Sunday, August 23, 2009


"It is a mistake, often made by educated persons who happen to have but little knowledge of historical theology, to suppose that Fundamentalism is a new and strange form of thought. It is nothing of the kind: it is the partial and uneducated survival of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians. How many were there, for instance, in Christian churches in the eighteenth century who doubted the infallible inspiration of all Scripture? A few, perhaps, but very few. No, the Fundamentalist may be wrong. I think that he is. But it is we who have departed from the tradition, not he, and I am sorry for the fate of anyone who tries to argue with a Fundamentalist on the basis of authority. The Bible and the corpus theologicum of the Church is [sic] on the Fundamentalist side." —Kirsopp Lake, The Religion of Yesterday and To-morrow (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925), 61-62. [HT: Kevin Bauder, In The Nick of Time; emphasis mine.]


Reformation said...

As I read your comment my mind was running ahead to Kirsopp Lake. Then you cited him. I think James Barr may have said the same thing. Actually, the "Fundamentals of the Faith" published in/about 1909 entailed and involved some international scholars. Sydney Ahlstrom, Yale historian, notes that originally the movement was scholarly, temperate in tone, and trans-denominational. The term begins to be hijacked by some American cowboys, like a Rev. Norris (first and middle names elude me) of Dallas, TX, whose sensationalism, histrionics, etc., would lead a man like Mencken and others to observe that such antics drove people away from Christianity. Yet, Mencken had high regards for Machen. Some have called him a "father" of fundamentalism, although Machen disliked the term, apparently disavowed it, given that Confessional Christianity was more than a five-point litmus test. Good post. Thanks and good to hear Lake's comment again, long ago lost to memory.

Reformation said...

J.Frank Norris, that's the Dallas Cowboy Pastor, fighter, sensationalist, etc. He advertised his sermon series at one point, "The Ten Biggest Jackasses in Dallas: Names Given." Sheesh.

As an aside, I have found Martin Chemnitz's Examination of the Council of Trent (Concordia Press) and William Whittaker (English Reformer, 1580) to be decisive witnesses from the ancient church about the role, place, supremacy, sovereignty and perspicuity of Sacred Scriptures. Whittaker is available through a free download at "Disputations on Holy Scripture." Chemnitz is an expensive, but worthy purchase--the second Martin of the Reformation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! for the reply.
Just glanced (maybe read one or two essays) thru The Fundamentals. Ahlstrom, too, is sitting on the shelf, while I read less comprehensive histories of American Christianity. Heard of Norris, but not too familiar with anything on/by him. Sounds like a winner! Always had Chemnitz on the back-burner as a good option; but, as you say, I found his work still pricey, and it has remained there still - maybe someday. Whittaker, of course is the man, and I am trying to find time to get after my copy. Thanks, again!