"Protestant" and "Fundamentalist"


When discussing various apologetic topics I continue to find a blurring of the lines between these two groups. So I want to see where this leads:
What are the differences?
Are they the same?
and for our non-Catholic posters (avoiding the term Protestant ;)):
Do you associate yourself with the term “fundamentalist”? Why or why not?


=JustaServant;3937289]When discussing various apologetic topics I continue to find a blurring of the lines between these two groups. So I want to see where this leads:
What are the differences?
Are they the same?
and for our non-Catholic posters (avoiding the term Protestant ;)):
Do you associate yourself with the term “fundamentalist”? Why or why not?

Hi All
This is what Dictionary.com has to say about Fundamentalist

  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

First of all that doesn’t sound very threatening to me and Secondly I don’t consider myself a “Protestant” for I am NOT protesting Christ’s Church.


I would say that most Fundamentalist are protestants, though now some of them would say that they are non denominational.

I am probably going to get comments on my definitions, but here it goes anyways:

In Protestantism there are 3 main groups

Fundamentalist - sticks to the fundamentals and don’t believe in the charismatic gifts of the holy spirit and really don’t evangelize - feel set apart. Can be any denomination, but usually baptist and usually anti-catholic

Evangelical - love to share the gospel with others, usually more like the presbyterian and methodist usually not anti-catholic

Pentecostal - believe in the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.usually anti-catholic


You forget #4: liberals.


There are Protestants who would not identify themselves with any of the groups you mention, except perhaps evangelical.
When I critique fundamentalists, I am not zeroing in on ALL Protestants. But rather a group even they do not identify themselves with.


Fundamentalists are a subset of Protestantism. Just how to define fundamentalists is a huge debate, because there are a lot of ways to do it. Probably the best approach is to say that there’s an extreme wing of Protestantism that is unabashedly fundamentalist, but many other Protestants who approach fundamentalism to some degree or another. (Shucks, if you ask some liberals, anyone who believes in the Resurrection or the inspiration of Scripture or disagrees with abortion or holds to traditional Christian sexual morality is a fundamentalist.) There are people who call themselves fundamentalists, but far more who are called fundamentalists by others!

The basic characteristics of true fundamentalists are:

  1. Belief in the basic doctrines of traditional Protestantism in a hardline and uncompromising form (the basic stuff about Jesus that all traditional Christians believe, plus a strict view of Biblical inerrancy and the penal substitution theory of the Atonement–also of course sola fide and sola scriptura).

  2. A dispensationalist eschatology (this is a matter of definition–people who are not dispensationalists are often called fundamentalists, but most scholars of the subject see dispensationalism as one of the things distinguishing fundamentalists from other conservative Protestants).

  3. A “separatist” attitude–i.e., they won’t have fellowship with people who disagree with them and often split over relatively fine points of doctrine.

  4. An insistence that their doctrines come straight from the Bible and do not involve human tradition or interpretation.

  5. A piety that focuses on individual conversion and the choice to accept Jesus (typical of all evangelicals, but narrowly defined in the case of fundamentalists, who will often claim that anyone who is not confident of their salvation and/or cannot name the moment when they were saved is going to hell), usually combined with an emphasis on the “deeper life” derived from the “Keswick” movement (though this is less the case in the South). It could also be claimed that fundamentalists believe in eternal security. But again, that’s a matter of definition.

Obviously there are many Protestants who hold to some or all of some of these points. For instance, conservative Lutherans and Calvinists may be separatist, but give more role to tradition and dogma than fundamentalists do (and are not dispensationalists). Many evangelicals have a very naive understanding of Scripture (i.e., they claim to just believe what the Bible says), but may be fairly tolerant of those who see the Bible differently (this is particularly common in a certain kind of postmodern evangelicalism that I find very common among my students).



And #5: traditional, confessional Protestants.

And most of us are somewhere in the middle.



This would probably draw more participation if you posted it in the non-Catholic forum.


Jesus only founded One Church. This the disciples called Catholic. All communities of faith that are not Catholic are defined by what they “protest” or how they differ from Catholicism. You may not realize you are in a state of protest, but if you are not Catholic, then you are adhering to doctrines formed by persons that “protested” the Apostolic Teaching.


