Do you find yourself cringing every time someone shouts “Fundamentalist,” as though it’s the dirtiest four-letter word you can think of?
Do you think fundamentalists are aging pastors who tuck their shirts into their pants and wear ties on Sunday, preaching from the King James version of the Bible and hating the word “fun?”
Have you ever wondered what actually makes someone a fundamentalist?
According to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and the Niagara Bible Conference of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (thank you Wikipedia), the following are five fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith:
- The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
- The virgin birth of Christ.
- The belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin.
- The bodily resurrection of Christ.
- The historical reality of Christ’s miracles.
Believe in these fundamentals would then, by definition, make one a fundamentalist.
So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s my encouragement to all of us:
Be a fundamentalist about the fundamentals.
Don’t confuse preferences and precepts for principles, as a dear mentor of mine says. Fight for principles, appropriately debate precepts, but don’t divide over preferences. When we confuse these, we only tear ourselves apart.