The word "fundamentalism" comes from a series of publications in the early part of the 20th century called The Fundamentals, which defended the historic Christian position on Biblical doctrines ("the fundamentals of the Faith") against the rising tide of "modernism" and "liberalism." A list of those Biblical doctrines is below. The Fundamentals is available for sale here.
Today there are two definitions of "fundamentalist."
The original definition of a fundamentalist was one who took the Bible seriously, and affirmed its fundamental doctrines. We here at Vine & Fig Tree consider ourselves "fundamentalists" because we take the Bible seriously and believe that liberals do not.
The modern definition of a fundamentalist is one who is ignorant, dogmatic, and claims to take the Bible seriously. From the perspective of the older fundamentalism, modern "fundamentalists" do not take the Bible seriously.
H.L. Mencken — certainly no fundamentalist, in fact, an opponent of fundamentalists — wrote an obituary of one of the leading "fundamentalists" of the day, J. Gresham Machen. In that obituary, Mencken disagrees with Machen's fundamentalism, but claims that fundamentalism is more logical than liberalism, which doesn't even have a claim at being a legitimate religion. Liberals claim to be Christian but don't even agree with all the fundamentals of the Christian religion. Why do they bother going to church or dressing up like clergymen? At least fundamentalists are trying to be consistent with principles with which Mencken and other liberals don't agree. Mencken's obituary, "Dr. Fundamentalis," appeared in the Baltimore Evening Sun (January 18, 1937), 2nd Section, p. 15, is available online here, and is well worth reading.
When Princeton Theological Seminary abandoned the fundamentals in favor of liberalism, Machen formed the Westminster Theological Seminary. Machen was booted out of the liberal presbyterian church and founded the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. These events were front-page news in the New York Times, back in a day when Americans still cared a little about true religion and the press was not as frequently criticized for "liberal bias."
Machen's book Christianity and Liberalism could have been titled, Liberalism vs. Fundamentalism.
Machen shows that liberalism is a hypocritical crock. It has no legitimate claim to being Christian at all.
Fundamentalism went into social and political retreat after the Scopes Trial in 1925. It began to emphasize being "raptured" away from social problems. But even before 1925, Fundamentalism was socially irrelevant. It could not have turned any empire upside down.
Look at the list of "fundamentals" below, and see if you can find any answers to the problems of the day. (To review, the world had just exited "the Great War" [not the last World War, but only the first], the "Great Depression," and was about to enter another World War. The Federal Reserve and the Income Tax were both born in 1913. During the so-called "Presbyterian Crisis," Soviet Socialists were systematically wiping out millions in the Ukraine.) During the 20th century there have been an average of 10,000 murders per day, with nary a peep from "fundamentalists." Fundamentalists are correct in claiming that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, but they were oblivious to the fact that Darwinists and others challenged the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in order to destroy Christian ethics and establish a socialist/fascist dictatorship.
Consider this list of issues each of which is addressed from a Biblical viewpoint. Why are "the fundamentals" generally limited to pure theology?
Another explanation for the fundamentalist retreat (in addition to the 1925 Scope's evolution trial) is the rise of "dispensationalism." Without going into the arcane concept of "dispensations," the key trait of dispensationalism is pessimism regarding the future of human society on earth prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Dispensationalists are not going about trying to build the Kingdom of God on earth, they are waiting for "the Rapture."
Millennialism And Social Theory
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church founded by Machen -- which carried the tradition of B.B. Warfield and other intelligent Bible-believing authors of The Fundamentals -- is today too often characterized by the same pessimism as the dispensationalists. The OPC and similar Reformed/Presbyterian denominations are tiny and stagnant.
In key areas, dispensationalists share the same disbelief in Scripture that characterizes liberals. In the early part of the 20th century, both worked together -- liberals as battlefield tacticians and dispensationalists as cannon-fodder -- to transform the old Presbyterian church from a Bible-believing denomination to a Bible-denying denomination that is now considering putting homosexuals in the pulpit. See Crossed Fingers - How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church by Gary North.
It is surely interesting that both Jews and Dispensationalists are characterized by unbelief. Jews do not believe that Jesus Christ is the long-promised Messiah. Neither do dispensationalists. Oh sure, Dispies would say Jesus is the Messiah by right, but not in fact. And working to make it a fact is wrong. He will not become the Messiah and begin exercising His Kingly authority until after the Rapture. Dispies join orthodox Jews in waiting for a future coming of the promised Messiah. (Liberal Jews, like Liberal Christians, do not believe in any promises made in the Bible, or any other antiquated, irrelevant religious text.)
