The Rise and Fall of Inerrancy in the American Fundamentalist Movement


The Christian fundamentalist movement in America played a key role in defending and promoting the importance of biblical inerrancy. While often ridiculed and mocked, early American fundamentalists withstood the tide of theological liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nevertheless, many of these staunch advocates of biblical inerrancy failed to understand the importance of defending the traditional view of Genesis. This mistake led to some of the movement’s greatest failures, and ultimately contradicted the central doctrine for which fundamentalists so fervently stood. This article will survey the history of Christian fundamentalism in America along with its strengths and weaknesses, victories and defeats. The significance of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will also be examined.


The Christian fundamentalist movement in America has been maligned, stereotyped, lampooned, and mocked. Fundamentalists have been compared to Muslim terrorists and called right-wing bigots and homophobes. 1 Most fundamentalists would often be the first to declare their imperfections, but these descriptions are typically over the top. Although there may always be some people who fuel these stereotypes, as properly defined, a Christian fundamentalist is simply a person who holds to the fundamental truths of their faith as revealed clearly in the Bible.

In 1910, five principles were identified by the Presbyterian General Assembly as comprising the fundamentals of the Christian faith. According to this assembly, a fundamentalist is one who believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, His bodily resurrection, and the authenticity of miracles.2 Some would add a sixth point to this list: the imminent and physical return of Christ to earth.

While each of these points is vitally important to the fundamentalist mind, the first point has risen to the forefront in their ongoing struggle with a secular culture. The doctrine of inerrancy has come to define the movement, and, as such, it deserves special attention. This paper will examine the role inerrancy has served in the fundamentalist movement during the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Inerrancy Defined

The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is a bit trickier to define than it seems. In its most basic formulation, the doctrine states that the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) was written without error in the original manuscripts. Although this is not explicitly stated in Scripture, it is deduced from two clear biblical teachings: the Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and God cannot err (Hebrews 6:18). If these two teachings are true, then it logically follows that the Bible cannot err.3

In the past this definition would suffice. However, due to the rise of liberal theologies that deny that the Bible is free from error yet often use the same terminology, e.g., inspiration and infallibility, a more nuanced definition is needed.4 This liberal double-speak is popular among those seeking to mislead believers and cause them to doubt their beliefs. Charles Ryrie has proposed a more detailed definition which removes all ambiguity. He believes a complete definition must include the terms “verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant, unlimited inspiration!”5 This means that every word of the entire Bible is not only without error, but it is God-breathed and incapable of being in error. Norman Geisler suggested that inerrancy should be defined as follows:

The inspiration of Scripture is the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit who, through the different personalities and literary styles of the chosen human authors, invested the very words of the original books of Holy Scripture, alone and in their entirety, as the very Word of God without error in all that they teach (including history and science) and is thereby the infallible rule and final authority for the faith and practice of all believers.

These definitions will be examined in more detail in a later section. It is necessary first to examine why inerrancy is important to the Bible-believing Christian and how it became such a major topic of debate among those who call themselves Christians.

Importance of Inerrancy

There is an important reason that biblical inerrancy has become the dominant hallmark of fundamentalism. Quite simply, it is foundational to the rest of the fundamentals. Of course, each of these points carries immense weight. Without the Virgin Birth an Old Testament prophecy would have failed.6 Without the substitutionary atonement achieved through Christ’s death on the Cross, sinful man would have no means of being reconciled to God. Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, there is no hope after death and the faith of Christians would be futile (1 Corinthians 15:17–19). Without the authenticity of miracles, the Virgin Birth7 and Resurrection of Jesus could not have happened.

Inerrancy encompasses each of these crucial doctrines because without a reliable testimony to these events, one could not be certain of their historicity. After all, the Bible is the place these things are recorded. Scientific investigation cannot establish whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin, rose from the dead, or that His death on the Cross satisfied God’s justice. Only special revelation from the Creator can reveal these things. This is what the Bible claims to be. If it is inerrant, then these other events are sure. If it contains errors, then its reliability in all areas is questionable. More pointedly, if there are errors in Scripture, then perhaps one of those errors concerns something about the life, Crucifixion, or Resurrection of Christ.

