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fundamentalist distinctives 2

Wikipedia has a better article and a better list of distinctives at the article Fundamentalist Christianity, and notes the intertwined history of Baptists and Presbyterians in the history of twentieth-century fundamentalism. The list of distinctives is a bit different, and notes the fracture of fundamentalism as a cultural force into various streams across different denominations. Here’s the list of distinctives as best I can make them out:

  • Inerrancy of the Scriptures
  • Historicity of the Virgin Birth of Jesus
  • Deity of Jesus Christ
  • Doctrine of substitutionary atonement by God’s grace through human faith
  • Historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus
  • Authenticity of miracles attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, including healing, deliverance, and second coming
  • Rejection of the documentary hypothesis (the composite authorship of e.g. the Pentateuch)
  • Separatism
  • Dispensationalism
  • Separatism on the basis of doctrinal purity
  • Rejection of ecumenical efforts (including ecumenical political efforts)

The article describes a basic fundamentalist movement across various denominations as a reaction to higher criticism that then broke up more or less along denominational lines, into the following groups:

  • Neo-evangelicalism
  • Reformed confessionalism
  • Lutheran confessionalism
  • The Heritage movement
  • Paleo-orthodoxy
  • etc.

And notes (correctly) that Billy Graham and Harold Ockenga precipitated the fundamentalist-evangelical breakup.

After that the article gets a little strange; after having noted that fundamentalists shun ecumenical cooperation on many issues including political issues, it then tries to graft the Christian Right onto this basic root of fundamentalism. I think I would argue that this is not as true as it is presented to be in the article, but that Jerry Falwell left his fundamentalist roots when he started/joined the Christian Right, and while today many fundamentalists take their voting cues from Christian Right leaders, evangelicals are distinguished from fundamentalists by their level of political engagement, fascination with cultural and political issues, etc.

This is the first article I’ve seen that draws a straight line between the sort of Baptist (and Presbyterian) fundamentalism I’m accustomed to and the Reformed/Lutheran confessional movements and suggests a common source in a reaction to higher criticism. It explains a number of things, including why so much of the rhetoric I hear from more modern Reformed/Lutheran types (Michael Horton, Todd Wilken, R. C. Sproul, etc.) sound so familiar from my time in fundamentalism; all three or four groups are still to some degree fighting the same century-old battle against Modernism.

It may also explain why they all have such low opinions of evangelicals.

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