While sifting through a file folder I happened to find in a long-forgotten box of unsorted papers, I discovered a scrap of paper with some notes scribbled on it. As is usually the case, the word “fundamentalism,” written on the paper, immediately caught my attention. As I glanced over the small piece of paper, I began to realize I was looking at a page of sermon notes I had taken many years ago when I was a young teenager sitting under the ministry of my grandfather, Pastor M. H. Reynolds Jr., during a morning church service. The notes were taken from one of his sermons titled, “Bitter Enemies of Fundamentalism.” As I looked over his list of biblical fundamentalism’s “bitter enemies,” I became keenly aware that these enemies were not only a real threat to fundamentalism years ago, but they are growing more and more dangerous as time progresses—what was true in the 1980’s is even more true at the beginning of the 21st century. So what were some “bitter enemies of fundamentalism” as noted by my grandfather in his Sunday sermon?
Self—Yes, the natural man is truly a bitter enemy of the cause of Christ. Many fundamentalists in the past have meant well as they earnestly contended for the faith, but their lives and ministries became enveloped by pride to the point of ineffectiveness for the cause of Christ. Today, we must always keep in mind who we are in light of the marvelous grace and mercy of God. Humility should always clothe the life and ministry of the true, biblical fundamentalist.
The World—The world system in which we operate, and those who are at home in this world system, hate any who proclaim an exclusive message of redemption. Likewise, the world hates any who accept the fact that absolutes exist. Jesus Christ told His followers that the world hated Him because He was not of this world. His message was different. His priorities were different. His methods were different. Likewise, the world will hate godly fundamentalists who proclaim God’s Word God’s way. Yet the world’s hatred of us should never force us to “loosen up” or change our message, our priorities, or method of ministry.
Satan—Of course, Satan himself, the “god of this world,” is behind all that despises biblical fundamentalism. Satan attempts to beguile, accuse, ensnare, and even devour the faithful Christian who purposes to walk close to God and faithfully obey His Word regardless of the cost. However, our wonderful Lord has given us explicit instructions detailing how we can resist this formidable foe as we walk close to Him and remain sober and vigilant in this world.
False Doctrine—One of the most blatant enemies of biblical fundamentalism is false doctrine. Whether in the form of Roman Catholicism, Protestant Liberalism, the Charismatic Movement, the New Age Movement, cults, or other pagan religions, false doctrine is rampant. Sadly, false doctrine is spreading like wildfire even in many evangelical churches and ministries as well as some that still claim to wear the fundamentalist label. The fundamentalist movement began at the turn of the century as a result of false doctrine permeating churches and denominations. Faithful Christians realized the importance of obeying God’s Word and separating from all forms of unbelief and compromise. God’s Word reminds us that this bitter enemy of fundamentalism will only increase as time progresses. Therefore, today we must be more aware of false doctrine than ever and separate from it in order to be a “vessel meet for the Master’s use.”
Humanistic Psychology—The humanistic platform on which modern-day psychology is based is entirely contrary to God’s Word. The biblical fundamentalist believes that the very Creator of man knows more about the minds and hearts of man than man himself. The biblical fundamentalist believes in the reality of original sin, of total depravity, of personal responsibility, and of the sufficiency of Scripture. Humanistic psychology denies these truths, and “Christian” psychology vainly attempts to combine a humanistic system with biblical truth. As believers, we must view who we are and understand why we live and act the way we do through the lens of Scripture, not through the studies and philosophies of men.
I would like to add two other bitter enemies of fundamentalism that, while not mentioned by my grandfather, are certainly a threat to fundamentalism today and are continuing to permeate our homes, churches and ministries.
Complacency—Sadly, many who used to call themselves fundamentalists or many whose roots spring from godly, Christ-honoring homes and families are either giving up in the battle for Truth or have simply decided they no longer care anymore. Men, women, and children who have faithfully supported good Bible-believing churches or ministries for years have abandoned their support. Some have concluded that we cannot win the battle. Others are just tired of the fight. Yet biblical fundamentalism is a movement that consists of people. When Satan draws people into complacency, faithful churches and ministries suffer. We must realize that our fight is not over until Christ returns!
Pragmatism —Pragmatism is increasingly becoming a major threat to biblical fundamentalism. Christians have now come to the place where they feel as though God’s way does not work anymore. They feel as though they must turn to the world’s methods, philosophies, and programs in order to gain the results they feel they need. Yet a pragmatic mindset or attitude will always lead one to the trough of unfaithfulness to God. God is not asking us to do His part; He is only asking us to do our part. We do our part by doing His will His way. We might not reach the most people or please everyone, but we can be certain that we have His approval when we throw off the pragmatic philosophies of ministry that permeate Christendom today.
Friends, we need to be aware of the bitter enemies of God’s work. Satan is trying to do everything he can to silence a faithful witness. Do not fall for his trap. Be diligent, valiant, faithful, holy and discerning. Do not give up. Do not give in. Put on the whole armor of God and always be willing and ready to “fight the good fight of faith.” Purpose today to not allow the enemies of God’s work to gain a stronghold in your life and ministry.
—Pastor Matt Costella