Protestant Fundamentalism in Early-Twentieth-Century U S Essay

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These are not matters of arguments as concerning the holiness of the Christianity. The conservatives could easily agree regardless of their respective schematizations of the redemptive history and holiness. Therefore, this united opposition to the rise of modernism reached the multitudes in the form of multiple famous publications, the Fundamentals (1910-1915) (Babinski, 1995). This publication presented enough moderation for the movement. This allowed people to speak of any firm fundamentalist. The conservatives still belonged to the mainstream church and worked for their reforms from within the church.

Marsden makes clear in his definition the diversity of the conservatives question to the church relationship with the world. He presents different perspectives; these are, the 'premillennial extreme', which condemned the present age and could not fathom the use of the widespread efforts of reform. In their congregation, the premillennialists' interests in evangelism and civic reform simply over rode the pessimism that we think is inherent in the premillennialists view. It also overstepped their engagement in the contemporary intellectual life (Zink, 2012). A good example of the prominent members of this disposition is the members of the Moody Bible Institute. Another position is that of William Jennings Bryan, who the representative of the culturally dominant evangelical coalition. He emphasized and worked towards maintaining efforts to make civilization more Christian-like. For Bryan, the progress in democracy, America and a practical Christianity was not theologically rigorous, and he supported the practices largely. The last position is the dominant one among the conservative Presbyterians. This is the notion and believes of trying to transform the culture by using the word. For instance, J. Gresham Machen found that liberal modernism and conservative isolation were equally unsatisfactory responses to the present cultural crisis within America (Zink, 2012). He thus advocated for Christian learning and the mastery of ideas, which world enable the Christians to fight the crucial battles in the eminent intellectual realm. He had a conviction that this was the only approach to transform the direction of the cultural crisis. However, in choosing, conservative reformed Christians largely sided with the dispensationalists. They also sided with the holiness movements; hence creating unlikely alliances in the face of mutual enemies.

The most crucial and critical years of the development of fundamentalism is the period between 1920 and 1925. In the formative years, between 1920 and 1923, the movement was at its strongest point, making remarkably notable strides forward (Zink, 2012). Many conservatives thought that the liberals abandoned the fundamentals of faith in the mission field and this caused serious battles between the denominations and within them. It is such disagreements that saw the fundamentalists develop their own inter-denominational connections, which consequently gave strength to the denominational structures. Among the points made enormously popular are concerns over the fundamentalists, the missions and anti-evolution cause. William Jennings Bryan was the chief crusader and a national supporter for fundamentalism. Regarding this movement and the fights within the denominations, Harry Emerson Fosdick preached the famous sermon, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" In the year 1922. Similarly, J Gresham Machen published his article, Christianity and Liberalism in 1923.

In the wake of this advancing progress, matters would quickly change just when the fundamentalists were in the cusp of victory. Liberal defenses and appeals to the strong American tolerance of sentiment won the sympathies of several conservatives. These moderate conservatives shared everything with fundamentalists but militancy (the desire to push liberals out. The result is that the fundamentalists suffered bitter disappointment and a failure to achieve their goal in purging the denominations. Mardsen highlights the relation between the Presbyterian G.A, Charles Erdman and J. Gresham Machen as an example of the dynamic change. In addition, the 1925 being a bad year for the fundamentalists, the catastrophe of the embarrassment of William Jennings Bryan in his trials made the fundamentalists synonymous backwardness in the eyes of many. This was a devastating blow and marked a downward trend in the fundamentalism trajectory.

Times were tough for all, including the intellectually rigorous fundamentalists. After the mid twenties, anti-modernists sentiments were relatively quiet within the mainline denominations; the battle was wining for the fundamentalists. The movement, after seizing from being a national movement, it continued in persistence within the many smaller denominations and Para-church organizations. By looking at the rise and consequent result of fundamentalism as from different angles: that of social trend, political occurrence, intellectual phenomenon and American experience: it demonstrates the persistent themes that ran through the process of the movement of protestant fundamentalism America (Woods, 2002). The result clearly, showing the main aspects that facilitated and propagated fundamentalism in the United States of America. These include, Baconianism, Common Sense Realism, Premillennialism, desire for a Christian American, roots in the societal settings and culture and the post war trauma. All these played a fundamental role in the development of American Fundamentalism.


Marsden, G.M. (2006). Fundamentalism and American culture. New York: Oxford University


Coreno, T. (2002). Fundamentalism as a class culture. Sociology of Religion, 63(3), 335-360.

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Jones, J.S. (2010). Being the chosen: Exploring a Christian fundamentalist worldview. Surrey,

England: Ashgate Pub

McLaren, B.D. (2006). A generous orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/Protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist,

Catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian. El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties.

Woods, L.S. (2002). A broken mirror: Protestant fundamentalism in the Philippines. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers.

Babinski, E.T. (1995). Leaving the fold: Testimonies of former fundamentalists. Amherst, N.Y:

Prometheus Books.

Zink-Sawyer, B. (2012). The pulpit leads the seminary: Two centuries of proclamation at union presbyterian seminary and in the american church. Interpretation,…[continue]

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