The problem with Liberals, Jews, and Dispies is ethics. They all reject distinctively Christian social ethics. All three groups retain pagan notions of kingship, political domination, and coercion. All three groups reject laissez-faire capitalism and embrace state socialism or fascism to various degrees:
The "free market" tradition in America and Western Civilization is grounded in a favorable attitude toward Old Testament Law. It starts with "Thou shalt not steal" and includes the rest of the Ten Commandments. It then embraces the theocratic vision of the Old Testament, seen through Christian eyes (love of enemy, self-sacrifice, etc.). This is the heart and soul of Christian social ethics.
And it also requires a basic optimism regarding the present age.
Neo-fundamentalism (dispensationalism) and Judaism lack both Christian ethics and "optimillennialism." And this makes both of them "anti-Christ."
Chapter 1. THE HISTORY OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM - By Canon Dyson Hague, M. A., Rector of the Memorial Church, London, Ontario. Lecturer in Liturgics and Ecclesiology, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada. Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Huron.
Chapter 2. THE MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP OF THE PENTATEUCH - By Professor George Frederick Wright, D. D., L. L. D., Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
Chapter 3. THE FALLACIES OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM By Professor Franklin Johnson, D. D., L. L. D. [see also, The Hoax of Higher Criticism, by Gary North.)
Chapter 4. THE BIBLE AND MODERN CRITICISM - By F. Bettex, D. D., Professor Emeritus, Stuttgart, Germany. (Translated from the original German, by David Heagle, D. D.)
Chapter 5. THE HOLY SCRIPTURES AND MODERN NEGATIONS - By Professor James Orr, D. D., United Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland.
Chapter 6. CHRIST AND CRITICISM - By Sir Robert Anderson, K. C. B., L. L. D., Author of “The Bible and Modern Criticism,” etc., London, England.
Chapter 7. OLD TESTAMENT CRITICISM AND NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY - By Professor W. H. Griffith Thomas, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.
Chapter 8. THE TABERNACLE IN THE WILDERNESS: DID IT EXIST? - A Question Involving the Truth or Falsity of the Entire Higher Critic Theory, by David Heagle, Ph. D., D. D., Professor of Theology and Ethics, Ewing College; Translator of the “Bremen Lectures;” Author of “Moral Education;” “That Blessed Hope,” etc.
Chapter 9. INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL - By Canon G. Osborne Troop, M. A. Montreal, Canada.
Chapter 10. THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST TO THE OLD TESTAMENT - By William Caren, D. D., L. L. D., Late Principal of Knox College, Toronto, Canada.
Chapter 11. THE EARLY NARRATIVES OF GENESIS - By Professor James Orr, D. D. United Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland.
Chapter 12. ONE ISAIAH - By Professor George L. Robinson, D. D., McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois.
Chapter 13. THE BOOK OF DANIEL- By Professor Joseph D. Wilson, D. D., Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Author of “Did Daniel Write Daniel?”
Chapter 14. THE DOCTRINAL VALUE OF THE FIRST CHAPTER OF GENESIS - By the Rev. Dyson Hague, M. A. Vicar of the Church of the Epiphany; Professor of Liturgics, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Chapter 15 THREE PECULIARITIES OF THE PENTATEUCH WHICH ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE GRAF-WELLHAUSEN THEORIES OF ITS COMPOSITION - By Andrew Craig Robinson, M. A., Ballineen, County Cork, Ireland. Author of “What about the Old Testament?”
Chapter 16. THE TESTIMONY OF THE MONUMENTS TO THE TRUTH OF THE SCRIPTURES - By Professor George Frederick Wright, D. D., L. L. D., Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
Chapter 17. THE RECENT TESTIMONY OF ARCHEOLOGY TO THE SCRIPTURES - By M. G. Kyle, D. D., L. L. D., Egyptologist. Professor of Biblical Archaeology, Xenia Theological Seminary; Consulting Editor of “The Records of the Past,” Washington, D.C. (The numbers in brackets throughout this article refer to the notes at the end of the article).
Chapter 18. SCIENCE AND CHRISTIAN FAITH - By Professor James Orr, D. D. United Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland.
Chapter 19. MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE HIGHER CRITICISM - By Professor J. J. Reeve, Southwestern Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Chapter 20 THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE - DEFINITION, EXTENT AND PROOF - By Rev. James M. Gray, D.D., Dean of Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Ill.
Chapter 21 INSPIRATION - By Evangelist L. W. Munhall, M. A., D. D., Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Author of “Highest Critics vs. Higher Critics.”
Chapter 22 THE MORAL GLORY OF JESUS CHRIST, A PROOF OF INSPIRATION - By Rev. William G. Moorehead, D. D., President of Xenia Theological Seminary. Xenia, Ohio.
Chapter 23 THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES TO THEMSELVES - By Rev. George S. Bishop, D. D., East Orange, New Jersey.
Chapter 24 TESTIMONY OF THE ORGANIC UNITY OF THE BIBLE TO ITS INSPIRATION - By the late Arthur T. Pierson.
