The Shift from Fundamentalism to Calvinism: My Subjective Take on the Stereotypical Representations of Calvinism and Fundamentalism and the Combination Thereof

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The following blogpost contains opinions that you may not agree with. They may present caricatured versions of the parties involved simply because space will not allow for a detailed nuance. Further, these views expressed here are subjective observations and have not been verified by empirical measures. If you feel like an exception to what is stated, please, pat yourself on the back and assume that I probably still like you and don’t hate your guts.

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I’ve noticed that in the meteoric rise of Calvinism these days there are a number of fundamentalists and ex-fundies that are drawn to Calvinism. Those who remain in fundamentalism are usually the more academic sort. These people are usually well read and quite different than the usual completely anti-academic fundamentalist. Those outside of fundamentalism are usually the more thoughtful people too. So, when they find a logically robust system, they are drawn into it.

The ironic thing is, of course, the fundamentalism has been traditionally opposed to Calvinism. Even in the book The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, the authors are quite convinced of Arminianism. But what happened? Why now this gradual acceptance of Calvinism?

First, I think, is the abundance of Calvinistic, academic literature. Fundamentalism has traditionally been anti-academic. Calvinists, however, have more been rational thinkers and prolific writers. So now, as Fundamentalism (at least in my circles) is attempting to catch up to the academic world, they find Calvinistic resources to be most readily available. Also, Calvinism (although it pains me to say this) has remained within the orthodox faith. Thus, finding this rational, orthodox, and academic source, they settle here.

Second, the Puritans are also another inroad. Fundamentalism has always sought to be more godly through external rules and inner piety. The Puritans offer just that. You can go read many volumes of Puritan literature and find many things to think about. Yet, through explicit and implicit teaching, Calvinism is imparted to the reader unless he/she has a broader background than the Puritans.

Third, Presuppositional apologetics is another inroad. Presuppositional apologetics is the type of system where you presume that you are right without having to defend yourself. “We believe the Bible is the word of God because it says it’s the word of God.” This circularity (I know Frame argues it’s not, but it still is. PM me) I think appeals to fundamentalists because they can assume they’re right without rational defense.

This is especially true in the case of Young Earth Creationism. YEC has always been a part of Fundamentalism. But the forces leveled at it from the scientific community have been slowly chipping away at it. Instead of putting full force into scientific responses (some people have, but comparatively, not many), the response is just “we’re right because we know we’re right!” While it is necessary to trust the statements of the Bible according to their intended meaning, the attitude that pervades most of YEC is a flippant arrogance to the claims of scientists. Here is where presuppositional apologetics comes in. Within presup, you don’t have to examine beliefs outside your worldview because if they get something right, they’re “borrowing from my worldview.” If they believe differently than me, it means they’re just wrong.

What few presuppositionalists realize is that presup exists for the sole purpose of defending Calvinism. Thus, most of the popular presup authors are Calvinists. And, as you begin to accept Presup, you accept Calvinism.

Fourth, I think Fundamentalists are attracted to Calvinism because the Calvinistic view of God is remarkably similar to that of Fundamentalism. In my opinion, both systems present God as not ultimately loving humanity. See my somehow controversial post. But beyond that, both present God as a micromanaging, controlling, power hungry God. He can’t stand it if you even question him. I think this ultimately appeals because it seems like the same description of God.

In the end, I’m not surprised that Calvinism is becoming the new Fundamentalism. There are a lot of reasons for these two groups to merge their faiths. I’m very curious to see where they go.

3 thoughts on “The Shift from Fundamentalism to Calvinism: My Subjective Take on the Stereotypical Representations of Calvinism and Fundamentalism and the Combination Thereof

  1. I had never connected presuppositional apologetics to Calvinism before. That is an interesting connection that I will have to think about. I am not a Calvinist, but I lean towards a presuppositional-evidentialist approach. I think a plain presuppositionalism is unhelpful in a discussion with most people, so balancing the understanding of presuppositional thinking with proof from history, anthropology, etc., can be helpful. Thank you for your thoughts on this topic.

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