The Foundation of Liberalism

Due in large part to the influence of Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677), the 19th century witnessed a tremendous amount of skepticism regarding the accuracy of the biblical text. In Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Spinoza renounced key Judeo-Christian beliefs, such as miracles and inerrancy. His teachings, including his attempt to establish a scientific method of hermeneutics, became popular among English deists and German and French biblical critics.8

A major salvo was launched by the newfound science of geology. Some early geologists believed the rock layers and fossil record were a result of the worldwide flood described in Genesis.9 But, many others interpreted the rock layers as being the result of millions of years of slow and gradual processes. This idea, known as uniformitarianism, was popularized by Charles Lyell, and it has become the underlying philosophy on which all of the old earth and universe theories stand. It fit the philosophy of the times well, because the deists had already given up belief in miracles Also, David Hume had recently convinced many that belief in miracles was foolish because the “wise man should not believe in miracles because the probability for the uniformity of nature was always higher than the probability of an exception to the laws of nature.” 10

A large portion of the Church failed to adequately respond to the attacks of the uniformitarian geologists and philosophers.

Sadly, a large portion of the Church failed to adequately respond to the attacks of the uniformitarian geologists and philosophers. Instead of refuting their arguments, many pastors and theologians sought to find a way to fit the proposed millions of years into the text of Genesis.11 This compromise paved the way for the next major assault on inerrancy, which would come from the pen of Charles Darwin.

Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, directly attacked the Creation account recorded in Genesis. Although he was not the first to recognize the process now known as natural selection,12 he did popularize it as a method by which one could account for all of the variety of life on the planet without appealing to a Creator. Christians rejected this naturalistic idea about the origin of life, but since many had already conceded the accuracy of the Genesis chronology and the account of the Flood to the uniformitarian philosophers, it was a small step to reinterpret Genesis 1 by blending it with Darwin’s biological evolution.

Around the same time a movement known as higher criticism was developing in Germany. The arguments of the higher critics were “highly sophisticated by the time after the Civil War [1861–1865] when it became widely known in America.” 13 These critics attacked the historicity of the biblical record, especially with regard to its miracles and early history. Using the ideas of uniformitarianism, anti-supernaturalism, and Darwinian evolution, Graf, Kuenen, Wellhausen, and others built upon critical views of the eighteenth century and gradually formulated The Documentary Hypothesis, or JEPD Theory.14 This view claims that the Pentateuch was compiled by at least one redactor during or shortly after the Babylonian Exile. So rather than being written by Moses, the first five books were now dated nearly a thousand years later. In the anti-supernatural climate of the day, many believed there was no way the Bible’s history could be trusted by informed scholars.

Liberalism Grows

Marsden explained that Christians in America responded in different ways to these developments. Fundamentalists like William Bell Riley (1861–1947) rejected the claims of the higher critics, Darwinists, and uniformitarians, and chose to still accept the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, and tried to figure out how to refute these latest claims. Some chose to believe the Bible, but hold the two ideas in tension. 15 That is, they didn’t know if the science could be shown to be wrong, but they would cling to their faith no matter the outcome. Others tried to find ways to reinterpret the Bible to accommodate these concepts. Still others accepted these new ideas and reclassified the Bible as merely a “record of the religious experience of an ancient people.”16 For this latter group, it did not matter whether the Bible was historically or scientifically accurate, because the Bible was simply a religious book and was not meant to accurately teach science or history.17

This final idea found fertile soil in America as numerous pastors readily adopted it and began preaching it to their congregations. The first major preacher to do this was Henry Ward Beecher in the late 19th century. He was not a theologian but felt it was important to soften the strong doctrinal stances held by his predecessors. He focused more on emotions and “truths of the heart” rather than propositional truth and truths of the head. One of his sermons began with the claim that the Bible “employs not the scientific reason, but imagination and the reason under it.”18 In 1885, Beecher published Evolution and Religion, in which he endorsed a full-fledged form of theistic evolution, but used romanticized terms to defend it. He wrote, “Whatever may have been the origin, it does not change either the destiny or the moral grandeur of man as he stands in the full light of civilization today.”19

