Test of Fundamentalism

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by DocCas, Jan 6, 2002.

  1. DocCas

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    Siegfried said (in the thread which was closed) <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I hope you will at least concede that there is sufficient question about the "lowered robes" that it ought not be a test of fundamentalism. Our extended arguing over it is so typical of fundamentalism's majoring on the minors.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I suspect you may be laboring under a misconception. I do not make "dress standards" a test of fundamentalism. I don't make a literal understanding of 1 Timothy 2:9 a test of fundamentalism. I don't make it a test of fellowship, nor do I make it a test of spirituality. I have never said I make such a test. I have merely stated my understanding of the verse in question. I also, when this thread started, made it clear there may well be a contextual reason to believe this only applies to the church assembled. Please don't try to make me say something I did not say, nor paint me into a corner where I do not belong. I was discussing a verse which I believe teaches something about how Christian ladies ought to dress in the local assembly. It saddens me to see one extreme say they can do any thing they please, and the other extreme say a certain standard must be inforced in the lives of all those in attendence. The first extreme is antinomionism and the second is phariseeism. [​IMG]

    [ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  2. rlvaughn

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    One problem in the area of discussing fundamentalism is that it is often divorced from its historical origin. Fundamentalism has been redefined, and often the definition is whatever the persons defining it believe. The following quotes give similar accounts of the origin of fundamentalism. These are from secular sources. I will post quotes from religious sources later. The first quote is from a lecture of fundamentalism by Professor Terry Matthews of Wake Forest University: <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The term "fundamentalism" came into existence at the Niagara Falls Bible Conference which was convened in an effort to define those things that were fundamental to belief. The term was also used to describe "The Fundamentals," a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 by Milton and Lyman Steward. These two wealthy brothers were concerned with the moral and spiritual decline they believed was infecting Protestantism, and sought to restore the historic faith with a 12 volume call to arms that dealt with five subjects that latter became known as the five fundamentals of the faith: (1) Literal inerrancy of the autographs (the originals of each scriptural book); (2) the virgin birth and deity of Christ; (3) the substitutionary view of the atonement; (4) the bodily resurrection of Christ; (5) The imminent return of Christ. These twelve volumes were sent to "every pastor, evangelist, missionary, theological student, Sunday School Superintendent, YMCA and YWCA secretary." In all, some 3 million copies were mailed out.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>This next quote is from the religious movements page of the University of Virginia: <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Origin of the Concept: The term 'fundamentalism' has its origin in a series of pamphlets published between 1910 and 1915. Entitled "The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth," these booklets were authored by leading evangelical churchmen and were circulated free of charge among clergymen and seminarians. By and large, fundamentalism was a response to the loss of influence traditional revivalism experienced in America during the early years of the twentieth century. This loss of influence, coupled with the liberalizing trends of German biblical criticism and the encroachment of Darwinian theories about the origin of the universe, prompted a response by conservative churchmen. The result was the pamphlets. In 1920, a journalist and Baptist layman named Curtis Lee Laws appropriated the term 'fundamentalist' as a designation for those who were ready "to do battle royal for the Fundamentals."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Beyond the failure to define fundamentalism based on its historical origins, there are a few other problems encountered when trying to discuss it.
    1. Some believe that all of their "standards" define what is fundamentalism.
    2. Some believe that anyone who has "standards" is using that to define fundamentalism.
    3. Some people just won't listen to anyone else!

    What should the test of fundamentalism be? I believe it should be adherence to the fundamentals of the faith. That is fundamentalism. BUT if all one believes are the fundamentals, that person is sadly lacking in the whole counsel of God. One could believe the fundamentals of the faith and not be a Baptist.
     
  3. Siegfried

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rlvaughn:
    What should the test of fundamentalism be? I believe it should be adherence to the fundamentals of the faith. That is fundamentalism. BUT if all one believes are the fundamentals, that person is sadly lacking in the whole counsel of God. One could believe the fundamentals of the faith and not be a Baptist.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    True. On the other hand, many who call themselves Baptists aren't fundamentalists (or even true Baptists, for that matter).

    Here's a question. When did contending for the faith (separation) become a test. I've heard it as a test of fundamentalism quite often, but when did it come into play?


    Thomas,
    I never intended to suggest that you made dress standards a test of fundamentalism. Ernie did call them a characteristic of true fundamentalists, and you seemed to agree with him on the interpretation of the text.

