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fundamentalism

[fuhn-duh-men-tl-iz-uh m] /ˌfʌn dəˈmɛn tlˌɪz əm/
noun
1.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming.
2.
the beliefs held by those in this movement.
3.
strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles:
the fundamentalism of the extreme conservatives.
Origin
1920-1925
1920-25, Americanism; fundamental + -ism
Related forms
fundamentalist, noun, adjective
antifundamentalism, noun
antifundamentalist, noun, adjective
nonfundamentalist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for fundamentalist

fundamentalism

/ˌfʌndəˈmɛntəˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
(Christianity) (esp among certain Protestant sects) the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true
2.
(Islam) a movement favouring strict observance of the teachings of the Koran and Islamic law
3.
strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs
Derived Forms
fundamentalist, noun, adjective
fundamentalistic, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fundamentalist
adj.

1920 in the religious sense (as is fundamentalism), from fundamental + -ist. Coined in American English to name a movement among Protestants c.1920-25 based on scriptural inerrancy, etc., and associated with William Jennings Bryan, among others.

Fundamentalist is said (by George McCready Price) to have been first used in print by Curtis Lee Laws (1868-1946), editor of "The Watchman Examiner," a Baptist newspaper. The movement may have roots in the Presbyterian General Assembly of 1910, which drew up a list of five defining qualities of "true believers" which other evangelicals published in a mass-circulation series of books called "The Fundamentals." A World's Christian Fundamentals Association was founded in 1918. The words reached widespread use in the wake of the contentious Northern Baptist Convention of 1922 in Indianapolis.

Fundamentalism is a protest against that rationalistic interpretation of Christianity which seeks to discredit supernaturalism. This rationalism, when full grown, scorns the miracles of the Old Testament, sets aside the virgin birth of our Lord as a thing unbelievable, laughs at the credulity of those who accept many of the New Testament miracles, reduces the resurrection of our Lord to the fact that death did not end his existence, and sweeps away the promises of his second coming as an idle dream. It matters not by what name these modernists are known. The simple fact is that, in robbing Christianity of its supernatural content, they are undermining the very foundations of our holy religion. They boast that they are strengthening the foundations and making Christianity more rational and more acceptable to thoughtful people. Christianity is rooted and grounded in supernaturalism, and when robbed of supernaturalism it ceases to be a religion and becomes an exalted system of ethics. [Laws, "Herald & Presbyter," July 19, 1922]
The original opposition to fundamentalist (within the denominations) was modernist.
A new word has been coined into our vocabulary -- two new words -- 'Fundamentalist' and 'Fundamentalism.' They are not in the dictionaries as yet -- unless in the very latest editions. But they are on everyone's tongue. [Address Delivered at the Opening of the Seminary, Sept. 20, 1922, by Professor Harry Lathrop Reed, "Auburn Seminary Record"]
Applied to other religions, especially Islam, since 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fundamentalist in Culture

fundamentalism definition


A conservative movement in theology among nineteenth- and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true.

Note: Fundamentalists often argue against the theory of evolution. (See Scopes trial.)
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for fundamentalist

fundamentalism

type of militantly conservative religious movement characterized by the advocacy of strict conformity to sacred texts. Once used exclusively to refer to American Protestants who insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible, the term fundamentalism was applied more broadly beginning in the late 20th century to a wide variety of religious movements. Indeed, in the broad sense of the term, many of the major religions of the world may be said to have fundamentalist movements. For a discussion of fundamentalism in American Protestantism, see fundamentalism, Christian.

Learn more about fundamentalism with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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