Fundamentalism, according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, is defined as "religious beliefs based upon a literal interpretation of the Bible, regarded as fundamental to Christian faith and morals." Quite frequently, however, it appears to have a bad name when someone is referred to as being a fundamentalist. But why? I guess that it's because many people are given this impression found at a website as follows: "Biblical fundamentalists are those who present the Bible, God's inspired word, as the only necessary source for teaching about Christ and Christian living. According to fundamentalism, the Bible alone is sufficient. There is no place for the universal teaching church -- including its wisdom, its teachings, creeds and other doctrinal formulations, its liturgical and devotional traditions. A further characteristic of biblical fundamentalism is that it tends to interpret the Bible as being always without error or as literally true in a way quite different from the Catholic Church's teaching on the inerrancy of the Bible. We observed in biblical fundamentalism an effort to try to find in the Bible all the direct answers for living -- though the Bible itself nowhere claims such authority. The Bible is presented without regard for its historical context and development. But the ultimate problem with such fundamentalism is that it can give only a limited number of answers and cannot present those answers, on balance, because it does not have Christ's teaching church nor even an understanding of how the Bible originally came to be written and collected in the sacred canon, or official list of inspired books. Our Catholic belief is that we know God's revelation in the total Gospel. The Gospel comes to us through the Spirit-tradition of the church and the inspired books." (From the Pastoral Statement for Catholics on Biblical Fundamentalism - March 27, 1987)
As a fundamentalist, I find that the Bible tells us that, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13, 14) And we find also that Jesus stated, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) So from these two verses we can see the importance of knowing what God wants or doesn't want His followers to believe in if they hope to gain salvation. The Bereans were actually commended for their examining Scripture to see if Paul was correct in his teachings. (Acts 17:11) Why should we be any different, especially in this day of Spiritual warfare? Here is some of what I've observed.
The negativeness about being a fundamentalist is never more clear than when a believer tries to witness to a non-believer. Often times, we are told that we take Scripture out of context or simply do not understand that passage of Scripture. However, when we examine the source of contention, we see that the objector gets his viewpoints not from God's Word, but from another book such as that denomination's "Catechism." Now this seems rather odd. The Bible tells us that "...If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." (Revelation 22:18) Since we know that, "God's word is Truth," (John 17:17) and sufficient so that, "... the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works," (2 Timothy 3:17) why go anywhere else? Isn't it obvious that such a book such as a Catechism or a "Book of Mormonism" or even a "Koran" is man's attempt to "add to Scripture" what they want, especially when that particular book states some sort of attempt to do anti-scriptural deeds!!! There is no need to leave Scriptures for an "extra" book full of man-made do's and don'ts. Furthermore, the "traditions" that their church claims as needed and handed down orally, are often times anti-Scriptural. The fact is that what was written down, ARE the same teachings as spoken before the written word was produced with no contradictions. Of course, the question remains about this to the unlearned, but it appears to those who know God, that we can get all of the fundamentals right from God's Word. Could this be why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:6, "...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another"?
The amazing part is to see how often an unbeliever denies Scripture, yet over the course of time, they testify to Scripture's truths. If they were to want to know about fishing, they'd check out a fishing manual for the fundamentals on fishing. Or perhaps at Christmas time, they'd read the instructions to get the fundamentals of this or that gift put together correctly. Or perhaps someone is taking a trip, they'd read up on the fundamentals of getting from point "A" to point "B" for they'd have confidence in these types of learning tools. Christianity is the same way. To know about Jesus and how to get saved, we only need to check out the Scriptures. Don't let arguments such as "Where was your church 2000 years ago?" or "Private interpretation and instability in clinging to the doctrines passed down from the apostles can thus result in one twisting the scriptures to one’s own destruction," stop you from digging in the Bible for truths. Rather, we should be diligent in our studies, for God's Word tells us that we should, "... take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," (Ephesians 6:17) and, " ...know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever." (1 Chronicles 28:9) "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) Paul wrote also in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." And Jude 3 adds that "... ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
In closing, fundamentalism is not a bad word, nor is it wrong to be a fundamentalist as some would like others to believe. It seems quite logical that everyone should want to know the fundamentals of Christianity so as to be saved - from God's viewpoint, the Bible!