Then they went on to associate it with Muslim terrorists, calling them Muslim fundamentalists. This, perhaps, is more justifiable than its application to Christian fundamentalists, since an honest exposition of the Koran shows that the terrorists are more or less correct in their exposition of that “holy book”. Those who claim that Islam is a religion of peace are either lying or have never read the Koran or have read it and just mentally gloss over the parts that advocate violence.
It behooves us, then, to know where the term “fundamentalism” came from and what it really means.
In the 19th Century the Protestant churches in America were enough “on the same page” as far as the core doctrines of Christianity that there was widespread cooperation in evangelism and exchanges of pulpits between pastors of different denominations were not uncommon.
Yet the termites of unbelief were already voraciously attacking the faith. Throughout most of the 19th century non-Christian “bible scholars” from Germany had been attacking the reliability of the scriptures. The media, always anxious to showcase controversy, played up these men as great biblical scholars. This started a trickle of aspiring pastors from the United States going to Germany for theological training.
By the end of the 19th Century these unbelievers were beginning to infiltrate seminaries in the United States. One of the first to fall was Union Theological Seminary in New York. These heretical views are, unfortunately, the norm in most seminaries in the U.S. today.
One man who had traveled to Germany and drunk of the poisoned theological waters there was Charles Briggs, a Presbyterian, who was part of the faculty at Union Theological Seminary from 1874 to 1904. In 1892 Briggs was tried for heresy by the New York Presbytery. Here were the charges against him:
- that he had taught that reason and the Church are each a fountain of divine authority which apart from Holy Scripture may and does savingly enlighten men
- that errors may have existed in the original text of the Holy Scripture
- that many of the Old Testament predictions have been reversed by history and that the great body of Messianic prediction has not and cannot be fulfilled
- that Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch, and that Isaiah is not the author of half of the book which bears his name
- that the processes of redemption extend to the world to come (he had considered it a fault of Protestant theology that it limits redemption to this world and that sanctification is not complete at death).
Union Theological Seminary wasn’t going to let a little thing like that keep such a “distinguished scholar” off their faculty. Briggs changed his membership to the Protestant Episcopal Church and kept spewing his poison into the minds of seminary students.
The influx of unbelief and COMPROMISE continued to infect the Presbyterian church and it became a recurring issue at each year’s General Assembly. Finally in 1910 the General Assembly passed a resolution requiring that any man who wanted to be a pastor in the Presbyterian Church must affirm the following five items of the faith:
- Inerrancy of the Scriptures
- The virgin birth (and the deity of Jesus)
- The doctrine of substitutionary atonement
- The bodily resurrection of Jesus
- The authenticity of Christ's miracles
Those who took the opposite position called themselves “modernists”. Has a nice ring to it, huh? After all, who would not rather be known as “modern” instead of an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy?
As other graduates of unbelieving German seminaries continued to fill seminary faculty positions in the U.S., unfit men began to enter the ministry. There were men with two types of unfitness: (1) Those who did not subscribe to the fundamentals of the faith and (2) those who might believe the fundamentals themselves, but who were unwilling to speak or move against unbelief in the church.
By 1923 there were enough of these two types that 1274 Presbyterian ministers signed a document challenging the right of the General Assembly that require that any man who wanted to be ordained in the Presbyterian denomination had to affirm belief in the fundamentals of the faith. This came to be known as the Auburn Affirmation, whereas it should have been known as the Auburn Disputation.
The scale of the corruption was thus revealed to have grown so large that in 30 years it took over the Presbyterian denomination, which officially became “apostate”. The word is derived from the Greek and it means “having fallen away”.
If you believe these five things and believe that denials of them ought to be exposed and opposed, (I hate to break this news to you) you are a “fundamentalist”.
You may say “This is a Baptist Church. What do we care about the Presbyterians?” For the most part, that seems to be exactly what happened at the turn of the century, because by about 1940 this same apostasy had spread to every Protestant denomination.
Baptists in America had split over the issue of slavery into Northern Baptists (who opposed slavery on biblical grounds) and the Southern Baptists (who attempted to justify it). Although this is an inglorious spot on the history of the Southern Baptists, both groups completely accepted the fundamentals of the faith. What is, perhaps, surprising is that after the Civil War was over and slavery ended, subsequent history shows that it was the Southern Baptists that held out longest against the apostasy. In fact, it was not until the 1960s that the first instances of unbelief in Southern Baptist seminaries were not dealt with. From that point onward there was ongoing friction within the denomination. In 1979 Paige Patterson, a Southern Baptist seminary president joined forces with Paul Pressler, a prominent SB businessman to engineer a takeover of the leadership of the SBC one of whose aims was removing seminary professors who did not believe in the fundamentals. SB seminaries are fairly “clean” today and Al Mohler, the president of SW Seminary is a leading national spokesman not only for biblical principles themselves, but also for applying them to everyday life.
