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[Additional material relative to
fundamentalism assembled by Graeme Bradford, as referenced on page 159]
"Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism"
John R Rice, a leading Fundamentalist, describes fundamentalism as "a vigorous defence of the faith, active soul winning, great New Testament type churches going abroad to save multitudes, having fervent love for all God's people and earnestly avoiding compromise in doctrine or yoking up with unbelievers . . . all true Fundamentalists today affirm the inerrancy of the Bible and the premillennial return of Christ, and deny all biological evolution. . . ."1
Some would say that the two most distinguishing features of Fundamentalism are a militant defence of the faith and soul winning. George Marsden says of Fundamentalists: "A Fundamentalist is ready to stand up and fight for the faith. . . . Central to being a Fundamentalist is perceiving oneself to be in the midst of religious war. . . . Spiritually enlightened Christians can tell who the enemy is. In such a war, there can be no compromise . . . . Fundamentalists universally see the war as primarily a war over the Bible. To this extent, they would agree with outside observers who claim that fundamentalism is, in its distinctive aspect, a modern movement. Though Fundamentalists see this battle for the Bible as recent, they insist that their inerrancy doctrine is the historic position of the church. For Fundamentalists, the battle for the Bible almost always has two fronts. They are fighting against modern interpretations of the Bible that they see are destroying most American civilization, which they see as founded on the Bible. . . . The way of getting at this point that has become virtually universal for Fundamentalists is to assert that the Bible is 'inerrant.' For Fundamentalists, this means that the Bible not only is an infallible authority in matters of faith and practice, but also is accurate in all its historical and scientific assertions" (emphasis added).2
Marsden talks further of the two points that would traditionally separate Fundamentalists from the rest of the Protestant world—inerrancy of Scripture and the premillennial hope of the return of Jesus. Talking about inerrancy of scripture as a test of faith was rare before the late nineteenth century, although earlier Protestants probably assumed it.
Fundamentalism in North America had some success and strength up until the Scopes Trial, of 1925; however at the trial they were nationally discredited as the evidence given at the trial was made public. "After that year, fundamentalism steadily lost its national influence in America and began to retreat into separatist sectarian minorities which became increasingly isolated from the mainstream of society.";3
Because of this setback, the late 1920s saw the Fundamentalist movement re-organising itself. They had been discredited inside mainline denominations. Two schools of thought developed as to how they could regain their strength. One group said that "they should simply continue to champion their cause within the major denominations, building individual Fundamentalist congregations that could resist liberal influences of denominational leadership. Other Fundamentalists increasingly concluded that the movement should form its own separate institutions, which could be freed from corrupting entanglements with the major denominations. Dispensationalists especially were inclined toward this separationist direction, since one of the dispensationalists teachings was that the major churches of this age would become apostate. Many, though not all, Dispensationalists carried this teaching to the conclusion that Christians must separate themselves from any such apostasy. . . .";4
The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia states: "To a considerable extent, Fundamentalists have ignored or rejected the valid findings of Biblical scholarship, a feature of the movement deplored by its more well-informed leaders. Furthermore, there seems to be a predisposition, especially among the more radical fundamentalist groups, to take an obscurantist, irrational attitude on various matters. . . . Since about 1940 a group of fundamentalist scholars has arisen calling for a more enlightened attitude towards modern culture, especially in the areas of science and sound Biblical scholarship. Those sympathetic to this trend call themselves Evangelicals. . . ." [Emphasis added].;5
Among some of the more important catalysts to cause this new evangelical movement in the 1950s were: first, the influence of Billy Graham who started out in the Fundamentalist camp, but gradually moved away to work with a more broad-based group of churches. Second, Carl F Henry and his work as founding editor of Christianity Today. This publication became the most influential magazine in the new evangelical movement. The founding of Fuller Theological Seminary was destined to become the catalyst of mission for the evangelical world.
Early Evangelicals attempted to distance themselves from the extremes of the Fundamentalists and they did this in many areas such as: (a) opposing liberal theologies; (b) de-emphasising some of the strict prohibitions of the fundamentalist moral code; (c) abandoning separatism; and (d) dropping dispensationalism, while remaining premillenialists.
However, there was one important issue, they could not agree on, which was to cause serious rifts. Dayton and Johnston state: "The question of Biblical inerrancy soon split neo-evangelicals themselves into two major camps. Progressives thought inerrancy too narrow a way to define Biblical authority; more fundamentalistic neo-evangelicals insisted on inerrancy as a test of faith. Fuller Theological Seminary, the leading neo-evangelical educational centre, split over this question and fell into the hands of the progressives. More fundamentalistic neo-evangelicals, usually supported by Graham and Christianity Today, took the lead in promoting the inerrancy test for as much of the evangelicalism as possible. Most influential in these campaigns was Harold Lindsell, editor of Christianity Today from 1968 to 1978, whose Battle for the Bible, published in 1976, was the Uncle Tom's Cabin of the inerrancy movement. . . ." (emphasis added).;6
Marsden describes evangelicalism in the following way: "While fundamentalism has become a fairly precise designation for a particular type of Protestant militant, it should be apparent that evangelicalism describes a much more diverse coalition. Roughly speaking, evangelicalism today includes any Christian traditional enough to affirm the basic beliefs of the nineteenth-century evangelical consensus. The essential evangelical beliefs include:
