Fundamentalism, Neo-Evangelicalism, and the American Dispensationalist Establishment in the 1950’s -- By: John Fea

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 04:2 (Fall 1993)
Article: Fundamentalism, Neo-Evangelicalism, and the American Dispensationalist Establishment in the 1950’s
Author: John Fea


Fundamentalism, Neo-Evangelicalism, and the American Dispensationalist Establishment in the 1950’s

John Fea

Introduction

Recently American fundamentalism and evangelicalism have received a great deal of scholarly attention. Historians have provided quite intriguing studies of these twentieth century conservative Protestants, addressing them socially, culturally, and intellectually.1 Many of these studies, when addressing turn of the century American fundamentalism, use dispensational theology as the dominant window by which to understand the movement.2 Introduced through nineteenth century

Bible conferences, the theology of John Nelson Darby became a popular system of doctrine in American conservatism and was particularly adopted by those in the Bible institute movement of the late nineteenth century and the anti-modernist crusades of the 1920’s.3

As these controversies in the mainline denominations subsided, American dispensational ist fundamentalists went into a “sheltered” existence in regards to their impact on the general flow of American religion. Joel Carpenter has described the 1930’s as a time when many non-denominational fundamentalist agencies, usually associated with the dispensational coalition, began to flourish. Bible schools such as Moody Bible Institute and Philadelphia College of the Bible, radio ministries such as Moody’s WMBI, and dispensationally undergirded periodicals such as Moody Monthly and The King’s Business began to gain great followings

among America’s religious conservatives.4

The emergence of these non-denominational agencies in the 1930’s created a certain “dispensational establishment” in American conservative religion. Characterized by its non-denominational mentality and dispensational theology, this coalition consisted of popular magazines, radio programming, Bible conferences, Bible institutes, and theological seminaries, the most noted being Dallas Theological Seminary.

As mentioned above, scholars have addressed this dispensational coalition in its 1920’s and 1930’s forms, but little work has been done on how this group reacted to new conservative coalitions in the 1940’s and more specifically the 1950’s. This article will attempt to address the attitude of American dispensationalists to the intramural controversies of the 1950’s between what became known as “fundamentalists” and ...

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