Under Construction

According to the dictionary, "Fundamentalism is strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion or ideology."

Islamic Fundamentalism:
Islamic fundamentalism appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries as a reaction to the disintegration of Islamic political and economic power, asserting that Islam is central to both state and society and advocating strict adherence to the Koran ( Qur'an) and to Islamic law ( sharia), supported if need be by jihad or holy war.

Islamic fundamentalism has become associated with those promoting terrorism as a form of jihad.

There are books and whole web sites devoted to this subject. In the future I'll provide links to some of these.

Christian Fundamentalism:
Fundamentalism is a form of Protestant Christianity that upholds belief in the strict and literal interpretation of the Bible, including its narratives, doctrines, prophecies, and moral laws."

I couldn't find good statistics, but it appears that in the U.S. about 15% consider themselves fundamentalists in the North and about 30% in the South.
26-28% consider themselves evangelical.

The distinction between fundamentalist, evangelical, "born again" Christians and the "Christian right" seems to be fuzzy.
According to GreyMatter Research, "Almost half of all Americans don't really know what an "Evangelical Christian" is, and the rest generally can't agree on a definition."
The most common perception is that evangelicals are Christians who place a special emphasis on spreading their faith to other people.

My general impression is that evangelicals is a more inclusive group. "Born agains" the religious right and fundamentalists are more conservative.

"Liberal Theology" arose in Germany in the mid 19th century when the government wanted to encourage religion and make it more palatable with recent discoveries.

Note: Much of the following comes from "The Fundamentalist / Modernist Conflict" at the Presbyterian Church In the City of New York.

The 1890s were also a decade of intellectual upheaval. Between the depression of 1873 and the First World War, many of the time-honored suppositions were being questioned. Darwin's theory of evolution was one of the most prominent new ideas, challenging the authority of the Bible and the presumption of its inerrancy.

The Fundamentalist / Modernist conflict escalated when, in 1891, Charles A. Briggs, a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York gave an address titled "The Authority of the Holy Scriptures.", where he attacked "Traditionalism," later known as Fundamentalism, and espoused an interpretation of the Bible in the light of the "Higher Criticism." The Higher Criticism was a method of investigating facts based on scientific investigation, inductive research, and a relative system of values.

Midwestern Presbyteries in 1891 put pressure on the New York Presbytery to bring a heresy charge against Briggs. Briggs was acquitted of heresy by a 94-39 vote. He was later suspended from the Presbyterian Church. Union separated from the Presbyterian Church over this case and retained Briggs as professor until his death in 1913.

The term "fundamentalism" is associated with "The five fundamentals" adopted at the 1910 Presbyterian General Assembly, that all candidates for ordination had to affirm.
The five Fundamental points are: 1. The inerrancy of the Bible; 2. The virgin birth of Christ; 3. Christ's substitutionary atonement (Christ died for our sins); 4. Christ's bodily resurrection; 5. The authenticity of Christ's miracles.

Other fundamental beliefs were: Sola Scriptura (Scripture is self-authenticating, and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine) and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

A series of (originally) twelve volumes entitled "The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth." is a collection of essays written by 64 British and American conservative Protestant theologians between 1910 and 1915. Using a $250,000 grant from Lyman Stewart, the head of the Union Oil Company of California.

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."

Fundamentalists and Liberals lived in tension in the following years. Presbyteries mostly in the Midwest and West were conservative. Those in the East were more progressive.

Harry Emerson Fosdick was a Union graduate, liberal Baptist minister and pastor at the First Presbyterian Church on West Twelfth Street in New York and then at the historic, interdenominational Riverside Church. In 1922 Fosdick preaches a sermon at the Presbyterian church titled, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?". As he says in his autobiography, "It was a plea for tolerance, for a church inclusive enough to take in both liberals and conservatives without either trying to drive the other out."
Fundamentalists within the Presbyterian Church, led by William Jennings Bryan, called for Fosdick's removal at the General Assembly of 1923.

In 1924, 13 percent of the ministers of the Presbyterian Church signed a document called the Auburn Affirmation. It stated that the Five Fundamentals, which the General Assembly had reaffirmed the previous year, went beyond the facts which the Scripture and the Westminister Confession obligated them.

In 1927 the special commission appointed by the General Assembly, issued its final report, saying that no one, not even the General Assembly, had the right to single out doctrines such as the five points and determine a particular interpretation of them to be "essential and necessary" for all.

In 1929 the General Assembly approved a reorganization of the governing boards of Princeton Theological Seminary. As a result, exclusivist Fundamentalists were no longer in control.

