Distinguishing between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism

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I’ve been told that Fundamentalists tend to separate themselves from secular society more, but, otherwise, what is the difference?

OT Question: What is the Hebrew/Aramaic word for “separated one”? 😉

Doctrinal beliefs vary among different camps fundamentalists and Evangelicals…though the basic theology is usually the same.
I’d agree that Evangelicals are more ecumenical…but there are a number of significant differences, as a general trend. Evangelicals are more inclined to realize that they are wrong on a matter of doctrine. Evangelicals are less likely to condemn others as ‘agents of Satan’ and the like. Evangelicals are often more open to some forms of outward symbolism/rituals than Fundamentalists. Evangelicals are often more open to accepting the value of extra-biblical material (though not infallible authority of such, of course). Evangelicals are less likely to classify those who disagree with their beliefs as “non-Christians” (i.e. Catholics or Anglicans, etc.). (They would often be much more likely to believe that many Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ). Evangelicals are often less legalistic…Fundamentalists are often very firm on how certain things (worship, evangelism, etc) HAVE to be a certain way.
I myself have been in both. I was raised nominally as a Catholic. I was a fundementalist for a year. Then I became evangelical Protestant. Then I became a minister in a fundementalist denomination for a few years.

The most disconcerting thing was their lack of love. As an evagelical minister in a fundementalist church I tried to make them more evangelical. I had some success. I had them reading the NIV Bible instead of the KJV. But my non-fundementalist Christian friends warned me to get out. There were right. But I felt I had to stick it our because I was single at that time, and its extremely hard for a a single man to find a pastorate in Protestant (the exact opposite of Catholicism). So beggars can’t be choosers.

Towards the end, the members were complaining I was “too liberal”. They were shocked that I believed that a good Christian could drink wine now and then. A woman was in tears when she found out that I did not consider it a sin for a black man to marry a white woman. After three years, I was told to resign. What hurt me the most was that the ones I was closest to instigated this. When I asked a woman who was like a mother to me how could she betray me, she said it was more important to be God’s side than on my side, since I was blinded by Satan.

I was devastated. I was in my thirties, and I knew it would be difficult to find another pastorate. Anyway, my spiriual life was destroyed, so I was no longer interested in the pastorate. I married a Catholic, and went back to the Catholic Church. It was there that my love for God came back, and I learned to forgive those who hurt me.

Fundementalists remind me of the Pharisees. There is not much talk about love, forgveness, humility, or tolerance. They pride themselves in standing for what is right as they see it. But there is a lack of compassion. They are quick to judge others. Anyone who does not see things the way they see them is of Satan.
Fundementalists remind me of the Pharisees. There is not much talk about love, forgveness, humility, or tolerance. They pride themselves in standing for what is right as they see it. But there is a lack of compassion. They are quick to judge others. Anyone who does not see things the way they see them is of Satan.
OT Question: What is the Hebrew/Aramaic word for “separated one”?
“Pharisee” is from a Greek word (pharisaios) taken from the Heb/Aramaic “Perisha” meaning “Separated one.” In the time of Jesus the Pharisees were one of the three chief Jewish sects, the others were the Sadducees and the Essenes. Of the three, the Pharisees were the most separated from the ways of the foreign influences that were invading Judaism, and from the ways of the common Jewish people in the land.
Mr. Ackermann, I am so sorry that you had such a painful experience with our separated brethen, but I am glad that you are back. Welcome home!

To quote an old CARM poster-FDS was his name I think- he said,“The difference between and Evangelical and a Fundamentalist is that the Evangelical should know better.”

Make of it what you will, but it always stuck with me! 😃

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I can imagine that it was a terrible heart ache to bear but it is so wonderful that God turned this terrible situation around and brought you back home to the Catholic Church.

I have had contact on other message boards with people who are fundamental evangelicals and I find the way you have described them is the way most of them are.

If you by ‘Evangelicalism’ mean protestants, they of course differ a lot. In that “box” you will find (as an example) both pro- and a anti-abortionalists. They are more eager to discuss things, can admit wrongs and so on.

Fundamentalists on the other hand are very sure about that they are the only one who owns the truth. Their truth very often is that the Catholic Church is wrong.

The fundamentalists often evangelize in a harsh way, either you believe their (wrong) thruths, or you go to hell.

Hope this was of some help!

God Bless!


First, I am so glad that Paul shared his story. How difficult that must have been. I grew up in a fundamentalist church and I actually witnessed one member being excommunicated for not believing the way that the other members believed.

Second, another way to distinguish between Fundamentalists and Evangelicals is this: Evangelicals tend to consist of the mainstream Protestant churches. Fundamentalists tend to consist of what I describe as “newer” churches, such as, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Baptist, etc (there are so many).

Lastly, how interesting that “Pharisee” means, “separated one”.

Peace in Christ,
journey 🙂
Evangelicals are fundamentalists? Sounds right anyway. Basically, one who would refer to himself as a fundamentalist rather than as an Evangelical would imply that he’s very conservative. Maybe it’s like the difference between Orthodox Jews and Ultra-Orthodox, with the fundamentalists parelleling more the Ultra-Orthodox. Except when it comes to scholarship. It seems that many Evangelicals have books published which are fairly scholarly. I don’t see many fundamentalists (self-avowed, anyway) publishing scholarly works. Basically, an Evangelical is a conservative Protestant, and a fundamentalists is a very conservative Protestant. Maybe that doesn’t help much, but that’s been my experience.
Depends upon how one defines the term “Fundamentalist”. Like all labels, it is usually defined by the individual who claims it or slaps it on another.

I myself prefer to define it by referring to those who adhere to “the five Fundamentals” as defined by tractarians at the begining of the 20th Century(and yes, I’m paraphrasing here):

1) The inerrancy of scripture as given to the original human transcribers of the Word as it was breathed by God;

2) The virgin birth of Christ;

3) the vicarious and substitutionary atonement of Christ;

4) The physical resurrection of Christ;

5) the future visible (physical) Second Coming of Christ.

These were set forth as the “five Fundamentals” upon which all true Protestant Christians should agree, and from which we ought not deviate. Just as one cannot really define “the five solas” apart from one another (cavalier discussions of sola scriptura by self annointed “apologists” notwithstanding) each of the five has to be understood within the context of the totality of the others.**

**Recall that Fundamentalism, as a movement, was not a reaction against Roman Catholicism but liberal Protestantism and its teachings of “higher criticism”, a “social gospel” , etc. It really reached its peak in the fight for control over Princeton Theological Seminary: hard to envision a common thread between scholars like Van Tyl, Machen, and Warfield, and the stereotype of the fire breathing, anti-intellectual super-pulputeer conjured up by critics of Fundamentalism. But of course, it’s always easier to sweep away a straw man than to deal with reality. 😉 **
**Addendum to my last post: I misspelled “beginning”: to one and all, and especially to Sister Eucharia, my 4th grade teacher (wherever she may be),I apologize. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxa culpa… 😉 **
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