History 578 Lecture # 8
The Rise of Fundamentalism
Before WWI, a Southern California oil millionaire, Lyman Stewart, conceived of a plan to establish
the essentials of orthodox biblical faith.
He gathered together a series of Bible teachers and evangelists as contributors and editors to compile a
12 volume set of books between 1910 and 1915, simply called
. Its contents
emphasized a broad defense of the orthodox faith.
About 1/3 of the articles defended Scripture, and of course attacked the higher biblical criticisms.
Another 1/3 dealt with traditional theological issues, such as the Christ, the Trinity, sin, and
The other 1/3 was a mishmash of topics against the modern “isms” and the emphasis on reaching
In all, the
determined that the Bible is the inspired word of God, that Jesus was God
in human flesh, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to save people from
their sins, physically rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will return at the end of the
age in glory.
Sin is real and separates us from God, God’s grace and not human effort is the source of salvation,
and the church is God’s institution, known as the Body of Christ, which demonstrates the love of
God for the world.
The volumes did not receive much press at the time, but they were the primary reference point for
identifying the “fundamentalist” movement.
The term “Fundamentalism” was coined in 1920 by the Baptist editor Curtis Laws, designating
Fundamentalists as those who were ready “to do battle for the Fundamentals.”
Laws later said that Fundamentalism was “a protest against that rationalistic interpretation of
Christianity which seeks to discredit supernaturalism.”
Its name was meant to combat the scientific and biblical modernism that had emerged so strongly
in the Church.
The group of Bible teachers and evangelists who worked on the volumes became active in other ways.
In 1908 they founded BIOLA, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles to support a conservative
interpretation of the Bible.
But most importantly, from Oxford University Press, came the
Scofield Reference Bible
outlined the tenets of orthodox faith with healthy notes on the Dispensational understanding of