Where did Christian Fundamentalism come from? What's all the nonsense about being "Left Behind?"
Christian Fundamentalism is noted for two major characteristics: A) Bibliolatry or worship of the Bible. The term they use is “inerrant” or that the Bible is without error. What is inerrant is their literal interpretation of the scriptures. B) Dispensationalism. Okay a big word, but it refers to the belief that Jesus is coming again to “rapture” all Christians and then God will cause all kinds of nasty things to happen called “tribulation” and then there will be the battle of Armageddon leading to a thousand year reign of Christ on Earth. Sometimes this is referred to as Pre-millennialism, because we are living before this thousand year reign.
To a certain extent there have always been literal interpretations of the Bible, but when it became available to the masses with the release of the King James Version in English (1611) and Luther’s translation in German sparking the Reformation there was on vital element missing in a clear understanding of the scriptures. For over a thousand years the Bible was locked up by the Roman Catholic Church. Very little was done in the way of preserving the historical context in which they were written. Those that insist on a literal translation don’t have a clue to understanding the metaphors and nuances the writers were referring to and thus miss the point and come up with all kinds of silly beliefs. In the 19th century and continuing to this day much has been done to understand the historical context. This is known as Hermeneutics. A number of scholars putting the Bible to historical and linguistic analysis reached conclusions that upset the apple cart of basic beliefs among them that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses or that the NT books were not written by the apostles or those close to them. Ultimately, they rejected core doctrines of the Bible, including the virgin birth and the deity of Jesus Christ. This became known as liberalism.
And thus I’m now answering my rhetorical question of where Evangelical Christian Fundamentalism started. The term fundamentalist actually comes from a series of books called The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth. This was a set of 90 essays in 12 volumes published from 1910 to 1915 by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA).
They affirmed orthodox Protestant beliefs, especially those of the Reformed tradition. The books were sent for free to every minister, missionary, Sunday School superintendent, and other Christian leaders. This was financed by two brothers, Lyman and Milton Stewart. Lyman was a businessman and founder of Union Oil Co, which became Unocal. They also established BIOLA University.
These books took hold among some very influential dispensationalists, C.I. Scofield, among them. Scofield is the editor of the Scofield reference Bible, a King James Version of the Bible that has numerous footnotes and references illustrating dispensationalist principles from the Bible.
As fundamentalism took hold in Bible-believing communities, a belief in the rapture of the church also became an essential part of modern American Christianity.
Over time, many of these Bible-believing churches became very rigid about cultural customs and sought to associate certain features of culture with Biblical faith. This is where concepts such as that of women wearing only dresses or skirts became part of American Christianity. Along with this came notions that playing pool, dancing, and attendance at movies were sinful. Sometimes this is called the Social Gospel. Prohibition was a part of this and our current drug war is a continuation of it. This part of fundamentalism is what is causing our Culture War and what is now termed the War on Women after the rantings of Michelle Bachman and Santorum in the nearly forgotten debates of the past six months. For the record Santorum is an Opus Dei Catholic you might say their version of fundamentalist.
Later in the 20th century, as Billy Graham became the most influential Christian in America, the thinking Christian theologians and pastors that he gathered around him sought to separate cultural issues from authentic Christianity. They were convinced that requiring certain cultural standards as part of becoming a Christian hindered the work of evangelism. They sought to come up with a term to describe them and others like them that would separate them from fundamentalists. The terms they coined was “evangelicals.”
By the end of the 20th century, the term “evangelicals” came to denote a certain extremely conservative political agenda. No term has yet taken hold to distinguish Bible-believing Christians committed to missions and evangelism from similar minded Christians who hold to a certain political agenda.
Here is where fundamentalism joins forces with Dispensationalism. So where did this “rapture theology come from?”
The doctrine of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, of which we have knowledge, until after the year 1830. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned it before 1830.
For thousands of eminent scholars over seventeen centuries (including the most astute “Christian Fathers” and those of the Reformation and post-reformation periods) must be considered prophetic dunces for not having understood so fundamental a teaching. This lapse of seventeen centuries when no one elaborated on the doctrine must be viewed as an obstacle to accepting its reliability.
In the middle 1820’s a religious environment began to be established among a few Christians in London, England, that proved to be the catalyst from which the doctrine of the Rapture emerged. There were many people claiming that they expected the soon coming of the Lord. This was not really a new thing, but what was unusual was the teaching by a Presbyterian minister named Edward Irving that there had to be a restoration of the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapters 12–14 just before Christ’s Second Advent. For Irving, the time had come for those spiritual manifestations to occur. Among the expected gifts was the renewal of speaking in tongues and of prophetic utterances motivated by the spirit. The Presbyterian Church dismissed Irving because of this teaching in 1832. In 1830, two years before Irving’s dismissal from the Presbyterian Church, there began what seemed to be a revival of the “gifts” among some people living in the lowlands of Scotland.
They experienced what they called the outpouring of the Spirit. This was accompanied with speaking in “tongues” and other charismatic phenomena. Irving preached that these things must occur and now they were. On one particular evening, the power of the Holy Spirit was said to have rested on a Miss Margaret Macdonald while she was ill at home. She was dangerously sick and thought she was dying. In spite of this (or perhaps because she is supposed to have come under the “power” of the spirit) for several successive hours she experienced manifestations of “mingled prophecy and vision.” She found her mind in an altered state and began to experience considerable visionary activity. The message she received during this prophetic vision convinced her that Christ was going to appear in two stages at His Second Advent, and not a single occasion as most all people formerly believed.
Many people have thought that John Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren, was the originator of the Rapture doctrine. This is not the case. Darby was a brilliant theologian with outstanding scholarly abilities. Even those who disagreed with his teachings admit that he, and many associated with him, helped cause a revival in biblical learning throughout the evangelical world which has perpetuated down to the present day. This renewal of language studies was not the only thing they produced. The doctrine of “Dispensationalism” was also a teaching they brought to the attention of the Protestant world. And then, there was this new doctrine termed the “Rapture.” While many Christians long thought the Rapture doctrine originated with John Darby, it is now known that this was not true.
Darby popularized it. Scofield and others took it over. But Darby provided the intellectual mantle that helped make it respectable. Many of those in the evangelical sphere of Christianity today are so certain of its truth that it is accepted as the absolute truth of God. The fact is, however, John Darby received the knowledge of the doctrine from someone else. His source was Margaret Macdonald.
So there you have it. Two Oil Billionaires bought the minds and souls of most Protestant leaders by offering free books and C.I. Scofield adding footnotes to the KJV based on the rantings and ravings of a deranged woman thinking she was going to die has corrupted Christian beliefs and made it nearly impossible to recognize a true believer from a moron.
Interesting how two Oil Billionaires named Koch are reaping the rewards by controlling the minds of these morons so they can rape and pillage our planet, destroy unions, and kill the middle class in the industrialized world.
Most of the information and wording above comes from Stephen C. M. Long, pastor of Tender Mercy Baptist Church. The conclusion of what this information means if mine.