This compromise was not limited to the pulpit. In 1891, Professor Charles Briggs of Union Theological Seminary delivered an inaugural address in which he directly attacked the doctrine of inerrancy. He believed that Christians should recognize that the Bible is mistaken in numerous incidental details that have no impact on major doctrines. “For this Briggs was brought to trial in the Presbyterian church and suspended from the ministry.”20 It was not long before the vast majority of seminaries found themselves undergoing similar trials. By the early 1900s, liberals controlled most of the northern seminaries in America.20

Until this point, “Fundamentalists had neither defended their position nor organized to combat the growing Modernism.”21 As a result, theological liberalism gained momentum in an age characterized by “rebellion and rejection of absolute authority and emphasis on humanity’s rational capabilities.”21 A major strategy of the liberals was to promote the idea of social ethics, since Jesus often discussed the importance of caring for the poor. This so-called “social gospel” exploded on the scene. This movement de-emphasized the importance of doctrinal beliefs and simply asked the question, “What would Jesus do?” This approach is outlined in Charles Sheldon’s best-selling novel, In His Steps. Although this fictional story portrays the tremendous impact a church can have when it truly cares for others, there is no proclamation of the only gospel that can save souls from eternal punishment—that is the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen to secure the salvation of all those who repent and trust in Him.22

Fundamentalism’s Response

The tide of theological liberalism seemed ready to win the day, but all this was about to change when conservative Christians decided to fight back. Two major publications were produced that served to unify and give voice to Bible-believing Christians. First, a series of twelve booklets containing 90 articles was published and sent to three million pastors, evangelists, missionaries, professors, students, and others involved in ministry throughout the world. Financed by Wyman and Milton Stewart, The Fundamentals: A Testimony of Truth sought to provide “calm, well-reasoned and well-balanced testimony to Christian truth.”23 The Fundamentals offered scholarly rebuttals to many of the ideas promoted by liberals. There were articles designed to refute naturalistic evolution, higher criticism, and anti-supernaturalism. Also included were refutations of many false religions, such as Russellism (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Mormonism, Eddyism (Christian Science), spiritualism, and key Roman Catholic doctrines that were (and still are) contrary to Scripture.24

The second important publication was the Scofield Reference Bible (1909), which became a popular resource among millions of pastors and laymen alike all over the English-speaking world, due in large part to its promotion of Dispensationalism—a theological system that rose to prominence with many conservatives through the numerous prophecy and Bible conferences in the late 19th century.

Armed with these new resources and united across several denominational lines, fundamentalists grew in numbers and visibility. Although the measure was also largely supported by liberals, fundamentalists also enthusiastically advocated the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920. 25 The amendment banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for the purpose of consumption. The passage of the amendment seemed to bolster the confidence of fundamentalists who were also in the midst of passing laws banning the teaching of Darwinian evolution in public schools.25 The passage of one such bill in Tennessee would play a tremendous role in bringing fundamentalism to its knees in the height of fundamentalists’ popularity and confidence.

Crushing Defeats

Just when it appeared fundamentalism would defeat liberalism, the ACLU challenged the Tennessee law, known as the Butler Act, which forbade the teaching of human evolution in public schools. What followed was one of the most important events in American church history and has become known as the Scopes Monkey Trial. In an effort to boost a struggling economy, town leaders of Dayton, Tennessee, devised a plan to test Tennessee’s law. They had read that the ACLU was looking for a way to bring this law to the courts. The leaders agreed to ask the local high school football coach, John Scopes, who had substituted in the Biology class for two weeks, if he would be willing to admit that he taught evolution. Although Scopes later admitted he never had taught evolution, he agreed to participate in the trial.

William Jennings Bryan, a famous orator, three-time Democratic candidate for president, and popular Christian, decided to serve as prosecutor. Clarence Darrow, a self-professed agnostic and one of the top lawyers in the country, served as Scopes’ defense attorney. Due to the huge names involved, the media flocked to Dayton and during the trial Darrow saw his chance to attack the Bible. Rather than arguing the points of the law, he brought in expert after expert to promote evolution as fact. 26 He and Bryan agreed to take the stand on successive days to be cross-examined by each other.