1. The Reformation doctrine of the final authority of the Bible.
2. The real historical character of God's saving work recorded in Scripture.
3. Salvation to eternal life based on the redemptive work of Christ.
4. The importance of evangelism and missions.
5. The importance of a spiritually transformed life.";7
There can be no doubt that Seventh-day Adventists could subscribe to the above definition. However, those who have a proper understanding of Seventh-day Adventism belong more with the progressive evangelicals, particularly in the area of Scriptural inerrancy. Russell Staples of Andrews University, arrives at a "yes" and "no" answer while noting "an extremely high value of Scripture is held by both, but evangelicalism tends to accept verbal inspiration and inerrancy—although perhaps a more flexible view is held by some. Adventists adhere to a more dynamic view. . . . Evangelicals appear to be moving away from dispensationalist fundamentalism, and the differences between Adventist and evangelical eschatology appear to be narrower than previously. Both are faced with the challenge of maintaining a sense of expectancy. . . .";8
Seventh-day Adventism lives in the same world as the rest of the Christian church. It faces similar issues and pressures. As other Christian churches respond, so does the Seventh-day Adventist Church, although usually a little later in time. Today there are militant, Fundamentalist Seventh-day Adventists who are quick to point out the changes that have taken place in Seventh-day Adventism since the end of World War II. However, they seem unaware of the changes that also took place in the 1920s. Bull and Lockhart are quick to point this out: "The changes that have taken place in Adventism since the Second World War have been far more self conscious than those at the start of the century. In consequence these developments have received a disproportionate amount of attention. But in fact the changes have been less dramatic than those of the earlier period, involving a dilution rather than a transformation of Adventist belief. . . .
"A misleading picture of Adventist history can be derived from concentrating solely on the changes that have taken place since the Second World War. It can appear that the central dynamic of Adventist development has been the move away from historic certainties toward accommodation with the mainstream American religion. But what many authors take to be historic Adventism is in fact a creation of the twentieth century—a synthesis that took place in the 1920s and remained dominant until the 1960s. It was, moreover, a synthesis that in itself represented an accommodation to the newly formed fundamentalist movement. . . .
"Adventist theology has developed in parallel with that of the mainstream. It was at its most distinctive during a period of great diversity; it became fundamentalist in the era of fundamentalism; and it softened with the rise of evangelicalism. Throughout this process Adventist theology has served as a barrier between the church and its opponents. The nature of the competition has changed—from rival sects to liberal Christianity to secular humanism—and Adventist theology has adjusted accordingly. But the changes have served to maintain the distance between Adventism and the most threatening idealogical formations of the day. . . ." (emphasis added).;9
1 Donald Dayton, and Robert K. Johnston, The variety of American Evangelicalism, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 1991), pp. 22-23. Quote from Rice on this point. [back]
2 Ibid., pp. 23-27. [back]
3 John Scopes was a young biology teacher teaching in Dayton, Tennessee who faced a court trial in 1925 because he taught Darwinism in a public school. The Scopes trial [often called the "Monkey Trial] became a debate between an agnostic, named Clarence Darrow who defended him and a well-known orator named William Jennings Bryan who was the prosecutor. Scopes was eventually found guilty but the decision was reversed on a technicality. However, it was perceived by many that the real winner was Scopes and the material used by Darrow to defend him. The ideas used by Bryan to prosecute Scopes were perceived to be very inadequate when put through the process of the court procedures. The result was that Fundamentalism was discredited at first by those who had followed the ideas presented closely: gradually in the years to follow, society in general began to follow.[back]
4 Dayton and Johnston, American Evangelicalism, 28. [back]
5 SDA Encyclopedia. (Washington, DC: Review and Herald.1966), Article "Fundamentalism". [back]
6 Dayton and Johnston, American Evangelicalism, pp. 30-31. [back]
Recommended reading under this topic is an excellent article by A. Patrick, "An Adventist and an Evangelical in Australia"? The case of Ellen G. White in Australia. Lucas n.12. Dec 1991. He suggests that ELLEN WHITE was indeed an evangelical because of her positions on primitive Christianity, the Scriptures, the Cross, righteousness by faith, and activism. [back]
8 Dayton and Johnston. American Evangelicalism, p. 68. [back]
9 Bull and Lockhart. Seeking a Sanctuary, pp. 90-91. [back]
Fundamentalist, Liberals, Evangelicals—Where do Adventists fit in?
"Are Adventists Fundamentalists?"
Review editorial by William Johnsson Jan 8, 1981. Page 1
Roy Graham takes the following position in regards to Adventism "The SDA position on revelation-inspiration is not a unique one. If one is to use labels the SDAs are left of centre as far as the "conservative evangelical" is concerned, but to the right as far as a "liberal" would evaluate." Roy E. Graham E G. White Co-Founder of the SDA Church. American University Studies. Peter Lang NY. 1985.
Arthur Patrick puts forth a case to consider Ellen White as an evangelical in Lucas with the following summary statement.
"Was Ellen White Evangelical? If to be Evangelical is to be motivated and restrained by a sense of faith and duty similar to Luther, Wesley and the Evangelical Party in Anglicanism, the answer must be yes. Her doctrine of Scripture, her analysis of the sinful nature of humankind, her idea of righteousness by faith, her methodical attempts to express the implications of the gospel in word and deed-all bear stronger testimony than do any countervailing factors. Arthur Patrick Lucas n. 12, Dec 1991, page 48.