The Psychologies in Religion: Working with the Religious Client

By E. Thomas Dowd; Stevan Lars Nielsen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Fundamentalism

Sara Savage


OVERVIEW AND HISTORY OF THE
FUNDAMENTALIST ORIENTATION

Christian fundamentalists are committed to the faith expressed in the Christian creeds; they are intrinsically oriented believers. The intrinsic individual embraces a creed, internalizes it, and attempts to follow it fully. Such a believer lives his religion.

In the context of Christian history, fundamentalism is a relatively recent development. Protestant fundamentalism first emerged in America in the 19th century at a time of major paradigm shift in religious thought. The Bible was being subjected to critical analysis as if it were just any historical, secular text. Higher biblical criticism examines the human and cultural origins of Scripture, using archaeological and linguistic methods. The fundamentalist response to this involved vigorous campaigns against higher criticism, Darwinism, and other liberalizing influences. The faith was felt to be under threat. The movement peaked between 1910 and 1915 with the publication and distribution of 3 million copies of The Fundamentals, a series of 12 booklets that defended “fundamental” beliefs, written by Presbyterian scholars at Princeton. Henceforth, Protestant fundamentalists were the first to earn their name as those who would battle for the fundamentals of the faith.

The key tenets formulated within the booklets encapsulate the primary beliefs of present-day fundamentalists as well. These are: (a) the authority and inerrancy of the Bible (Scripture); (b) the verbal inspiration of Scripture (the words, not just the ideas, are inspired); (c) the substitutionary atonement of the death of Christ (Christ died to atone for

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