Opposition to Modernism and Liberalism

Another cause of modern Fundamentalism was the rise and challenge of Modernism and Protestant Liberalism.


  • an attempt to reinterpret the Christian doctrine according to new scientific standards
  • 19th century movement
  • named Modernism by Pope Pius X in 1907
  • not a single system, but a way of thinking
  • raised questions that couldn't necessarily be answered by traditional belief systems
  • largely denied historical authenticity of Jesus Christ and the Gospels
  • stressed ethical and moral behavior rather than strict adherence to Christian religious laws
  • important Modernists were German theologians Friedrich Schleiermacher and Albrecht Ritschl
  • in the US, Modernism took on the more constrained meaning of any system that rejected the traditional doctrine, which in turn caused a domestic rebellion: Fundamentalism


Protestant Liberalism

  • became prominent in the post-Civil War period
  • religion is harmonious with science
  • the Bible is a historical record of a people's religious development, NOT a divine text directly from God
  • Biblical criticism
  • emphasis on reason - didn't believe in supernatural miracles
  • is an attitude rather than a credo
Opposition to Modernism and Liberalism is one of the main premises of the Fundamentalists. The Fundamentalists believe in the supernatural, as opposed to the natural. In other words, they believe that the Bible ought to be taken literally and is indeed God's divine text. They believe in the natural depravity of man, the bodily return of Christ to Earth, and a literal heaven and a literal hell. They tend to believe that their faith is a proper justification for everything. More recently, too, the Fundamentalists have separated themselves from Conservatism as well as Liberalism. This is because they often believe that their belief system is the only true belief system, and anything else is just wrong, whether it be Liberalism or Conservatism or Communism or Fascism. Fundamentalism is the whole truth, and any opponents have no truth at all.


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