The term "Fundamentalism"is a term that was not coined by Independent Baptists, or even a Baptist! (Now that was a real shock to my Baptist System.) Could the term include WBF, BBF, IBFI, GARB, how many other groups, Falwell’s, Hyle’s, Roberson’s, Bob Jones’s, etc. ?
LEARNING WHAT A FUNDAMENTALIST IS............ August 22, 2006 post.
In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology by Elwell he makes this statement about Fundamentalism:
"A movement that arose in the United States during and immediately after the First World War in order to reaffirm orthodox Protestant Christianity and to defend it militantly against the challenges of liberal theology. "
. "The earliest phase involved articulating what was fundamental to Christianity and initiating an urgent battle to expel the enemies of orthodox Protestantism from the ranks of the churches in the 1920's."
I did not realize that it was the northern Presbyterian Church in 1910 that affirmed five essential doctrines regarded as under attack in the church. These were affirmed again in 1916 and 1923.
Elwell points out that on this same parallel track, "premillenarian Baptists and independents founded the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association in 1919, with William B. Riley as the prime mover." The premillennialists tended to replace the miracles with the resurrection and the second comming of Christ, or even premillenarian doctrine as the fifth fundamental.
In the Baptist Watchman-Examiner, the term was used by Curtis Laws, in the 1920's. Then the Baptist John Roach Staton called his newspaper "The Fundamentalist" in the 20's.
The Presbyterian scholar J. Gresham Machen disliked the word, and only hesitatingly accepted it to describe himself, because he said, "it sounded like a new religion and not the same historical Christianity that the church had always believed." Machen called this new idea in the churches "religious liberalism", but later he followed the more popular fashion of calling it "modernism."
The early 20's fundamentalists felt they could not regarded any one a Christian who denied the traditional formulations of the doctrines of Christianity and who would create modern, naturalistic statements of the doctrines.
It seemed that the issue was not only over the view of the identity of Christianity, but was also over a method of doing theology and a view of history. Fundamentalists believed that the way doctrines were contrived in an earlier time were true and that the modern attempts to reformulate them were bound to be false. This was in the 20's, and it seems that there continues to be this thought to reformulate the way scripture is viewed into the 21st Century. The idea the fundamentals were unchanging. Which still is the idea today, "keep the landmarkes."
Southern Baptists were the stronghold of the fundamentalists in the 20's , and a lot of new independent churches were spreading across the South and Midwest.
During the 30's and 40's new denominations were jumping up in order to carry on the true faith in purity. GARB, the PCA, BPC, and CBAA were formed in the 30's. They desired to represent true Christianity based on the literal interpretation of the Bible. Then here is what happened in these groups and here is where "separation" came into focus. These groups came to believe that in order to keep true Christianity pure, they must "separate" from any association with liberals and modernist views. So Fundamentalism was now bridged "with separation a separatist practice while preserving the fundamentals of the faith."
As I remember, my dad Everette Whisnant went to Wake Forest University, a Southern Baptist School in 1922-1925, and then later the Bible Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He started one of the first fundamental independent Baptist churches in Lynchburg and in Roanoke, (as I am told), but I don’t remember him as a "separatist" fundamentalist.
Elwell pointed out that in the 40-s 60's (the book was in its 4th edition in 1986), that the Fundamentalists and "Evangelicals" were the two camps took on a special meaning. While the Fundamentalists took on the personal morality issues of the day and separated themselves from the rest of society. And the other camp wanted to retain fellowship with the orthodox Protestants . And in the 40's this group called themselves "Evangelicals" Footnote: I used to say we are not Protestants we are Baptist.) Fundamentalists believed they were more "faithful to Bible-believing Christianity" and "more militant against church apostasy." But I can’t remember my dad like that. Bob Barber in Danville, Virginia, was more like that at the Baptist Tabernacle. He was great at fighting the evils of the day. IBF would opposed Billy Graham and would not read "Christianity Today." But as a true Funny they would not agree with each other as to what was truly Christian living.
Then in the 80's and I am sure today, the Fundamentalists, the likes of my friend still, Jerry Falwell, and the late Jack Hyles, and Pat Roberston, Lester Roloff, to name a few. This group of fundamentalists really believe they possess true knowledge of the fundamentals of the faith and that they therefore represent true Christianity based on the authority of a literally interpreted Bible. After all, they have the KJV 1611 Bible. I know Jack Hyles. I was in his church and school, and they certainly believed they were to represent Christianity to the world.
So that is where I got my fundamentalist attitude. Good grief. My father-in-law said "Charles you are not happy unless you are in a fight." I loved fighting something. It was my belief that I had a duty to fight Satan-- we are in a battlefield not a flower bed. You had better believe that the KJV was the very and only Word of God, and you better have Thursday Night Soul Winning Visitation, and you don’t go to movies or smoke Camels and you darn well better have a white shirt and tie on. Amen was in. Oh those Evangelicals just do not have it all together. Oh me. GROW BY LEARNING......
Today, I want to be an agreeable, friendly, pleasant, respectable, well-bred, harmonious, Fundamentalist. Maybe more like the 20's guys. I know I want to be more like my dad. "Oh you have got to be kidding!!!" say my colleagues and friends, and my wife, and father-in-law and my good friend pastor Dewayne Prosser.
While I like the "fundamentalist" tag, maybe we should have a prefix. Like "the pure compassionate-fundamentalist" or ½ Funny & ½ Evangelical. Generally I am pre- in my positions. But I am not pro-active when morality comes into view.
I had an associate pastor who said I had quit preaching. "Why would you say that, brother?" He said, "Charles, you have quit preaching on sin-- like long hair, short skirts, movies, playing cards, etc." A real fundamentalist knows how to leave them, knows how to whip them, knows how to give a good old-fashion, storm-stomping sermon. Lester Roloff, Gerald Fleming, Harold Sightler, and Bob Barber were very good at that. If you can’t come to church and get your shoes shined you haven’t been in church, right?
I have no plans to become a Presbyterians or join Schuller, or Osteen, or start a Covenant Reformed Church, but I would like to .....................
Proof Read and Truth Conscious Charity Whisnant