Fundamentalism is a type of religious reaction to all forms of modernity. Within Christianity this phenomenon is mostly characteristic of Protestantism but is also found in Catholicism. In fact, the term fundamentalism was coined in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, but it was only toward the end of that century that the term began to be applied to some Catholic movements.
Fundamentalist movements today have lost both significance and relevance in the modern world. They have a rich history that can be a major factor in their revival.
Between 1900 and 1915 a group of conservative evangelical Protestants published a series of brochures entitled The Fundamentals. These brochures responded to a certain number of discussions that had been animating American Protestantism over the preceding half a century. In the beginning, Protestant evangelical churches , although they had their differences, shared a certain common perspective, but toward the end of the 19th century three debates tore them apart. The first one occurred as a number of liberal- and modern-minded Protestants accepted Darwinian theories of evolution. The second one was due to the teaching of biblical criticism (exegesis) in some major seminaries. The final disagreement resulted from the progressive view of history that was characteristic of liberal Protestantism: a view whereby an immanent God was bringing forth his Kingdom with the help of human effort. These ideas gained a lot of support at a time when many evange-lists were ardent followers of millenarian and apocalyptic views of the imminent end of the world. During the First World War, different churches fought for power. The conservatives (especially among some Baptists and Presbyterians ) sought to keep their power when they had it or to regain it if they had lost it. They fought mostly about the teaching of theology and the locations for sending out missions. In 1919, a global association, the World's Christian Fundamentals Association, became the common mouthpiece for all churches concerned. In July 1920, a Baptist journalist, Curtis Lee Laws, editor-in-chief of Baptist Watchman-Examiner, appealed to all those who thought like him to call themselves fundamentalists, and the term prevailed. Laws criticized the conservatives' passivity: the church needed people who were ready to fight for the Lord. Thus, all who rallied to fundamentalism were considered fighters against modernity. They practiced a literal interpretation of the Bible : for them, Mary 's immaculate conception had actually taken place, as had the punishment of Christ for our sins (expiation ); real, too, were the physical resurrection of bodies and the Second Coming. And underneath all this lay a literal conception of the infallibility of the Bible.
The moderates and liberals retained control over their churches while the defeated fundamentalists left the churches to establish their own confessional groups, biblical colleges, papers, radio stations, and so on. Opposing their extremist positions, in 1942 the moderates created a World Evangelical Association that the fundamentalists attacked. The fundamentalists became visible again in the ...