By the late 1930s Swiss theologians Barth and Brunner and the American Reinhold Niebuhr started a new movement variously called 'dialectical theology,' 'neo-Calvinism,' and 'neo-Orthodoxy.'

According to "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind", by Alan Wolfe. The Atlantic Monthly October 2000:
The original 20th century Fundamentalist Movement broke up along very definable lines within conservative Evangelical Protestantism as issues progressed.
Many current Evangelical groups may be described as "fundamentalist" in the broad sense, who do not belong in the "Fundamentalist Movement" in the narrow sense.

In the late nineteenth century a group of Christians (that included several different denominations) with a more literal interpretation of the Bible split off theologically from the rest of Protestantism, which they called "high Protestantism". They considered mainstream denominations (i.e. Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutheran) to be too "cosmopolitan".

Based mainly in the south, they became known as "fundamentalists". However, in the 1930's a group of conservative fundamentalists became tired of the radical fringe that was dictating where fundamentalist theological thought was going (they felt that the radicals were too anti-modern). They split off, and began calling themselves, neo-evangelical Christians, which was later shortened to the current name.

The term Fundamentalist is frequently used in a critical rather than an historical way now.

American evangelist Billy Graham came from a fundamentalist background, but many Christian fundamentalists repudiate him today because of his choice, early in his ministry (1950s), to cooperate with other Christians. He represents a movement that arose within fundamentalism, but has increasingly become distinct from it, known as Neo-evangelicalism or New Evangelicalism (a term coined by Harold J. Ockenga, the "Father of New Evangelicalism").

In "The Christian Right", Grant Wacker of the Duke University Divinity School states:
"At the end of the 1980s, it was commonly assumed that the Christian Right consisted entirely of evangelical Protestants, but many members of the Christian Right were not evangelical Protestants, and many evangelical Protestants were not members of the Christian Right. ...
It started with the teaching of evolution in schools in the 20's but got stronger with the vast cultural changes of the 1960s - civil rights conflicts, Vietnam protests, the alternative youth culture, the women's liberation movement, the sexual revolution, prayer in school and the rise of new religions

I'll try to expand on this later.


Modern Pharisees:
We have a sort of spiritual revival of the Pharisees --people who don\0xFFFDt want to practice love, grace, or compassion, but would rather try to bury people under legalistic demands that they themselves aren\0xFFFDt capable of keeping. Culturally crusading right-wing Christians have substituted the Gospel of Jesus Christ for a Gospel of Morality. They've made it more about following rules than loving God (having a relationship with Christ) and loving their fellow brothers and sisters. This is unacceptable. It's exactly what Jesus spoke out against. People are stuck in the Gospel of Morality.
Source: The Christian Left Welcomes You
See also:
Pharisee Nation - The Religious Right are acting just like the Pharisees - Democratic Underground
Modern Day Pharisees - RaptureReady.com

The Pharisees of Jesus time were primarily interested in position, power and authority. They were not concerned with their relationship with God.
The modern pharisees are self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God.


Recently, fundamentalists have spent a lot of time and many books have been written promoting "Intelligent Design", which rejects much of the evolutionary theory.

Surveys show from 40-48% of Americans believe in Creation and that most of the scientists are wrong.

I have wondered why so many people can so easily reject science. After all they must admit that science which created modern conveniences such as MRIs to detect disease, heart pacemakers, polio vaccine, cell phones, GPSs, microwaves ovens, the Internet, ... can't all be wrong. Most fundamentalists say science is unwilling to accept religious solutions to problems.

Statistics show that conservative churches are growing faster than traditional churches, so if the goal is to create disciples maybe the fundamentalist approach works.

The recent fundamentalist movement has been/is lead by people like Pat Robertson (Christian Coalition and The 700 Club) and Ralph Reed (Christian Coalition), Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell (Moral majority) and to some extent evangelicals like Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ) and James Dobson (Focus on the Family).

See Christian Fundamentalist Profile

Maybe it's some sort of natural cycle that takes a generation and a half to react to extreme trends: 1860 - liberalism, 1910 - fundamentalism, 1960 - liberalism, 2010 - fundamentalism.

In his New York Times article "Politics of God" (August 19, 2007), Mark Lilla says:
"The prospects of enduring political change through renewal are probably much greater than through liberalization."
"Luther and Calvin were renovators, not liberalizers. They called Christians back to the fundamentals of their faith, but in a way that made it easier, not harder, to enjoy the fruits of temporal existence."


Growth:
A study conducted by the Glenmary Research Center and sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies., ''Religious Congregations and Membership: 2000,'' found that the fastest-growing religious denomination in the last 10 years was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 19% growth from 1990 to 2000. The next highest growth were the conservative Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, with 18.6 percent; the Assemblies of God, a major Pentecostal denomination, with 18.5 percent; and the Roman Catholic Church, with 16.2 percent.

