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The Fundamentalist-Modernist Conflict. The Rise of The Culture Wars. Christian America. Great Awakenings: Development of national consciousness Idea that God had chosen America for purpose Development of Evangelicalism as movement stressing personal religious experience. Coming of Modernism.

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The fundamentalist modernist conflict

The Fundamentalist-Modernist Conflict

The Rise of The Culture Wars

Christian america
Christian America

  • Great Awakenings:

    • Development of national consciousness

    • Idea that God had chosen America for purpose

    • Development of Evangelicalism as movement stressing personal religious experience

Coming of modernism
Coming of Modernism

  • Charles Darwin (1809-82)

    • Origin of Species (1859)

    • Descent of Man (1871)

  • Theory of Evolution challenged biblical account of creation

  • Biblical Higher Criticism

    • Documentary theories

    • Search for the Historical Jesus

    • Denied divine inspiration of Scripture

Liberal christianity
Liberal Christianity

  • Bible is human book

  • Optimism about humanity

  • God works through human institutions

  • Focus on Christ as human example of God-consciousness

  • Denial of miracles & supernatural, including virgin birth & resurrection

  • Denial of atonement; preferred moral influence theory

  • Emphasis on this life & social gospel not evangelism

  • Rational theology; non-exclusive faith; tolerance

  • Truth evolves; Christian doctrine is developmental

Liberal christianity1
Liberal Christianity

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross”

H. Richard Niebuhr


  • Conservative reaction: Fundamentalism

    • 1920, Curtis Lee Laws, editor of Watchman Examiner coined term “fundamentalists”

  • Five Fundamentals:

    • Verbal inspiration of Scripture

    • Virgin birth & deity of Christ

    • Substitutionary atonement of Christ

    • Bodily resurrection of Christ

    • Physical, imminent return of Christ


  • General characteristics

    • Inerrancy

    • Dispensational Premillenialism

      • John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

      • Cyrus Scofield (1843-1921) & Scofield Bible

    • Separatism

      • Bob Jones (1883-1968)

      • Carl McIntire (1906-2002)

    • Cross-denominational

      • Especially Presbyterians & Baptists


  • “Princeton Theology”

    • Calvinism; Infallibility of Scripture; Scottish Philosophy of Common Sense

    • Charles Hodge (1797-1878); A.A. Hodge (1823-86); B.B. Warfield (1851-1921)

  • John Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

    • Left Princeton due to growing liberalism

    • Formed Westminster Theological Seminary (1929); Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936)

  • Split: Presbyterian Church USA & Presbyterian Church in America

Northern baptists
Northern Baptists

  • William Bell Riley (1861-1947): pastor of FBC, Minneapolis; founder of Northwestern College

    • 1922 Convention, proposed adoption of New Hampshire Confession

    • Liberals countered with New Testament as “all-sufficient ground of our faith & practice”

Southern baptists
Southern Baptists

  • J. Frank Norris (1877-1952): pastor of FBC, Fort Worth, & Temple Baptist, Detroit – simultaneously!

    • Flamboyant preacher & moral crusader against liberalism, Catholicism, communism, evolution

    • Kicked out of BGCT & SBC; organized World Missionary Baptist Fellowship; Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute (now Arlington Bible College)

    • Accused of arson (twice) & murder; but acquitted

    • “Ten Biggest Devils in Fort Worth – Names Named!”

Southern baptists1
Southern Baptists

  • Edgar Young Mullins (1860-1928): 4th President of Southern Seminary

  • In response to threats of liberalism & accusations by Norris, Mullins sponsored & edited Baptist Faith & Message (1925)

Scopes monkey trial
Scopes Monkey Trial

  • Theory of Evolution became flashpoint for Fundamentalist-Modernist debate

  • Laws against teaching it were passed in several states, including Tennessee

  • ACLU convinced John Scopes, biology teacher in Dayton, to test the law

Scopes monkey trial1
Scopes Monkey Trial

  • ACLU hired Clarence Darrow for defense

  • Prosecution led by William Jennings Bryan

  • Dubbed “Trial of Century” & broadcast on radio

Scopes monkey trial2
Scopes Monkey Trial

  • In a surprise move, Darrow called Bryan to testify; Bryan agreed: “I am simply trying to protect the Word of God against the greatest atheist or agnostic in the U.S.”

  • Darrow: “We have the purpose of preventing bigots & ignoramuses from controlling the education of the U.S.”

Scopes monkey trial3
Scopes Monkey Trial

  • Darrow pressed Bryan on date of Flood: “What do you think that the Bible says?”

  • Bryan: “I never made a calculation”

  • Darrow: “What do you think?”

  • Bryan: “I do not think about things I don’t think about”

  • Darrow: “Do you think about things you do think about?”

  • Bryan: “Well, sometimes”

Scopes monkey trial4
Scopes Monkey Trial

  • Bryan: “Your Honor, I think I can shorten this testimony. The only purpose Mr. Darrow has is to slur at the Bible!”

  • Darrow: “I object to that! I am examining you on your fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes!”

Scopes monkey trial5
Scopes Monkey Trial

  • Jury found Scopes guilty of violating Tennessee law & fined him $100

  • Decision was reversed on technicality

  • Story made into movie: Inherit the Wind

Aftermath of scopes trial
Aftermath of Scopes Trial

  • Fundamentalism was dismissed as rural, narrow-minded, backward, anti-intellectual

  • Northern Presbyterians & Baptists lost their denominations to liberals

  • Liberal reaction to demise of fundamentalism:

    • “Event now passed;” dysfunctional mutation away from main line of religious evolution

    • If not dead, it was no longer force in American thought & culture

    • Relegated to “mean streets” of America, “everywhere that learning is too heavy a burden”

    • It no longer appealed to “best brains & good sense of modern community”

Aftermath of scopes trial1
Aftermath of Scopes Trial

  • Fundamentalists regrouped:

    • Bible colleges

    • Mission organizations

    • Radio

    • Publications

    • Powerful pastors with large congregations

  • Liberal, mainline denominations declined as their theology has declined

    • “It’s difficult for church to survive if there’s nothing that makes church distinct from culture”

Neo evangelicalism

  • 1943, National Association of Evangelicals founded: “kinder, gentler” fundamentalism

  • Leaders: Harold Ockenga, pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, later president of Fuller Seminary

  • Charles Fuller of Old Fashioned Revival Hour

  • Carl F.H. Henry, 1st editor of Christianity Today

  • Billy Graham

Religious right
Religious Right

  • Jerry Falwell & Moral Majority, involved in election of Ronald Reagan in 1980

  • Pat Robertson, founder of 700 Club, presidential candidate in 1988

  • James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, involved in Culture Wars

    • Abortion

    • Homosexual rights

American evangelicalism
American Evangelicalism

  • Influence in media

    • Christian Contemporary Music – $1B per year

    • The Passion of the Christ (2004) - $600M

    • Left Behind Series – over 60M in sales

American evangelicalism1
American Evangelicalism

  • Power in politics

    • Connected to election of Republican candidates since 1980