Note: Please be aware that the fundamentalist-modernist(liberal) controversy has mostly
only affected Baptist and Presbyterian churches. Fundamentalism began as a response to
the rejection of the virgin birth, the accuracy of the Bible, godhood of Christ, the
miracles of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and Christ's future
second coming.  I admit that I have only known the terms "fundamentalist" and
"fundamentalism" since 2001.  Baptists and Presbyterians embrace fundamentalist and
liberal theology, depending on the individual congregation. However, liberal theology is more popular among Presbyterians while Baptists hold to a more traditional (fundamentalist) view concerning theology. -Jeremy Brown 2005

Fundamentalist Christianity:
Generally a reference to conservative Christians who believe five “fundamentals” of Christianity: the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the historicity of biblical miracles. More specifically, the term is identified with the conservative reaction, especially in America, to liberal Christianity in the early 20th century. Core beliefs of the movement are virtually identical with evangelical Christianity. Some fundamentalists, however, later distinguished themselves from evangelicals (or neo-evangelicals) whom they saw as too compromising and ecumenical. More recently some have given a new, negative meaning to the term “fundamentalist” using it as a synonym for narrow-minded, bigoted, anti-intellectual or divisive Christians. - Watchman Fellowship's 2001 Index of Cults and Religions
There's the dreaded word. It conjures up images of uneducated bigots, backward Bible-thumbing preachers and the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini. But it's a bad rap.

'Fundamentalism' is really akin to Lewis's 'mere Christianity' discussed earlier, or the rules of faith in the early church; it means adherence to the fundamental facts - in this case, the fundamental facts of Christianity. It is a term that was once a badge of honor, and we should reclaim it.

At the end of the nineteenth century, evolution and the new higher biblical criticism began to challenge biblical authority. This assault affected even great theological institutions such as Princeton Seminary, which, though once orthodox, began questioning fundamental doctrines such as the Virgin Birth and inerrancy of Scripture. Meanwhile, a lively social gospel was also surfacing. Strong in good intentions, it was weak in biblical doctrine and orthodoxy.

So a group of theologians, pastors and laypeople published a series of volumes titled "The Fundamentals". Published between 1910 and 1915, these booklets defined what had been the non-negotiables of the faith since the Apostles' Creed:

1)  the infallibility of Scripture
2)  the deity of Christ
3)  the Virgin Birth and miracles of Christ
4)  Christ's substitutionary death
5)  Christ's physical resurrection and eventual return.

These were then, as they are today, the backbone of orthodox Christianity. If a fundamentalist is a person who affirms these truths, then there are fundamentalists in every denomination - Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Brethren, Methodist, Episcopal .... Everyone who believes in the orthodox truths about Jesus Christ - in short, every Christian - is a fundamentalist. And we should not shrink from the term nor allow the secular world to distort its meaning.

- An excerpt from "The Body" by Charles Colson.

In every true Christian denomination, there are beliefs that other Christian denominations don't have. Are they essentials? Maybe. Maybe not. Meanwhile, we have to have basics where we Christians from various Christian denominations can come together as "true" Christians from various denominations. These 5 things are essential to every "true" Christian. It's where we can all come together under Christ for His glory and work.

In the 1980's, the media and comparative religion studies redefined the word fundamentalism. Prior to the 1980's redefinition, encyclopedias defined fundamentalism as being a movement rooted in the American Revivalist movement of the 18th century. These same sources stated that Fundamentalism began in the late 19th century.

For example:
Fundamentalism, conservative movement among Protestants in the United States, which began in the late 19th century. It emphasized as absolutely basic to Christianity the following:
the infallibility of the Bible, the Virgin birth and the deity of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for the atonement for the sins of all men, the physical resurrection and Second Coming of Christ, and the bodily resurrection of believers. Fundamentalism is rooted in 18th and 19th-century American revivalism. Until the middle of the 19th century, its political beliefs were held by almost all orthodox Protestant denominations, particularly by evangelical denominations. Fundamentalism as an organized, conservative movement dates from the early part of the 20th century. It developed out of a series of Bible conferences, the first ones held in 1876. These were called by members of various denominations who strongly objected to the historical-literary study of the Bible, known as higher criticism; the attempts (still continuing) to reconcile traditional Christian beliefs and doctrines with contemporary human experience and knowledge; and the acceptance of scientific view of the world, particularly the popularization of the theory of evolution. Such trends and beliefs were opposed by many conservative members of Protestant denominations. Funk & Wagnall's New Encyclopedia, Volume 10. Morse, Joseph L. New York, New York, 1975.

