If It Walks Like a Duck



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Innuendo that fails to define "fundamentalism"

Bishop Lewis fails to mention that the term "fundamentalism" had a very specific and very different definition back in the 1920's and 1930's than what the term means today. Today, in popular usage, the term means "close-minded legalism". In its original meaning however, it simply meant anyone who held to the following classic doctrines of the Christian faith (i.e., the 5 fundamentals):

- Biblical inspiration and the infallibility of scripture
- Virgin birth of Jesus
- Belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin
- Bodily resurrection of Jesus
- Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus

None of these should be controversial since they were the beliefs of John Wesley and all the early Methodists. Also, the 5 Fundamentals and fundamentalism itself came about as a movement to counter the growing influence of Modernism (i.e., liberal theology) that specifically rejected these five core doctrines. The original fundamentalist movement included many eminent and universally respected theologically conservative scholars such as J. Gresham Machen. Starting in the mid-1920's, particularly in the popular press, the term fundamentalism began to be used as a pejorative specifically to label groups as anti-intellectual, close-minded, legalistic, and hyper-literal.

Paul W. more than 3 years ago


Sadly, Wesley was condemned by some of the bishops in his time for basically . . . being a fundamentalist. And here is a so-called Methodist "bishop" condemning and slandering (incestuous relationships) certain Methodists for what? . . . following the same path as Wesley. It's just un-freaking-believable.

Josh more than 3 years ago


And as such, it accurately describes the political religious right, the coterie of interlocking monetizers who seek political aggrandizement for themselves, temporal power within the state, propagandizing the masses, and spreading hatred, racism, woman hatred, and ignorance through their vast strategies even gaining the access to the highest level of government in the most corrupt executive branch in U.S, history through such agents as Pompeo, DeVos, Carson, Gorsuch, Cotton, Huckabee Sanders, and DeVos' treasonous Brother Erik Prince and private mercenary army Blackwater. It is to Wesleyanism as Mussolini was to Guissippe Garibaldi's ideal of a free and Democratic Italy.

George Nixon Shuler more than 3 years ago

The problem with the church

Is that people spend way too much time critiquing each other and labeling each other and all the while people in the pews like me are hungry for what it means to live a life centered in God--and for me it went a step further: what does it mean to be a Christian of the Methodist persuasion. As I have learned no such understanding exists because this has become a loose cannon of the most dangerous kind: a group of good hearted people each doing the best they know how. Well, I have spent time with John Wesley and I have an understanding of what he did to bring Methodism into existence.

The United Methodism Church has gone way beyond Wesley's fear that Methodism would only become the form of religion without the power because it has become a church that has a very stunted view of itself and possesses absolutely no beliefs in common. I am no longer surprised that people are not choosing the United Methodist Church because with all its theological plurality that has run amuck about all it can do for a person is leave them in some spiritual never never land unable to find peace with either God or the world. As John Wesley said, that is a very miserable place to be. Methodism is in existence because John Wesley was determined to provide a practical religion for a plain people that would connect individuals to God in a life transforming relationship--something that is not on the church's collective radar because everybody is too busy staking out their own position while jockeying for position and control.

betsy more than 3 years ago

If it walks like a duck

The research for the article seems to end in the 1950's. Bob Jones and John R. Rice were classic fundamentalists, i.e., "too little fun, too much damn, too little mental,' denounced Billy Graham, embraced a 6,000 year old earth, defended segregation, attacked Roman Catholics as cultists,refused cooperation with any who did not toe their narrow line, denounced public education and on and on. That is not any evangelical I have ever met or heard of. Ask Richard Hayes of Yale-Duke, Rebekah Miles of Perkins, Kenda Creasy Dean of Princeton, Bishop Scott Jones and numerous others nurtured in that tradition and educated with the support of the evangelical 'Fund for Theological Education' created in positive collaboration between Albert Outler and Ed Robb. Bishop Lewis has fallen into the descriptive fallacy, i.e., throw a rock and a duck into a pond and because both share the quality of being wet, they MUST be first cousins.

Bob more than 3 years ago


"Fundamentalists in America during this era were almost incestuous in the way allies and friends hung together across denominational lines like an extended family"

Good lord. I cannot even believe someone would write this, no less a Methodist bishop. Yeah dude, we who love Jesus hang out and love each other like family. We are children of God after all. We do not let denominational lines separate us from our family. What does this "bishop" think is right . . . to only hang out from people in your own denomination? I am definitely not a fundamentalist (whatever that means) but if this is how "progressives" think, I don't want part of it. It's sickening.

And also, this dude's thinking is totally behind the times. He needs to read "Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism" by Nancy Murphy. His article is really out of touch.

Josh more than 3 years ago

More really?

He might also read "Square Peg: Why Wesleyans Aren't Fundamentalists" by Al Truesdale of the Wesleyan Church. For that matter, many others who conflate fundamentalism and the Wesleyan branch of evangelicalism should read it too. Truesdale carefully delineates the important diifferences in matters of biblical inspiration, scriptural interpretation, and ontological understandings of truth that clearly separate fundamentalists from even the most theologically conservative Wesleyan evangelicals.

John more than 3 years ago


It is worth pointing out that both John R Rice and Bob Jones rejected Ockenga’s new organisation. They remained “fundamentalist” and were scornful of what they called “neo-evangelism. Rather than being a fundamentalist unity ticket the formation of the NAE marked a split.

John Sandeman more than 3 years ago

It was Bob Jones whose unaccedited indoctrination factory

was under assault from the feds and quite rightfully so for its acceptance of federal funds for segregationism and other extremist oppressions that was behind the creation of the religious right entirely.

George Nixon Shuler more than 3 years ago