Defining the Terms and Type of Christianity Described
First though, I should clarify some of the terms I use here. As we all know, the religion of Christianity is a broad umbrella term of which many denominations are a part of. With about a billion followers under this umbrella term, it claims the religion with the most followers. The World Almanac states that there are about 400 known Christian denominations. However, the World Christian Encyclopedia breaks them down further and counts over 20,800 denominations! These denominations range from conservative to progressive liberal, to wacky fringe groups on different extremes. They vary in their doctrines, practice of sacraments, theology, traditions, etc. Therefore, since Christianity is a broad term, I should define the kind of Christian religion I am critiquing here. The kind I refer to is has the following beliefs and tenets.
In other words, the type of Christians this book refutes are the conservative, fundamentalist types who believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, and all Christians go to heaven, while everyone else goes to hell. Although fundamentalists don't represent all Christians, in our society they are its most vocal and influential group. It is this type of Christianity our site addresses. Not all denominations have these core precepts of course, nor are all so literal about them, but they are the basic beliefs of Christians.
The definition of a fundamentalist in basically: “one who has a literal interpretation of the Bible”. The American-Heritage Dictionary defines “fundamentalism” as:
2a. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture. b. Adherence to the theology of this movement.
Not everyone who believes in all or most of the tenets above considers themselves a “fundamentalist”. Now, keep in mind that just because someone says that they are not a “fundamentalist” doesn't mean they are not. The term "fundamentalist" has a negative connotation in our society, so few like to call themselves by that term. But our definition here of what determines whether they are a fundamentalist is whether they believe in those precepts above. Those who believe in all of them literally are definitely Christian fundamentalists, while those who believe in some of the precepts are kind of in-between types. One thing that fundamentalists have in common though, is the belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. (See Argument # 2 for an analysis and refutation of this doctrine)
is some historical
background on the term “fundamentalist”.
Christian fundamentalists today
make a big issue out of their doctrine of Biblical infallibility, which
declares that every word in the Bible is infallible and the ultimate
indisputable source of authority. However, what most
know is that before the early 20th
doctrine was not
the big issue it is today. During the early 20th
government and public education system in
To protect itself and its religion, the Church then declared the Bible to be infallible and inerrant, and the doctrine of Biblical infallibility was created. The advocates of this doctrine were then known as the “fundamentalists” due to a publication they issued in defense of Christianity called “The Fundamentals”. In the book Fundamentalism: Hazards and Heartbreaks by Rod L. Evans, Irwin M. Berent, the history behind the term “fundamentalist” is summarized: (page 1)
“The term ‘fundamentalist’ originally referred to Christians who followed tenets, or ‘fundamentals’, of Christian faith as laid down principally in a publication of volumes widely circulated between 1910 and 1915, entitled The Fundamentals. Fundamentalism was a reaction against the movement of twentieth-century modernism, whose Biblical criticism, religious liberalism, rationalism, geology, astronomy, and theory of evolution were perceived as opponents of true Christianity. (The label ‘fundamentalism’ has subsequently been applied to movements within other religions, such as Hinduism or Islam. In this book we are concerned only with Christian fundamentalism.)”
An Apologist is basically one who argues or defends their faith. The field which does this is called Apologetics. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “apologist” and “apologetics” as:
A person who argues in defense or justification of something, such as a doctrine, policy, or institution.
1. The branch of theology
defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.
2. Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.
In this book, my objective here is to address the Christian apologists’ main arguments point by point and refute them.