We must not judge the original fundamentalists too harshly.  Their resources of scholarship were certainly limited, but their desire to defend the evangelical faith against a militant and aggressive liberalism was equally certainly right.  It was better to fight clumsily than not to fight at all.  However, there is no doubt that their evangelicalism was narrowed and impoverished by their controversial entanglements.  Their fundamentalism was evangelicalism of a kind, but of a somewhat starved and stunted kind – shriveled, coarsened and, in part, deformed under the strain of battle.  To be true to its own nature as evangelicalism, this fundamentalist tradition needs to be broadened, reformed, and refined by the Word of God which it defends.  It is the distinctive mark of evangelicalism to keep itself loyal to Christ by constantly measuring, correcting, and developing its faith and life by the standard of the Word of God.  And evangelicalism, at its best, has shown itself to be a much richer thing than this fundamentalism which we have been describing: intellectually virile, church-centered in its outlook, vigorous in social and political enterprise, and a cultural force of great power.  The careers and achievements of such men as John Calvin, John Owen, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and Abraham Kuyper reflect something of the breadth of evangelicalism when it is true to itself.

From: “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God: Some Evangelical Principles by J. I. Packer (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), pp. 33-34.


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