Bryan saw this as an opportunity to defend the faith from the attacks of Darrow and other critics and skeptics in front of a worldwide audience. Bryan took the stand first and Darrow questioned him about numerous biblical accounts that are typically assaulted by skeptics. He asked Bryan about Jonah and the whale (or “great fish,” see Jonah 1:17, KJV; cf. Matthew 12:40), the identity of Cain’s wife, the age of the earth, and several other questions about the early chapters of Genesis. 27 Rather than replying with solid biblical answers, Bryan seemed agitated by the line of questioning and appeared as though he could not answer basic questions about his faith. The listening world heard a man who could not defend Christianity against the “science” of the day. Sadly, Bryan even undermined the credibility of the Bible by admitting that it may not mean what it says in the early chapters of Genesis. Darrow had accomplished his purpose and the next day he instructed the judge to find Scopes guilty. Darrow never lived up to his end of the bargain to take the witness stand, and Bryan was never able to deliver his closing argument that presented cogent scientific arguments against evolution.

The damage done to fundamentalists at the Scopes Trial is inestimable. Even today, fundamentalists are lampooned because of the events in Dayton. The popular play and movie Inherit the Wind presents an extremely biased view against the fundamentalists and portrays the agnostic Darrow as genuine and heroic. For many, the inaccurate, hysteric, agenda-driven portrayal of Bryan in the movie is their view of fundamentalists. In addition, the concept of an inerrant Bible is now mocked in mainstream America, since it was allegedly proven wrong during the Scopes Trial.

The fundamentalists would take another hit when Prohibition was repealed with the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933. Due in large part to Prohibition, large cities witnessed huge increases in organized crime driven by an underground alcohol market. In an effort to bring a higher morality to society, Prohibition activists actually helped bring about more crime, and fundamentalism received much of the blame.

As a result of these two devastating events, fundamentalists largely faded into the background of American society for a few decades. However, they did not cease from working. Instead, they started their own Bible colleges and institutions and continued to stress inerrancy. Contrary to what one might expect in light of recent events, their numbers actually swelled during the 1930s and 1940s, while the liberal denominations shrunk drastically.

The emphasis on inerrancy continued throughout the twentieth century. In 1974 a meeting of evangelical Christians from over 150 nations, called the Lausanne Congress, agreed to a statement on inerrancy. which states, “We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” Less than a decade later, the famous Chicago statement on inerrancy was announced during a meeting sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. It was signed by over 300 evangelical scholars. This exhaustive document included nineteen articles to clearly express what the group affirmed and denied.

The Achilles Heel of Fundamentalism

While fundamentalists have stressed inerrancy throughout the twentieth century, they have often found a way unintentionally to undermine their own position. As pointed out earlier, large sections of the church accepted without question the uniformitarian concept of “deep time” (billions of years) and simply tried to find ways to insert these vast ages into the biblical text. While they rightly rejected the notion of biological evolution as patently unbiblical, many leading fundamentalists have failed to do the same with geological and astronomical evolution and thereby have introduced doubt into the first chapter of the Bible.

The publication of The Fundamentals testifies to this fact. Three of the six articles written to address the early chapters of Genesis and science clearly accepted the claim of evolutionary geologists that earth had been in existence for millions of years.28 In his article entitled “Science and the Christian Faith,” James Orr argued that if one accepted the creation days as vast cosmic periods “then the last trace of apparent conflict [between the Bible and science29] disappears.”30 Dyson Hague’s article, “The Doctrinal Value of the First Chapters of Genesis” encourages readers to stand with George Cuvier, J. William Dawson, and James Dana, all of whom believed one should reinterpret Genesis to teach millions of years.31 George Frederick Wright’s article seems to both reject and endorse some form of evolution. At one point he argues that Adam and Eve came into existence by special creation,32 but then speaks of prehistoric man and the “higher animals associated with him in later geological ages.”32 Finally, the lead editor of the series, R. A. Torrey, also accepted the notion of deep time and reinterpreted the days of creation as long ages.33

The other key publication in the fundamentalist movement also taught a form of the gap theory in an effort to harmonize the Bible with uniformitarian philosophy. An early footnote of the Scofield Reference Bible states that if one were to “relegate fossils to the primitive creation [then] no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains.”34

The truth is that no matter how ingenious of a scheme one concocts to blend Scripture with deep time, there will always be contradictions forced into the inspired text, because it does not teach it. Scofield said there would be no conflict between the two if vast ages were inserted between the Bible’s first two verses, yet naturalistic scientific theories argue for the formation of the sun millions of years before the earth. Genesis has the creation of earth three days before the sun (Genesis 1:1, 16). Also, every old-earth scenario places death, suffering, thorns, thistles, and disease for millions of years prior to man’s existence, yet the Bible teaches that these things are result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:14–19; Romans 5:12; 8:18–25).

