Since this site is named “Stuff Fundies Like” I suppose it behooves us to come up with at least a broad definition of who these fundamentalists are and what makes them different from their mere evangelical counterparts. The task is far from simple for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that those who claim the title of “fundamentalist” disagree vehemently about who should and should not be privileged to share it with them.
George Marsden has famously described Christian fundamentalists as “evangelicals who are angry about something.”1 That definition is, perhaps, more true than most fundamentalists will admit but it lacks a certain amount of specificity. There are, for example, many evangelicals who are prone to anger and yet fall outside of the the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) circles about which most of this blog is written.
When pressed many IFB members will claim that being a fundamentalist means simply holding “the fundamentals. The five most commonly held fundamentals of the faith have been:
- The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
- The virgin birth of Christ.
- The belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin.
- The bodily resurrection of Christ.
- The historical reality of Christ’s miracles.2
However, even this fails as an accurate test for this would cover many in the Southern Baptist Convention, some Bible Presbyterians, and many other non-denominational churches with whom any good Independent Fundamental Baptist would not associate. Indeed, neither the author nor many of the readers of this blog have any problem with many or all of these points even though they have long since left attending a fundamentalist church.
What becomes readily apparent after a certain amount of time is that the IFB movement has not only separated itself from those who practice “liberal theology” (which encompasses everything from infant baptism to using modern Bible versions) but also parts with those who participate in any part of the post-1960’s American culture that it considered to be “worldly.” This latter separation includes a large focus on certain types of music, styles of dress, the movie theater, alcohol, and a seemingly endless number of other activities. In reality it is these standards rather than any true doctrinal test that define the “fundamentals” for most Independent Baptist Fundamentalists.
As these fundamentalists have begun to vie for the position of being more and more separated from their brethren by taking more and more extreme stances, many thoughtful and reasonable people have left the movement leaving a good number of churches and schools headed by increasingly radical and isolationist leaders. As the leadership heads into what is formally known in ecclesiastical circles as “crazypants town” so the congregations follow them to the mixed amusement and horror of those of us who grew up in the movement. Here at SFL we chronicle and scrutinize this slow drift of the IFB to oblivion with posts that are sometimes satirical and sometimes serious and sometimes simply the fundamentalists in their own words.
If you’ve ever been an Independent Fundamental Baptist or know someone who has been I invite you to stay and chat a while. After all, your IFB friends and neighbors are mostly likely already here.
1 Marsden, George. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.