Christian Biblical Fundamentalism
What Is It?
“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.” Jude 3
The moment that someone mentions “fundamentalism”, thoughts of radical or severe beliefs that are detrimental to society flood our minds. There are some facts that need to be addressed before one understands “fundamentalism” and whether the word is used properly in defining a religious group.
The first fact to consider is that all religions have “orthodoxy”: that which is considered fundamental in belief and practice. These fundamentals are the non-negotiable essentials of the doctrine and practice of orthodoxy. Adding to or subtracting from these fundamentals to diminish or eliminate their force is a form of apostasy. To add a teaching or an interpretation that distorts or takes precedence over a fundamental of orthodoxy for the purpose of gaining a following is a form of heresy.
The second fact is that not all religions have the same orthodoxy, therefore their fundamentals are different. One fundamentalist religious group cannot be compared to and viewed as the same as another, or one would come to an erroneous conclusion.
The third fact is that not all religious groups that are operating under some religious cover are orthodox in their beliefs. These groups may be zealots following a heretical leader or part of an ethnic nationalistic movement.
The fourth fact is that most orthodoxies are based upon what are considered holy writings or a record of communications from a divinity given orally or by prophets. These writings are considered as authoritative absolutes from which orthodoxy is formulated. The fundamentals must therefore agree with these writings as a part of orthodoxy.
The term, “fundamentalist” in the Christian realm became popular back in the early 1900s in response to two major events in the mid to late 1800s. The first event was the work of Charles Darwin. This was considered an attack on the biblical view of origins, bringing into question the validity of the Bible. The second Chevent was the work of two men named Westcott and Hort. They made a new Greek text from two variant Greek texts along with other fragments that had been rejected by earlier Christian scholars. This was a challenge to the accepted Greek text used in translating the King James Version of the Bible as well foreign translations. This brought into question the reliability of the Bible. This influence found its way into seminaries and aided both students and professors of liberal thought to question the fundamentals of orthodoxy in the Christian church.
In 1909, two Christian laymen became very alarmed by what was taking place, so they paid to have some Biblical scholars of Christian orthodoxy write on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. They paid to have them published, printed, and distributed to as many English speaking Christian servants as possible. This work was an enormous twelve-volume set, called “The Fundamentals.” Today one can buy an edited four-volume version.
—The verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible: 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It simply means that every word and every part of the 66 books of the Bible are inspired or God breathed. It is absolute in its authority concerning doctrine and practice.
—The vile condition of men: Romans 3:10-23. It simply means that all men are lost and cannot save themselves.
—The virgin birth of Jesus Christ: Matthew 1:23-25. This deals with the preexistence of the Son of God, His deity, and His incarnation (becoming man while still retaining His deity). See John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:6-8.
—The death of Jesus Christ for man’s sins: 1 Timothy 2:5-6 and Romans 5:6-11. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for the sins of mankind. It is only applicable to those who respond, however.
—The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead for our justification: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 17. Without His resurrection, His saving work is incomplete.
—The physical, visible return of Jesus Christ to earth, which includes judgment and rewards: Revelation 19-22.
—Biblical separation from apostasy, heresy, and those who are walking disorderly: 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6. This is to avoid compromise and loss of doctrinal distinctive in orthodoxy.
To the Christian, Jude is encouraging them to “contend” (a military term for defending) for the “faith” (the doctrines or fundamentals of orthodoxy of the Christian faith that were first given) Jude 3. The New Testament Scriptures are quite clear that the weapons used for the defense of the faith are not physical but spiritual in nature. The Bible is referred to as the sword of the Spirit while faith, righteousness, truth, assurance of salvation, and preparation of the gospel are the believer’s armor. Ephesians 6:10-18.
This is how men of the last century approached the battle of faith. Those who endorsed these fundamentals were originally multi-denominational. When it became obvious that a Church rejected the fundamentals of its original orthodoxy, a new group would start based upon the original fundamentals. This is still happening today along with apostasy and heresy. This will continue until the Lord comes for His bride, the church. In the meantime take stock in what Jesus says to the church in Revelation 3:3a: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.” Amen.
Pastor Ernest F. Brodie Sr.