My life story begins on the shores of the Wabash River in a little farming town in Western Indiana. I don't remember hearing the word "fundamentalism" in a small independent Baptist church. It was all God and Bible. My term in the bowels of fundamentalism covered 1974 to 1987 after a move to Watertown, Wisconsin.
While in fundamentalism, I didn't understand it, because I was, as I say, living inside the barrel and when someone is living there, his world looks like a barrel. I've heard another metaphor that sounds bad, but it does depict a true quality, and that's "incestuous," according to the specific meaning: "characterized by mutual relationships that are intimate and exclusive to the detriment of outsiders." You also hear a fishing analogy, "small pond," where a certain little fish could seem and self-identify as big. Living in fundamentalism was Siam before foreign invasion, hindered by a lack of outside perspective.
Some current analyses of fundamentalism by former fundamentalists misdiagnose its defects. What I read is overreaction to the extent of pendulum swing. Those, who have ejected headlong into evangelicalism or new evangelicalism, convey their myopic impressions with focus on idiosyncratic scruples instead of biblical and theological exposition. Fundamentalism has problems, but now, hemorrhaging its next generation, it elevates to advice the asymmetrical screeches of its most noxious detractors, conforming policy and practice to their complaints, very often eliminating vital distinctions at the same time as overlooking its essential, root problems.
As an example, both present and bygone fundamentalists dissect the escapades of a latter in now part eight of his series. The banner of his blog, called adayinhiscourt, features a bottle of alcohol and a vinyl record spinning on a turntable, apparently two crucial components for present Christian success, foretelling a future well-done from God in His heavenly court. Many comments discuss an era of fundamentalist aversion for the chained leather biker wallet, symptomatic of the slide toward Gomorrah. An aversion to such association stands as the sort of issue emblematic of awfulness, supplying a caravan of refugees from fundamentalism. The solution would be, of course, to terminate all such judgment, fueling a meteoric rise of missing authenticity.
Fundamentalism's repudiation of worldly fads that associate with ungodly philosophies had been one of its blessings. Fundamentalism acknowledged that things really do mean things. Appearances and sounds carry with them a message and meaning sometimes more powerful than any doctrinal statement. If you isolate any one of these items, quirks, and treat them like they are or have been indispensable markers of true conversion, you might have something to talk about. I've noticed this to be a constant battle in any church, because it is easier to reduce the Christian life to circumcision like the Galatians instead of fruit of the Spirit, a notable difference being that circumcision wasn't required, but, for instance, a standard of modesty is.
The real problems in fundamentalism aren't standards. Galatians doesn't teach lowering standards. A saved person obeys the father out of love as a son and not a slave. He's not tutored by standards but internally impelled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit still, however, doesn't produce the works of the flesh, those of whom do such will not inherit the kingdom of God. The problems of fundamentalism relate first to the imprecision of its doctrines of salvation and sanctification, and those same problems, that anyone reading and watching knows, exist all over professing Christianity. They are far worse in evangelicalism. They just get to drink alcohol while they have those same problems.
The quirks of fundamentalists just distract from its real problems, ones never to be solved by and in fundamentalism if they won't admit them. I'm not expecting it, especially with the focus on the quirks as the real problems. The false doctrine and practice and growing pragmatism of fundamentalism will destroy it along with all the young people, whether they are wearing straight legged, flared, or pleated pants. Both evangelicalism and fundamentalism are infatuated with abstractions that portend the worst for their futures.