- The Fundamentals: A Testimony to Truth was a 12-volume set of essays published starting in 1909 and purporting to set forth the fundamentals of the Protestant Christian faith. it was a response to the spread of opinions among American Protestant leaders that were seen by conservatives as departures from the historic faith. They included biblical criticism, evolutionary theory in biology and geology, reinterpretations of traditional Christian affirmations, and the social gospel, which sought the rehabilitation of society rather than the evangelization of individuals.Oil millionaires Lyman Stewart (1840-1923) and his brother Milton Stewart (1838-1923), devout Presbyterians, funded the publication and free distribution of 3 million copies of the book to ministers throughout the English-speaking world.The volumes were edited by Amzi C. Dixon (1854-1925), R. A. Torrey (1856-1928), and Louis Meyer. The authors were drawn from various churches and theological perspectives, but were united in their affirmation of traditional Protestant teachings. Included were James Orr (1844-1913), W. J. Erdman, H. C. G. Moule, James M. Gray (1851-1935), Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861-1927), Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945), and Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921). Two themes running through the volumes were the compatibility of Christian supernaturalism with modern science and confirmation of Christian truth in personal experience.The Fundamentals was rather conciliatory in tone and represented a first stage of what would become Fundamentalism after World War I. By the 1920s, many of the writers were either retired or deceased, but they raised the issues that would become the substance of the Fundamentalist movement a decade later.Further reading:■ S. G. Cole, History of Fundamentalism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1931)■ A. C. Dixon, Louis Meyer, and R. A. Torrey, eds., The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (rpt., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 2003)■ Norman Furniss, The Fundamentalist Controversy, 1918-1931 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1954)■ George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980)■ Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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