Story of American Fundamentalism

Kevin Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, is in the midst of writing a series of articles about the formation of American Fundamentalism. I am finding it fascinating.

A recent article I read addresses sentimentalism and how it affected fundamentalism. I urge you to read this one and if you find it interesting check out the archive of articles and subscribe to the new ones. Good stuff. Here’s a sampling from the article on Sentimentalism?

“The new sentimentalism, however, completely changed the way that people saw God. God was no longer complicated. He was no longer terrible in His holiness. He was not a God who hid Himself or who left His children weeping in perplexity. Rather, His fundamental attribute became niceness. God was now thought to be the quintessence of fair-mindedness. Such a God would never barge into an unresponsive heart.”

2 thoughts on “Story of American Fundamentalism”

  1. Hi Jeff,
    I have decided to leave one of my semi-annual comments on your blog. I did find Dr. Bauder’s short article to be interesting and I will probably take the time to read his other articles as well.

    I looked over Dr. Bauder’s résumé and saw that he graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. The tone of his article makes it seem to me like he is Calvinist in some of his doctrines which was a bit surpprising. Maybe his mention of unconditional election wasn’t an endorsement but he sure doesn’t seem unfriendly towards it either.

    I do agree that sentimentalism as described by Dr. Bauder is a bad thing but I have always believed that movements like sentimentalism were a direct reaction against Calvinism. Calvinism’s theology tends to be all sovereignty all of the time and it is quite often “brutal.” To recognize God’s divine attributes of justice and love is not to be sentimental either. Of course the real question is how do we balance all of God’s attributes in order to come to a true understanding of God’s character? I agree that veering in one direction produces brutality and in the other direction produces sentimentalism. The key is striking the proper balance which, I freely admit, is not an easy thing to do.


  2. Hey Glenn,
    Thanks for your semi-annual comment. Good to hear from you. The thing I like about Dr. Bauder is that he points out the influences, and for the most part, refrains from opinion. He calls it like it is. I don’t think his point about sentimentalism is that it’s bad, just that it was a definite influence. Not sure about his Calvinism. I think everyone is a Calvinist these days. It’s way cool. Or so I hear.

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