It is interesting how words and phrases can have their meaning changed from time to time and from generation to generation. I have decided to use this article to notice the word fundamental and to see how it is used. Obviously I will not go into the entomology of the word and I will not attempt to trace its use in the historic sense of the word. The main reason I choose to do this is that as a new born Christian in 1956 and through three decades was made to believe that the title Fundamentalist was a badge of honor. We were unique people in a liberal and modernistic world. It was true that the major religious institutions and conventions treated us with disdain and contempt. They believed us to be uneducated and almost uncivilized. Great pressures were exerted to exclude us from the mainstream of Christianity. We knew and are justified in believing that we were among a precious few that was standing against a downward spiral of Christianity.sm
First I should qualify my interpretation of what a fundamentalist is. The word fundamental in its legitimate definition refers to the basic tenets of a religion, philosophy or political persuasion. There has to be an absolute documented or substantiated platform or authority. In Christianity there is complying agreement in most of the ranks and sects. The Bible is the authority. From the first amalgamation of the various books of the Old Testament through the canonization of the completed volume, men have accepted the Bible. Relatively recently there is confusion as to which version because some translators have declared freedom to dynamically interpret their version resulting in a variation of Bibles. Outside of a few instances, most denominations and even cults differ not by interpretation of the Bible, but by man made traditions and worldly philosophies being mixed in with truth. A fundamental Christian falls back to strict scripture and its verbal and literal interpretation.
A fundamental Baptist is a person who holds to and conforms with the standards and doctrines of the original Baptist faith. All through the years it has been necessary for Christian movements to identify themselves, usually from the prevailing trends of that downward spiral. Doctrinal statements have been set forth as authentic documents detailing where the Church gathering stood regarding doctrine and practice. The word fundamental did not usually originate from within but from without, even as the word, "Christian," originated in Antioch. Acts 13. Fundamental Christians are committed to their Bible as the final authority is all matters and the final answer to any question. They will very energetically defend their faith using, not just pertinent verses, but the entire Word of God. Anyone who picks and chooses selected verses or doctrines to the exclusion of others does not fall under the category fundamental, even though the world tags such. This applies to Christians, Moslems or any other dogma. To be fundamentally sound is to be solid in one's belief and behavior. Anyone who considers himself, or is considered by others as a moderate is probably not believing or behaving in accord with his foundational base. Moderate Christians have an innate desire to be accepted by the world, so will not exhibit fundamental actions. Moderate Moslems are also not living or exhibiting the fundamental tenets of their Koran. Even the casual reader of any version of the Koran will not find a devotional religion toward Allah, but instead will find consistent instruction of world conquest through subjection to Islam law.
It has to be fact that in any religion, devotion and dedication to the base authority is the key to authenticity of an adherent or follower. The more fundamental a person is, the more true he or she is to their confessed faith and the more able to convey their doctrine to others.