What are fundamentalists (a.k.a “fundies”), exactly? It’s a hard definition to pin down because those who are in fundamentalism disagree vehemently about who should and should not be privileged to claim the title. George Marsden has famously described Christian fundamentalists as “evangelicals who are angry about something.”1 That definition is, perhaps, more true than most fundamentalists will admit.
For the purposes of this blog, “fundamentalism” is understood to be “Christian fundamentalism”, a movement that has its roots in rejecting “liberal” ideas such as German higher criticism and Darwinism.
The five fundamentals have commonly been held to be:
- The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
- The virgin birth of Christ.
- The belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin.
- The bodily resurrection of Christ.
- The historical reality of Christ’s miracles.2
More specifically, for these posts, “fundamentalism” means “Independent Baptist Fundamentalism”, a movement that rejected not only liberal theology but also those parts of the culture that it considered to be “worldly” such as certain types of music, styles of dress, the theater, alcohol, and many others. These fundamentalist churches also separated themselves from association with any other movement they deemed too liberal or worldly; in fact, separating from things soon became their greatest distinctive — and a source of amusement to those of us who grew up in the movement.
These are their tales…
1 Marsden, George. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.