by Bill Nugent
The term “fundamentalist” is a term poisoned by controversy and demagoguery. The news media uses the term to describe Muslim extremists and terrorists. However, the term fundamentalist also has a much broader general meaning. A fundamentalist is any person of any faith who believes in the basic principles of his or her faith.
A Christian fundamentalist is a person who believes in the teachings of the Bible and regards the whole Bible as being inspired by God. A Muslim fundamentalist is someone who believes in the plain teachings of the Koran. Orthodox Judaism can be called “Jewish fundamentalism.” A secular fundamentalist is someone who believes in atheistic evolution which is the belief that life formed by itself through the random interaction of molecules.
Christian fundamentalism as a movement got its name from a series of pamphlets (or position papers) called The Fundamentalsthat were published and widely distributed between 1910 and 1915. This series of writings was edited by A.C. Dixon (1854-1925) and R. A. Torrey (1856-1928). The five basic points of doctrine of The Fundamentals were 1) the verbal inerrancy of the Bible, 2) the deity and virgin birth of Christ, 3) the fact that Christ died for our sins, 4) The physical, bodily resurrection of Christ, and 5) Christ’s future bodily return to earth. (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements p. 325)
The Fundamentals were published in large part to defend the Christian faith against attacks by the modernists. Modernism as a movement was led by those who denied the divine inspiration of the Bible. They denied that God spoke to humanity through the scriptures. The modernists essentially had no source of divine revelation and therefore they had to, in the final analysis, simply rely on their own opinions as the final authority. Many large Protestant denominations were taken over by the modernists. These denominations are shrinking today as people depart from a religion that has no sure foundation.
The attack against Christianity from the modernists is small when compared to the attacks we have endured from the secularists. Secular fundamentalists really believe that the material universe is all there is or ever will be. Evolution is the bedrock doctrine that is defended with religious zeal. Since the secular fundamentalist’s hope for mankind is a perfect society (utopia) on earth it’s no surprise that the major political ideology to arise from it is communism.
Communism is secular fundamentalism in the extreme. Religion was derided as the opiate of the people. The Soviet Union crushed all religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. The mass murder of millions of people of faith under Stalin’s purges of the 1930s and Mao’s consolidation of power in China in the late 40s and early 1950s are facts of history. Communism has produced more Christian martyrs than all other persecutions put together.
Someone might say “I’m a moderate middle-of-the-roader, I’m not radical about anything!” I would answer by saying that everyone has core beliefs. Everyone has opinions they won’t compromise and a worldview of some kind or other. Everyone is a fundamentalist of some ideology or religion when you boil it all down. Everyone is committed to something.
We who are Christian fundamentalists are in one sense no different from any other fundamentalists. We are committed to our beliefs and other fundamentalists are committed to theirs. We are convinced that our beliefs are in accord with God’s revelation contained in the Bible. We must be gentle and kind to all people because Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31).