Difference between Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestant

I was always under the impression that a fundamentalist and an evangelical were the same thing. Now I realized I’m wrong. Apparently, both identify as Born Again Christian as I’m aware of. Can someone please help me understand?

Thanks :slight_smile:

They are similar in a lot of ways. I would say a large percentage of evangelicals are fundamentalist leaning or full blown. There are separate fundamentalists churches though. They often have names like “fundamental Bible church” or " (town name) Bible Church

Having been raised and educated in the Deep South, perhaps I can shed some light on the subject.
Evangelical Christian sects believe in Sola Scriptura, being “Born Again”, Faith Healing, Speaking in Tongues just as do the Pentacostals, but are a bit more or less restrained and are more “Protestant Main Stream” in their beliefs and practices.
Pentacostals are the wilder of the two and are more likely to have “tent meeting revivals” that have given them the nickname “Holy Rollers”. Both sects are virulently anti-Catholic and to a certain degree anti-Semetic, considering Jews to be “Christ killers”. The congregations are mostly lower blue collar class people of limited education. One does not find many college graduates in either sect and that includes their Clergy -unless you consider graduating from a 2 year Bible College to be a college education.

The Pentecostal movement is a subset of the greater Evangelic movement. All Evangelicals are not Charismatic and do not speak in tongues in their churches or necessarily believe that the gifts happen today.

As for the Christ killers, uneducated, lower class… a bit of a prejudiced view you carry there. On the next thread the board will complain about the evangelic support for modern Israel. Yes I know you think they only support Israel in an effort to force the start of the rapture.

There’s not a solid line distinction between the two terms. Fundamentalists are kind of the most hardcore of the hardcore sola scriptura denominations. Where you can find vestments of Catholic orthopraxy and worship present in a Lutheran or Presbyterian church, a fundie church is pretty much a wooden box with pews and bibles in it. It frequently has an internal culture where reflection and inquisitiveness is an unspoken sin and mood-killer. Generally sincere but not well educated.

Evangelical churches can vary from a more relaxed non-denominational setting to pretty much overlapping with what you might think of as a fundamentalist church. Since the 16th century “evangelicals” was kind of a broad-based term for random evangelizing Christians outside of Catholicism and the term continues to be very broadly used today.

Evangelicalism is a confluence of movements that took shape on both sides of the Atlantic. In America, the particular strain of Evangelicalism we have has been shaped by Pietism, Presbyterianism and Puritanism.

From Pietism, evangelicals got their warm-hearted spirituality. From Presbyterianism, they got their doctrinal precisionism. From the Puritans, they got their individualistic introspection. In America, Evangelicalism has consistently embodied the following characteristics:

*emphasis on the necessity of conversion,
*warm-hearted and experiential piety over against the cold rationalistic religion characteristic of the upper classes an ecclesiastical establishment,
*suspicion of worldliness and ecclesiastical pretension.

In the 19th century, most Protestants (from Presbyterians to Baptists to Methodists) embodied these values to some degree or another. In the 1920s, modernists successfully took over the mainline denominations. At this time, evangelicals became known as “Fundamentalist” (because they believed in fundamentals of the faith). After losing control of the mainline churches, the Fundamentalists believed that American society had turned on them. They retreated into their own subculture and network of institutions often focusing on narrow points of disagreements among themselves. They acquired a sectarian attitude toward other Christians and a militant attitude toward the larger society.

By the 1940s, a new breed of evangelical leaders began to shed the perception of “militant Fundamentalism.” They wanted to engage the culture and offer a credible alternative to liberal Protestantism. These became known as the “New Evangelicals”, and they were behind the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals. Consistent with their non-sectarian attitudes, the New Evangelicals adopted a cautious but welcoming approach to Pentecostals, and two Pentecostal denominations (the Assemblies of God and the Church of God) were charter members of the NAE (Fundamentalists had rejected and condemned Pentecostalism.)

Evangelicals today would be represented by most non-denominational churches, Pentecostal churches, many Baptist churches, the Wesleyan churches, the Church of the Nazarene, the Vineyard Association of Churches, Calvary Chapel, some Methodists, some Presbyterians, and some Episcopalians.

Evangelicalism is broad. For example, look at Sydney, Australia. It is a center of evangelicalism. It is home to both the Anglican Diocese of Sydney (which is strongly evangelical and Reformed in doctrine) and Hillsong Church (which is an entirely different type of evangelicalism).

If I walked into most generic evangelical churches, I would not be permitted to speak in tongues. Some evangelical churches are Pentecostal and others have adopted charismatic beliefs. But most churches that defined themselves as strictly “evangelical” would not have the same beliefs about tongues that Pentecostals do.

Uh, the ignorance rolling off of this post disgusts me.

Evangelicals are found in every socio-economic group in America.

It’s funny how words change. “Fundamentalist” or “fundie” for short is used as a pejorative term nowadays when of course the fundamentals of Christianity are the root of Christianity. All Christians should believe in the fundamentals. Speaking of roots, we also hear the term “radical” bandied about as a pejorative term. The modern meaning seems to imply violent extremism. That’s odd because “radical” comes from the Latin word for “root.” We should all be radical Christians. Catholicism is the most radical form of Christianity.

