Re: [asa] Definition of terms?

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Fri Dec 15 2006 - 10:37:40 EST

IMO, the best definition of "fundamentalism" is the original one. The first
time the word was used in print--it had apparently been in verbal use
informally for at least a little while--here is how it was defined.

"We suggest that those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who
mean to do battle royal for the fundamentals shall be called
'Fundamentalists.'" The editor of the Baptist "Watchman-Examiner," Curtis
Laws, used this to describe the group he was helping to form and identify in
July 1920.

I like to think of myself as "cling[ing] to the great fundamentals," though
I might not define every one of them in the same way that Laws did--I
certainly accept many of them in the same way, however. But I'm not on the
warpath, even though I don't back down from defending what I believe.
George Marsden defines fundamentalism as "militant anti-modernism," and I
think that's as good a short definition as there is. His definition is not
doctrinal, please note; he rejects the definition of the late Ernie Sandeen,
that fundamentalism was "premilllenial dispensationalism." I agree with
Marsden. Sandeen was too narrow in his definition, and he missed the
attitude that makes the difference. The founder of the Worlds Christian
Fundamentals Association, William Bell Riley, used to tell his people, "if
you see a head, hit it," meaning to be in the attack mode whenever
"liberals" or "modernists" come along.

Whereas I think we need to converse with liberals (while being clear about
our fundamental differences), not clobber them with two by fours.

Ted

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Received on Fri Dec 15 10:38:49 2006

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