A Brief Book Summary from Books at a Glance
About the Author
J.I. Packer is Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the author of many books, including the best-selling Knowing God.
‘This modern classic by the author of Knowing God provides a comprehensive statement of the doctrine of Scripture from an evangelical perspective. J. I. Packer explores the meaning of the word “fundamentalism” and offers a clear and well-reasoned argument for the authority of the Bible and its proper role in the Christian life.’
Table of Contents
- ‘Fundamentalists’ under Fire
- What is ‘Fundamentalism’?
Chapter One: ‘Fundamentalists’ under Fire
“Fundamentalism,” associated with Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusades, the growth of evangelical groups in schools and universities as well as evangelical candidates for the ministry, has picked up general interest and a bad reputation. The varied criticisms of the movement flow largely from misunderstandings, however.
First, some label “fundamentalism” as a theological peculiarity. These critics, such as Alan Richardson and Gabriel Hebert, see its view of biblical inerrancy as a hallmark of obscurantism. Others see also related beliefs such as a denial of the human element of the Bible, a doctrine of penal substitution with reference to the atonement, and an individual conception of converting decision and the work of the Holy Spirit. These points of attack largely come from liberals, sacramentalists, neo-orthodox thinkers, etc. who fault anyone who is not of their tribe. The techniques used by “fundamentalists” in evangelism (pressing for an emotional decision) and in scholarship (sacrificing reason for an attitude to the Bible) do much to reinforce the above negative characterization, we are told.
Where there is truth in such criticism against “fundamentalists,” of course, it should be opposed. And yet there needs to be an answer to anti-“fundamentalist” arguments which are given in good faith and ostensibly offered in the cause of Christian education. This book seeks to show what “fundamentalism” is in principle: simply a twentieth-century name, though not a good name, for historic Evangelicalism. Second, we will address the substantive issue separating “fundamentalists” from their critics: the question of authority in the Christian Church. The authority of the Bible over and above self, reason, or tradition is just submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is the historic position as is clear from Westminster Confession of Faith I.X. Submission to the word of God as supreme is basic to Christianity itself.
Chapter Two: What is ‘Fundamentalism’?
As a term, “fundamentalism” arose as a label covering Protestants reacting to Liberal encroachment after World War I. It repays our efforts, then, to remember the conditions of 1918-1931.
Liberalism held to a few core ideas at this time. 1) God’s character is one of pure benevolence, the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. 2) There is a divine spark in every man, and all that is needed is encouragement for his natural goodness. 3) Jesus Christ is. . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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