The Monkey Trial and the Rise of Fundamentalism: Christian History Interview - Here We Stand
Fundamentalists have long endured criticism not only from liberals but from evangelicals and secularists as well. Christian History interviewed a fundamentalist historian to get his take on the "rap" against them: Mark Sidwell is production coordinator of Bob Jones University Press, a leading publisher of textbooks for Christian schools. He holds a Ph. D. in church history from Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist school. He is co-author of a high school U. S. history text and author of Free Indeed: Heroes of Black Christian History (Bob Jones, 1995).
Regarding 1920s fundamentalism, one evangelical historian told us: "Too many mistakes, too much controversy, too many bad things done to save good causes." Do you agree?
As an overall evaluation, I obviously don't agree. Fundamentalists made mistakes; I certainly don't think it was good that J. Frank Norris shot someone in his office! Some fundamentalists would have done things differently had they had better insight or knowledge.
But we must remember they were confronting a belief—modernism—that was absolutely contradictory to historic Christianity. It's hard to be polite and restrained when you're dealing with deadly error.
Many in our culture assume history has vindicated liberals.
I think the opposite is true. Just look at the decline in numbers and influence of the mainline denominations. There are a lot of other cultural factors involved in that decline, of course, but I think theological liberalism is one.
Furthermore, liberalism has continued to decline theologically. Liberalism in 1920 was more conservative than today's liberalism. Homosexual ordination would not have been tolerated then, not as it is today in liberal circles. Time has revealed the consequences of liberalism's ...