The name was first “The Way”, then the Church. The term Catholic was first used not by any of the apostles.

Around the year A.D. 107, a bishop, St. Ignatius of Antioch in the Near East, was arrested, brought to Rome by armed guards and eventually martyred there in the arena. In a farewell letter which this early bishop and martyr wrote to his fellow Christians in Smyrna (today Izmir in modern Turkey), he made the first written mention in history of “the Catholic Church.”


I am a “Roman Catholic.” No fundamentalist, conservative, liberal or anything attached to it.

Same with being an American. I am not white, brown, green or blue, European, Asian or what have you - just an “American.”



Where do you think Ignatius got it?

St. Paul uses this term in his letters, when he writes:

Col 1:5-7
"Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing - so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 as you learned it from Ep’aphras our beloved fellow servant."

Phil 1:13
3 so that it has become known throughout the whole

The words are here in this passage. Kath + Holos. Throughout the whole.

People don’t see the word “catholic” in the New Testament if they don’t know their Greek. :wink:


#6: Holiness
#7: ex-Holiness…like :stuck_out_tongue: Zooey and, as I recall, :slight_smile: Contarini.


Isn’t “protestant” the Catholic church just gives anyone who doesn’t belong to the catholic church? I don’t think it’s an actual denomination.


There are non-Catholic Christians who aren’t Protestants.

I don’t think it’s an actual denomination.

“Protestant” is an umbrella term for those Christian denominations whose teachings originated in the doctrines of the men who were involved in the Reformation. Protestants follow some or all of the Five Solas

Solus Christus (Christ alone)
Sola scriptura (Scripture alone)
Sola fide (Faith alone)
Sola gratia (Grace alone)
Soli Deo gloria (Glory to God alone)


Saved Sinner that might not be an official assessment but it sure is a practical one. I would concur with your generalities. At least those are the main things that I discovered on my faith Journey and were my personal experiences. Those are the exact things I wrote about
in a post I posted on my blog
My Faith Journey to the Catholic Church from Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism



You are correct that “protestant” is not a denomination. But it does connote a set of beliefs that stand in opposition to Catholic teaching.

Like the word “Roman” placed before “Catholic” it may have arisen as a pejoritive term. But, like the word “Roman” placed before “Catholic,” it is no longer pejorative and many people use the term for no other purpose than to distinguish themselves from Catholic and Orthodox Christians. The phrase, “Thank God, I’m Protestant!” is often see on these forums.

As for “fundamentalism” – we Catholics are pretty fundamental ourselves. As Contarini point out: we believe in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming of Our Lord. We believe Scripture is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Honestly: we’re quite hopeless!


I think we’re missing something here—the influence of the 12 volumes of “The Fundamentals” published between 1905 and 1910 which gave Fundamentalism its handle.

Fundamentalism was a reaction to increasing liberalism within mainline Protestantism. It arose within the Presbyterian academic community, was officially born at the Niagara Bible Conference, and initially was not associated with the dispensationalist view which came to dominate it later.

Between 1920 and 1925, the Fundamentalists attempted to purge their denominations of the more liberal elements. They failed, lost their prior influence and appeal, and became chiefly ecclesial separatists. The lowpoint was arguably when Billy Graham eschewed his Fundamentalist roots, marking a split between evangelical and Fundamentalist communities.

Fundamentalists hold to the Five Fundamentals (for the most part—there’s an alternate list of 7) articulated first in 1910 at the Presbyterian General Assembly:

Inerrancy of the Scriptures
The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14)
The doctrine of substitutionary atonement by God’s grace and through human faith (Hebrews 9)
The bodily resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28)
The authenticity of Christ’s miracles (or, alternatively, his pre-millennial second coming)


I do refer to myself as Protestant - it comes from going to a Catholic college filled with Catholics, where people assume that I’m Catholic. :stuck_out_tongue:

Fundamentalist, for me, has a connotation of extreme-to-the-point-of-being-scary Christian conservatives. By itself, that would be Protestant conservatives. There can be scarily extreme Catholic conservatives, as well. I haven’t had much contact with either variety.

closed #20

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