Chapter 25 FULFILLED PROPHECY A POTENT ARGUMENT FOR THE BIBLE - By Arno C. Gaebelein, Editor “Our Hope,” New York City.
Chapter 26 LIFE IN THE WORD - By Philip Mauro Attorney at Law, New York City.
Chapter 27 IS THERE A GOD? - By Rev. Thomas Whitelaw, M.A., D.D., Killmarnock, Scotland.
Chapter 28 GOD IN CHRIST THE ONLY REVELATION OF THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD - By Robert E. Speer, Secretary of The Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., New York City.
Chapter 29 THE DEITY OF CHRIST - By Professor Benjamin B. Warfield, D. D., LL.D., Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.
Chapter 30 THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST - By Rev. Professor James Orr, D. D., United Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland.
Chapter 31 THE GOD-MAN - By the Late John Stock.
Chapter 32 THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST - From “Some Recent Phases of German Theology,” By Bishop Nuelsen, D. D., M. E. Church, Omaha, Nebraska.
Chapter 33 THE CERTAINTY AND IMPORTANCE OF THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD - By Rev. R. A. Torrey, D. D.
Chapter 34 THE PERSONALITY AND DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - By Rev. R. A. Torrey, D.D.
Chapter 35 THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE SONS OF GOD - By Rev. W. J. Erdman, D. D., Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Chapter 36 OBSERVATIONS ON THE CONVERSION AND APOSTLESHIP OF ST. PAUL - By Lord Lyttelton, Analyzed and Condensed by Revelation J. L. Campbell, D. D., Cambridge, Mass.
Chapter 37 CHRISTIANITY NO FABLE - By Rev. Thomas Whitelaw, M.A., D. D., Kilmarnock, Ayreshire, Scotland.
Chapter 38 THE BIBLICAL CONCEPTION OF SIN - By Thomas Whitelaw, M. A., D. D., Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.
Chapter 39 PAUL’S TESTIMONY TO THE DOCTRINE OF SIN - By Professor Charles B. Williams, B. D., Ph. D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Chapter 40 SIN AND JUDGMENT TO COME - By Sir Robert Anderson, K. C. B., L. L. D., London, England.
Chapter 41 WHAT CHRIST TEACHES CONCERNING FUTURE RETRIBUTION - By William C. Proctor; F. Ph., Croydon, England.
Chapter 42 THE ATONEMENT - By Professor Franklin Johnson, D. D., L. L. D. Author of “Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament,” etc., Chicago, Ill.
Chapter 43 AT-ONE-MENT, BY PROPITIATION -By Dyson Hague, M. A., Vicar of The Church of the Epiphany, Toronto, Canada. Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral. London, Ontario (1908-1912).
Chapter 44 THE GRACE OF GOD- By C. I. Scofield, D. D., Editor “Scofield Reference Bible.”
Chapter 45 SALVATION BY GRACE - By Thomas Spurgeon, London, England.
Chapter 46 THE NATURE OF REGENERATION -By Thomas Boston (1676-1732).
Chapter 47 REGENERATION, CONVERSION, REFORMATION - By George W. Lasher. D. D., L. L. D., Author of “Theology for Plain People.” Cincinnati, Ohio.
Chapter 48 JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH -By H. C. G. Moule, Bishop of Durham, Durham England.
Chapter 49 THE DOCTRINES THAT MUST BE EMPHASIZED IN SUCCESSFUL EVANGELISM - By Evangelist L. W. Munhall, M.A., D. D., Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Chapter 50 PREACH THE WORD - By the Late Howard Crosby, Chancellor of the University of the City of New York.
Chapter 51 PASTORAL AND PERSONAL EVANGELISM, OR WINNING MEN TO CHRIST ONE BY ONE - By John Timothy Stone, D.D., Chicago, Illinois, Ex-Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A.
Chapter 52 THE SUNDAY SCHOOL’S TRUE EVANGELISM - By Charles Gallaudet Trumbull, Editor “Sunday School Times,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Chapter 53 THE PLACE OF PRAYER IN EVANGELISM - By R. A. Torrey, D. D., Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
Chapter 54 FOREIGN MISSIONS, OR WORLD-WIDE EVANGELISM - By Robert E. Speer, Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church U. S. A.
Chapter 55 A MESSAGE FROM MISSIONS - By Charles A. Bowen, A.M., Ph. D., Olympia, Washington.
Chapter 56 WHAT MISSIONARY MOTIVES SHOULD PREVAIL? - By Henry W. Frost, Director for North Ammerica of the China Inland Mission. Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Chapter 57 CONSECRATION - By Henry W. Frost, Director for North America of the China Inland Mission. Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Chapter 58 IS ROMANISM CHRISTIANITY? (Catholic church)- By T. W. Medhurst, Glasgow, Scotland.
