What is the difference between a fundamentalist Christian and an evangelical Christian?:confused:

I think Fundamentalists are Bible literalists, but not all Evangelicals are literalists.

Maybe Fundamentalists are more conservative than Evangelicals.

I have a pretty good relationship with an Evangelical, but we don’t discuss much in the way of theology. She’s got her way, I’ve got mine.

Really interested to see the answers.

As far as I can see neither of those terms are Catholic.

From From Wikipedia:
An Evangelical Christian is a believer who holds to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith alone.

Fundamentalism arose out of British and American Protestantism in the late 19th century and early 20th century among evangelical Christians. Since 1930, many fundamentalist churches in North America and around the world have been represented by the Independent Fundamental Churches of America, which holds to biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth of Jesus, substitutionary atonement, the literal resurrection of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ,

In doctrine, there is little to no difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals: Both believe that the Bible is inspired and inerrant, both believe in creationism and the coming of the rapture and tribulation, and both believe that salvation comes through Christ’s atoning sacrifice and that personal conversion is necessary to attain it. Where they differ is in culture. Fundamentalists generally have more rules, such as refraining from alcohol and dancing, and fundamentalist women frequently wear long jean skirts and leave their hair uncut. They live a life that is more apart. Evangelicals, in contrast, live lives that appear from the outside to be more normal even as they structure their lives around religion, attending megachurches, participating in Bible studies and prayer groups, and using a sort of evangelical code language.

Read more:

Evangelicals are a diverse bunch: some are liberal, some are conservative, and some are somewhere in between. Regardless of their differences, they share four characteristics:

  1. Conversionism – “An emphsis on the ‘new birth’ as a life-changing experience of God”
  2. Biblicism – “A reliance on the Bible as ultimate religious authority”
  3. Activisim – “A concern for sharing the faith”
  4. Crucicentrism – “A focus on Christ’s redeeming work on the cross”
    Evangelicals have historically been very willing to change with culture, maintaining these four characteristics. They are fast to embrace new technologies like radio, direct mail, and television for their ministries and try to be culturally relevant to attract as many followers as possible. Evangelicals commonly attend megachurches, with thousands of attendees, and this phenomenon is growing. These churches feature contemporary worship music and classes on every topic and for every age group you might imagine. They function like huge community centers.
    Evangelicals have embraced female equality, maintaining only an occasional mention of a husband’s role as his wife’s spiritual head. Evangelical women work, and evangelical children go to youth group, generally live normal teenage lives, and usually go to public schools. Evangelicals’ Jesus-talk and Bible-talk differentiate them from others, as does their insistence on others’ need for conversion and salvation, but otherwise, their lives are pretty, well, normal. Evangelicals don’t try to isolate themselves from the world, as their goal is simply to convert the world through their witness.
    Sources: David Bebbington and Mark Noll

Fundamentalists can also be diverse, though they are less so than are evangelicals. They are identified by four main characteristics:

  1. Evangelism
  2. Biblical Innerancy
  3. Premillenialism
  4. Separatism
    In some sense, fundamentalists share all of evangelicals’ beliefs, but place a special emphasis on Biblical inerrancy, premillenialism, and separation from the world. Evangelicals may take the Bible as the foundation of their beliefs, but is fundamentalists who see it as literal and completely inerrant. Fundamentalists don’t see any of the Bible as cultural, and are not comfortable with higher criticism of the Bible. Because of their premillenialism, fundamentalists also are more pessimistic; while many evangelicals are also premillenialists, fundamentalists place a greater emphasis on this doctrine.
    But what really separates fundamentalists from their evangelical cousins, even more so than their insistence on Biblical literalism and awaiting the second coming, is their emphasis on separation from the world. Fundamentalists see the world as an evil place, and seek to withdraw from it rather than to engage in it. Fundamentalists avoid contact with the world, seeking to remain pure. They wear long skirts, eschew dancing or rock music, and sometimes even wear head coverings. Many of them put their children in Christian schools or homeschool them, trying to shelter them from the world and keep them from evil influences. While your evangelical is going to blend in, your fundamentalist will not.
    Because of their insistence on the literal truth of the Bible and their identification of feminism with the depravity of the modern world, fundamentalists are more traditional than evangelicals in their ideas about the woman’s role. Many forbid women from working outside of the home or speaking in church, though this varies slightly from group to group. Fundamentalists are also likely to attend small independent churches, some of which place a good deal of importance on the authority of the pastor.


That said, the line between evangelicals and fundamentalists can be a bit gray. After all, plenty of evangelicals believe in Biblical inerrancy and are premillenialists, and some fundamentalists place less emphasis on separation from the world than do others. While the difference between these two can be highlighted by the contrast between the evangelical megachurch, with its contemporary music and modern dress code, and the small independent fundamentalist church, with its traditional service and insistence on long skirts and sometimes even head coverings, it is worth pointing out that there are plenty who fall between these two extremes.
Source: Nancy Ammerman, Betty DeBerg, Margaret Bendroth

According to George M. Marsden:

an American fundamentalist is an evangelical who is militant in opposition to liberal theology in the churches or to changes in cultural values or mores, such as those associated with “secular humanism.” . . . . fundamentalists are a subtype of evangelicals and militancy is crucial to their outlook.

(Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, p. 1)

Marsden defines an evangelical as:

“Evangelical” (from the Greek for “gospel”) eventually became the common British and American name for the revival movements that swept back and forth across the English-speaking world and elsewhere during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Central to the evangelical gospel was the proclamation of Christ’s saving work through his death on the cross and the necessity of personally trusting him for eternal salvation. . . . the revivalists emphases on simple biblical preaching in a fervent style that would elicit dramatic conversion experiences set the standards for much of American Protestantism. . . .
Being a style as well as a set of Protestant beliefs about the Bible and Christ’s saving work, evangelicalism touched virtually all American denominations. These denominations, such as the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, and others, had much to do with shaping American culture in the nineteenth century. Most major reform movements, such as antislavery or temperance, had a strong evangelical component. Evangelicals had a major voice in American schools and colleges, public as well as private, and had much to do with setting dominant American moral standards.

(pp. 1-2)

. . . the vast cultural changes of the era from the 1870s to the 1920s created a major crisis within this evangelical coalition. Essentially it split in two. On the one hand were theological liberals who, in order to maintain better credibility in the modern age, were willing to modify some central evangelical doctrines, such as the reliability of the Bible or the necessity of salvation only through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. On the other hand were conservatives who continued to believe the traditionally essential evangelical doctrines. By the 1920s a militant wing of conservatives emerged and took the name fundamentalist.

. . . . [by the 1960s] almost all fundamentalists were Baptists and most were dispensationalists.

(pp. 2-3)

. . . evangelicalism describes a much more diverse coalition. Roughly speaking, evangelicalism today includes any Christians traditional enough to affirm the basic beliefs of the old nineteenth-century evangelical consensus. The essential evangelical beliefs include (1) the Reformation doctrine of the authority of the Bible, (2) the real historical character of God’s saving work recorded in Scripture, (3) salvation to eternal life based on the redemptive work of Christ, (4) the importance of evangelism and missions, and (5) the importance of a spiritually transformed life. By this account evangelicalism includes striking diversities: holiness churches, pentecostals, traditionalist Methodists, all sorts of Baptists, Presbyterians, black churches in all these traditions, fundamentalists, pietist groups, Reformed and Lutheran confessionalists, Anabaptists such as Mennonites, Churches of Christ, Christians, and some Episcopalians, to name only some of the most prominent types.

(p. 4).

Somewhat of a simplistic definition. Not all evangelicals believe in dispensationalism, and their beliefs about creationism vary widely as well.

I wouldn’t think Evangelicals have any broad agreement on end times theology. I also don’t associate Evangelicals with taking the Bible to literal extremes. I’m not as familiar with Fundamentalism, but from what I’ve read on these forums, they seem to think everything in the Bible is absolutely literal. I think Fundamentalists tend to be pre-trib, but you’ll probably find mid-trib and post-trib folks among them.

The Statement of Faith from the website of the National Association of Evangelicals gives a pretty good definition of what an evangelical is, or what I, as an Evangelical have always understood us to be. They are associated with 40 denominations and 45,000 churches in America.

"We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ."

another part of the website says,

"Historian David Bebbington also provides a helpful summary of evangelical distinctives, identifying four primary characteristics of evangelicalism:

Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a “born-again” experience and a life long process of following Jesus.
Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts
Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority
Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity

These distinctives and theological convictions define us, not political, social, or cultural trends. In fact, many evangelicals rarely use the term “evangelical” to describe themselves, focusing simply on the core convictions of the triune God, the Bible, faith, Jesus, salvation, evangelism, and discipleship."

That’s like asking “What’s the difference between an apple and a fruit?”. They’re not opposites.

An evangelical is simply a fundamentalist who isn’t mad at anybody. :smiley:

The fundamentalist movement began in the early part of the 20th century as a reaction against the growing liberalism in mainline denominations. The early fundamentalist conferances included almost every Protestant denomination.
Fundamentalism exists in the fog of a false history (which is why they discourage educated inquiry) and ‘separation’. They believe they are ‘Bible based’ and all other denominations reject the Bible and salvation.
There is no denomination called “evangelical”, like "fundamentalist:, its a descrption. They are made up of many denominations and are considered “liberal” to hard-core fundamentalists.

Is this a new phenomenon Itwin? All the evangelicals I have encountered have been dispensationalists. The only alternative to that is Reformed theology, and most Reformed Calvinists reject Evangelical theology.
Again, from my experience.

No it is not. All evangelicals were postmillenialists before the Civil War. Since that time there has been a large scale shift toward premillennialism and especially premillennial dispensationalism, but not all evangelicals are dispensationalists.

How are you using the terms “Reformed Calvinists?” There are many evangelical Calvinists, both in the historic Reformed churches and in other churches, such as Baptist churches.

An evangelical is the one that leaves a bible in hotel room drawers, a fundamentalist is one who leaves Jack Chick tracts everywhere they go.

For what it’s worth, my Evangelical friend’s church states its creed on its website, and it’s very, very similar, almost identical to the Nicene Creed.

From the way it plays in media, ANYBODY who still believes God is real and makes life decisions according to what God says is good or evil instead of what the person himself FEELS inside… is a fundamentalist.

I’m joking, but only partially. Media does really seem to use that working definition.

Yeah, the “Christian Right”. That includes all of us. Sad to say they can depend on many Catholics to vote without regard to their faith.

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Evangelicals hold to the bible as the only inspired source of doctrine. Fundamentalists are very literal in their interpretation of scripture, but are probably most often evangelicals. But I would assume that there are fundamentalists in every christian denomination including catholics. Some catholics are fundamentalists when it comes to biblical interpretation, such as the meaning of the creation account or whether the account of Jonah in the belly of the fish was literal or just a didactic story. Another example is myself. I consider myself to be an evangelical, but I am not a six-day creationist, a dispensationalist, a premillennialist, or a fundamentalist. (Say that five times very quickly!)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit