Progressive Christian blogger (bleh, I get a bad taste in my mouth putting those two words together, kind of like pro-choice Christian or pro-war Christian) Benjamin Corey has written a post arguing that Evangelicalism is the new Fundamentalism. I suppose in a sense, that’s true in that it is the current cultural and western Christian bastion of some conservative values like being pro-life and pro-natural marriage. However, he goes way off base claiming that Evangelicalism has ossified into some hyper-conservative group indistinguishable from the original fundamentalism.
Why Did Evangelicals originally break from Fundamentalists?
Ben’s analysis of evangelicalism is that it has reverted to being “like its parent,” Fundamentalism.
While the original fundamentalists have faded to the margins of Christianity in America, evangelicalism did not stay true to the founding ideals of being an alternative to fundamentalism. Instead, the old way of living and being slowly crept into evangelical culture– unnoticed until it was too late.
Evangelicalism has not adopted the features of Fundamentalism that it once rejected – that is, anti-moderninsm and cultural isolationism, as well as a mistrust of higher education spurred on by higher criticism. 1
Evangelicalism is very modern (hence contemporary worship and other modern forms), very invested in social change as well as higher education (hence Wheaton).
In my mind, Evangelicalism shared other features of Fundamentalism, which are actually being lost at this time – ideas like plenary inerrancy and penal substitution, once foundational to evangelicalism, are now much more broadly questioned, and perhaps with good reason. In all, I’d say the Evangelical Left and Center have vastly expanded the scope of Evangelicalism, rather than seeing it as having hardened into “the new Fundamentalism.” 2
Why do Evangelicals seem so conservative?
Part of this great contrast between Evangelicalism and culture is that culture has moved so quickly and far leftward that Evangelicals appear more conservative, even though we’ve gotten more broad and liberal over the decades. Being pro life and pro family (anti homosexuality) are not some extreme fundamentalist doctrines that Evangelicals didn’t hold before. Culture used to hold those values, and it has abandoned them. We did not move to the right, we expanded to the left, but culture flew far left at the same time.
Helping Muslims v. Criticizing Islam
Corey goes on to discuss how he thinks Evangelicalism is merely gathering around Islam in a xenophobic, fear-based need to demonize someone.
The glue that holds fundamentalism together is the agreement upon a common enemy to fight, and … Muslims are the common enemy.
However, Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse (the organization run by “anti-Muslim” Franklin Graham) do more to serve and love Muslims than Muslims themselves do, not to mention secularists who let refugees run rampant across Europe. 3
Liberals fail to see the difference between rejecting a totalitarian ideology like Islam and rejecting its religious adherents. They fail to see the anti-human rights positions encoded in Shariah, and blame evangelicals for pointing it out.
Islam, this century’s murderous, totalitarian ideology
Evangelicalism isn’t making Islam the boogie man.
Islam is the primary ideological threat to humanity and social order in our century. In the previous century it was fascism, then communism. Both had good people in them despite the evil of the ideology. Communism persists in our day, but no one condemning it is condemning Cubans or Chinese.
We condemn Islam, not primarily on religious grounds, but on humanistic and rational grounds. Muslims come in many races, so it’s not a racial thing, not even cultural bias. It’s about the foundational teachings, and how they cause murder, political instability,and violation of women around the globe.
Evangelicalism is only the new fundamentalism to those who ignore or are ignorant of what it means to be evangelical, and have moved so far left that everyone seems fundamentalist who disagrees with them.