Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Response to Will Moredock

For background, see: "Fear of the Future: Fundamentalism began as a reaction to modernism" by Will Moredock (Charleston City Paper, 16 December 2009, 8) -- DC+

To the Editor:

Will Moredock did a fairly good job of outlining the origin of the
term “Fundamentalist” and discussing the essays, later published as a
collection entitled The Fundamentals (“Fear of the Future:
Fundamentalism began as a reaction to modernism,” Dec. 16), but his
analysis is predictably biased and many of the implications that he
draws have the flavor of a straw man.

As one who actually owns the four-volume collection of essays, I was
surprised to read him charge that they “. . . encapsulated a lot of
free-floating ideas that had been inhabiting the fringe of American
theology for generations.” The five fundamentals upon which the
essays were based (Scriptural inerrancy, the virgin-birth and deity of
Christ, the substitutionary atonement [that salvation is by grace
through faith in Christ], the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the
authenticity of Christ's miracles to include the expectation of His
bodily return at some future point) were mainstream Protestant
doctrine since the Reformation and, with some nuances regarding
substitutionary atonement would have been uncontroversial among Roman
Catholic and Orthodox Christians as well.

The notion that “. . . the important thing for the fundamentalist is
to get right with God and prepare to be whooshed up in the Rapture.
The world and the people in it are not worth saving” is also not a
major theme in The Fundamentals. While it is true that C.I.
Schofield, one of the major originators of pre-millenial,
pre-trubulational Dispensationalism, was a contributor, Old
Princetonian and post-millenialist B.B. Warfield was also a
contributor. Warfield's colleague at Princeton Seminary, Charles
Erdman, authored the essay on “The Coming of Christ” and took an
historically pre-millenial – but not Dispensational – tone.

Many of the Fundamentalists whom Mr. Moredock eschews – for instance,
Jerry Falwell – showed an appreciation for the cultural mandate that
contradicted their Dispensational views, founding schools and colleges
and seeking to articulate a distinctively Christian worldview that
applied faith to all of life to include the political sphere – Mr.
Moredock might well hope for some of the old-time pietism that sought
to withdraw from society!

The Rev'd Charles A. Collins, Jr.
Goose Creek

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