Friday, 27 December 2013



I remember once hearing Ian Paisley speak on the great Fundamentalists of the past. It was in the centre of London at the World Congress of Fundamentalists in the first week of July in 1990, which he co-chaired with Bob Jones Junior. He had only about 25 minutes to speak and his message consisted, largely, in fitting in as many names as he could with a very brief explanatory note as why they were worthy of being mentioned. He spoke very fast indeed, partly because he had an important appointment to keep immediately afterwards in the Houses of Parliament, literally just over the road. I felt sorry for the translators hired to translate the English based preaching into German and French. (Having said that, the German translator especially was good. In another session when Dr Paisley cracked a joke, the German orchestra laughed as quickly as those of us without the ear phones. But I digress.) Dr.  Paisley's message was effectively a "Who's who" in church history. 

The term "Fundamentalist" was evidently being used in a much wider way in which it is used in many quarters today. Had he been limited to speaking about #KJVO, Dispensationalist, anti Calvinist Baptists, then he had all the time in the world. He could have made Fundamentalist history by finishing about 10 minutes early and handing the meeting back to the chairman ;o)  

According to the speaker, William Tyndale was a Fundamentalist. As was John Calvin and Martin Luther. So was George Whitefield and John Wesley etc. Soon we were talking about Frank Norris and Billy Sunday etc.

Some of those named were Calvinists. For the sake of time, I'll put Martin Luther in there as well. If you find time, read his work on "Bondage of the Will" where his opponent and the defender of "free will" (The casting vote variety) is a Romanist priest. Others were not Calvinists (Wesley for example) but who had no problem worshipping and working with Calvinists. These men would never have heard of the 20th century term Fundamentalist, but they sure fought a good fight and kept the faith. 

Here's my point: If your definition of Fundamentalism excludes Calvinists and non Calvinist though Calvinist sympathisers, and must click the #KJVO box and Dispensational PreMillennialism boxes along with being Fundamental Baptist, then you don't have a real Fundamentalist history. In fact, it is possible that you can probably include yourself among its first better known one thousand adherents! History in the making, as they say. 

You have no real historical claim on anybody. Even the Waldenses (to quote JB Carroll's Trail of Blood) gave 'continual and valuable aid' to the emerging Calvinist Reformers and 'fought bravely' with them also.

If you want to go back to the modern beginnings of the Fundamentalist movement, then your history is that of Calvinistic Presbyterians like BB Warfield and Gresham Machen who fought the modernists. Billy Sunday was a Presbyterian evangelist who united the various Protestant denominations together in the cities of America for his campaigns. If JF Norris floats your boat because he was a Dispensational, modernist bashing Baptist, then remember that he sat happily, as a young man, at the feet of Post Mill Calvinist, BH Carroll. DL Moody preached for and with Calvinists. Spurgeon notably commentied on Moody's "Calvinistic theology" causing the  Methodists some concern, while Horatio Bonar claimed that he heard some of the most Calvinistic statements on the doctrine of election from Moody's lips. Some claim indeed from a solidly Calvinistic, Scottish Presbyterian minister.  

Bring on HA Ironside and John R Rice and even good ole Jack Hyles if you will. They are all on record as endorsing the gospel ministry of John Calvin. What would you do if you had Hyles in your pulpit and you settled down to hear preach his sermon entitled 'The King James Bible Defended'? Pretty good stuff when he is knocking the Romanists and the Charismatics. You hear him say (and I quote verbatim) "The Presbyterian seminaries say, "The Bible is not the Word of God..." You might even shout "Amen!" there. But Hyles continues "... but John Calvin believed it, and they had the fire! John Knox and others believed it!"

I conclude. If your 'Fundamentalism' is the kind described in the tweet below, then the reality is that you don't really have a history at all.



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