Lewis Carroll’s children’s book Through the Looking-Glass has the following conversation: ‘“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”’1

The Fundamentals was originally published in 12 separate volumes. The text is available as part of the Swordsearcher Deluxe Study Library.

Christian fundamentalism

Once upon a time (well, about a hundred years ago) conservative Christians in the USA felt the need to re-affirm the fundamental beliefs of Protestant Christianity. Orthodox biblical belief was being attacked by theologians promoting liberal theology, German higher criticism of the Bible, Darwinism, and other ‘isms’ regarded as contrary to all that was written in the Christians’ holy book, the Bible.

In 1909, millionaire oil magnate Lyman Stewart2 and his brother, Milton, provided for the publication of a 12-volume series of 94 essays on conservative Christian theology, entitled The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. These essays were then written by 64 American and British conservative Protestant theologians between 1910 and 1915, and about three million sets of these books were sent free of charge to ministers, missionaries, Sunday-school teachers and Christian leaders in the USA and abroad.3 In 1917, with the original fund exhausted, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) reprinted the articles in a four-volume set, edited by R.A. Torrey.4

This title reminded readers that certain core doctrines were essential or fundamental to biblically based Christianity because they were all unequivocally expounded in the Bible. These major doctrines were:

  1. The inerrancy of the Bible
  2. The virgin birth of Christ
  3. The substitutionary atonement of Christ
  4. The bodily resurrection of Christ
  5. The authenticity of Christ’s miracles.5

The first of these points relates directly to belief in biblical creation. The time-honoured historical-grammatical understanding of Genesis leads to only one conclusion—that it is a historical narrative, declared to be true by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostolic writers, that tells of a six-real-day recent creation followed by a global Flood. The only presumptive alternative is that Genesis is mistaken—thus the Bible would not be inerrant….

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