What do we mean by that word, Fundamentalist? That name has come into terrible disrepute in recent years through the misuse of the term to describe every lunatic fringe; from murderous terrorists to cults that kill their members. In the minds of many Christians a Fundamentalist is a mean-spirited, hard-nosed, judgmental legalist who dictates his standards of morality to others and is miserable to be around. Christians ought to know better, but if you hear lies and misrepresentations long enough and often enough, you tend to start believing them.
So what is a Fundamentalist? For the answer let's go back about one hundred years to the beginning of the 20th century. Back then religious liberalism that denied the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and denied the deity of Christ had made great inroads into the seminaries and churches of America.(I believe that political liberalism has its roots in theological liberalism. That, for example, is why liberals who do not believe the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God would be for abortion and against capital punishment.) About that time a number of leaders from various denominations began to come together in defense of the Bible. In spite of their denominational differences, they formed the beginnings of the Fundamentalist Movement. Into this Movement came pastors and their churches who determined to stand for the Bible. Some opted to stay in their denominations to try to influence them back to the Bible. Other opted to leave the liberal denominations and start new churches free of liberal denominational entanglements
One group that emerged at that time became known as The Independent Fundamental Churches of America or the IFCA. My church, Alameda Bible Church, is associated in fellowship with this group. To learn more about the IFCA you can visit their web site. http://www.ifca.org.
Basically a Fundamentalist is one who understands that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and he understands that the Doctrine of Christ is the essential doctrine of The Faith. One can be wrong about a number of doctrines and still be saved and go to Heaven, but he cannot afford to be wrong concerning the Doctrine of Christ. Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 16:17-18; II Corinthians 6:14-18; II Peter 2; II John 7-11;
.A classic, historic Fundamentalist realizes there are only a few fundamental doctrines that mean the difference between being saved and being lost. That's why he calls himself a Fundamentalist. As such, they are free to disagree with one another in many other theological issues and still be Fundamentalists. The problem in the last fifty years is that many Fundamentalists have divided from one another into many splinter groups and brought needless division and shame to the cause of Christ.
I have spent almost fifty years of ministry reaching out to fellow Christians.. The unity and harmony and holiness of His Body is important to me. It grieves me to see members of His Body fussing with one another over inconsequential matters. An inconsequential matter is any doctrine or position that is not directly related to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ's blood atonement.
To our shame I confess that over the years some Fundamentalists have become distracted over various issues that appear to have grown more important than salvation itself. Like the Amish who live under rules concerning the width of the brims of their hats, to the importance of women using straight pins over safety pins to fastening their dresses or like the "black bumper" Mennonites who believe that even expensive cars are not sinful as long as the chromed bumpers are painted black; so some Fundamentalists have been put under bondage by their pastors who teach them the correct length of hair and a strict dress code for both men and women. Remember this! Whenever salvation by the grace of God is taught plus man made rules of conduct, the man made rules of conduct will become more important than what God's Word says about salvation. Eventually the distraction of the man-made rules will become the most important thing. In this way, the great truths of God's grace have been buried by the cow manure of man's rules.
Like the Pharisees in Jesus' day who bound heavy burdens on the people, so Fundamentalists have become known, not so much for the salvation by grace that they preach as for the rules and regulations they put upon their people. That is a terrible distraction to the message of Christ. As a classic, historic Fundamentalists, I am doing what I can to remove the shade of distraction so that the light of the Gospel can shine brightly.
In Heaven, Christ's blood-washed saints will all be glorified and sinless and have a perfect understanding of God's Truth. It will be wonderful to see all the man-made labels trashed and forgotten. In Heaven there will be no Calvinists, no Arminians nor Charismatics, no Fundamentalist, no Dispensationalists nor Reformed Theologians; only blood-washed saints whose only glory will be Christ Himself. How wonderful it will be to enjoy true unity, true intimacy and true holiness throughout eternity!