In recent decades, with the rise of the modern creation science movement, many fundamentalists have become aware of these truths and have rejected the millions-of-years compromise. Sadly, many have not recognized their error in continuing to undermine the foundation of their own faith. What these believers fail to realize is that the rebuttal of vast ages also eliminates Darwinian evolution, because in 6,000 years there would not be enough time for evolution to occur. A young earth also eliminates much of higher criticism, which is based on evolutionary ideas. Moreover, worldviews such as secular humanism, cosmic humanism, Marxism/Leninism, and postmodernism are all based on evolution and deep time. These would all be undermined by a firm rejection of uniformitarian philosophy. Yet many fundamentalists continue to fight the “symptoms” rather than striking at the root of the problem. Ultimately, the battle comes down to whether or not one can trust the words of Scripture or if one should reinterpret the clear teachings of the Bible to include the ever-changing scientific views of the day. Fundamentalists, and all other Christians, need to take a firm stand on the unchanging Word of God and not be intimidated by scientists who claim they have proven it to be wrong. If they do not take a stand, then, like William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Trial, they will continue to tell the world that they believe the Bible wholeheartedly, but their actions will deny it.

Objections to Inerrancy

The doctrine of inerrancy continues to be a hot topic among conservative Christians and skeptics today. It is rather common to hear the claim that inerrancy is a somewhat modern invention.35 Skeptics charge that the Princeton scholar B. B. Warfield created this doctrine to slow the growth of the attacks on Scripture made by liberals and higher critics. This claim is demonstrably false. Long before the rise of the fundamentalist movement, Christian scholars and pastors held to the inerrancy of Scripture, but did not use the terminology because it was rarely alleged that Scripture contained errors.

In the fourth century Augustine clearly delineated his position on the inerrancy of at least the Gospel accounts.

Therefore, when those disciples have written matters which He declared and spoke to them, it ought not by any means to be said that He has written nothing Himself; since the truth is, that His members have accomplished only what they became acquainted with by the repeated statements of the Head. For all that He was minded to give for our perusal on the subject of His own doings and sayings, He commanded to be written by those disciples, whom He thus used as if they were His own hands.36

There can be little question about how Augustine viewed the remaining books of the Bible. Throughout his book, The City of God, he repeatedly referred to Scripture as the words of God, infallible Scripture, divine revelation, Holy Scripture, God’s Word, divine oracles, and oracles of God.37

Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the medieval period also minced no words in expressing his view on the inerrancy of Scripture. In his magnum opus, Summa Theologica, he wrote, “I firmly believe that none of their authors have erred in composing them”38 and that “nothing false can underlie the literal sense of Scripture.”39 In his commentary on Job, Aquinas stated, “It is heretical to say that any falsehood whatsoever is contained either in the gospels or in any canonical Scripture.” 40

John Calvin also expressed complete trust in the inerrancy of Scripture. He wrote, “Our true wisdom is to embrace with meek docility, and without reservation, whatever the Holy Scriptures have delivered.”41 He added, “So long as your mind entertains any misgivings as to the certainty of the word, its authority will be weak and dubious, or rather it will have no authority at all.”42

Martin Luther adamantly stood on the inerrancy of Scripture and believed that one had to approach the Bible in an all-or-nothing fashion.

And whoever is so bold that he ventures to accuse God of fraud and deception in a single word and does so willfully again and again after he has been warned and instructed once or twice will likewise certainly venture to accuse God of fraud and deception in all His words. [Therefore,] it is true absolutely and without exception, that everything is believed or nothing is believed. The Holy Ghost does not suffer Himself to be separated or divided so that He should teach and cause to be believed one doctrine rightly and another falsely43 (italics in original).

