In Defence Of Fundamentalism -- By: Alfred U. Russell

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:1 (Spring 1959)
Article: In Defence Of Fundamentalism
Author: Alfred U. Russell

In Defence Of Fundamentalism

Alfred U. Russell

Many Conservative Baptists and other conservatives are disturbed today because of the subtle and insiduous attacks that are being made, upon Fundamentalism by those who out of one side of the mouth attack and smear Fundamentalists, and out of the other side profess themselves to be friends of the Fundamentalists and brethren among them.

A recent attack distributed in mimeographed form contained an obnoxious enfilade against the noble army of God’s saints who held the fort against the onslaught of liberalism during some of the Enemy’s most desperate efforts of the church age. The author of the attack admits that only a very few Fundamentalists have been guilty of the excesses with which he, in lurid language, charges the movement. Yet he joins in a concerted attack upon Fundamentalism while knowing full well that the term Evangelicalism has far more opprobrium attached to it than has the term Fundamentalism.

Why The Term “Fundamentalism”?

During the period when Protestantism was emerging from the fold of the Roman Church, the term “The Reform” was the designation by which the brethren were known who denied the authoritarian claims of Romanism and asserted the authority and validity of the Scriptures. The term was loosely used to include men who differed widely in their theological views. The debate of Luther with Zwingli at Marburg on the subject of “Eucharist” may be used as an illustration of this fact. Henry C. Vedder writes, “Luther, interpreting literally the words ‘This is my body’ insisted that with the bread and wine the true body and blood of Christ are received; while Zwingli interpreted the words as equivalent to ‘This signifies my body’ and saw in the Eucharist only a memorial of the death of Christ. No possible doctrinal agreement could be discovered.” This general term “The Reform” grouped together Pentecostalists, Chiliasts, Anabaptists, Calvinists, Arminians, and Churchmen, under a single appellation.

With the passage of years and the eclipse of Romanism in many areas, the cleavage between Non-conformists (or Free Churchmen) and the Church party became more distinct and pronounced. It was there, of course, even in the earliest days of the reform movement, but amidst the rigors of the battle with Rome was not as clearly delineated as it became with the triumph of the reform in such places as Britain, Germany and Scandinavia. A new term was needed to designate the evangelical Biblicist and to differentiate between him and the sacramentarian ecclesiast. The term that became popular and obtained wide usage was “Evangelical.” Strictly speaking this was not a new term so much as the reviving and revitalizing of an old term. Many centuries before, there...

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