What is a Fundamentalist Christian?

     When most people think of the Inquisition, witch hunts, or even the Westboro Baptist Church, they think of

John Huss being burnt at the stake for heresy.

the term “fundamentalist,” but this is the farthest thing from the truth! What a travesty that those who rely on and love the Bible are confused with those who distort and corrupt the Bible! It is a lie of the worst sort!

     First of all, what is a fundamentalist Christian? Historically, the fundamentalists formed as a protest against  the “historical criticism” of the Bible which occurred in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Evangelical Christians didn’t agree with the willingness by many in mainline denominations to believe and accept the critics of the Bible who said that archaeology, history, and science conflicted with the Scriptures. Instead they decided to stand fast on the historical biblical teachings which they called “the fundamentals.”  These included:

  • The inerrancy of the Bible.
  • The literal nature of the Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ’s miracles and the creation account in Genesis.
  • The virgin birth of Christ.
  • The bodily resurrection and physical return of Christ.
  • The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross.

     Most evangelical Christians believe in these things! These are the fundamentals of the faith. 

     But now you may question what impact believing in the “innerrancy of the Bible” will have on a person. This is an important question. Does it mean, for example, that Christians believe in stoning adulterers or sacrificing lambs since these are found in the Old Testament law and the Bible is inerrant?  NO! Why not? Because a Christian reads the Old Testament in light of the New Testament.

     When the woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned, Jesus stopped the crowd by proclaiming, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone (John 8:7).” The Old Testament Law demanded stoning, but Jesus stopped them. Why?  Jesus was the only one who was capable of casting the stone in judgment, yet he didn’t. He showed her mercy. 

     The New Testament explains that Jesus came to fulfill the law. He would become the Lamb of God who would take away sin. He would become our Sabbath rest. He would become our “first fruits.”  He would become our high priest, making intercession for us. The book of Hebrews talks of many of the ways Jesus fulfilled the law. For example, because he fulfilled the law, there is no longer a need for the priesthood, or blood sacrifice.  The Old Testament law was completed or fulfilled by Jesus.

     Taken together, Jesus’ unwillingness to allow the adulteress woman to be stoned, and his claim to have fulfilled the Old Testament,  along with the explanations in the epistles (letters sent out amongst the early church) show us that we are no longer to interpret the Old Testament in the same way. We must do it in light of the Gospel. This is why you don’t see Christians carrying out the law anymore.

   This doesn’t mean we should just toss the Old Testament aside, either. If we didn’t have the Old Testament we wouldn’t know what laws Jesus fulfilled! We also wouldn’t know what prophecies he fulfilled. The Old Testament is also full of “types and shadows” of Jesus as explained in the book of Hebrews. It also contains the history of Israel, the content of many propecies yet to be fulfilled, and many other important teachings found in the Christian faith.  

     In light of the understanding of the scriptures as explained above, those who would turn to Old Testament laws and demand adherence to them are no longer fundamentalists who follow the teachings of Jesus or the New Testament. Instead, they are hybrids who reject the Gospel and blend Old Testament law in with  New Testament grace. They are unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus and reject the teachings of Paul.

     This is what happened to southern slaveholders. They didn’t remain faithful to New Testament teachings. Instead they developed their own version of the faith which included a wrong doctrine about the Old Testament “curse of Ham” being used as a justification to enslave the descendants of Noah’s son, Ham, which they wrongly believed were African. But Jesus taught that he came to set the captive free! (Luke 4:18)  In 1 Timothy 1:10, Paul explains that slave trading is “contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the Gospel . . .” Paul also wrote a letter to Philemon asking him to set his slave, Onesimus, free. (Philemon 1:8-16). In Christianity, Paul explained, all were equal before God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Because of the early church, slavery would be expunged from the Roman Empire!

     Unfortunately, the Christian church has perverted New Testament doctrines over and over again throughout its history. And every time they do, they bring shame on the Church and worst of all, on the name of God. The southern slaveholders, who abandoned the historical doctrines of the Bible, as read through the light of the New Testament, have become a scourge on history. This is just one example of the perverted and defiled Church in the course of history.

