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In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850 Aug 31, 2003
This is a narrative history of fundamentalism focusing on its internal development as a self-conscious interdenominational movement in American Christianity. Based upon research in an impressive variety of sources and written in a clear, straightforward style, it provides a valuable perspective on the history of fundamentalism by an insider, a faculty member of an institution that considers itself a citadel of true fundamentalism. Professor Beale leaves little doubt about those groups that he believes belong among the fundamentalist faithful and those whose compromises have placed them beyond the pale. Divided into thirty-seven chapters, the work traces the history of fundamentalism from the Prayer Meeting Revivals (1857-1859) and the "great revival" in Ireland (1859-1861) through the Bible and prophetic conferences of the late nineteenth century and the struggles during the first three decades of the twentieth century to the contemporary scene in which those who consider themselves the legitimate and obedient contenders of the fundamentalist faith are arrayed against an infinite variety of enemies, ranging from religious liberals and tolerant conservatives to the "new evangelicals" and "neofundamentalists." In a vein similar to works by George Marsden and other recent students of fundamentalism, this one interprets the phenomenon as primarily urban and Northern in origin with significant roles assigned to eminently respectable theologians of the Presbyterian and Baptist persuasion. Professor Beale emphasizes the complexity and diversity of fundamentalism and attempts to correct the stereotypical view of it as a compassionless, anti-intellectual, religiously contentious movement mean of spirit and pharisaical of character. The two basic themes of this book revolve around the interdenominational character of fundamentalism and its emphasis on "the doctrine and practice of holiness," a term that the author defines as meaning separation-separation from the world, false religion, and every practice of disobedience to the scriptures. Fundamentalists, Professor Beale argues, have always accepted the Bible unequivocally as the divinely and verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God. While their methods of pursuing holiness have changed from time to time, their theology has not. From its origins in 1857 to about 1930, fundamentalists functioned as non-conformists bent upon ridding mainline churches of liberals and modernists, labels used interchangeably. Failing in that effort, they embraced separatism beginning in the 1930s and withdrew from denominations controlled by liberals and other "apostates." Then, confronted by the emergence of the "new evangelicals" in the 1950s, who strove for respectability and even opened dialogues with liberals, fundamentalists began practicing their holiness in another way. They withdrew from churches and institutions that had become dominated by "disobedient evangelicals" (9). According to Professor Beale, the "Christian school movement" was one of the most significant developments in the recent history of fundamentalism. In the vanguard of such institutions were Bob Jones Academy and the Stony Brook School, both established in the 1920s, which served as models for similar institutions that proliferated rapidly after 1950. Individuals such as Bob Jones, a host of graduates of his university, Ian Paisley and a few others, rather than Jerry Falwell and those classified as "neo-fundamentalists," continue to hold aloft the authentic flag of fundamentalism. They constitute a relatively small band who adhere to the dictum that "the only true fundamentalist is a fighting fundamentalist" (357). Presbyterians figure significantly in this volume. Seven chapters are devoted exclusively to "Presbyterian Fundamentalism to 1930," followed by extensive coverage of Westminster Seminary, Carl McIntire and the Bible Presbyterian controversies and Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the basic interpretations of fundamentalism put forward by Professor Beale, no one is likely to dismiss his book as insignificant. By Willard B. Gatewood Jr. (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville), in "American Presbyterians: Journal of Presbyterian History." Volume 67, Number 3. For a companion volume, with a number of sources on the Fundamentalist-Modernist controveries discussed by Professor Beale, one might also consult Willard B. Gatewood Jr., ed. "Controversy in the Twenties: Fundamentalism, Modernism, and Evolution." Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1969.
Well worth the investment of coin and time Aug 1, 2003
This is a sorely needed and admirable work on a frequently misunderstood and misrepresented movement. It is engagingly written and informative. This thorough work of history deserves a place in any well rounded library and should be sought out by anyone interested in the history of American Christianity.
All things pure Apr 2, 2000
This book explains for those of us not raised in the fundamentalist tradition that the tradition is really the pursuit for purity--purity in scriptures and purity in holiness. When those of us raised outside of the fundamentalist tradition learn what this pursuit for purity is all about--we join in this pursuit for all things pure.
Intellectually Wonderful! Jan 24, 1999
This easy to read history of American Fundamentalism chronicles the sad, but true, story of how the "leaven" of liberalism destroyed all of the mainline churches in America. The book is really a collection of many short essays tied together to paint a grotesque picture of how Satan has driven those who claim to serve Jesus Christ to deny such fundamental doctrines as the diety of The Messiah, the inerrency and inspiration of Scripture, the Virgin Birth, etc. Finally, this book is a warning to all true believers, in America and in the World, to purge the leaven of sin and false teachers out of their local churches! In order for those who love the Lord Jesus Christ to faithfully serve Him, we must take the warnings contained in this wonderful book and apply it directly to ourselves in this evil age. A must read!