Recently, I posted pointed out what I felt was an instance of fundamentalism on the Desiring God blog. And, after a bit of conversation on FaceBook I think it might be helpful to explain the way that I use the term fundamentalism. For this term, I follow the approach of Harriet A. Harris who has written an excellent book entitled
Fundamentalism and Evangelicals. In her book she states that she uses the term “fundmentalist” in three ways:
I will employ the term ‘fundamentalist’ in three main ways, each of which should be clear from the context. I will use it when referring to the fundamentalist mentality which prevails in contemporary evangelicalism. Secondly, I will retain the label ‘fundamentalist’ for those involved in the controversies with ‘modernism’ in the 1920s. Thirdly, I will call ‘fundamentalist’ particular separatist groups who regard themselves as fundamentalist (and I do not, by virtue of this label, judge that selfproclaimed fundamentalists lack the advantages of a personal, evangelical faith) (Harris 1998, 17).
Do I think the writer at Desiring God blog whose post I critiqued is a fundamentalist? Not really in the strictest (third) sense above, though I do agree with James Barr that modern evangelicalism has done very little to distinguish itself from fundamentalism (I also recommend Barr’s work entitled Fundamentalism to the reader, though it can be difficult to come by). In the previous post, I was using the term “fundamentalism” in the first sense above, namely an evangelical reflecting the fundamentalist mentality that still prevails in modern evangelicalism.
PS – I believe the critique of blatant anachronism in the above mentioned post stands without need for clarification.