     The Roman Catholic Church, relying on its own traditions and the addition of the infallible words of the Popes (which Luther always mocked, since they often conflicted with the Bible) became the overseer of the dark ages. Why? Because they placed the Word of God below other authorities. They even placed the Word below Greek philosophy, as in the case of Galileo who mocked them for it and called them simpletons because they relied more on Aristotle than on the Bible.

     The Roman Church also persecuted those who opposed their false tyranny and were pleading for a restoration of the Word of God as the source of truth. John Huss, for example, thought that Catholicism was a corrupt institution that neglected scripture. He demonstrated his disgust with the perverse Church of Rome by hanging pictures of the popes in all their rich clothing next to images of the poverty-stricken Jesus. He believed that neither pope nor cardinal could establish doctrine that was contrary to the scriptures and that there was no obligation on the part of any Christian to obey an order which conflicted with the teachings of the Word of God. He was a fundamentalist. For this he would be called before the Inquisition. While there he would be questioned and the following happened:

As he was about to open his mouth to answer, all this mad herd began so to cry out upon him, that he had not leisure to speak one only word. The noise and trouble was so great and so vehement, that a man might have called it a bruit of wild beasts, and not of men, much less was it to be judged a congregation of men gathered together, to determine so grave and weighty matters. (1)

You see, the people who were crying out like brute beasts were not the crowds of common people, they were the religious leaders, the council of cardinals and bishops! For the stand he took, Huss would be burnt at the stake. Those who reject Christ have a way of becoming irrational, violent, and hateful in a flash. It has been shown to be true over and over in history. Yet the fundamentalist, that is, the one who trusts in, relies on, and honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God is  loving, truthful, and courageous. 

Fundamentalist Christians are the greatest heroes of history!

(1)  John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs  (Pittsburgh, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 110.

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7 Comments

  1. Oh dear, me again. At least the discussion is not evolution any more.
    Let me first get the ‘Curse of Ham’ interpretation of slavery out of the way. The Bible passages I quoted at you earlier – and thus I imagine the comment that inspired this post – talked of buying any foreigner without negotiation and keeping them for as long as their life… your children could inherit them like cattle. And talked of buying Hebrew slaves and keeping them for 6 years (never longer), and talked about selling your daughters off as slaves to men (who may then marry them – I also made mention of how very close it sounded to sexual slavery, but as I can’t concretely make that accusation don’t concern yourself with it just yet). So the issue has nothing to do with ‘Ham’ and them being of African descent at all (notice as I side step my own digression here on evolution…)

    As for the Old Testament commandment being old-hat since we had Jesus on the scene, let me just point out where in the New Testament the Bible disagrees with you on that claim:

    Matthew 5:18-19 “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”

    Luke 16:17 “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid”

    Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place”

    2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness”

    2 Peter 1:20-21 “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God”

    Mark 7:10 “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” (this one is particularly excellent if you want to go read why Jesus said this in context)…

    Matthew 15: 4-7 “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death” (that is one hell of a come back when the Pharisees tell Jesus he should have washed his hands before eating…)

    Matthew 5:27 – 29 Jesus ups the definition of adultery to include lust, and ups the punishment to plucking out eye balls…

    John 7: 19 “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law”

    John 10:35 “the scripture cannot be broken”

    My accusation here is rather harsh: you fundamentally cherry pick. Old Testament law stands. Homosexuals certainly aren’t vindicated by the New Testament, and neither are unruly children, and actually, neither are adulterers.

  2. Hi Allallt,

    I’m glad you’re willing to discuss biblical doctrine!

    It’s very important to know that the Bible actually explains itself. If you were to read some of the letters written to the early church by Paul or the disciples of Jesus, you would learn how to understand those scriptures that you mentioned in your earlier reply.

