The Priorities of “The Fundamentals” -- By: Larry R. Oats

Journal: Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal
Volume: MBTJ 02:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: The Priorities of “The Fundamentals”
Author: Larry R. Oats

The Priorities of “The Fundamentals”

Larry R. Oats1

In 1909, as Fundamentalism and theological Liberalism battled in the denominations, two Christian brothers purposed to publish a series of books which would set forth the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Lyman Stewart had helped to found the Hardison and Stewart Oil Company, which later became Union Oil Company of California, with Stewart as Vice President and later President. He attended one of the Bible Conferences at Niagara-on-the-Lake and became interested in publishing literature encouraging the Christian faith. He had grown up in a godly Presbyterian family and remained a member of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles. His giving, however, was increasingly directed outside the Presbyterian denomination, perhaps because of his increasing interest in and support for dispensationalism and his concern over the increasing liberalism in Presbyterianism.2

In August of 1909, Stewart attended a service at the Baptist Temple in Los Angeles, where A.C. Dixon, pastor of Moody Church, was preaching. He believed he had found the man who could help fulfill his desire. When Dixon returned to Chicago, he established the Testimony Publishing Company, which then published the twelve volumes of The Fundamentals from 1910 to 1915. Each volume contained about 125 pages of articles written by

many of the leading conservatives in America, Canada, and Great Britain. Lyman and his brother Milton each contributed about $150,000 to the project.3

A committee of men oversaw the work, although there is no evidence of the procedure they undertook to invite men to write, decide what articles would be included, or evaluate submissions. This committee originally consisted of three laymen (Henry P. Crowell, Thomas S. Smith, and D.W. Potter) and three clergymen (R.A. Torrey, Louis Meyer, and Elmore Harris, who died in 1911). Several others were eventually added to the committee. Torrey had recently left Moody Bible Institute for full-time evangelism; Meyer was working for the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions; and Harris was a Baptist pastor from Ontario and was serving as president of the Toronto Bible Training School.4 In addition to the committee was the editor (actually called the Executive Secretary), who initially was A.C. Dixon (volumes 1-5). When he left to pastor the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, Dr. Louis Meyer (a Jewish Christian evangelist) assumed the work of the Executive Secretary and oversaw th...

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