I have been thinking a lot about Fundamentalism and fundamentalism. I can safely that the I am not part of the first category–Fundamentalism. This group is dedicated to the KJVO, antimodern, and antintellectual. Getting my PhD eliminates me from this group.
The second group is the tricky one. It started with the idea of being militant about orthodoxy and being willing to separate from heresy. This stance I agree with. But here is the rub for me. They took the very important but relatively minor doctrine of separation and made it the primary doctrine of fundamentalism.
For a group that defined itself by militarism, it definitely did not act like a military or even a militia. Making separation the primary doctrine was a strategic blunder. Instead of rallying around orthodoxy, fundamentalism shattered and routed, separating from each other into various camps. The enemy–heresy–was redefined to anything that one’s own self didn’t believe. And so the camps got smaller and smaller.
Because of this, today in broader Evangelicalism, fundamentalism is either the butt of a joke or that weird group of Christians who hate everyone. This viewpoint is unfortunate and a bit insulting because not everyone in historic fundamentalism is this way. But it is the viewpoint nonetheless.
So where do I stand? I’m not sure. I agree with historic fundamentalism in that there is orthodoxy and we must fight for it. I disagree–not with separation–but with the primacy that separation holds. For example, there is far more in the NT about unity than separation. But in my fundamentalist education, I’ve been taught separation, but little to no teaching was done on unity. This really bothers me.
Now, I’m not saying I’m done with fundamentalism, but I’m not sure what to think about it. I’d like to see fundamentalism actually unite around orthodoxy instead of uniting on separation and the separating on separation. This seems to me to be the original intent of fundamentalism and to this I wish they’d return.
I’m planning to follow through with more posts on this subject, and I’m very open to your thoughts.