    This is what Paul said to the church at Rome about Jesus and the law:

    “21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.
    22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
    23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
    24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
    25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,
    26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
    27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.
    28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”

    Jesus was continually attempting to show the pharisees how futile it was to get to God by keeping the law. He knew it was impossible. The religious leaders walked around with a sense of spiritual superiority, enforcing showy, ritualistic, religion based on human tradition. (Much like the medieval Catholic Church!) And it angered him. He pronounced a “woe” on them for making it difficult for people to enter the kingdom of God.

    You see, God made a way for us to be restored! He didn’t leave us hopeless. Paul explained this in Hebrews 9:

    11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world.
    12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
    13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity.
    14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
    15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

    When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus was the one who would fulfill the laws concerning the priesthood, the sacrifice, and the light. Isaiah said this about the Messiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born:

    1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
    2 The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
    For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
    a light will shine.
    3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
    and its people will rejoice.
    They will rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest
    and like warriors dividing the plunder.
    4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery
    and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
    You will break the oppressor’s rod,
    just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
    5 The boots of the warrior
    and the uniforms bloodstained by war
    will all be burned.
    They will be fuel for the fire.

    6 For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
    The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7 His government and its peace
    will never end.
    He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.

    What hope is there for the world when it is filled with sin and false religion?

    This is why I write about the great blessings that have been brought about by the Bible. What other hope does the world have? Hitchens thought the only hope was a world without religion, but then, if that world included the abolition of Christianity, it would be a world that was still filled with slavery, child sacrifice, cannibalism, illiteracy, scientific backwardness, disease, and on and on, because it certainly hasn’t been the atheists who have rid the world of all of these plagues. It has been fundamentalist Christianity that has improved the world.

    Even now, atheists have barely made any contributions to the world’s problems. What I see them doing for the most part is traversing web sights and making snide remarks and ad hominem attacks on anybody who believes in the scriptures in any way.

    What is the evolutionary hope for the world? What is the atheist Christmas?

    Is it Barack Obama? Is it the Dalai Lama? Is it communism? Is it a world without religion, as Hitchens believed? What is the hope of the world to you?

  3. Let me say with absolute clarity that you have not, in any feasible way, countered the content of the Bible quotes I sent you. Every jot and every tittle – every iota of the Old Testament law stands. Any one who reads my comment, and then yours will only be struck by two simple facts:
    The Bible is in clear contradictions with itself – it clearly says to keep to the laws of the Old Testament, but letters sent between Churches and disciples claim that’s not true… so which is it? Let me suggest that you should rather follow the words of Jesus than the words of some people that followed him; perhaps they did not agree with him… perhaps they wanted to dilute certain teachings.
    You can justify anything you think is right with the Bible because it contradict itself…

    My point has, from the start, been that the Bible is wrong. So the fact that some Christians were abolitionists – not because of their Bible. And many more Christians were slaver owners – and they had more Bible passages on their side.

    In fact, every good thing you’ve said Christians have done they have not done because of the Bible. In places they have done it in spite of the Bible (think: science. I promise you that cosmology and evolution haven’t supported a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible; think: slavery. Already discussed; think: child sacrifice. Wasn’t Abraham celebrated for being willing to do exactly that?; think: human sacrifice. Isn’t the Bible built on the idea that human sacrifice (Jesus’) works?; think: women’s right. My girlfriend is a teacher – she shouldn’t be allowed to do that according to the Bible; think: sexual freedoms. My sexual history is a sin because I’m not married and have a sexual history, homosexuals should be stoned…).

    When people do things that are not taught by their book – and more evidently when they do things in contradiction to their books – that is secular action.

    As for my idea of the hope of the world; humanism. People are worth something.

    That and freedom from religion: you’re religion shouldn’t matter. Things like gay rights, and abortion, and creation, and stem cell research… these are almost entirely religiously fought problems. The secular world seems to agree on these issues… religion is holding us back (I won’t elaborate as I’m sure you’ve heard all of this before).

