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Are you a fundamentalist?

August 13, 2008

I was privileged to read this article for a friend before he mass published it… Frankly, I’m surprised at how much I agree with him, and yet how nervous I am for him as it goes out. I heard some of them fundey’s are packing heat!!!!

Enjoy, and answer the question…. are you?


Am I a fundamentalist?


Colleges and Seminary students all around the country are asking this question. Many have grown up in fundamentalist churches and youth groups and many are attending a fundamentalist college or seminary. But the question is deeper than an association with an institutional label. The real question being asked is, “Does the label ‘fundamentalist,’ which many institutions and churches wear with pride, really describe who I am?”


There is more to this question than meets the eye. And to answer this question, on must first answer a related question, “What is a fundamentalist?”


Like many labels, the label fundamentalist has been employed by a wide variety of ministries. As such, it has been infused with an ever-widening array of meanings, and conflicting meanings at that. A person can no longer say, “I am a fundamentalist in every sense of the word!”


The purpose of this essay is not to provide a definitive definition of fundamentalism as some have attempted to do. Rather, this essay urges those who employ the term to think carefully about what they mean by it.


For some, the term fundamentalist is a litmus test of orthodoxy. To be a fundamentalist a person must hold a certain position on a singular issue. Be it the versions debate or the charismatic controversy, for those with this understanding of the term, fundamentalism is defined along a single axis. Take the ‘right’ position and you are a fundamentalist. Take the other, and you are not.


For others, the term ‘fundamentalist’ speaks of an adherence to a set of standards. These sets of standards typically include the areas of dress, dating, and music, among other things. Some churches with this understanding go so far as to enforce these standards church-wide. Whatever one thinks of such a practice, it is clear that those who operate in this camp view fundamentalism through the lens of personal holiness.


A third group sees fundamentalism in terms of ministry affiliations. The groups and institutions with which a person is connected determine his or her status as a fundamentalist. Church conventions, summer camps, and educational institutions all play a role. This group sees fundamentalism through the lens of ecclesiastical separation.


A fourth group wave the fundamentalist flag to highlight their view of scripture and the gospel. This group would call a person a fundamentalist who believes that the scripture is the sole rule for faith and practice and that salvation is found through faith in Christ. This group sees fundamentalism through the lens of doctrinal integrity.


It should be noted that these categories are to a degree over-simplified. It should also be noted that these categories are not mutually exclusive. A person could be a fundamentalist in several of these senses. It is however in the fourth sense that I am most comfortable with the label fundamentalist. A person must have personal standards and must be careful about associations. But for me, a fundamentalist is one who pledges his allegiance to the core doctrines of the Scripture and the gospel. It is in this sense that I am fundamentalist.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2009 12:42 am

    I think you have hit on one of the reasons people cannot get along on earth: no one agrees on the ground rules and definitions (rules of engagement) of life terms.

    In the theological sense, fundamentalist can only mean one who practices adherence to the fundamental beliefs of the faith (Christianity for this discussion). To be a fundamentalist presupposes the existence of a God, or else there would be no rules that would be of a definite nature because any person’s opinion would be equal to any other person’s opinion and so forth…

    So we have a God and He has rules (He is entitled since He made everything and He is sovereign). So the natural progression of this line of thought would be that a fundamentalist follows the fundamental rules set by the sovereign God.

    Simple, huh?

    Visit for daily Bible study.

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