Chapter 59 ROME, THE ANTAGONIST OF THE NATION - By J. M. Foster, Boston, Massachusetts.
Chapter 60 THE TRUE CHURCH- By the late Bishop Ryle.
Chapter 61 THE TESTIMONY OF FOREIGN MISSIONS TO THE SUPERINTENDING PROVIDENCE OF GOD - By the late Arthur T. Pierson.
Chapter 62 THE PURPOSES OF THE INCARNATION - By G. Campbell Morgan, D. D., Pastor of Westminster Chapel, London, England.
Chapter 63 TRIBUTES TO CHRIST AND THE BIBLE BY BRAINY MEN NOT KNOWN AS ACTIVE CHRISTIANS - “Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges,” Deuteronomy 32:31.
Chapter 64 MODERN PHILOSOPHY - By Philip Mauro, Attorney-at-Law. New York City.
Chapter 65 THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD - By David James Burrell, D.D., L.L. D. Minister of the Marble Collegiate Church, New York City.
Chapter 66 THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD - By A. W. Pitzer, D. D., L.L. D., Salem, Virgina.
Chapter 67 THE SCIENCE OF CONVERSION - H. M. Sydenstricker, Ph.D., West Point, Mississippi.
Chapter 68 THE DECADENCE OF DARWINISM - By Henry H. Beach, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Chapter 69 THE PASSING OF EVOLUTION - By Professor George Frederick Wright, D. D., L.L. D., Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
Chapter 70 EVOLUTIONISM IN THE PULPIT- By an Occupant of the Pew.
Chapter 71 THE CHURCH AND SOCIALISM- By Professor Charles R. Erdman, D. D., Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.
Chapter 72 MILLENIAL DAWN: A COUNTERFEIT OF CHRISTIANITY (watchtower, Jehovah’s Witnesses)- By Professor William G. Moorehead, D. D., United Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Xenia, Ohio.
Chapter 73 MORMONISM: ITS ORIGIN, CHARACTERISTICS AND DOCTRINES - By R. G. McNiece, D. D., for twenty years prior to 1897, Pastor First Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Chapter 74. EDDYISM, COMMONLY CALLED “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE - By Maurice E. Wilson, D. D., Dayton, Ohio.
Chapter 75 MODERN SPIRITUALISM BRIEFLY TESTED BY SCRIPTURE (channeling)- By Algernon J. Pollock. Weston-Super-Mare, England.
Chapter 76 SATAN AND HIS KINGDOM - By Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Leicester, England.
Chapter 77 WHY SAVE THE LORD’S DAY? - By Daniel Hoffman Martin. D. D., Glens Falls, New York.
Chapter 78 APOLOGETIC VALUE OF PAUL’S EPISTLES - By E. J.Stobo. Jr., B. A., S. T. D.
Chapter 79 DIVINE EFFICACY OF PRAYER- By Arthur T. Pierson, D.D.
Chapter 80 THE PROOF OF THE LIVING GOD, AS FOUND IN THE PRAYER LIFE OF GEORGE MULLER, OF BRISTOL - By Arthur T. Pierson.D.D.
Chapter 81 OUR LORD’S TEACHINGS ABOUT MONEY - By Arthur T. Pierson, D.D.
Chapter 82 THE SCRIPTURES - By A. C. Dixon. D. D. Pastor Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, London, England.
Chapter 83 WHAT THE BIBLE CONTAINS FOR THE BELIEVER- By George F. Pentecost, D. D., Darien, Connecticut.
Chapter 84 THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH- By John McNicol, B. A., B. D., Principal of the Toronto Bible Training School.
Chapter 85 THE COMING OF CHRIST - By Professor Charles R. Erdman. D. D., Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.
Chapter 86 THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE - By President E. Y. Mullins. D. D., L.L. D.Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.
Chapter 87 A PERSONAL TESTIMONY - By Howard A. Kelly, M.D.
Chapter 88 A PERSONAL TESTIMONY - By H. W. Webb-Peploe. Vicar of St. Paul’s. Onslow Square. London, and Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Chapter 89 THE PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF CHARLES T. STUDD -Charles T. Studd.
Chapter 90 A PERSONAL TESTIMONY - By Philip Mauro. Attorney-at- Law, New York City.
Liberalism means taking money from conservatives and giving it to liberal social action groups. Liberals don't seem to want personal responsibility and personal generosity as much as federal control of giving. Coercion, not persuasion, is the liberal method. Taxation out-ranks giving from the heart.
The Tragedy of Liberal Compassion
In heated arguments, one can often hear conservatives telling liberals "I don't give a rip about the poor." This is because the conservative is tired of hearing about raising tax rates to fund programs which do nothing to solve poverty. But this same conservative often will not hesitate to open his doors to a co-worker or neighbor who is in need. Conservatives reject liberal government programs which do not reward conservative behavior.