The Fundamentals of the Christian faith
Between 1910 and 1915 a collection of 90 essays was distributed by two wealthy oil magnates. These essays attempted to nail down the basics of the Christian faith and counteract the growing modernist movement. “The Fundamentals” is often mentioned in history books about Christian fundamentalism, but it is rare for anyone to discuss the essays themselves. So I thought we should break down at least 6 of them together!
I’m joined this episode by some good friends to introduce you to “The Fundamentals”. This influential time capsule document takes us inside the proto-fundamentalist movement, just before it really took off.
- What would you include in your own list of fundamentals?
- Is creationism fundamental? What is the role of evolution in our modern theology?
- The fear of evolution wasn’t just about people thinking we’d come from chimps. It also revolved around concerns of people applying evolution to other areas of life. How have you seen evolution applied to other studies?
- Is the Bible inerrant? What does that mean?
- Have you read the full Bible yourself? Why or why not?
Essays we read:
- “My Experience With the Higher Criticism” by JJ Reeve
- “The Deity of Christ” by BB Warfield
- “The Certainty and Importance of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead” by Reuben Torrey
- “Science and Christian Faith” by James Orr
- “Evolutionism in the Pulpit” by “An Occupant of the Pew”
How do we keep ministries accountable?
After the evangelist D.L. Moody died at the end of the 1800s, he left behind a series of lieutenants, guys who carried on the work of sharing the gospel and shaping culture. It was these men who went on to set the foundation of the fundamentalist movement in the United States. James Gray, Arthur Pierson, A.J. Gordon, Charles Blanchard, and William Erdman, C.I. Scofield, and William Bell Riley. These guys went on to found schools, start radio ministries, spearhead publications, and amass large followings. They wrote the influential (if under-read) pamphlet series “The Fundamentals” and would fight the rise of Darwinism in schools and liberal theology in denominations.
In this episode, we’ll explore the emergence of fiefdoms in evangelicalism—ministries with little or no denominational oversight. This method of ministry was crucial in landing us where we are today. Could the evangelicals Church of today use a Magna Carta of sorts to keep ministries under accountability?
The value of creeds
How do we keep ministries accountable? One option would be to return to creeds. Creeds are short professions of the faith and are often used to anchor our theology. If you were to write a creed for evangelical ministries, what would it look like?
Helpful Sources and Links:
- Do you think that ministry leaders should be held accountable?
- Should accountability be external or is it okay to limit it to internal accountability?
- Are there steps that Truce can take as a show to introduce accountability without bogging Chris down with too many requirements?
- Do you live in a Christian “bubble”? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the bubble?
- Would you let your kids go to a secular school? Why or why not?
- It’s interesting that Reuben Torrey was seen as snooty. Do you think that attitude is compatible with humble Christian service?