In the early nineteenth century, Thomas Hartwell Horne (1780–1862) published Introduction to the Critical Study of the Holy Scriptures, in which he meticulously refuted the arguments of higher criticism. Horne’s work grew in both size and popularity. By 1846, it had been expanded to five volumes, and more than 15,000 copies were sold in the United Kingdom, along with thousands more in the United States.44 Horne clearly promoted biblical inerrancy stating that the Bible “is free from error, that is any material error,” and that “this property must be considered as extending to the whole of each” book of the Bible.45

Although the teachings of these key figures in Church history do not prove the inerrancy of Scripture, they certainly testify to the fact that the doctrine of inerrancy is not a new invention. As such, when fundamentalists insist upon inerrancy as an essential doctrine, they are in the company of a long line of leading theologians.

Karl Barth claimed that the idea of God superintending the writing of the Bible to the extent of producing an inerrant book is tantamount to a Docetic-like heresy.46 This charge has been repeated by G. C. Berkhouwer and Paul Jewett. Docetism was an early heresy which taught that Christ’s physical body was merely an illusion, and consequently could not have died on the cross, because a pure spirit cannot physically die. The comparison made by these men is that inerrantists overemphasize the divine authorship while neglecting the Bible’s human authors. One might respond by pointing out that critics of inerrancy are guilty of committing an Ebionite-like heresy.46 This second century heresy overemphasized Christ’s humanity and denied His Virgin Birth and deity. In the same way, critics of inerrancy fail to recognize the divine inspiration of the entirety of Scripture.

Some have argued that it is impossible for the Bible to be inerrant because it was written by man: since people often make mistakes, they cannot write an inerrant book. This argument is also logically flawed. Just because people make mistakes does not mean that they always make mistakes. It is possible for men to write a document which does not contain any errors. For example, it is certainly possible that, perhaps after a couple of revisions, a mathematics textbook would be inerrant. This skeptical objection is a diversion that fails to deal with whether or not there are actually any errors in the biblical text.


The issue of inerrancy has been the hallmark of the fundamentalist movement since the start of the twentieth century. It has been assaulted by skeptics, critics, liberals, modernists, and, at times, even unintentionally by unwitting fundamentalists themselves. Nevertheless, fundamentalists understand that if the original manuscripts contained errors, then they could not have been inspired by the God for whom it is impossible to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

Inerrancy was attacked by the serpent in the beginning when he asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). Satan’s attack has always been to undermine God’s message to man. He has done it throughout history and continues to do it today through various means. All Christians need to understand the battle that is being waged, and like fundamentalists, they need to take a firm stand on the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.


Archer, Gleason. 1994. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Updated and Revised Edition. Chicago: Moody Press.

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica.

______________. Commentary on the Book of Job.

Augustine, Harmony of the Gospels.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Chaffey, Tim and Jason Lisle. 2008. Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict Is In. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books.

Conlin, Joseph R. 2009. The American Past: A Survey of American History. Boston: Wadsworth.

Enns, Paul P. 1997. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Press.

Falwell, Jerry, editor. 1981. The Fundamentalist Phenomenon: The Resurgence of Conservative Christianity. Garden City, New York: Doubleday-Galilee.

Geisler, Norman L. 1976. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

_______________. 2002. Systematic Theology, Vol. I: Introduction, Bible. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House.

Goodman, D. C., editor. 1973. Science and Religious Belief 1600–1900: Selection of Primary Sources Bristol: J. Wright for the Open University Press.

Grenz, Stanley J. 2000. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Broadman & Holman.

Livingstone, David N. 1987. Darwin’s Defenders. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.

Marsden, George M. 2006. Fundamentalism and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

_______________. 1991. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.

Merrill, Eugene H. 1998. Internal Evidence for the Inerrancy of The Pentateuch. Conservative Theological Journal Volume 2. Fort Worth, Texas: Tyndale Theological Seminary.

Mortenson, Terry. 2004. The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology – Before Darwin. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books.

