Biola and Fundamentalism – 90 years ago

John Marks writes in his book, Reasons to Believe: One Man’s Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind (2008):

Fundamentalism was the opposite of evangelicalism, an adherence to the rules, the proverbial “ticket to heaven,” as Bob put it to me.  The movement took its name from a series of twelve volumes, called The Fundamentals, published in 1909 by a man named Lyman Steward, cofounder and president of Union Oil, the first oil company to drill west of the Mississippi River.  Stewart was an arch capitalist and a devout Christian unnerved by the advance of modernism on his faith.  Other Christians, liberal Christians, might entertain the ideas of Marx, Nietzsche, and Darwin, but Stewart, under the stewardship of D. L. Moody, chose to react in the spirit of the nineteenth-century Vatican:  he financed the Protestant version of papal infallibility.  In 1908, he provided the money to found the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, also known as Biola University, and a year later, he financed The Fundamentalsas a kind of roadmap for the new institution.  As my college roommate Craig Detweiler tells his Biola mass communications students.  “So where is the birthplace of Christian fundamentalism?  Not Texas.  Not Georgia.  Not Tennessee.  It’s Los Angeles.  And more specifically, Biola University.  You’re sitting on it.” ( pp. 82-83).

Do you think one of these days that John might read The Fundamentals?  It would be good for him.


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