Until the end—his death at age 95 on March 19—fundamentalist empire-builder Carl McIntire was a tireless opponent of theological liberalism and political totalitarianism. No other figure in 20th-century fundamentalism so defined himself by identifying his enemies. His worldview, like that of other fundamentalists and not a few evangelicals, was unrelievedly dualistic—good versus evil, conservative versus liberal—making it impossible to countenance ambiguity, theological or otherwise, or to discern shades of gray.
In an interview for Christianity Today just months before his death, I asked McIntire to identify his enemies. "The liberals," McIntire shot back. Then he sounded a note of defiance: "But they can't stop me!"
For nearly three-quarters of a century, the irrepressible McIntire used Collingswood, New Jersey, as a launch pad for firing opinions on matters ranging from the Westminster Confession of Faith to the Communist Manifesto. At the height of his influence during the Cold War, McIntire's empire extended from Collingswood, the home of his Bible Presbyterian Church and Faith Christian School, to Elkins Park, Pennsylvania (Faith Theological Seminary), Cape May, New Jersey (Shelton College), and Pasadena, California (Highlands College).
He ran a conference center in Florida and had designs for a theme park there that would have celebrated America's military campaign in Vietnam. McIntire's radio program, 20th Century Reformation Hour, reached homes throughout North America, until his bombast and blatant violation of the fairness doctrine prompted the Federal Communications Commission to force him off the air.
A Caper at Sea
McIntire's enigmatic, nearly century-long life suggests several interpretations, most of them contradictory ...