_______________. 2010. Exposing a Fundamental Compromise. Answers 5, no. 3:62–65.

Parker, Gary. 2006. Creation: Facts of Life, Revised and Updated. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books.

Reu, Johann Michael. 1944. Luther on the Scriptures. Columbus, Ohio: Wartburg.

Rhea County Historical Society. 1990. The World’s Most Famous Court Trial: Tennessee Evolution Case, 2nd reprint ed. Dayton, Tennessee: Bryan College.

Ruthven, Malise. 2004. Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ryrie, Charles C. 1999. Basic Theology : A Popular Systemic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago: Moody Press.

_____________. 1981. What You Should Know About Inerrancy. Chicago: Moody Press.

Scofield, C. I., editor. 1909; 1945. The Scofield Study Bible. New York: Oxford University Press.

Strobel, Lee. 2000. The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

Torrey, R. A., editor. 1990. Reprint of The Fundamentals. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel.

Woodbridge, John D., Mark A. Noll, and Nathan O. Hatch. 1979. The Gospel in America. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

Answers in Depth

2012 Volume 7


  1. Ruthven, Malise. 2004. Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning, p.7. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ruthven points out the hypocrisy of the “tolerant” secularists who resort to labeling anyone who disagrees with them as fundamentalists and demonstrates that these secularists could justifiably be called fundamentalists (though adhering to very different doctrines).
  2. Marsden, George M. 2006. Fundamentalism and American Culture, 117. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. Geisler, Norman L. 2002. Systematic Theology, Vol. I: Introduction, Bible, 494. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House.
  4. Enns, Paul P. 1997. The Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 166. Chicago: Moody Press.
  5. Ryrie, Charles C. 1981. What You Should Know About Inerrancy, p. 16. Chicago: Moody Press.
  6. Many Christians believe that Christ was born of a virgin to ensure that He did not receive a sinful nature. This may be one of the reasons for it, but the Virgin Birth “need not be the necessary means of preserving Christ sinless, since God could have overshadowed two parents so as to protect the baby’s sinlessness had He so desired. It served as a sign of the uniqueness of the person who was born.” Ryrie, Charles C. 1999. Basic Theology: A Popular Systemic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth p. 279. Chicago: Moody Press. Also, the Virgin Birth fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:35. Some believe it was hinted at in Genesis 3:15, because the one to crush the serpent was called the “Seed of the woman.” Merrill, Eugene H. 1998. Internal Evidence for the Inerrancy of the Pentateuch. Conservative Theological Journal 2, no. 5:120.
  7. Interestingly enough, due to medical and scientific advances, a virgin birth is feasible without divine intervention. However, since this would be achieved via artificial insemination, it would be vastly different than the Incarnation of Jesus.
  8. Mortenson, Terry. 2004. The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology – Before Darwin, p. 24. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books.
  9. Ibid., p. 11.
  10. Geisler, Norman L. Christian Apologetics
  11. Chaffey,Tim and Jason Lisle. 2008. Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict Is In, p. 19. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books.
  12. A creationist, Edward Blyth, described the process nearly thirty years prior to Darwin’s publication; however, he did not use the term natural selection. Parker, Gary. 2006. Creation: Facts of Life, Revised and Updated, p. 81. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books. See also, Blyth, Edward. 1835. An attempt to classify the ‘Varieties’ of Animals with observations on the marked seasonal and other Changes which naturally take place in various British Species and which do not constitute Varieties. Magazine of Natural History Vol. VIII:40–53. And Blyth, Edward. 1837. On the Psychological Distinctions between Man and all other Animals; and the consequent Diversity of Human Influence over the inferior Ranks of Creation, from any mutual and reciprocal Influence exercised among the Latter. Magazine of Natural History N.S. Vol. I:131–141.
  13. Marsden, George M. 1991. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, p. 13. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.
  14. For an outstanding critique of The Documentary Hypothesis, see Archer, Gleason. 1994. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Updated and Revised Edition, p. 90. Chicago: Moody Press.
