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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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4/16/2005

The 'View From the Pew' Get a Clue Award 

I now have two awards -- the Pewie for Conspicuous Intolerant Tolerance (and I've changed the name of that one at least twice!), which I've awarded twice now, and the new VftP Get a Clue Award for conspicuous misuse of a religious term.

The very first Clewie goes to Byron Williams at workingforchange.com. Byron calls himself a fundamentalist Christian who "trusts women to make the right choices with their bodies, supports marriage equality and opposes the death penalty." He then procedes to illustrate exactly how little he know about the history of the term fundamentalist in its Christian context.

The term fundamentalist was coined in reaction to increasingly liberal theology which was infecting mainline denominations in the early 20th century. There is a very clearly stated creed (though many fundamentalists would cringe at that term) -- a statement of beliefs that everyone who is a fundamentalist Christian would agree with.

From the preface of this work:
In 1909 God moved two Christian laymen to set aside a large sum of money for issuing twelve volumes that would set forth the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and which were to be sent free to ministers of the gospel, missionaries, Sunday School superintendents, and others engaged in aggressive Christian work throughout the English speaking world. A committee of men who were known to be sound in the faith was chosen to have oversight of the publication of these volumes. Rev. Dr. A.C. Dixon was the first Executive Secretary of the Committee, and upon his departure for England Rev. Dr. Louis Meyer was appointed to take his place. Upon the death of Dr. Meyer the work of the Executive Secretary devolved upon me. We were able to bring out these twelve volumes according to the original plan. Some of the volumes were sent to 300,000 ministers and missionaries and other workers in different parts of the world.
Fundamentalism is about doctrinal purity, and consistency with "the faith once delivered to the saints." Admittedly, many modern "fundamentalists" are a far cry from the original writers of the books, and many have strayed from the fundamentals as originally stated. And, also admittedly, modern fundamentalists (and not a few evangelicals) have been a bit light in showing the love of Christ to the world. And far too many are focusing their attention on the political process to the exclusion of evangelism.

But fundamentalism, and evangelicalism for that matter, is far more than "to be living examples of a strict adherence to love, justice, hope and opportunity, thereby authentically being fundamentalist Christians in word and deed." If that is fundamentalism, then there was no difference between the original fundamentalists and the liberals that they fought against. Any student of history will tell you that that is certainly not the case.


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