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See Also The Great Awakenings:
The Essence of Contemporary American Religion
The "textbook" of Fundamentalist Christianity is the Authorized King James Version (KJV) of the Bible (this is beginning to change as more Christians are embracing the new paraphrases). Such Christians usually refer to themselves not as "Fundamentalists" but as "Bible Believing Christians." Some refer to themselves as Evangelicals although not all Evangelicals as Fundamentalists. Doctrinally and culturally Fundamentalist Christianity is quite diverse. What they have in common is what they consider to be a strictly literalist interpretation of the Bible.
Toward the end of the 1800's, as the Modern Secular paradigm was forming, significant segments of Anglican/Protestant Christianity began a rather major revision. This modern reformation was spawned by two contrary social tendencies:
1. Humanism and the new sciences, the growing popularity of "Liberal Christianity," the embrace of Universalism, "New Thought," Interfaith/Ecumenism, the introduction of Eastern concepts and of course Darwinism.
The rise of new sects like the Russelites (such as the Bible Students Association, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Dawn Bible Students etc), the Millerites (Adventism etc), the LDS (i.e. the Later Day Saints or diverse Mormon sects), the resurgence of popular Catholicism (especially Marianism), the 312 Azusa Street Revival of 1906 (which gave birth to Pentecostalism and the Charismatic denominations and sects), the diverse unsuccessful attempts to restore Christianity to its First Century doctrinal roots, and similar factors.
Many traditional Protestants (correctly) felt their beliefs were being threatened by these new movements and experiences and hence they sought to reinvigorate their own doctrinal systems. Fundamentalism arose from this perceived need.
The Presbyterian conference of 1910 established "the five fundamentals" and determined that any teaching that that did not include all five of these essential doctrines had erred from the traditional Protestant faith and were guilty (to some degree) of heresy.
The Five Fundamentals
Those who accepted "the five fundamentals" were accepted as being "fundamentalist" in their beliefs. As other Christians joined the movement to "restore the fundamentals of the faith" the list of requisite dogmas was expanded and developed. This growing exclusivity became the hallmark of Fundamentalism.
- Biblical inerrancy
- The divinity of Jesus
- The Virgin Birth
- The belief that Jesus died to redeem humankind and that only through faith in this could one be 'saved'.
- An expectation of the Second Coming or physical return of Jesus Christ to initiate his thousand-year rule of the Earth
A pivotal book known as The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth) was edited by A. C. Dixon and later by Reuben Archer Torrey. It consists of 90 essays in 12 volumes. These essays were published between 1910 to 1915 by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. These works form the basis of what today is considered the Fundamentalist Movement. Their doctrine is embraced to varying degrees by several Protestant Christian denominations and individuals.
You can learn more about this here: http://recollections.liblog.wheaton.edu/2009/05/29/fundamentals.
Despite their sincerity the Fundamentalists failed to return their movement to the biblical Judaism of Jesus. In 325 Emperor Constantine created his own list of fundamentals for his universalist ("catholic")faith: the Nicene Creed. The Creed, in conjunction with various papal rulings, established a new religion based on the combined religions of the Empire (aka Nicolaitanism) rather than the Torah. The Fundamentalists failed to look beyond the Nicene creed, they failed to return to Torah. In their devotion to biblical literalism they are arguably farther away from the historic teachings of Jesus than other Christians.
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