In my encounters with Catholic apologists and those who wish they were, I have been accused of many things, ignorance of Catholic ways being the most common charge, and been characterized in many ways. The label most often applied to me, usually when our exchange is not going as my Catholic antagonist would have it, is “Fundamentalist.” The folks who use this term usually do so in an accusative manner, apparently believing it to be pejorative. Quite the contrary, at least in my case, for it pleases me that someone might consider me to hold to the fundamentals of my God-given Christian faith. Another writer gave me permission to post his thoughts on what it means to be a Christian fundamentalist:
* * * * *
I'm A Fundamentalist!
by Dennis L. Finnan
I'm a Fundamentalist! Is it wrong or foolish to be so labeled?
Perhaps one of today's most vilified and condemned phrases used to describe a group of people is the term - FUNDAMENTALIST! Particularly, as it is used by the non-Christian crowd in the news media. Yes, this phrase has been applied to various types and groups of people, usually in an unflattering and even condemnatory way. I suspect most people worldwide, when they hear this applied to a religious person, leads them by word association to believe they are a part of some wild subversive group of people out to destroy others and establish themselves as sovereign rulers over all. National suspicion now stands in judgment, particularly of any who call themselves Christian fundamentalists.
Now, what prompted me to take on this subject was a news broadcast by a well-known evening newsman, who lumped everyone who stood for extremism in the camp called fundamentalists. This included of course, the Oklahoma Bombers, the Islamic extremists, and the radical white supremacists that have played havoc with many in the Northwest area of the United States. Well, it's time to take issue with this and stand up and be counted! I'm a Fundamentalist, and I am proud of it!
The term fundamentalism, as applied to Bible-believing Christians, contrary to wrong application today, is a term that has good and great meaning, for it identifies a system of beliefs that are fundamental to the Christian faith. Where did this term originate? It is not a biblical term, but it is a correct one indeed. It all goes back to the middle of the 19th century. It was at this time in Europe that a new secular thinking arose among those who studied the Bible. Many theologians who inhabited the Bible colleges and seminaries of Germany, became influenced by the rising belief of evolutionary origins. A whole generation of men such as Darwin, Hegel and Marx, arose who no longer believed in the authenticity and inerrancy of the Christian Bible. It appeared to them that modern science had debunked and conquered it for all time. So rather than give up their comfortable, well paid jobs, they continued in teaching and studying the Bible but with a new emphasis – to try to explain the Bible in human terms and with interpretations that only could align with the new atheistic “scientific era,” that arose.
Soon many ancient truths and teachings that were the foundation of Christianity since its inception began to be questioned, and of course denied. Being in a position of teaching others and preparing them for ministry, these new liberal theologians brought forth a generation of Bible-denying preachers who began changing the face of many churches and their beliefs. This rise of doubting followers of the “cloth,” actually led to the American church phenomena called - “Fundamentalism.” By the early 1900's America seemed to have fully imported this unregenerate anti-Christian, and rationalistic thinking. Liberal or modernistic theologians had now taken over a large majority of Christian schools and pulpits of the major denominations. They soon stripped their Bible of any relevance and truth. Many of the major doctrines that were the basis of belief of the church since its inception were scoffed at, and denied in light of the growing dawn of humanistic thinking that had no place for a supernatural, Creator God.
The result was the Christian faith was at a crossroads. If it was to continue, and to multiply as it had rightly done so for almost two millenniums - those who believed and followed the historic teachings had to stand up and be counted. This of course was the birth of Fundamentalism. It was at that time God raised up a faithful “remnant” of Biblical scholars and believers, who spoke out against the false anti-Christian teaching so readily accepted.
These men, in order to define the issues, raised their voices for God's ageless truth. In a series of books called, The Fundamentals ( 1909-1915), they defined and taught what was basic to the Christian faith. This system of beliefs is what to this day identifies those who are truly Christians, and those who honestly believe God and His Word as the apostles, prophets and early church taught. Now what exactly are the “Fundamentals of the faith?”
Is this something everyone should believe to be called a Christian? 'The answer my friend, is yes! Regardless of what sect or denomination anyone follows, if it is to rightly be called Christian, it must adhere to these essential truths the Church was founded upon. Let's go over them now, so that you and others might measure your own beliefs and churches by them. For if any of these are flatly denied or willfully ignored, it is doubtful whether anyone can claim to belong to Christ and His kingdom. Now the first and foremost fundamental of the faith is a firm and strong belief in,
1. THE FULL INSPIRATION AND ABSOLUTE INERRANCY OF SCRIPTURE
The Lord Jesus Himself, and His apostles and early church affirmed that God alone is author of the 66 books of Scripture. In it every word is reliable and truly spoken as it pertains to God and His plan for humanity. We read in,
John 17:17 (NIV) “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
To deny God's Word, to doubt its truthfulness and reliability is to deny God. Liberals today that infest the major denominations, if pressed, will deny the full inspiration and absolute inerrancy of Scripture. And to do so the Bible says, is to deny Christ. Jesus said,
Mat 5:18 (NIV) “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest
letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
For more than 150 years modern science has tried to debunk the Bible, but it has failed to find one error of faith or truth as reported in its pages! Oh yes, many say the Bible is full of errors as it reports history and truth, but no one, absolutely no one has legitimately found such errors! Now the second important fundamental of the faith is,
2. ABSOLUTE BELIEF IN THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST!
The entire Bible teaches that when the Messiah would come that was promised to ancient followers of God, He would be none other than God Himself in the flesh. This is foundational to be a Christian. For the Bible says,
John 1:1,14 (NIV) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …
It is sad how many pulpits of the world that claim to be Christian, are filled with Christ-denying men, [and women] these days. These false teachers not only do not believe that Christ is God, they also deny every other miraculous truth taught in the Bible. Most deny the actual existence of Adam and Eve, a Garden of Eden, a worldwide flood of Noah's day, nor do they believe in the wonderful miracles of the Bible recorded in Exodus and other parts of the Old Testament. All this is summed up in the denial of Jesus Christ being God in the flesh. Yet, the Lord Jesus has something to say to anyone who denies this fundamental of the faith. We read in the Bible,
John 8:24 (NIV) “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I
am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.””
