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Fundamentalism and Doctrine

September 27, 2010

Though Fundamentalism is frequently stereotyped as decidedly un-doctrinal, the reality is that Fundamentalism owes its existence to an insistent stand on doctrine.  Fundamentalism as a definable movement began with the departure of major denominations from the historic Biblical faith.  The major battle grounds were fought over the inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, the reality of the trinity, the historicity of the resurrection and the nature of the work of Christ on the cross.  The men who fought these battles were sustained by a deep knowledge of true Biblical doctrine.

Unfortunately, deep doctrine has been maligned in major sections of latter generations of fundamentalists.  This denigration does not reflect the seriousness that doctrine plays in the history of fundamentalism.  Nor does it reflect the necessity of strong doctrinal emphasis for the future health of fundamentalism.  Over the next several articles I am going to walk through some of the major doctrines for which the early fundamentalists fought.  The early fundamentalists did fight.  They fought some incredibly difficult, painful and costly battles.  They fought stringently, ardently and passionately.  They fought with zeal and perseverance.  I think it important to be very clear on this point.  The earliest fundamentalists, by and large, were not fighting battles over influence or prominence or preferences.  They fought battles over doctrine. That doctrinal conflict shaped the future of fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism as an identifiable movement owes its inception to a firm commitment to doctrinal purity.  Fundamentalism did not begin due to social issues or standards issues.  It began over doctrinal, particularly gospel impacting,  issues.  While the issues regarding our cultural involvement and our institutional standards are not insignificant they cannot be seen as the prime determinants or motivators in fundamentalism.  I would suggest that even in those eras of fundamentalism in which standards or extra Biblical issues were seen as primary, doctrine was still the crucial, though downplayed, contributor to the issues of those eras.  To rightly understand fundamentalism we must understand the importance doctrine has played and continues to play in our movement.  To say it a little differently, not only was sound doctrine crucial in the formation of fundamentalism, strong doctrinal emphasis was also crucial in early fundamentalism.  Both remain crucial to the continued existence of fundamentalism.

Many of the articles from the first four volumes of the pivotal series “The Fundamentals” are available online.  One such place is here.

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I welcome comments, questions or input on these articles. However, the purpose of this blog is not to give an open forum for discussion. If you would like to comment on these articles or have specific questions regarding fundamentalism, please feel free to email me. I will do my best to respond quickly to your emails. A few days after its publication, I will attach to each blog article any pertinent or particularly pithy comments that I receive.

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