Definition and Meaning of "Fundamentalism"

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by Rhetorician, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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  2. Tom Butler

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    Excellent article. Thanks for the link.
     
  3. Jim1999

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    The term "fundamentalist" has changed over the years. In the early years anyone who believed the Bible to be the word of God was a fundamentalist. There were only two labels then, "fundamentalist or modernist". The labels were often applied by associations rather than actual beliefs. So, my liberal friends called me a fundamentalist, and my fundamental friends called me a liberal. I still prefer the label "Jim" to-day.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. swaimj

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    Fundamentalists have two problems:

    What does the word "fundamentalist" mean to the world? It seems, as the article you have linked points out, that the common meaning of the word is not something that Christians should want to be associated with, that is violence and extremism.

    The second problem is the definition of fundamentalism among fundamentalists. In his speech from several years ago, A Fundamentalism Worth Saving, Kevin Bauder pointed out that there has never been a satisfactory, universally agreed upon definiton of "separation" within fundamentalism. All fundamentalists agree that separation is the crux of fundamentalism and is the distinctive that sets them apart from "evangelicals". Yet, I have never read any leader of fundamentalism who has disagreed publicly with Bauder or who has attempted to set forth a workable definition of separation. No one. The sound of crickets chirping is all I have heard. So, we have a movement whose distictive is separation, but no one within the group can define to the satisfaction of other members what it means. That IS a problem.
     
  5. ReformedBaptist

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    Great article. I love it. I was a communication major and I love to see attention brought to words and their meanings. I'm nerdy that way.

    The last sentence states

    What term would be used? Does "Bible-believer" do it for our day?
     
  6. Bob Alkire

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    Look at the problem this has caused over the years between good folks. Folks like John R. Rice, W. A, Criswell, Lehman Strauss, J. Vernon McGee, Bob Jones,sr. & Bob Jones, Jr. and Jerry Falwell didn't always agree on the subject.
     
  7. John of Japan

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    As long as you mentioned him :smilewinkgrin:, here is John R. Rice's definition of fundamentalism: "So as we define fundamentalism it means a vigorous defense of the faith, active soul winning, great New Testament-type local churches going abroad to win multitudes, having fervent love for all of God's people and earnestly avoiding compromise in doctrie or yoking up with unbelievers" (I Am a Fundamentalist, p. 10).
     
  8. Bob Alkire

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    John, I've read that before and agree with your grandfather ( have many of his books). But I've seen how one views separation, has caused much trouble in the fundamentalist camp. One camp has said the other camp isn't a fundamentalist because of secondary separation and so on. I believe swaimj was correct on this point causing much trouble and division
    within the fundamentalist camp.

    I still claim to be a fundamentalist due to my study and the men I named in the other post, who all claimed to be fundamentalist as far as I know. Some say Criswell and Strauss did and others say they didn't while other say they were and others say they weren't.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    I see discussion about separation as having two possible results: division and trouble as per swaimj, or growth and the ability to take the right stand against heresy. It's up to each of us to take the right path. And I believe we shouldn't attack other fundamentalists for their stand if it is different from ours, as long as they are standing against liberalism and other heresies. As the Word says, "Who are thou that judgest another man's servant?" (Rom. 14:4).
    I don't know much about Strauss, but I credit Criswell with being a driving force within the SBC back towards a position of separation from liberalism. I think my grandfather would have called him a fundamentalist.

    Criswell met JRR when he was 12 or so, saw his Baylor U. belt buckle and told him he was going to go to Baylor too, and get one of those! I believe Criswell gave JRR at least some of the human credit for his call to preach based on that meeting in which JRR preached. I know that they were friends until Granddad died in 1980. :type:
     
  10. ReformedBaptist

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    What term would/should/could be used? Does "Bible-believer" do it for our day?
     
  11. Tom Bryant

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    There would be alot of people who would be called a Bible believer who would break out in hives if they thought it was another word for fundamentalist.

    Chuck Swindoll is a Bible believer, but he's not a fundamentalist using the definition of Dr. Rice.

    I heard Dr. Criswell quote your grandfather. And you are right, Dr. Criswell was a driving force in moving the SBC back from liberalism.
     
  12. ReformedBaptist

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    So, we don't have an alternative then? or any idea?
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Good point. Our problem is, historically it is very hard to change the label of a movement during that movement's history. The label may fade away as the movement develops (what evangelical uses the term "New Evangelical" anymore?), but new labels usually come with new movements. Now if a new, dramatic, exciting movement develops within fundamentalism, using a new label, then we'll have a change, IMO.

    As for Swindoll, his roots are in Dallas TS, as I understand it. I've not studied it out historically, but I know that back in the '60s there were strong fundamentalists at DTS. Robert Lightner's 1965 book, Neo-Evangelicalism, was one of if not the best on the theology of the New Evangelicals (and why it was wrong). However, Dallas changed a good bit in the '70's, Swindoll's time.
     
  14. Tom Bryant

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    Personally, I use the term "fundamentalist" to describe myself. Just because it has gotten bad press and used to refer to all manner of wing nuts, I am not going to give it up. When I use it among our people and define it in much the same manner as Dr. Rice did, our people agree they too are fundamentalists.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    I'm with you on that. I'm not going to give up the term simply because the secular press has distorted it or some Christians don't like it.

    Fortunately, here in Japan the term the press uses for Islamic fundamentalism (genrishugi) is different from the term we Christian fundamentalists use for ourselves (konponshugi). So on Tuesday, when we have our biannual Hokkaido Baptist Pastors' Fellowship (nicknamed HuFPuF), no one will much notice! But we'll have a good time with about a dozen missionaries and national pastors. A Japanese missionary to Africa will preach to us.
     
  16. Jim1999

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    the group I belong to is called The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada and was formed in 1953. It was formed by fundamental baptist churches primarily in Ontario out of fellowship with Jarvis St Baptist Church and independent churches which came out of the liberal Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec.

    We were not ashamed of the term fundamentalist back then, but evangelical was not a tainted term either.

    We stood the ground against liberalism. I call my self an evangelical, but anyone who knows me doesn't question what I believe regarding the person of Christ, the gospel and the word of God. That, to me, is more important than any name one may give me.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  17. Dan V.

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    What is fundamentalism? Let's discuss it over a beer and a good cigar!

    Dan V.
     
  18. Carico

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    Jesus was as much a fundamentalist as Mohammed was. ;) Jesus took all of his words very seriously and meant every one of them. So we fundamentalist Christians are in excellent company. :thumbs: Unfortunately, islamic fundamentalists couldn't be in worse company.
     
  19. Dan V.

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    All in good fun. For the past 150 years or so, fundamentalism pretty much entails allowing what God prohibits (government education for our covenant children), and prohibiting what God has allowed (a glass of wine).:thumbs:

    Dan V.
     
  20. Carico

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    There's a huge difference between fundamentalism and legalism. ;)
     

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