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WHAT IS BIBLICAL FUNDAMENTALISM?

Biblical Fundamentalism refers to a large and growing number of Christians who tend to interpret the Bible literally. throughout history there have been many who taught doctrines similar to the teachings of today’s Fundamentalist preachers, but we can trace the roots of today’s Fundamentalism to the beginning of the twentieth century.During the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there arose deep divisions among some of the Churches concerning the findings of biology, psychology and the other sciences when explaining the Scriptures. These Christians were called "Liberals" or "Modernists." "Conservatives," on the other hand, saw no need to rethink their understanding of basic doctrines.

One small group of Conservatives became intensely opposed to what they called Modernism. Between 1909 and 1915, they published a series of pamphlets entitled The Fundaments: A Testimony to the Truth. The term, "Fundamentalist," began to be used in reference to those conservatives who agreed with the teachings outlined in The Fundamentals pamphlets.

What are several typical Fundamentalist beliefs?
One such belief is that the Bible was verbally inspired by God. Therefore, they tend to take the words of Scripture in their literal sense. They also believe that if something is not found in Scripture, then it cannot be important to religious faith. However, the Second Vatican Council document on Divine Revelation points out the importance of considering history, culture, literary forms and the intentions of the sacred writers when interpreting Scripture.
Most fundamentalists stress the importance of an emotional experience of being born again. Many of them say that a person cannot be considered a Christian unless he or she has had this kind of experience and that those who have not been born again in this manner will go to hell. this belief accounts for the zeal with which Fundamentalists preach the Gospel and try to persuade others to be born again. the Catholic Church affirms the value of emotional experiences of conversation, but the Church does not teach that hell awaits those millions who have not had an emotional born-again experience.

In addition, most fundamentalist preachers are critical of basic Catholic beliefs and practices. For example, they deny the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the authority of priests to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the power of intercessory prayer to Mary and the Saints.

There are several differences among Fundamentalists concerning the meaning of certain Scripture passages, e.g., the time of the Second Coming, the method of Baptism and the necessity of speaking in tongues.

Fundamentalism tend to disregard the Church’s long history of discerning the meaning of Scripture. They deny the teaching authority of the bishops and the Pope, while Catholics believe this teaching authority is necessary for the unity of the Church and that it was basic to Christianity from the beginnings of the Church.

To obtain a printed copy of the Evangeline Scripts write to:
Evangelization Office
Diocese of Lake Charles
P.O. Box 3223
Lake Charles, La. 70602

Copyright 1991 Diocese of Lake Charles, La.
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
+ Jude Speyrer, S.T.L., D.D.
June 1991
Used with permission