Re: [asa] Definition of terms?

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Dec 15 2006 - 10:56:45 EST

Marsden's "Understanding Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism" is a good
resource (

I think Ted is right that the difference is largely one of culture and

On 12/15/06, Ted Davis <> wrote:
> 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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David W. Opderbeck
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Received on Fri Dec 15 10:57:19 2006

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