Fundamentalism and Reformed Theology

I recently had a conversation with a friend with whom I attended church when I was a teen and in college. We both come from a fundamentalist background and we both have come to embrace Reformed theology.

As we were discussing our respective journeys, I commented that it was amazing that we had both come from fundamentalism and had separately come to a Reformed worldview. Mark then said to me that it really isn’t that surprising that we, and a number of others that went to that church, had made the journey to where we are.

I agreed with him that there’s much to be grateful for in our fundamentalistic upbringing, particularly, the emphasis on believing what the Bible says. Unfortunately, fundamentalists tend  to make more of emphasizing the necessity of belief in what the Bible says than they actually do in actually believing what it says. Yet it was this very emphasis on believing what the Bible says that eventually led me to the doctrines of election and those that attend it.

Being trained to believe what the Bible says led me to simply read Paul and Peter and Jesus and actually believe what they said, without trying to explain away what they were plainly teaching. It’s hard to avoid the clear teaching in Ephesians 1 and Romans 9 and John 6 and 1 Peter 1. Sure I had had heard those passages taught in church, but usually with a goal to make sure we didn’t think they taught Calvinism. Typically, though those passages merely got avoided.

I thought about that conversation when I read this quote from Mike Hess today:

Regarding the Reformed movement I would submit that many of us who lean in this direction appreciate the substance that we get from this movement that frankly, for the most part we did not get in fundamentalism. Reformed writers have ignited a passion for God and His glory in young fundamentalists. Not that we did not have that before, but the emphasis was different. Instead of having a God who will judge us or condemn us for not meeting our traditional precedents, we now have a God who we can find ultimate satisfaction and pleasure in alone.

Embracing the sovereignty of God over all things (including salvation), the centrality of God, and the satisfaction that is to be found in God, which are so clearly and frequently taught in Scripture is what has led me to a reformed soteriology (the theology of salvation). But it was fundamentalism’s emphasis on believing the Bible that prepared me for it. So in the end, it was fundamentalism’s own emphasis on the Bible that has led me away from fundamentalism.


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