No Common Field
Fundamentalism and the Church, by Gabriel Hebert, Westminster, 1957. $3.00.
This book has been receiving considerable publicity and it is difficult to understand why. It is not a great book in any sense of the word. It is interestingly written, but badly constructed. It contributes nothing new to some old problems and rarely meets directly and concisely the problems which it raises within its own thesis. The book is probably receiving its acclaim for one of three reasons: first, the subject of the book, including the word “Fundamentalism,” is an advertisement in this day when the book itself proves that the issues between Fundamentalism and Modernism are far from dead; second, the liberals are delighted to have someone take up the cudgels against the fundamentalists; third, the fundamentalists having been rubbed raw at various points, receive this book with considerable sensitivity.
Such comment immediately raises the question of what the author means and what any of us mean when we use the term “Fundamentalism.” There are “fundies,” “fighting fundies,” “conservatives,” “evangelicals,” “the orthodox,” and those who wish to remain “true to the main features of the Reformed tradition.” Hebert is very clear in pointing out how the word “Fundamentalism” arose, and he is clear in listing the “fundamentals” which lead to the term “Fundamentalism.” From that point on, however, he never really meets Fundamentalism on the basis of his own definition. Therefore, each man in reading this book, if he feels himself to be in the conservative tradition, is moved to raise the question whether Hebert is talking about him at all. This sort of thing is particularly striking as Hebert discusses the whole question of the inspiration ...1
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