[Here’s my History Professor’s (Dr. Paul Hartog) question: WRITE A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF EARLY FUNDAMENTALISM THAT INCLUDES ITS STRENGTHS (IN YOUR OPINION). IF YOU HAD BEEN A LEADER ALIVE AT THE TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ADDED TO / CHANGED (IF ANYTHING) WITHIN THE EARLY MOVEMENT, AND WHY?]
My answer: “The fundamentals included the divine inspiration and total infallibility of the Bible, the deity of Christ and his virgin birth, his substitutionary death in our place as punishment for our sins, and his bodily resurrection afterward” [Jonathan Hill, The History of Christian Thought, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 247.]
The infallibility of Scripture, and more precisely, the inerrancy of Scripture is a great strength because it encouraged the people of God to place more importance upon it than other authorities, e.g., that of science, or pure reasoning, or sense experience. If there were errors in the revelation of God, then why trust the Revelator? Sure, there are errors correctly recorded, like that of Adam and Eve, and the errors that Abraham made, etc. But the word of God is without error. It is in perfect unity with itself and with its Author.
This early description or disctinctive about the fundamentalists also motivated them to love and study God’s word. It urges them to know the Bible more intimately by a more diligent study–rightly dividing the Word of God. Hence, we see the beginning of the popularization of dispensational theology, premillennialism and the end-times prophecies.
The divinity of Christ sure is a great strength for the fundamentalist movement. This is big! Contemporary history has seen the arisal of at least two cults that deny the deity of Christ–at least His eternality and being in the same essence as God the Father. His being born by a virgin ensures his impeccability and sinlessness because He is bypassed by the progeniture of Adam, who plunged humankind into sin. His vicarious sacrifice is essential to salvation. His bodily resurrection is essential to the Christian faith. If one gets this wrong, one ends up in hell. That’s why this is big.
My undergrad professor of Contemporary Theology added at least two more articles: 1) the visible return of Christ, and 2) ecclesiastical separation. The ecclesiastical separation meant that we ought not fellowship with anyone who did not subscribe to the articles of fundamentalism. I agreed with him then, but now I would add a couple of caveats. 1) That I would engage them in regular conversations about these–oh, yeah, I meant witness to them–thus the need to engage them. 2) The visible return of Christ would be a matter that is included in the inerrancy of Scripture, so no, I would not add it specifically as a separate article of fundamentalism.