In my mind Historic Fundamentalism as a movement was a good thing. Sure, there were probably excesses. Human are normally people who go to extremes in almost everything they do. The goal and the purpose seems to have been honorable, however.
What went wrong?
Why is fundamentalism now distrusted and maligned?
Why is “fundamentalist” synonymous with “extremist”?
One of the issues is the fact that separation became an issue. Some decided that they would rather not separate from error, but dialogue with those in error in an attempt to win them over. Personally, I don’t think this has as much to do with the demise of fundamentalism as a movement as the following issues do.
Fundamentalists began to retreat from culture. Instead of engaging and transforming culture, fundamentalists began to isolate themselves. They did so to such an extreme that Carl F. H. Henry wrote a book entitled “The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism”. His contention was that the fundamentalists’ understanding of the Scriptures should have led them to social activism in a redemptive context. They failed in that respect.
In their retreat from culture and their separation from those in error fundamentalists began to separate from one another over various non-fundamental issues (dress, hair, Bible translations, music, etc.). They committed a sort of intellectual and spiritual incest by creating their own institutions of learning and actively resisted learning from evangelicals or anyone else, choosing to recycle their students by bringing them into their faculty. (This is a generalization, but it is an observation from this writer’s experience.) This led to further isolationism, a clannish spirit within fundamentalism, as well as a growing anti-intellectualism.
Here we are today with fundamentalists struggling to find their identity. They wonder what a fundamentalist is. What does he believe? And, should we even care?
It is this preacher’s contention that it does matter, and that we should care.
It is for this reason that we have this blog. We long to call people back to the fundamentals of the faith. We long to help those who have been hurt by extremism. We long to point out error for the sake of helping those who are in error.
We have been down the extremist route, but we are Fundamentally Changed, though we are Fundamentally The Same. We are fundamentalists with a capital “F”. We have not abandoned that. We have abandoned legalism. May we encourage you, dear reader, if you are in legalism, to do the same?
- If You Wish to Speak Against Fundamentalists, Read Fundamentalists (pastoralmusings.com)
- Fundamentalist Hermeneutics (pastoralmusings.com)
- Fundamentalism and Hate (pastoralmusings.com)
- Historic Fundamentalism and Young Earth Creationism (pastoralmusings.com)
- Fundamentalism, Funeral Protests, and Koran Burnings (pastoralmusings.com)