The Northern Baptist Convention rapidly proceeded down the road of apostasy. When Nels Ferre, a Northern Baptist Seminary professor opined in print that Jesus was actually the bastard son of Mary and a German soldier stationed in the Holy Land absolutely no action was taken against him. This group was actually ahead of the popular culture in their downhill journey. As a consequence, they acquired such a bad name that in the interest of protective coloration they changed their name to the American Baptist Convention. Of course, that is not why THEY say they changed it. They claim it was to reflect the more national nature of their group. However they have very few churches in the south or west. For example, on a list of 30 Baptist churches in Chico and surrounding areas, 16 are SBC and only one is identified as ABC. Eight are unidentified as to affiliation, some of which I know are independent and affiliated with no group.
Our group fellowships with the GARBC and will ultimately seek formal affiliation with them when we are big enough to hire a pastor. I said earlier that the major denominations mostly looked the other way when apostasy reared its ugly head in the Presbyterian church. This did, however, lead to numerous groups splitting off from major denominations. The GARBC is one of those. Actually its predecessor, the BBU, (Bible Baptist Union) split off from the Northern Baptist Convention in 1923. In 1932 the BBU was superseded by the GARBC.
In the Sundays ahead we are going to look at the biblical basis for the fundamentals of the faith. Today, however, in concluding we are going to look at scriptures showing that what the GARBC and other groups like them in many denominations did in separating from apostate parent bodies was not only biblically justified, but biblically mandated.
Titus 3:10 “Reject a heretical man after a first and second admonition, knowing that such a one has been perverted and sins, being self-condemned. (LITV)” Modern translations like to use a “softer” word than “heretic” such as “factious” or “divisive”, but it serves us well to know that the Greek word in the original (when transliterated into English) is hairetikos, which is clearly a cognate for our word “heretic”. It is true that a heretic is someone who is divisive, but he is someone much worse. Somebody could be divisive about the color of the carpet to be put in a church, but a heretic seeks to divide by propounding false doctrine and drawing away followers to himself. What is the command to us for such folks?
Romans 16:17-18 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” This verse identifies the measuring stick for separation as what? What does this verse identify as to the motivation of the apostates?
II Thess 3:14 “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” What is the command to faithful believers who observe a brother departing from sound doctrine? What is the motive of this action?
Gal. 1:9-10 “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” The Greek word translated as “accursed” is “anathema”. Strong’s Concordance defines it in part as “a person or thing doomed to destruction”. Does this sound like the kind of person you should be fellowshipping with? You might say that this curse falls only on those who preach another gospel and that it does not necessarily refer to other doctrinal errors. Then consider just two of the views propounded by Briggs in 1874:
- He taught that reason and the Church are each a fountain of divine authority which can bring a man to salvation without scripture.
- He taught that Protestant theology was defective in that it did not allow for salvation after death.
II Cor. 6:14-18 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
This entire passage contrasts believers with unbelievers and indicates that they are as incompatible as oil and water. You might think this means you can’t have unsaved friends. We will show next that this is not what the verse teaches, but for now note that each of the things forbidden refers to RELIGIOUS fellowship. But when unbelief arises within a religious context what does the verse say to do?
I Cor. 5:9-11 “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: (Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.) But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” To understand this passage, first ignore the parenthetical phrase. Paul is saying that if someone who is “called a [Christian] brother” is guilty of any of the named sins you are not to eat with him. In the context that does not just mean not to have him over to your house. It means you are not to partake of the Lord’s Supper with him. In other words, he is to repent or leave the church and if neither happens, the church is apostate and YOU are to leave it.
Now when we add the parenthetical phrase we see that it is making an exception for the unsaved. Paul is saying that if you want to be in an environment where there are no fornicators or extortioners or idolaters, you have to leave the world. You are “stuck” with them. These people are our mission field. One of the few just criticisms that have been made against Christian fundamentalists is that they are sometimes so caught up in fighting heresy that they may tend to minimize the Great Commission. May it never be true of us.