  15. Billy Graham (1918–present) serves as a good example of this group. Early in his career as an evangelist, he faced a crisis of faith over issues related to evolution and higher criticism. Lee Strobel wrote of Graham’s struggle as follows: “Graham searched the Scriptures for answers, he prayed, he pondered. Finally, in a heavy-hearted walk in the moonlit San Bernardino Mountains, everything came to a climax. Gripping a Bible, Graham dropped to his knees and confessed he couldn’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions that [Charles] Templeton and others were raising.
    “I was trying to be on the level with God, but something remained unspoken,” he wrote. “At last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it. ‘Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.’” (emphasis in original). Strobel, Lee. 2000. The Case for Faith, p.10. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
  16. Marsden, Understanding, p. 34.
  17. The seeds of this type of thinking actually arose long before the 19th century. In 1615, Galileo Galilei wrote that the intention of Scripture is “to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.” Galilei, Galileo. 1615. Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, from Drake, Stillman, transl. 1957. Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, p 186, reprinted in Goodman, D.C., editor, 1973. Science and Religious Belief 1600-1900: Selection of Primary Sources, p. 34. Bristol: J. Wright [for] the Open University Press.
  18. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, p. 23.
  19. Ibid., p. 24.
  20. Marsden, Understanding, p. 38.
  21. Falwell, Jerry, editor. 1981. The Fundamentalist Phenomenon: The Resurgence of Conservative Christianity, p. 79. Garden City, New York: Doubleday-Galilee.
  22. Interestingly enough, under the guise of “social justice,” the social gospel has recently made huge inroads into American congregations. The Bible certainly has several passages that discuss caring for poor, but these must be balanced with other biblical instructions. For example, Paul stated, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Notice that Paul did not say that a person who cannot work should not be cared for, but that a person who “will not work” should not be given food.
  23. Woodbridge, John D., Mark A. Noll, and Nathan O. Hatch. 1979. The Gospel in America, p.59. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
  24. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, p. 120.
  25. Conlin, Joseph R. 2009. The American Past: A Survey of American History, p. 838. Boston: Wadsworth.
  26. Ironically, nearly every piece of “evidence” used by Darrow during the trial has now been rejected by the evolutionists themselves. Evolutionary icons such as Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, and the horse evolution series have all been shown to be false either as a result of deliberate fraud (Piltdown Man) or misinterpretation of the fossil evidence.
  27. Rhea County Historical Society. 1990. The World’s Most Famous Court Trial: Tennessee Evolution Case, 2nd reprint ed. pp. 284–304. Dayton, Tennessee: Bryan College.
  28. Mortenson, Terry. 2010. Exposing a Fundamental Compromise. Answers 5, no. 3:64.
  29. There is no conflict between the Bible and science, but there is between interpretations of the Bible and interpretations of the natural world by some scientists. The age of the earth and the age of universe are questions that cannot truly be addressed by operational science because these things cannot be tested and repeated. Therefore, they are beyond the purview of operational science. Instead, they are history questions, and one should consult an accurate history book written by an eyewitness, if available. In this case, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of the Creator. His account is accurate and should not be reinterpreted to fit with the educated guesses of men who hold to the unbiblical philosophy of uniformitarianism. Chaffey and Lisle, Old-Earth Creationism on Trial, p. 113.
  30. Torrey, R. A., ed. 1990. The Fundamentals, p. 134. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel.
  31. Ibid., p. 114.
  32. Ibid., p. 623.
  33. Livingstone, David N. 1987. Darwin’s Defenders, p. 151-152. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.
  34. Scofield, C. I., editor. 1945. The Scofield Study Bible, n. 1:1. New York: Oxford University Press.
  35. Grenz, Stanley J. 2000. Theology for the Community of God, p.400. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Broadman & Holman.
  36. Augustine, Harmony of the Gospels, 1.35.54.
  37. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume One, 500.
  38. Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica, 1a.1, 8.
  39. Ibid., 1a.1, 10, ad 3.
  40. Aquinas, Thomas. Commentary on the Book of Job, 13, 1.
  41. Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.18.4.
  42. Ibid., III.2.6.
  43. Reu, Johann Michael. 1944. Luther on the Scriptures, p. 33. Columbus, Ohio: Wartburg.
  44. Mortenson, Great Turning Point, p. 43.
  45. Horne, T.H. 1828. Introduction to the Critical Studies of the Holy Scriptures, I:474–476.
  46. Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 95.


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