    I stated that I hoped you would agree that they were not a test, and I certainly appreciate your response that they are not.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Siegfried:
    When did contending for the faith (separation) become a test. I've heard it as a test of fundamentalism quite often, but when did it come into play?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This was one of the issues that the New Evangelicals left fundamentalism over. The fundamentalists were too separatistic for their tastes. Hence, the answer to your question is "separatism has always been a distinctive of fundamentalism."
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    A great many denominations, churches and believers today could say they adhere to the "Fundamentals of the Faith" as defined 100 years ago.

    Inspiration
    Deity of Christ
    Substitutionary Atonement
    Literal Resurrection/Ascension
    Imminent Return of Christ

    What makes such believers in the "fundamentals" a part of the Evangelical or New Evangelical is a subtle change in attitude:

    New Evangelical will attest to inspiration, but is willing to "rethink" it, and dialog with liberals who deny it.

    Historic Fundamentalists will hold tenaciously to the doctrine and separate from those not holding it.

    "Separation" was an integral part of Fundamentalism in attitude and action. It was never a "fundamental" itself. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>The Fundamentalist's battle is with the Liberals of Jude 4, creeping in with false doctrine. They are easy to see.

    But we cannot trust a New Evangelical as an ally, since we really do not know where, when pressed, they will stand.
     
  6. Siegfried

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:


    This was one of the issues that the New Evangelicals left fundamentalism over. The fundamentalists were too separatistic for their tastes. Hence, the answer to your question is "separatism has always been a distinctive of fundamentalism."
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That makes sense. It seems that the departure of the New Evangelicals created a new and sticky question for fundamentalists--do we now have to separate from the NE's, too? They believed the answer was yes.

    Now, when did "standards" become a test of fundamentalism to so many? In the last 30 years, I'm guessing? Was KJVO as a mark of true fundamentalism the first issue that was subjected to this revisionist history?
     
  7. Siegfried

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
    The Fundamentalist's battle is with the Liberals of Jude 4, creeping in with false doctrine. They are easy to see.

    But we cannot trust a New Evangelical as an ally, since we really do not know where, when pressed, they will stand.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Dr. Bob,

    I like the way you put that. It just gets messy when people in the NE camp compromise truth by diluting their message. At that point I don't think they're a nickel's difference from the liberals, so simply saying we can't trust them as an ally is a little too generous.
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    I'm not known for understatement OR kindness, so I will take your remarks, Siegfried, as a compliment. [​IMG]
     
  9. TomVols

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    Pastor Larry wrote: <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>separatism has always been a distinctive of fundamentalism <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Okay. But how are we defining "seperatism"? For instance, many would argue that Southern Baptists are not seperatists since we join together for mission work, etc. But we are seperate in the sense that our churches are autonomous. I'd be curious as to the varying definitions here.
     
  10. Bob Alkire

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    Brother TomVol, In my eyes(for what that is worth) SBC which is to the right are conservative, they are not in the fundamentalist camp. Look at the school they support and have been known to support. Keep in mind that when the conservative camp had control in the 40's to 50's they hired liberal teachers, they wanted to bring all in,then they lost control and were upset because the liberal camp was pushing them out.History; liberals are not know for starting schools are such but they are known for takeing them over.

    [ January 10, 2002: Message edited by: Bob Alkire ]
     
  11. ChristAlone

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    I know of IFB churches that are affiliated with 4 "independent" baptist "fellowship"s! :rolleyes:

    Churches only affiliated with the SBC are true "separatists" compared to these IFB churches :confused:

    [ January 10, 2002: Message edited by: ChristAlone ]
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    As far as the SBC and separatism, one of the issues is that the SBC has maintained in past years a very wide range of people across the doctrinal/theological spectrum. Witness, for example, the recent split of the liberals out of the convention. The reality is that they should have been driven out long ago rather than coddled and appeased. There are also those in the SBC who have no problem identifying with and participating in ecumenical efforts. Thus the SBC cannot be considered separatistic though there might be individual churches who are. Of course, this does not impugn all Southern Baptists.

    As for Christalone's comments, the issue of separatism is not "how many" groups one might be affiliated with. The issue is "what are the groups" that one is affiliated with. What do they believe? Where do they stand in regards to teh doctrine of separation? The SBC in the last 30-50 years has not made a good track record in this regard. Nor have all IFB associations.

    [ January 10, 2002: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  13. rlvaughn

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  14. Siegfried

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    Thanks for the link. I've been on that website once or twice, but missed that article.

