Are you an Evangelical, fundamentalist or a lost soul
Posted in the Christian Forum
#1 Apr 24, 2013
The differences between fundamentalism and evangelicalism are a bit subtle, and oftentimes difficult to understand from the outside. A lot of it is a style. Fundamentalists tend to be very strict. They tend towards intolerance. Notice, I said, "tend towards intolerance." Many of them are not intolerant. But they tend towards that direction. They tend to be very judgmental. They tend to want to require an awful lot of individuals who would join their communion. And they tend to be very, very critical of other Christians -- even other evangelical Christians -- who don't share their very strict approach to religion.
But there are some other things besides style that differentiate fundamentalists from evangelicals. Evangelicals and fundamentalists both agree that the Bible is inerrant, but fundamentalists tend to read the Bible literally.
Many evangelicals don't actually read it literally. They're willing to understand that there's metaphor and poetry in the Bible, and it's just that the truth expressed in that metaphor and poetry is without error; whereas fundamentalists would tend to want to read even the metaphor and the poetry literally. That's a particular way to interpret the Bible.
Likewise, many fundamentalists would see conversion as a sudden event -- something where you could actually pick the date and the time when one accepted Jesus; whereas many evangelicals might have a broader understanding of conversion, something that might take place over a longer period of time, and in fact might not even really be understood until long after it happened. Someone might look back and say, "Yes, it was at that particular time that this transformation occurred in my life."
Also, when it comes to the question of who Jesus was, fundamentalists tend to have a fairly narrow, specific, very strict view of who Jesus was. Evangelicals have a somewhat broader interpretation of who Jesus was.
Fundamentalists also add some additional doctrines to their beliefs that many evangelicals would not agree with. For instance, many fundamentalists have a dispensational view of the Bible. That is to say, they have a particular understanding of sacred time, where the activity of God and history is divided up into particular eras. Different things happen in the different eras or different dispensations.
Depending on which fundamentalist you talk to, we're either at the end of the sixth dispensation or the beginning of the seventh dispensation. This, of course, will eventually lead to the return of Jesus to Earth and the end of human history as we know it. Many evangelicals would not accept dispensationalism. They might-- They do take the return of Jesus very seriously. They do take sacred time very seriously, but would not necessarily buy into a dispensational approach.
Another difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals is the degree of separatism that they practice. Both fundamentalists and evangelicals believe that conservative Christians should separate themselves from the world in many important ways. But fundamentalists are much stricter in that separation, and they would extend it to religion as well.
Many fundamentalists don't want to associate even with other Christians who don't agree with them. They want to separate themselves from people that have fairly similar values. Oftentimes, fundamentalists will even want to separate themselves from people who refuse to separate themselves from people who they don't agree with. Of course, this can be extended a long way.
Evangelicals are not as separatist. They are perfectly willing to cooperate with people of other religious faiths, with whom they don't agree on all of the particulars, for the greater cause of evangelizing and bringing people to Christ. So evangelicals, for instance, will often talk about making common cause with Roman Catholics or with mainline Protestants.
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