Bob Jones University: Don't call us fundamentalists
In his latest "President's Corner," Bob Jones University head Bob Jones III says the word fundamentalist has become co-opted. "Bob Jones University is unashamedly Fundamentalist, but the term is beginning to carry an onerous connotation with the world at large because of the media's penchant for lumping Christian Fundamentalists in the same heap as Islamic Fundamentalists," he writes.
Instead of Fundamentalism defining us as steadfast Bible believers, the term now carries overtones of radicalism and terrorism. Fundamentalist evokes fear, suspicion, and other repulsive connotations in its current usage. Many of us who are separated unto Christ feel it is appropriate to find a new label that will define us more positively and appropriately. It is too early in the process to know what term may ultimately be embraced by the majority, but I like Preservationist.
This may prove to be an important split. To quickly sum up (and oversimplify) the last 125 years or so of conservative Christianity: battles over biblical inerrancy and other important theological flashpoints formed a split between "Modernists" and "Fundamentalists." This latter group was named largely after the publication of The Fundamentals, a series of 12 booklets published between 1910 and 1915 that outlined core conservative doctrines. After World War II, leaders like Billy Graham still wanted to affirm these doctrines, but believed Christian fundamentalism had become too isolationist. In a recent Christian History profile of Graham, biographer William Martin wrote,
The enduring break with hard-line fundamentalism came in 1957, when, after accepting an invitation from the Protestant Council of New York to hold ...1
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