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FUNDAMENTALISM - FUNDAMENTALISM Fundamentalism like most...

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FUNDAMENTALISM: Fundamentalism, like most broadly based religious movements, had a number of tensions at work within it, some of these were region, and some of these were sub-consciously related to social class. But fundamentally, the movement was an attempt to defend historic Christianity against the incursions of theological liberalism. Evolutionary thought, higher criticism of the Bible, and similar perspectives were among those assailed. I. Forming Conservative Coalitions (1875-1900): After the Civil War several social, intellectual, and religious changes threatened to undermine the foundations of “the Evangelical Empire.” The higher criticism which had flourished in Europe for a generation, was now entrenched in seminaries in America and it called into question traditional views of biblical authority and inspiration. Darwinism and the new geology had won rapid acceptance in scientific and educational circles and caused many Christians to doubt the older views of the Genesis accounts. The new social sciences and comparative religions approach undercut American’s confidence in the uniqueness of Christianity, and Christian experiences, and therefore the utter finality of the Christian faith. The large number of Roman Catholic and Jewish immigrants that arrived in this period would upset forever the allusion that America was a Protestant nation. The urban overcrowding that came from industrialization and waves of immigration, caused labor problems and raised issues that made conservative Protestants feel like they were losing control of things. While many Protestants developed a “New Technology” to take into account the modern developments in religion, science, and the social sciences, others felt that this was all too much talk and not enough action; and they forged a “social gospel” that sought to save society rather than individual souls. Conservative Protestants found these kinds of adjustments to be unacceptable and so they charged liberal seminary professors with heresy and tried to bring them to trial in front of their respective denominations. More often, however, the Conservatives sought to shore up traditional beliefs and practices through education, preaching, and publication; and to do this they needed to create new coalitions of like-minded conservative people. Princeton theologians B.B. Warfield and Archibald Hodge defended the old Reformed Theology, and biblical inerrancy. Dwight L. Moody brought together huge numbers of Presbyterian Congregationalists and Baptists through his ambitious campaigns of Urban Evangelism. R.A. Torrey and A.J. Gordon sought to rekindle traditional Methodist theology by championing Holiness Theology. Although they differed in significant ways, the conservative coalition gradually found ways to cooperate in the founding of Biblical Institutes, summer Bible conferences, and similar enterprises so that the traditional evangelical doctrines might flourish uncorrupted by liberalism. These coalitions cut all across denominational lines, and aligned people along theological lines instead of tradition, region, and so forth.
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