- Bible Prophecy
- Understanding End-time Apostasy
- Holy Christian Living
- Evangelistic/Missionary Zeal
- Bible Institutes
- Bible Study
- Hymn Singing
- The Fundamentals
- Keswick Holiness
- Dwight L. Moody
- R.A. Torrey
- Harry Ironside
- Brethren Writings
- Wheaton College
- World’s Christian Fundamentals Association (WCFA)
- Fundamentalist Presbyterians
- Interdenominational Youth Ministries
- Charles Fuller and the Old Fashioned Revival Hour
- Bob Jones University
- Monroe Parker
- Dallas Theological Seminary
- Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA)
- Grace Brethren Churches
- Fundamental Evangelistic Association
- Ohio Bible Fellowship
- Fundamentalism Captured by New Evangelicalism
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