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Evangelical Vs. Fundamentalist


sethosayher
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I grew up in an ethnic (South Indian) pentecostal church that was unambigiously fundamentalist in its bent. Fire and brimstone was a frequent subject and we were frequently enjoined to never step into that haven of inquitity, the cinema. The women wore no make-up and to be cought listening to rap or rock could incurr censure.

 

Fast forward to today and my church is far milder, though it has traces of that old fundamentalist spirit. Now the women wear nail polish and lipstick and kids listen to Taylor Swift and Rick Ross without much raising of eyebrows. The worship music is bland, uninspiring tripe, a shoddy pastiche of alternative rock. The messages alternate between the generations, with the older pastors still decrying the evils of gays and liberals and the younger pastors feeding the congregants with vague and theologically unsophisticated warnings about being too individualistic, too selfish, too independent.

 

I feel like this evolution from Fundamentalist to Evangelical is happening across the country. Has it happened in your congregation? What do you think? Is Evangelical christianity 'better'? I have mixed feelings. It's slightly more palatable and less overtly repressive... but if you scratch beneath the surface you can still find sexism, homophobia and other ugly elements of christianity in many quarters (perhaps most).

 

At the same time, I have the feeling that Evangelical Christianity might be (as the anglican-turned-catholic John Henry Newman once stated) "a Trojan horse for an undogmatic religious individualism." When Cardnal Newman meant was that Christianity beyond the confines of a well defined, apostolic church tended to become highly subjective and variable in doctrine, to the point that nearly every believer could define what Christianity meant for themselves. Protestantism always had this problem but it's becoming especially acute in our post-demoninational age. Believers feel little to no need to belong to a church with well-articulated dogma. Ask an evangelical his opinion regarding any issue (gay rights, movies, war, etc) and you can get a different standpoint that depends entirely on the whims and experiences of that person.

 

I believe it was Robert M. Price who noted in one of his articles (can't find the source) that increasing amounts of evangelical christians state that premarital sex is permissible. Maybe Christianity won't look like anything we'd recognize by the end of this century.

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I believe survival of the church requires them to embrace a bit of changing with the times. The hard core fundamentalist sects who are anti everything will always have an audience of stoics and ascetics, though I think that audience grows smaller every day.

 

The distinction is probably liberal versus conservative Christianity. Fundamentalist sects believe the inerrant Word, but in my experience, most don't blindly condemn movies, dancing, makeup or even slacks for women. They all seem to support evangelizing, since that is a fundamental part of the message in their holy book.

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Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism are two different things.

 

Fundamentalism focuses on the supposed core doctrines of Christianity - inerrancy of the Bible, Virgin birth, the Trinity, death and resurrection of christ.

 

Evangelicalism is a focus on the mandate to go out and win converts. Many evangelical churches don't embrace the five fundamentals fully, but still believe in the "Great Commission" to go out and win converts to Christ.

 

So,Evangelicalism is not the next step up from fundamentatlism's hard-assed, backwards thinking strict literalism. Just about all fundamentalist churches can be considered evangelical if they believe in doing mission work and proselytization.

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Noticing how the church has evolved over the past 10 years was just one more factor in my walk away from the church.I know a couple guys who have made the list of pastors of mega churchs in the US and other's who are jockeying for status. One thing that they and so many other pastors are using in their sales pitch is the concept of relevancy. The front page of their websites display that they are a "RELEVANT" church. I thought to myself how unfortunate it is that Christ crucified was no longer sufficient; that the need to be relevant was greater than the message of the cross.

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Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism are two different things.

 

Fundamentalism focuses on the supposed core doctrines of Christianity - inerrancy of the Bible, Virgin birth, the Trinity, death and resurrection of christ.

 

Evangelicalism is a focus on the mandate to go out and win converts. Many evangelical churches don't embrace the five fundamentals fully, but still believe in the "Great Commission" to go out and win converts to Christ.

 

So,Evangelicalism is not the next step up from fundamentatlism's hard-assed, backwards thinking strict literalism. Just about all fundamentalist churches can be considered evangelical if they believe in doing mission work and proselytization.

 

Thanks for explaining this! I belonged to a very fundamentalist church (all the literal baloney you mentioned), while we supported various missions we were never really encouraged to evangelize or share on a personal level. People were supposed to know us from our works/acts, but we never proselytized. Your explanation makes a lot of sense around this...

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as mentioned earlier those are two different things that are not even comparable. even fundamentalists are supposed to be evangelical. you are right when you bring up that the church is evolving. I think it was will morgan who coined the term amerigod where we now have our own flavor of Christianity 2.0 that is sweeping the nation. the internet I think it killing the very old school churches where they now appear very cultish since they so far in the stone age. churches have to keep a fresh rotation of idiots and the only way to lure them in is to conform. not scare them off with stupid rules. you lure them in with a lenient loving picture then feed them the myth

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