    1. “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4)

      Why was the Jewish religious system so special? It was similar to other religious systems in that it demanded an if/then relationship. If you do these things, then . . . . God will respond. Just as Allah demands a trip to Mecca, the giving of alms to the poor, etc… But the amazing difference of the Jewish system was that everything in it was a “type and shadow” of Jesus. It all pointed to Jesus. And Paul (who was a Pharisee and knew the law of Moses very well) was chosen by God to explain this to the world.

      “For surely you have heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation . . . In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his apostles and prophets . . . (Galatians 3:2-3,5)

      God’s plan was amazing. The whole story of the Old Testament (even the story of Abraham that you refer to) was a picture of Jesus. How is it possible that the Bible could have such a unified message? What you see as a contradiction, I see as an amazing evidence for the truth of the Bible! The Old Testament is merely a road map or lighthouse that would point us to Jesus in every way. How else could we understand the plan of God? How else could we know who the messiah was? Any Jim Jones or David Koresh could claim divinity and how would humanity know any different? But we have a record! The Jewish law was like a shell that when opened revealed the “pearl of great price.”

      I’m so tenderhearted towards Christ and what he did for me on the cross. He thought people were worth something too. 🙂

  4. As for your argument that the Christians who did all the great things were motivated by something other than the Bible–you have no leg to stand on! Many times, their ONLY motivation was simply to counter the popular ethos of the day that conflicted with the Bible. A classic case is the 19th century missions movement that converted so many of the cannibals around the world.

    Scientific racism and social Darwinism had said that the darker racers were less intelligent and were incapable of learning difficult concepts. But Christians believed the Bible, especially Acts 17:26 which said, “From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth . . ” Because we were all brothers and sisters from the same parent, we were equal. The missionaries believed the darker races weren’t as “civilized” because they hadn’t heard the Gospel. If they could only hear about Jesus, then they would turn away from their pagan rituals and evil practices. After this, they would be given an opportunity to learn how to read and become educated. Did you ever notice that many of the great colleges and universities around the world were started by Christians in the 19th century? This is why! To prove that the Bible was true!

    Consider these words penned by William Cowper:

    “Ah me, what wish can prosper, or what prayer
    For merchants rich in cargoes of despair!
    Who drive a loathsome traffic, gauge and span,
    And buy the muscles and the bones of man.”

    He also wrote this famous Christian hymn:

    “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
    And sinners plunged beneath the flood lose all their guilty stains.”

    Consider Stephen Foster who railed at the institutional church for not taking a greater stand against slavery. He used an opportunity to speak at the Methodist Episcopal convention to attack them to their faces! He explained:

    “The remarks which I made at your Convention were of a most grave and startling character. They strike at the very foundation of all our ecclesiastical institutions, and exhibit them to the world as the apologists and supporters of the most atrocious system of oppression and wrong, beneath which humanity has ever groaned. They reflect on the church the deepest possible odium, by disclosing to public view the chains and handcuffs, the whips and branding-irons, the rifles and bloodhounds, with which her ministers and deacons bind the limbs and lacerate the flesh of innocent men and defenceless women.”

    He would also declare: “I am a firm believer in the Christian religion, and in Jesus, as a divine being, who is to be our final judge.”

    Did you ever read Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail?” It was all about Jesus, the church, and the Bible.

    Should I go on? Pasteur was motivated by a desire to disprove “spontaneous generation.” He was a creationist!

    Here is just one quote from Isaac Newton. He says he wrote his “Principia Mathematica” in order to convince skeptics that there was a God!

    “When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the beliefe of a Deity and nothing can rejoyce me more then to find it usefull for that purpose.”

    No, Allallt. What you don’t seem to understand is the unbelievable loyalty that Jesus inspires in people. He revolutionizes a person’s life, encouraging them to give their “utmost for His highest.” In every area of life, Christians are extending themselves to give glory to Jesus. He gave his all for us and now our greatest desire is to give our all to him. Not out of necessity, but out of love. It’s a magnificent story that spans the ages. I, like many other of the greatest minds in history, have chosen to be a part of this great story. Won’t you?

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