A conservative movement in American Protestantism arising out of the millenarian movement of the 19th century and emphasizing as fundamental to Christianity the literal interpretation and absolute inerrancy of the Scriptures, the imminent and physical Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, Resurrection, and Atonement. The second major movement, Fundamentalism, combined late 19th-century premillennialism (the belief that Jesus will return before the millennium to usher in the messianic kingdom) with defenses of biblical inerrancy. It took its name from The Fundamentals, a series of tracts that were issued between 1910 and 1915 in the United States.
Encyclopedia Brittannica

In Protestantism, religious movement that arose among conservative members of various Protestant denominations early in the 20th cent., with the object of maintaining traditional interpretations of the Bible and of the doctrines of the Christian faith in the face of Darwinian evolution, secularism, and the emergence of liberal theology. A group protesting “modernist” tendencies in the churches circulated a 12-volume publication called The Fundamentals (1909-12), in which five points of doctrine were set forth as fundamental: the Virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the infallibility of the Scriptures, the substitutional atonement, and the physical second coming of Christ. The debate between fundamentalists and modernists was most acute among the Baptists and the Presbyterians but also arose within other denominations... Since the late 1970s fundamentalists have embraced electoral and legislative politics and the “electronic church” in their fight against the latest perceived threat to traditional religious values: so-called secular humanism, communism, feminism, legalized abortion, homosexuality, and the ban on school prayer. They have continued to oppose the teaching of evolution in the schools or have sought to have creationism taught as well.
Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004

Within Christianity, this is a term used since the 1920's to refer to the most religiously conservative group within Protestant Christianity. Within Judaism, Islam and other religions, the term is used to refer to the extreme conservative wing who Karen Armstrong defines as "embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis" 1 - namely the fear that modernity will erode or even eradicate their faith and morality.  Its roots within Christianity can be traced to the late 19th Century as a reaction against liberal movements of Biblical criticism and analysis. A 1909 publication "The Fundamentals: A testimony to the truth" proposed five required beliefs for conservative Christians; they are listed above under "Evangelicals", items 1 to 5. Fundamentalists generally believe that other wings of Christianity, and other religions, are false. The largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the Southern Baptist Convention, has recently transitioned to Fundamentalism. Bob Jones University, the General Association of Regular Baptists, the Moody Bible Institute and other organizations are also Fundamentalist. Among the most generally known leaders are Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones and Hal Lindsey.
1) The term has three additional meanings in general usage that cause great confusion:  A "snarl" word, used by some non-Fundamentalists to imply intolerance, bigotry, lack of flexibility and an anti-intellectual bias.
2) When applied by the Western media to Muslims, it often means "anti-American". Sometimes it means "radical Fundamentalist Muslim terrorist." who form a very small percentage of Muslims.
3) When used by conservative Muslims themselves, it refers to a person who strictly follows the teachings of Mohammed, and who promotes the concept of theocratic government. Glossary of Religious Terms. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. B.A. Robinson, 2003.

I found the definitions below in public school encyclopedias. I was only able to summarize information rather than copy word for word. Pardon my summarizing. On another note, isn't it interesting that every encyclopedia has a slightly different definition?

Militant Conservative Protestant Movement that became prominent in the U.S. in the 1920s. The movement attempted to preserve the following beliefs: inspiration and infallibility of scriptures, trinity, virgin birth, deity of Christ, six day creation, Christ died for the sins of mankind, literal resurrection and ascension of Christ, iminent return of Christ, eternal life, eternal Hell, and Christ's 1000 year earthly kingdom.
- Encyclopedia Americana, 1979 & 1993 editions, Philippines.

A broad Protestant movement in the U.S. that tries to preserve what it considers the basic ideas of Christianity against criticism by Liberal theologians, who challenged the accuracy of the Bible and embraced evolutionary theory as fact at the end of the 1800s. The fundamentalists believed in a literal 6 day creation, literal miracles, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement through crucifixion, and the eventual second coming of Christ. Began in Northern USA but has gained strength in the South. Mostly affected Baptists and Presbyterians.
- WorldBook Encyclopedia, Chicago, IL, USA, 2000 & 2005 editions.

Dwight L Moody (1837-1899) is said to be the true founder of this movement. Though, the 5 points of fundamentalism can be located throughout the books of the new testament.

Christian Fundamentalism is incompatible with Modern Satanism, Traditional Satanism, Islamic Fundamentalism, Islamic Liberalism, Liberal Christianity, Mormonism, Communism, Socialism, Naziism, Wicca, Hinduism, and other Polytheistic religions. However, with patterns liken to Buddhism and Satanism, Liberal Christianity has the ability to creep into and combine with almost all other religions. On the other hand, Christian Fundamentalism is compatible with Democracy, Israel, Capitalism, Kingdom based societies, and Judaism.

Some popular Fundamentalists are and have been Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, R.A. Torrey, Charles Colson, Benny Hinn, Trinity Broadcasting Network, KLOVE Radio, Air 1 Radio, Gospel Music Association,
Southern Baptist Convention, Assembly of God, Church of God, Methodists, Anabaptists, Teenmania / Acquire the Fire, Ron Luce, C.S. Lewis, Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James, Petra, Skillet, Casting Crowns, 4 Him, Point of Grace, Kirk Franklin, Josh McDowell, Justin Martyr, Ephraem the Syrian, Nazarene, Mennonites, Pastor Ted Haggard, CCM Magazine, Family Christian Stores, Vineyard Churches, George W. Bush, Charles G. Finney, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson, Rick Warren, Francis Schaeffer, Fanny Crosby, Billy Sunday, A.W. Tozer, Bob Jones University, Church of God of Prophecy, United Christian Church and Ministerial Association, John Calvin, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton, Billy O'Reilly, Holiness Churches, Oneness Pentecostal Churches, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, MC Hammer, Tia and Tamara Mowry, Ronald Reagan, John Edward Darby, John Winthrop, Leo Strauss, C.H. Spurgeon, Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Sean Hannity, D. James Kennedy, Gary North, Roy Moore, Colin Powell, Mel Gibson, Charlton Heston, Condi Rice, Sam Walton (Walmart), Helen Walton, Elvis Presley, Bill McCartney, etc.

