The Fundamentals Today: Five or Four? -- By: Oliver Price

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:470 (Apr 1961)
Article: The Fundamentals Today: Five or Four?
Author: Oliver Price


The Fundamentals Today: Five or Four?

Oliver Price

Both denominational and interdominational groups defending orthodox Christianity against liberalism insisted on five doctrines as essential and necessary. Four of these related to the person and work of Christ and the fifth to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. Since it was the Bible which first came under critical attack, definitions of fundamentalism have emphasized the defense of the Scriptures. One dictionary describes fundamentalism as “a religious movement which became active among various Protestant bodies in the United States after the war of 1914–18, based on strict adherence to traditional orthodox tenets (e.g. the literal inerrancy of Scripture) held to be fundamental to the Christian faith; opposed to liberalism and modernism.”1

There can be no doubt that the inerrancy of Scripture was accepted by most Christians without question until very recent times. The Interpreters Bible acknowledges this: “It was believed that God so operated on the minds of the sacred writers that they did not write down anything which was not strictly accurate in every particular. Whatever was set down in the gospels actually happened as therein set down.”2 Klotsche points out that theologians from the early days of Christianity “never questioned the divine origin nor the inerrancy of the Scriptures.”3 In 1893 the General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., adopted this definition of Biblical inerrancy: “The Bible as we now have it, in its various translations and revisions, when freed from all errors and mistakes of translators, copyists and printers, (is) the very Word of God, and consequently wholly without error.” The same year the General Assembly underscored its conviction that this doctrine is one of the fundamentals by unfrocking Professor Charles A. Briggs because of his attacks on it.

A recent trend among evangelicals is to speak of four fundamentals instead of five. Barnhouse stated it this way: “Never in church history have all true believers agreed on every point of doctrine. But they do agree on these primary teachings: that the Lord Jesus Christ is God Almighty, the second person of the Godhead; and that conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, He became man in order to go to the cross and die for us, and that He arose from the dead. These are the fundamentals—the irreducible minimum which one must believe to be saved.”4 Affirming his belief in the inspiration of Scripture...

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