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Wordwise Insight, Issue #095
July 14, 2012

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): What do terms such as fundamentalist, liberal, or moderate mean?

WORDWISE HYMNS: My Blog called Wordwise Hymns for you to check out!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? See below for how to send it to us.


Are you finding Wordwise helpful? And do you have your own website? We would be delighted if you would provide a link on your site to ours. This will enable your friends to find us too! Check the page on the Wordwise website called "Link to Us," and follow the simple instructions. Click on Link to Us.

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LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.


Fundamentalist or Liberal

QUESTION: What is a 'fundamentalist', a 'moderate', a 'liberal'? Doesn't Revelation 3:14-22 warn against 'moderation'?

ANSWER: Thanks for the question. It's not an easy one to answer because the terms you mention are used in different ways. In the words of Humpty Dumpty, in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, "Words mean whatever I want them to mean." The term "fundamentalist" is like that.

1) Fundamentalism
In the late nineteenth century a tide of unbelief swept through seminaries and into the pulpits of the Western world. Higher criticism and Darwin's evolutionary theories caused many to turn from the faith. Then, in 1909, two evangelical Christian laymen set aside a large sum of money to produce a set of volumes defending the basic doctrines of the Bible. Many different scholars contributed articles to be included, and over 300,000 copies were sent out free of charge to pastors, missionaries, Sunday School superintendents, and so on.

I have the books in my library, published now in four volumes. They are entitled The Fundamentals–a Testimony to the Truth. On the title page is a quotation from Isaiah 8:20, which says:

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

To the editors and the many authors, the word "fundamentals" simply meant getting back to the basic teachings of the Word of God, truths consistently believed and taught by conservative evangelicals. In that sense, I would consider myself a fundamentalist.

The fundamentals of Christian doctrine are things such as: the verbal inspiration and trustworthiness of the whole Bible (Jn. 17:17; II Tim. 3:16); the deity and virgin birth of Christ (Matt. 1:21-23); His death and bodily resurrection (I Cor. 15:3-4); salvation by grace through faith in Christ, apart from any human works or merit (Eph. 1:7; 2:8-9), and ...

For the rest of this article, click on Fundamentalism or Liberalism.


Come and Pay Us a Visit!

I have developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will take part in the discussion!

Through 2010, almanac entries dealt with what happened in hymn history on each day of the year. Beginning in 2011, I hope to analyze hymns from a biblical standpoint, linking to the material that has come before.

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.

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