The churches that lost the highest percentages of members were the Presbyterian Church USA (11.6 percent) and the United Church of Christ (14.8 percent).

I was astounded to see that by and large the growing churches are those that we ordinarily call conservative,'' said Ken Sanchagrin, director of the Glenmary Research Center and a professor and chairman of the department of sociology at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C.


Terms:
Charismatic Christianity - Belief that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, as described in the Holy Bible, are available to Christians today, and which include among other gifts: "speaking in tongues", prophecy, and miraculous healing. Began in the 1950's and 1960's within mainline Protestant denominations.

Christian Right - A broad and varied political movement of Christian social conservatives principally in the U.S. The movement arose in the 1970's as members of the Republican "New Right". Concerns with issues such as feminism, the civil rights movement for gay Americans, and federal protection of abortion access.

Evangelicalism - A global religious movement associated with Protestant Christianity with emphasis on i. Evangelizing other people, ii. The religious conversion experience, often referred to as being "born again" or "saved" by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior." Evangelicals fall along a continuum of political and theological beliefs; but, they are far more likely to be conservative.

Fundamentalist - The primary tenant of fundamentalist Christianity is "the inerrancy Scripture". See above for more discussion. Fundamentalists, properly defined, are a subset of the evangelical religious tradition. Jerry Falwell was a self-identified fundamentalist.
Fundamentalism has come to identify conservative evangelicals inside the mainline Protestant denominations, as well as the charismatic sects which comprise what is now the fastest-moving current within the Christian world. In the American setting, it no longer exemplifies the hill-billy element in rural or small-town Protestantism, as it did half a century ago. Caplan [5]
See: The Rise of Fundamentalism by Grant Wacker Duke University Divinity School.

Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. Humanism rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on belief without reason, the supernatural, or texts of allegedly divine origin.

Pentecostal - Conservative Protestant Christian denomination which has had significant influence on American politics. Belief in a "baptism of the Holy Spirit" as a special blessing available to all Christians. Pentecostal leaders in America include Benny Hinn, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and Pat Robertson.

Religious Humanism - Considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man's life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of the humanist's social passion.

Secular - Denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis: e.g. secular buildings | secular moral theory. Contrasted with sacred .

Secular Humanism - The term "secular humanism" was coined in the 20th century to make a clear distinction from "religious humanism" (an integration of religious rituals and/or beliefs with humanistic philosophy that centers on human needs, interests, and abilities.).
Humanism, with regard in particular to the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God.

Thiestic Evolution - The general opinion that some or all classical religious teachings about God and creation are compatible with some or all of the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. Also known as evolutionary creationism. They believe that Genesis is an allegorical account of creation, and that God has provided a guiding hand during the process of evolution (especially when it comes to the development of man). This is the version taught at most seminaries for mainline Christian denominations. It is one of a whole range of views. See Creation & Evolution.

Organizations:
Campus Crusade for Christ
Moral Majority
Christian Coalition
Council for National Policy (CNP)

books:
1. "A Guide to Understanding the Bible", 1938, Harry Emerson Fosdick
"The Charles A. Briggs Heresy Trial", 1969, by Carl E. Hatch,
2. The Fundamentals Of Extremism: The Christian Right in America, Edited by Kimberly Blaker, 2003
3. Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History by Newt Gingrich, 2006
4. Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, Jimmy Carter, 2006
5. Caplan, Lionel (1987). Studies in Religious Fundamentalism.
6. Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism, by Joel A. Carpenter, (1997).

Links:
Christian Fundamentalist Profile
Conservative Christians and Republicans
Christian Fundamentalism another view
Gay Marriage, Fundamentalist Christianity at Wikipedia
The Fundamentalist / Modernist Conflict at the Presbyterian Church In the City of New York.
Creation vs Evolution
Faith and Reason
Fundamentalism at U. Virginia
The Rise of Fundamentalism by Grant Wacker Duke University Divinity School
  Links to Fundamentalism Sites at above.
Church Growth Movement
The Framing of Fundamentalist Christians: Network Television News, 1980-2000, by Peter A. Kerr, University of Washington, Journal of Media and Religion 2003, Vol. 2, No. 4, Pages 203-235
Famous Trials and Supreme Court Decisions
The Godly Must Be Crazy: Christian-right views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment
THE PURITY AND PROTECTION OF THE CHURCH: (The Battles For Truth In Church History), by Pastor, Dennis Rokser, Duluth Bible Church

Return to Religion.


Last updated 4 Dec 2007