October 21, 2017

Who Are The Fundamentalists

Brian Green

Condensed from a message preached at the World Congress of Fundamentalists, held July 5-8, 1999, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Today there is much confusion about the title “Fundamentalist.” Muslim Fundamentalists have hijacked the term to describe their rigorous application of the strict laws of the Koran, but their violent enforcement tarnishes the image. In the Protestant religious world there are Pentecostal Charismatics who claim the title, as well as many who claim that because they believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures they must be Fundamentalists.

Some regard the terms “evangelical” and “Fundamentalist” as synonymous, but they are not. A Fundamentalist must always be evangelical but an evangelical is not necessarily always a Fundamentalist. The situation in our day is such that we cannot take the term for granted but must understand and repeat our definition, and, understanding it, be prepared to fight and even lay down our lives for it.

In one sense there is nothing new in our day and generation; the Devil has always been the “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,” and “an angel of light” seeking to deceive. In Acts 20, Paul warns that men will arise and teach false doctrine, and that wolves will come in to do harm to the flock of God. This has continued ever since in the history of the church. But surely this is a strategic time in the life of Biblical Christianity when doctrine and practice is in the melting pot. We must re-appraise our position and the meaning of the term Fundamentalist.

BELIEFS OF FUNDAMENTALISM

You cannot have a definition of what a Fundamentalist is without understanding the convictions and beliefs of Fundamentalism. It is because of his beliefs that he must act as he does. The writer of Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

We are not trying to define a bare orthodoxy of words — that becomes a dead orthodoxy. Our concern is not merely to maintain a recognized position or continue a particular tradition but rather to rediscover and redefine the spiritual life and vitality of Biblical Christianity.

I want to give six affirmations concerning the revitalized Fundamentalist.

1. The Fundamentalist believes the Bible to be the only authority. We live in a day when it is popular to believe the Bible to be true only when it is relative to situations. But we believe in absolutes — the Bible is always true in every circumstance. Our authority does not come from the church, nor from tradition, and certainly not from a so-called infallible pope.

We give unqualified acceptance and obedience to the Scriptures. This book does not merely contain the word of God — it is the word of God. It is theopneustia — God-breathed, and we believe it from cover to cover.

The modernist liberal tries to take away from it with his deletions, and the Roman church attempts to add to it with its various services and orders. The Fundamentalist does not accept any subtractions from nor additions to this wonderful book. We accept the Biblical account of creation as being scientific and historical. We believe in the literal truth of the miracles, in the Old Testament and in the New, and that the science and the history of the Bible are correct.

We take the whole Bible as supernaturally given that we might know Him and His ways. Martin Luther said he would not trust “that old witch reason” to interpret the Bible. Wesley is described by a biographer as the man “of one book,” and the early Methodists were derisorily named “Bible moths” because of their love of getting into the Word of God. The great slogan of the Reformation, sola scriptura, has always been the slogan of the true Fundamentalist.

2. The Fundamentalist is always concerned about doctrine. The Fundamentalist contends that doctrine is of vital importance, and that there is a need for a clear understanding concerning the doctrine of God and of the life and work of Christ, showing Him to be a unique Savior to His people, and of man and sin, revealing the need of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Doctrine builds up spiritual lives with confidence and assurance; it inspires the believer and feeds him with the bread of Heaven.

3. The Fundamentalist acts on convictions. The Puritans used to speak of people with “big heads and little joints,” meaning their heads were full of knowledge with no exercise of that knowledge. That is not so with the Fundamentalist who believes in obedience. If God says so, we obey without hesitation, question, or reluctance. God calls His people to be a separated people out of sin, the world, and apostasy unto Him outside the camp. The liberals want an all-inclusive church; the evangelicals, a compromised church; but the Fundamentalist, a separated church for God’s glory alone.

We are against sin and evil and compromise; thus we are not afraid to use negatives or condemn. In today’s modern church an important word is accommodation, and that is the reason so many stay in an apostate denomination to make a witness. But we cannot accommodate the Devil!

4. The Fundamentalist is watchful and alert. Peter described this world as a “dark place.” Jesus was stronger in His language when He spoke of a “crooked and perverse generation.”

The Fundamentalist is watchful and sees things happening, sometimes afar off. The reason he watches is that the Lord urged us to “watch and pray,” and the whole of the New Testament constantly encourages us to “beware,” “take heed,” and exhorts “watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

That is why we give a warning concerning the godless materialism of our day, deceitful ecumenism, the anti- Bible movement, the liberal Modernist pact seeking to destroy the church, the big lie of Romanism, and the deception of the Charismatics.

The true Fundamentalist has not got his head in the sand ignoring what is happening around him but is vigilant and ready. The Bible speaks of exposing error and naming names, as Paul did in his Second Epistle to Timothy — names such as Phygellus and Hermogenes who had turned away; Hymenaeus and Philetus who erred from the truth; Jannes and Jambres, those men of corrupt minds; and Alexander the coppersmith who did much evil to the apostle.

5. The Fundamentalist puts emphasis on the spiritual life. We believe in spiritual life that begins at the new birth and brings us into a vital relationship with God in Christ. We rejoice in a real fellowship with God and believe in prayer. Prayer is vital to the Fundamentalist; it is his life and native air.

The Fundamentalist knows the joy indescribable and full of glory in his experience of love and peace. He thanks God for the fullness of the Spirit as he seeks to work for God in the vineyard. He is concerned for the way people live. Purity and holiness are not abstract concepts but the everyday working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.

6) The Fundamentalist is concerned about evangelism. He recognizes that this world is lost without Christ; that a man is dead in sin and without hope apart from Christ as Savior.

He believes in giving primacy to the preaching of the gospel. When people cease to be interested in preaching they cease to be Fundamentalists. To the Fundamentalist, nothing compares with preaching the gospel, or, as somebody has described it, “truth mediated through personality.” And God is pleased to use the message preached to save lost souls.

John the Baptist is an example of what a true Biblical Fundamentalist should be: his authority was the Scriptures; his action was distinctive — he was different in dress diet and message (he was the first separatist of the New Testament, living in the wilderness outside the camp); his attitude was that of a spiritual man; his announcement was not concerning himself but “the Lamb of God”; his acceptance was of that of not being popular in his militancy against sin. He lost his life because he was faithful. His testimony was that “he fought a good fight, he finished his course.”

THE BATTLE

The fruits of apostasy are seen in the godless society in which we live. Abortion is acceptable, homosexuality normal, crime levels tolerated, the drug culture rampant, and people believe that God is dead. We have a secular religious society where distinctives have been blurred, and where the professing Church works for the kingdom on earth as the priority.

What is the gospel for this society?

Is it the ecumenical gospel with its all embracing appeal yet a denial of doctrine and the Bible? Is it the social gospel which regards man as basically good? Is it the Roman gospel with its penance, purgatory and priestcraft? Is it the superficial gospel of the evangelicals and Charismatics which makes God impotent and man almighty?

Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Some are ashamed, and they take away from it. Others are ashamed and add to it, and there are yet more who are ashamed of it and try to hide it. The Fundamentalist is not ashamed of the whole gospel because it is divine in origin, supernatural in power, and unique in content.


Dr. Brian Green is pastor of Calvary Free Grace Baptist Church in London, England. He also serves as general secretary of the British Council of Protestant Christian Churches.

(Originally published in FrontLine • September/October 1999. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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