Also see:
Buy the Fundamentals book here or  here
Fundamentalist Churches
Politically Correct Bigotry: Narrow-mindedness Targets the Christian Right
In the Company of Fellow Nonbelievers: Liberal Theology Abandons the Faith
Distinguished Institutions of Higher Intolerance
Christians 10, Monkeys 0! by Calvin Miller at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Alabama

Presbyterian Church USA History Concerning Fundamentalism vs. Liberalism:
OPC breaks from PCUSA
Presbyterian Church in America breaks from PCUSA

Above, you can see that the 5 points of Fundamentalism has its origins in the Presbyterian Church USA. But remember, the Presbyterian Church overturned the 5 points almost 20 years after 1909.

I, Jeremy Brown, do emphatically state that the belief that scripture alone is the final authority on matters of doctrine and life, Christ is fully God and fully man, Christ's substitutionary atonement, Christ's resurrection and ascension, and factual miracles of Christ are bare minimum tenets to the Christian faith. These tenets can be found throughout the writings of the Holy Scriptures as accepted by Protestant Christianity, in the book Table Talk by Martin Luther, in the Apostle's Creed, and in the writings of the early church fathers. Those that reject the above statements cannot truly be called Christians. Those who reject the tenets should be denied denominational membership and ordination.

-  JeremyBrown 2003-2005

NotesBelow is a reproduced email.
July 29, 2005
Jeremy Brown
Via email:

Dear Mr. Brown:

Your message to the Office of the Executive Director of the General Assembly Council, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was forwarded to us at the Presbyterian Historical Society, the national archives of the PC(USA), for a reply.

The 1910 Assembly Committee on Bills and Overtures recommended, and the assembly adopted, a “doctrinal deliverance” “…with regard to certain essential and necessary articles of faith…” (_Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA_ 1910, p. 272), and listed five “essential doctrines.” This became known as the “Five Point Deliverance.”
The text of the five points is reproduced in: Maurice Armstrong, Lefferts Loetscher, Charles Anderson, eds., _Presbyterian Enterprise: Sources of American Presbyterian History_ (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956) pp. 280–282. The full text of the committee’s recommendation can be found in the printed minutes of the General Assembly, pp. 271–273, published annually and generally available in PC(USA) seminary and many academic libraries. For a contact list of PC(USA) seminaries, visit the PC(USA) national web site at: We can photocopy and mail you these pages if you will provide us with a postal address.

The complete _Minutes of the General Assembly_ have been microfilmed by us, and you may request this microfilm through interlibrary loan (ILL) at your local public or academic library. We charge a $20.00 per reel fee for this service, which your local library may pass on to you. We loan a maximum of three reels per request for a four-week loan period. This material will be held on reserve for you and may only be used within the borrowing library. Please provide your ILL librarian with this catalog information when making your request:

Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. MF Pos. 181; r. 36 (1909-1910) and r. 37(1910-1911).

To place these statement in their historical context, you may wish to review:

Lefferts A. Loetscher. _The Broadening Church: A Study of Theological Issues in the Presbyterian Church Since 1869_. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1954.

Bradley J. Longfield. _The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates._ New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

You are welcome to visit the society to use our collections, since our materials do not circulate. The reading room is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., closed Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. We are closing at 12 noon on Friday, August 12 for a staff picnic. There is a daily research fee of $5.00.

Further information about our services, collections, and locations may be found at our website, Please remember to send any e-mail inquiries to our general reference e-mail account,, which is checked daily and allows us to respond in the most efficient manner. You may also contact us by phone at 215-627-1852.

Kenneth J. Ross
Reference Librarian

Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
I received my photocopies of the five points from the 1910 Minutes of the General Assembly by mail from the Presbyterian Historical Society of the PCUSA on August 6, 2005. Click the two links below and save the document to your desktop so that you can read the text.


- Jeremy Brown
After I've researched fundamentalism, I've come to find that the definition is not adequately portrayed by the media. If a person or group possesses the following traits or affiliations, they are not fundamentalist:

Any religion other than Christian
Liberal Christianity
Emergent Movement
Jehovah's Witness

A person or group is fundamentalist if they possess the following traits:
Sola Scriptura (the belief that the Bible is accurate, true, and factual rather than allegorical, and is the final earthly authority by which humankind should measure truth by)
Christ is fully God and fully man simultaneously
Virgin birth and literal death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ
Christ literally became the payment for sin
The literal miracles of Christ.

Jeremy Brown 2006

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