I’ll be the first to admit that the term “Fundamentalist” is pretty broad and causes heartburn for many on every part of the theological spectrum. Some embrace Fundamentalism as the counterpart to Evangelicalism. Others reject Fundamentalism as weak and shallow and a major proponent of “Easy-Believism.” Quite a few Fundamentalists still hold to the historic “fundamentals” as identified by the early proponents of the movement. More than a few reject Fundamentalism because of its ecumenicism. That might strike many readers as strange given the historic “hyper-separatism” of Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism stretches way across the spectrum, and you can find Fundamentalists who embrace beliefs and practices that I reject out of hand. Various taxonomies have been attempted to categorize the potpourri of Fundamentalists one might encounter.
I did some time in the “nut-wing” of Fundamentalism, under the influence of Jack Hyles (primarily). That is not historic Fundamentalism, but it did become a significant player in the 1980s. Probably the easiest, most recognizable way to categorize Fundamentalism is based on the various Fundamentalist colleges. I won’t attempt to provide a chart here, as I doubt we could reach any actual agreement on it. Besides, it is beyond the scope of this article. The opposite side of the spectrum from the Hyles wing (which includes about a half dozen or so Bible Colleges that still align with the Hyles tradition) is the Bob Jones /Maranatha/Central Seminary wing, which tends to be closer to “classic” Fundamentalism. And in between are colleges like Pensacola and Crown and West Coast. Again, this is not an attempt at a genus and species hierarchy – only recognizing that there is a broad spectrum of “Fundamentalism.”
This article does not mean I embrace all that could be included with broader Fundamentalism. I don’t. There are many “Fundamentalist” churches, as Churchill once said (about prepositions, not Fundies), “up with which we shall not put.” Some I wouldn’t cross the street to attend. And some, to borrow from Spurgeon, I would cross the street in order not to attend. Here’s to you, Tony Hutson.
I don’t usually call myself a Fundamentalist for a variety of reasons. Perhaps I could write about that in the future. I agree with what my friend Kent Brandenburg wrote on this topic (He has a lot to say on it). However, most outside of my church would tag me as a Fundamentalist. Our church sign has “Fundamental” on it. I didn’t put it there, but it has been twenty years since I became the pastor, and I have never bothered to take it off. The scorn and ridicule heaped on Fundamentalism is also often heaped on me. And it is in that sense that I am here embracing that particular tag. I’m not embarrassed about my fundamentalist roots, and I’ll not be cool-shamed by those who call us cultists, legalists, primitive, and in general, the offscouring of all things.Continue reading “Glad to be a “Fundamentalist””