I was Evangelical Protestant for 47 years before converting to Catholicism.

Everything in this post is a generalization, and there are most certainly exceptions to what I am saying in this post.

Both Evangelicals and Fundamentalists both believe in the 5 Fundamentals of the Christian Faith, as do Catholics (yes!). These Five Fundamentals were defined in the early 20th Century, and are:

  1. The Deity of Jesus Christ.
  2. The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.
  3. The Blood Atonement.
  4. The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  5. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures

The main difference between Evangelical Protestants and Fundamentalist Protestants is that the Fundamentalists generally practice "separatism." They do not associate with/participate with other Christian churches, including Evangelical Protestant churches, and they generally avoid associating with non-Christians other than in mission outreaches, and in secular work settings.

Evangelical Protestants generally do NOT advocate separatism. Many Evangelical Protestants regularly join forces with other Christian churches, including Catholic churches, in endeavors that glorify God, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and bring about good in society. And of course, their very name, “Evangelical,” implies that Evangelical Protestants seek to reach out to non-Christians and use words, deeds, and friendship to bring them to Jesus Christ.

Neither Evangelical Protestants or Fundamentalist Protestants generally advocate “ecumenism,” which seeks to emphasize the similarities between religions and enjoy fellowship with people of different religions. Most Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestant churches reject ecumenism, and refuse to join or participate in ecumenical movements or organizations like the World Council of Churches.

But Fundamentalists also generally reject movements or organizations that are not ecumenical, but simply attempt to accomplish the spread of the Christian Gospel and bring about good in society. Examples would be organizations like Campus Crusade for Christ, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, or any Pro-Life group that does not have its origin in one of the Fundamentalist church denominations.

Pro-life movements are particularly troublesome for Fundamentalist Protestants. Fundamentalist Christians are strongly pro-life, but generally do not tend to get involved in pro-life movements, as these movements generally bring Catholic and Protestant Christians together. This would even include movements like the Pregnancy Care Centers, which, in spite of their good work, do usually include Catholics, mainline Protestants, other types of Protestants, and occasionally Orthodox Christians, on their paid and volunteer staff.

It would be unusual to find a Fundamentalist and a Catholic who are good friends. I’m sure it happens all the time, and I’m sure that there will be posts following this one in which either a Catholic or a Fundamentalist describes a close friendship! I hope so! But I still say it would be unusual, as Fundamentalist Protestants tend to stick to themselves and stay away from other Christians.

Finally, I must say that after 47 years as an Evangelical Protestant, that even though Evangelicals SAY that they are not separatists when it comes to associating with non-Christians, they generally are (or at least they were during the years that my husband and I were Evangelical Protestant). Until my husband and I got our daughters involved with figure skating, we had NO non-Christian friends, and never associated with non-Christians other than at work. We didn’t drink (and still don’t), and for many years, didn’t go into any restaurant that served liquor–that alone eliminated a lot of interactions with non-Christians (and Christians, including Catholics).

Nowadays, many Evangelicals can and do remain “in their church” from birth until death. In our city, one of the churches has a “kiddie college” (Christian daycare), and a whole system of schools through COLLEGE, and then opportunities to find a job on the church campus, and finally, a retirement center/nursing home. You never have to leave the safety and love of the church!

Yes, they will associate with other Christians, but many literally have no non-Christians friends. One wonders how they can evangelize when they never associate with non-Christians.

Folk singer John Fisher has written some wonderful books (Real Christians Dance,etc.) in which he strongly denounces the practice that he calls “fortressing,” in which Evangelical Protestants build “fortresses” in which they hide themselves away from the world and create their own culture, rather than going OUT into the world and influencing the culture for the good. I personally think that some “traditionalist-leaning” Catholics are in danger of “fortressing”–JMO, but I have noticed a trend in these Catholic Christians to avoid all other Christians and to create their own very safe world. Can’t say I blame either Evangelical Protestants or Catholics for doing this–it IS hard to go out into the world and see others practicing blatant sin, especially when your children are also exposed to this blatant sin.

But we shouldn’t separate ourselves from other CHRISTIANS while we are attempting to avoid sin, and that’s what Fundamentalist Protestants generally tend to do–separate.

:thumbsup:Great post Cat!

George, I’m surprised by the prejudice and misinformation in this post. I’m not terribly surprised, because prejudice, like horse manure, happens. It’s unfortunately an illness that can infect almost anyone if they are not careful.

But what really surprises me is this: a religious minority (a Catholic in the South), I would guess that you were sometimes the recipient of other people’s prejudice. What baffles me is that, if you did experience prejudice, you didn’t let that negative experience teach you to refrain from perpetuating a way of regarding others that you know to be harmful and denigrating. I would have expected of you that, as a Catholic, you would have let any
experience of being on the receiving end of prejudice make your heart more tender and resolved to to not “screw others over as they have screwed you”.

