Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Is Fundamentalism?

Posted by Christine Pack

For a while, we used the quip "Putting the 'fun' back into 'fundamental'" as our tagline here on the Sola Sisters blog. But my sister finally convinced me to take it off because, as she rightly pointed out, the term "fundamental" is now so loaded with baggage as to no longer be useful. So I thought a short little post on what fundamentalism actually is, as opposed to what it has become, might be helpful.

 The Roots of the Fundamentalist Movement 

The Fundamentalist movement was a conservative Christian movement that formed in the early part of the 20th century in response to the flood of liberal heresies which were flowing virtually unchecked into our churches. This movement formed specifically for the purpose of creating a document reaffirming and defending key Christian doctrines that were under direct assault from the proponents and teachings of Modernism. Modernism had gained ground in - where else - academia, and was opposed to the idea of a personal, sovereign Creator God to whom mankind was beholden.  Science and reason - as opposed to God - were rapidly coming to be viewed as mankind's ultimate authority. It follows then, with science and reason being king, that a natural by-product of this movement was for the supernatural realm to come to be regarded with deep suspicion and skepticism.  Thus, miracles and the like came to be viewed as highly improbable if not outright impossible by this movement.  With its denial of the supernatural, the Modernist movement was literally ripping Western culture and Christianity apart. After all, the historic orthodox Christian faith is based upon an understanding that there is a transcendent, sovereign Creator God who has the ability to supernaturally intervene into the world He has created through:
  • A supernatural birth (Jesus), 
  • The supernatural creation and protection of his communication with us (the Bible), and
  • Supernatural events (miracles, resurrection from the dead, etc.) given for the purpose of demonstrating God's power and validating his message to us
Conservative Christians understood that ceding ground on these issues would result in a church that was at odds with the clear teaching of Scripture. And so the leaders of the Fundamentalist movement wrote an extensive series of articles that were eventually hammered out into a single document that clearly and concisely laid out the key doctrines that were most under assault at that time from liberalism. (Benjamin B. Warfield was one of the better known theologians involved in the movement.) These key doctrines came to define the Fundamentalist movement, and are so fundamental to the Christian faith that lack of belief in even one of these doctrines is considered to be heresy.

 The Fundamentals 

I'm putting these doctrines forth because I keep having conversations with people who have no idea whatsoever that there are even essential beliefs a Christian must hold to in order to be considered orthodox. The reason for such spiritual illiteracy is undoubtedly the result of an entire church generation having been doctrinally dumbed-down from having been fed an unending diet of ear-tickling, self-help messages.  So here are the core beliefs of Christianity, just in case your church has neglected its God-ordained responsibility to teach:
The Five Essential Beliefs of the Christian Faith 
1. The Deity of Jesus Christ
2. The Virgin Birth
3. The Blood Atonement
4. The Bodily Resurrection 
5. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures
Not many words are used in comprising the above list of the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but many challenging concepts are contained therein, are they not? In fact, all true born-again believers have had to wrestle through the hard truths contained in these 19 words, not to mention their implications. If you have never seen this list before, I invite you to dwell on it and its truths, and make sure that you are in wholehearted agreement with them. And if you are not, then, by all means, let the wrestling begin. Your eternity depends upon it.

 Additional Resources 

A Beginner's Guide to Modernism and Postmodernism

The Fundamentals: A Testimony To the Truth

Rick Warren's View of The Five Fundamentals of the Faith