on the Sand?
by David O.
The Origin of
Fundamentalism originated in the northern states. The editor
of the Baptist periodical Watchman-Examiner coined
the term Fundamentalist in 1920 to describe a group
of concerned Baptists who had just met at the Delaware Avenue
Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York, to discuss the problem
of Modernism in the Northern Baptist Convention. The American
roots of Fundamentalism, however, go back to the interdenominational
Bible conference which met at Swampscott, Massachusetts,
in 1876. This was the beginning of the American Bible conference
movement; it gave birth to American Fundamentalism.
of the most significant of the early Fundamentalist conferences
was held from October 30 to November 1, 1878, at the Church
of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City, where
Stephen H. Tyng Jr. was the minister. Equally important
was the conference which met in Farwell Hall in Chicago,
November 16-21, 1886. The leaders of these pioneer conferences
included spiritual giants of several denominations: Baptists
included George C. Needham, A. J. Gordon, G. C. Lorimer,
F. C. Chapell, and A. J. Frost; Methodists included L. W.
Munhall, W. E. Blackstone, Henry Lummis, J. S. Kennedy,
and E. T. Stroeter (Wesleyan); Presbyterians included Albert
Erdman, W. J. Erdman, James H. Brooks, H. M. Parsons, W.
G. Moorehead, John Wanamaker, John T. Duffield, S. H. Kellogg,
C. K. Imbrie, J. T. Cooper, Nathaniel West, A. T. Pierson,
and D. C. Marquis; Congregationalists included E. P. Goodwin
and D. W. Whittle; Episcopalians included Stephen Tyng Jr.
and Maurice Baldwin; Lutherans included Bishop Joseph A.
Seiss and G. N. H. Peters; Reformed Episcopalians included
Bishop W. R. Nicholson; and even the Dutch Reformed were
represented by George S. Bishop.
Definition of Fundamentalism
definitions have surfaced throughout Fundamentalismís history.
In June 1976—exactly a century after the first gathering
at Swampscott, Massachusetts—another faithful group of Fundamentalists
held a World Congress of Fundamentalists at Ulster Hall,
Edinburgh, Scotland. These Fundamentalists, who gathered
from many nations of the world for a week of fellowship,
instruction, and inspirational preaching, defined the term
Fundamentalist as a born-again believer in the Lord
Jesus Christ who
an immovable allegiance to the inerrant, infallible,
and verbally inspired Bible;
that whatever the Bible says is so;
all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible;
the foundational truths of the historic Christian Faith:
the doctrine of the Trinity; the incarnation, virgin
birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection,
ascension into heaven and second coming of the Lord
Jesus Christ; the new birth through regeneration of
the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of the saints to life
eternal; the resurrection of the ungodly to final judgment
and eternal death; the fellowship of the saints, who
are the body of Christ;
fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach it to
and separates from all ecclesiastical denial of that
Faith, compromise with error, and apostasy from the
contends for the Faith once delivered.
Fundamentalism is militant orthodoxy set on fire with soulwinning
zeal. While Fundamentalists may differ on certain interpretations
of Scripture, we join in unity of heart and common purpose
for the defense of the Faith and the preaching of the Gospel,
without compromise or division (Faith for the Family,
September/October 1976, p. 9).
Fundamentalist, of course, believes far more than this simple
listing; but he desires to go on record as affirming those
timeless truths or principles which have come under religious
attack. The list may need more refining and even expanding
as Satan changes his focus of attack. Issues today are far
more complex than they were a hundred or even twenty years
Fundamentalism can be reduced to the "five points published
at the Niagara Bible Conference of 1895" is an often-repeated
myth. Actually, the Niagara Bible Conference published a
fourteen-point creed. The one five-point declaration which
did influence Fundamentalists was the one which the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church adopted in 1910 and
reaffirmed in 1916 and 1923. Fundamentalism, however, has
never been and never could be limited to the affirmations
of any particular denomination. The Fundamentals of Fellowship
transcend denominational distinctives, and they do so
without weakening or compromising such distinctives. For
example, Fundamentalists have always been good Presbyterians
or good Baptists and still able to fellowship with Fundamentalists
of other groups. While Fundamentalists certainly do differ
among themselves on certain interpretations of Scripture,
they unite in fellowship and "common purpose for the defense
of the Faith and the preaching of the Gospel," accepting
the Bible alone, without question, as the divinely and verbally
inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God.
Fundamentalists lost the mainline denominations, including
the SBC, to the Liberals' control, the terms conservative
and Fundamentalist were basically synonymous. This
is no longer the case. Many conservatives today are New
Evangelicals who have remained in membership or in working
cooperation with the Liberals, while the Fundamentalists
have come out of the mainline denominations and formed their
own churches, schools, and other institutions. Even though
an increasing number of New Evangelical leaders today are
calling themselves "Fundamentalists," they are not identifying
with old mainline Fundamentalism which began by leaving
the apostate denominations thirty to sixty years ago.
House on the Sand? ©1985. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited.
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