I largely agree with your post, Cat, but not with this part at all. I think it’s extremely common, even the norm, for Evangelicals to have non-Christian friends, and have warm friendships with their non-Christian neighbors.

I was thinking of you last week, Cat! Being mostly Pennsylvania German on my mom’s side, I was working at a very large PA German folk-life festival for the past nine days, here in southeast PA. In this predominately Lutheran area, one song I heard a band play made me laugh: " In heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink it here/ And when we’re gone from here, all our friends will drink the beer".

Having been raised Lutheran in east-central Pa., it would not surprise you that this is one of my favorite songs. :stuck_out_tongue:


LOL! I have to admit I got sick of having the Chicken Dance tune stuck in my head from the festival, so I replaced it with this silly song for the past week.

I did say in my post that things might have changed since we converted.

I know that there were and are a great many Evangelical Protestant teachers and clergy who challenged us to open up the fortress doors and go OUT into the world and influence culture, rather than hiding in the fortress and complaining about the culture.

I think that perhaps it’s finally “taking,” and Evangelical Protestants are finally “getting it”–that they can’t “evangelize” without being friends with non-Christians!

Back in the 1970s, Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote a classic book called Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life. I’ve heard this book recommended by Catholic teachers for Catholics.

Campus Crusade taught something called “Friendship Evangelism.”

Ann Kiemel also wrote some wonderful books back in the 1970s; the one I remember is I’m Out To Change My World, and it’s all about “friendship evangelism.”

The problem was (and is) this: when Evangelical Protestants try to go out into the world and be '“friends” and try to influence culture for the good, other Evangelical Protestants back in the churches criticize them for “mixing” and warn about becoming corrupt and falling into sin. They also criticize those who mix because many of the worldly activities (e.g., organized sports, organized arts, community volunteer projects, etc.) take a lot of time and money, and Christians aren’t supposed to spending so much time and money on “worldly pursuits.”

Many Evangelical Protestants think that Christians should be spending most of their time and money in CHURCH-led outreaches to non-Christians. They don’t really buy into the idea that we can join a community choir, or get our kids involved with AYSO soccer, or volunteer for the local music festival, or go hiking with a group of local birdwatchers–and call this “evangelism.”

We took a lot of criticism for getting our daughters involved with figure skating. This is a sport that involves daily practices, usually for at least an hour or two everyday, and lots of money. And also, the sport means tight-fitting costumes. I’m not kidding you, folks–we got blasted by other Evangelical Protestants! But thankfully, our good pastor, who had been a missionary in Viet Nam for almost 20 years (got out two weeks before Saigon fell) told us to keep skating because we represented Jesus Christ at those rinks! He GOT it, and understand what it means to be “Evangelical.” He shut people up!

Anyway, I’m glad things are changing, although I still think that Evangelical Protestants are making a mistake to relax the “no-drinking” culture. To me, a group of people who don’t drink but still have a blast at parties is interesting and appealing to many people in the world who have had bad experiences with alcohol culture. But that’s my opinion, and I fear that I am in the very tiny minority.

The allegedly Anglican diocese of Sydney is a joke and a disgrace, not worthy of the name evangelical, which spits in the face of canon law, teaches Zwinglianism contrary to the Articles of Religion, has abandoned anything resembling the BCP. Why even be Anglican?

I’ve heard a lot of Anglicans echo your views. However, I think one of the reasons many Anglicans can’t stand Sydney is that despite their low church nature, they are numerically and financially dominating the Anglican Church in Australia and frustrating the designs of the “progressives” who control all the other dioceses.

I see Evangelicals and Fundamentalists as being related but fundamentally different theologically.

I was raised in a fundamental sect and they were very strict as seeing the bible to be literally factual. I see fact and truth as different things. These fundamentalists who raised me saw every word of the bible as being literal fact. They believed the bible was not only a book inspired by God, but written or dictated by God and it was a book not only about God and God’s relations to humans but also as a book that taught history and science as well.

Evangelicals OTOH believe in the inspiration of the bible, but not that God dictated it word-for-word.

The problem I have with Evangelicals is that many seem to think they are the only Christians, that if you don’t believe in “gettin’ saved” you are not Christians at all. Catholics and Orthodox do not qualify as “Christians” since we both see the sacrament of Baptism as one part of gettin’ saved, and Evangelicals see baptism (No water qualifiers needed) as a work of humans. It is not, we believe it is a work but a work of God.

Another thing that disturbs me is the fact that Evangelicals think they are evangelising when they are in fact proseletysing. I guess an easy mistake to make when you consider yourself to be the only Christians to exist.

So true!!

Some are like that. In fact, some evangelicals can be about as sectarian as Fundamentalists. However, given how conservative theologically evangelicals tend to be, they are highly non-sectarian in attitudes. I would wager there are more who hold the position that the church is larger than Evangelicalism than believe that only people like them are saved.

Now, that does not mean they think Catholicism is a bed of roses, only that they believe a Christian and a Catholic are not mutually exclusive terms.

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