    I agree with Cloud (and that doesn't happen often) that militancy has always been an inherent characteristic of the movement. That is what "separates" it from evangelicalism, or more accurately, what caused evangelicalism to separate itself from the fundamentalists. How ironic. :D

    It seems that the argument today is what exactly are the issues that a fundamentalist is militant about. I tend to agree that there are more than just the 5, but I don't know the history well enough to comment much. Certainly many today are militant about much more than fundamentalists were 40-80 years ago.

    I'm not sure I could completely agree with the G. Archer Weniger statement on a couple points. First, he seems to suggest that Baptists have always been the majority of fundamentalists, and I don't think that's true. Second, it doesn't make sense that a militantly separatist movement would only list 5 fundamentals in order to attract broader support.

    Maybe someone with more knowledge of the history could comment.
     
  15. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Siegfried:
    It seems that the argument today is what exactly are the issues that a fundamentalist is militant about. I tend to agree that there are more than just the 5, but I don't know the history well enough to comment much.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is certainly true. "Five fundamentals" is certianly minimalist, especially in dealing with a coherent theology where all doctrines relate to each other to some degree.

    There were a number of issues in the early division between fundamentalists and liberals. Obviously, Scripture, God and Christ were among them. Early on, biblical creationism was a major issue. In the 20s you had the Scopes trial, the WCFA (World's Christian Fundamentals Association) and some other groups. It seems, if I remember my history correctly, that creation/evolution was a big issue that united many and then died out in the 30s. One issue that was an issue and has been greatly undervalued as an issue today is that of the church.
     
  16. swaimj

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    Yes, Pastor Larry. In the early history of fundamentalism, the argument was over the trust-worthiness of the Bible because teachers rose up in the denominations who said the Bible was full of errors. The five fundamentals cited all deal with the validity of supernaturalism. Back then, the seperation between those who trusted the Bible and those who did not was made. Today, in fundamentalism, Bible-deniers do not exist. So, since everyone in fundamentalism agrees on the Bible (broadly), the issues within the movement are now more focused. The primary issue today is the church. What is it? How should it function? The fight is different today and there is room for differing opinions on the topic of the church; room that could not be granted when the issue was the trustworthiness of the Bible. Given the issue, fundamentalism should be less contentious and more charitable to those within it than it was in the past.

    [ January 25, 2002: Message edited by: swaimj ]
     
  17. Siegfried

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    What about the church? Regenerate membership?
    Independence from denominational control?

    I'm assuming individual church polity isn't the issue, since there was so much diversity within fundamentalism at the beginning.
     
  18. Squire Robertsson

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Siegfried:
    What about the church? Regenerate membership?
    Independence from denominational control?

    I'm assuming individual church polity isn't the issue, since there was so much diversity within fundamentalism at the beginning.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    What you have mentioned are not covered by the Fundamentals. In the early years, there were many Fundamental Presbyterians and Methodists. (there aren't that many today but they are still here. in San Francisco, there is First Orthodox Presbyterian.) Men like Machen, McIntrye (sp?), Bob Jones Sr., Bob Schuller, et al were part of the movement.
    Hoping to shed more light than heat,
    Keith
     
  19. Siegfried

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    Squire,

    I completely agree with you. In fact, one of the points I raised against the Cloud article is his quotation from Weniger about Baptists being in the majority, which is a more recent development to my understanding.

    Pastor Larry wrote:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>One issue that was an issue and has been greatly undervalued as an issue today is that of the church.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I agree with both Pastor Larry and Swaimj that there are issues related to the church that need to be discussed more frankly with charity. I don't know in what way those issues relate to how the church was an issue in early fundamentalism.

    Is it that early fundamentalists were able to get along despite differences in polity, so we ought to be able to live with some diversity, as well? For instance, John MacArthur gets ripped by Baptists for advocating and implementing elder rule. It seems to me that those Baptists are out of step with early 20th century Baptists who cooperated quite nicely with Presbyterians.

    That may not be what you're referring to, Pastor Larry, but I got going on my soap box and couldn't stop. :D
     
  20. rlvaughn

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    In my opinion the "five fundamentals" were the basic "definition" of fundamentalism. The reason was that they were in a battle over these issues, and, yes, there were fundamentalists in different denominations fighting modernists in their denominations and agreement in these issues had a tendency to bring some harmony across denominational lines.
     

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