Jesus made it clear, if one willingly denies Christ His rightful place in our hearts and lives, it is because we are not saved, nor are we forgiven of our sins. In fact, Jesus went on to say those who deny His deity would forever perish in their sins. How sad it is that men take money from the people to whom they are to bring the words of life, and lead them astray and ultimately to a Christ-denying eternity in Hell. Jesus warned against such evil wicked men.
Mat 23:15 (NIV) “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You
travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”
Now the third essential of faith one must believe to be a Christian is,
3. BELIEF IN THE VIRGIN BIRTH & MIRACLES OF THE BIBLE
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus of Nazareth was born miraculously without a human father. He was conceived in the womb of his human mother by the divine act of creation of God. Even the Old Testament prophesied this would happen.
Isa 7:14 (NIV) “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
You would be surprised these days how many religious leaders do not believe in the miracle of the virgin birth of the sinless and perfect Christ, nor any of the other miracles He performed in the Bible. Yet, my friend, to deny this is to deny Christ. Jesus Himself said,
John 6:35 (NIV) “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Now the fourth important and fundamental doctrine that identifies and qualifies anyone to be a Christians is firm faith in,
4. THE BLOOD ATONING FULL AND SUFFICIENT DEATH OF JESUS FOR SIN
Although liberal and modernist religionists today abhor the Bible's' teaching on the atonement of the shedding of blood—one cannot be a Christian without belief in this tenet of Scripture. The Bible is full of this teaching for we read,
Rom 3:24-26 (NIV) “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Heb 9:22 (NIV) “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Liberals today hate this teaching and speak vehemently about it. Perhaps the most open statements denying it can be understood in the words of the famous Episcopal bishop, John Spong who declared,
“The sacrificial concept that focuses on the saving blood of Jesus that somehow washes me clean, so popular in .. fundamental churches, is by and large repugnant to us today.”(1)
It is shocking to hear such venomous words, but they are not the words of honest doubters, but rather unbelief of a rebellious heart. Yet such Christian scholars and leaders are found in every community behind a pulpit. You might do well to ask your preacher what he believes about the “fundamentals of the faith.” You might be surprised by his answers if he is honest. Now there are two more basic doctrines of the faith that are fundamental to claiming God's forgiveness and grace. One must believe in the,
5. BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
The greatest and most important miracle in the Bible outside the virgin birth of the Savior is the miraculous resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. Do you know that today the most substantiated truth from our historical past is not the American Revolutionary War, not the reality of Charlemagne, Napoleon, or Columbus's discovery of the Americas. No, the greatest and most reliable historical truth passed down to us is that Christ rose from the dead! The Bible says this clearly too for we read in,
1 Cor 15:1-7 (NIV) “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,”
It is the resurrection of Christ that alone gives us assurance that His death and blood atonement was accepted by God as the full and final payment for our sins. God the Father raised Jesus Christ, in testimony that through faith in Him and His work of redemption, we can be saved from our sins, and given the wondrous gift of life eternal with God. Why anyone would want to deny this, beyond my understanding except for simply rebellion and unbelief in a God who rules eternity. Well lastly, but of course not the last doctrine to believe, is faith in,
6. THE PERSONAL RETURN OF CHRIST, TO BRING JUDGMENT UPON THE UNRIGHTEOUS, UNSAVED, AND BLESSING TO THE RIGHTEOUS, SAVED ONES
When Christ rose from the dead, He assured His followers they would likewise experience the same blessing God the Father gave Him. Listen to the Scriptural promises that are our prized possession,
John 14:1-3 (NIV) “”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Friends, these are the essentials, the base of Scriptural teachings that formulate what it is to be a Christian. Of course, there are many more doctrinal truths to be believed and are important for a right understanding of God and maintaining our righteous walk in this world. However, if you willingly deny any of these and choose to reject them - you have no promise of God you belong to Him. The angel of Christ declared,
Acts 4:12 (NIV) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.””
Friend, the virus of unbelief is growing again in religious circles, as millions of followers of churches and religious systems of faith move away from these basics of truth. However, I am proud to be a fundamentalist in this sense of the word. Regardless of what false terms are given to us, we will lovingly, faithfully and fully proclaim these truths till Christ comes in glory! So today, examine yourself as Scripture says—whether you be “in the faith.” For if you find yourself outside the camp, enter in by the simple act of faith and believe these things according to God's own words. For in them we have eternal life, and through them our souls are saved for all eternity.
The fundamentals of the faith, are you a fundamentalist? You are, if you believe these basic truths of Scripture. Don't shy away from that word because fools condemn it. Stand firmly upon and with it knowing God's approval is for it. I for one await the personal return of our Lord and when He comes, I know He will say to all who faithfully followed and believed His Word
Mat 25:21 (NIV) “”… 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness.”
May God add His blessing to all these words and thoughts, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
· (1) “Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism: a Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of
Scripture,” John Spong, HARPER, 1991, pp. 215,234
|Home | Doctrine | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum|