What is a Fundamentalist?

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 15 from the excellent book, Jack Hyles Speaks On Biblical Separation)

The term "fundamentalist" is a relative one, like "conservative" or "liberal." As it applies to organizations and denominations, "fundamentalists" would define those who hold to original doctrines and convictions and standards of a movement. This means that at the beginning of a movement all of its adherents would be fundamentalists. However, movements change. Denominations change. As they do, those who hold to the original doctrines and convictions fight for their preservation and for the return of the movement to its fundamentals. History tells us that these attempts have failed. Finally realizing that their hopes are futile, a group will pull out of the original movement or denomination and organize another according to the original dogma, standards and convictions of the apostate group. When this happens, the new group can be labeled "fundamentalists." Hence, to be a fundamental Methodist would not be the same thing as to be a fundamental Presbyterian. To be a fundamental Baptist would not be the same thing as to be a fundamental Episcopalian. The important thing to note here is that the term "fundamentalist" is one that has been given to those who pull out and return to the original intents, purposes and doctrine of the group that they feel has gone liberal.

There are some Methodists who feel that the mainline Methodist denomination have departed from the position of its founding fathers. These may be called fundamental Methodists. The same thing is true with the Presbyterian denomination. The American Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Convention and other groups such as the General Association of Regular Baptists, the Baptist Bible Fellowship, World Bible Fellowship, the Conservative Baptist Fellowship, Bible Presbyterians, Wesleyan Methodists and the Southwide Baptist Fellowship might be included in this category. If and when any of these organizations or movements shows signs of decay, there will be those who will withdraw and go back to what they believe are the original doctrines, purposes and convictions of the mother group. Then they will become fundamentalists also. This means that the term "fundamentalist" usually defines a movement rather than a position.

It is rather popular to define the term "fundamentalist" as one who believes the fundamentals; for example, one who believes the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the vicarious death, the bodily resurrection and the second coming. Now, to be sure, such a one believes the fundamentals, but the term "fundamentalist" probably should not be ascribed to him if he is still a member of an apostate denomination. The term "fundamentalist" is given not to those who simply believe the aforementioned fundamentals but to those who have separated themselves from those who do not. This brings the doctrine of separation into focus as a vital and necessary part of being a fundamentalist.

This author, for example, could not call a member of the American Baptist Convention who believes the verbal inspiration, the deity of Christ, virgin birth, the vicarious death, the bodily resurrection and the second coming of Christ a fundamentalist, nor could he call a Southern Baptist who believes the fundamental doctrines a fundamentalist. I certainly feel kindly toward men who believe these doctrines who are still in their denominations. I admire their stand and appreciate their fight for the Bible. I am pleased with their evangelistic zeal, and I gladly call them Christian brothers, but in no way could I associate the term "fundamentalist" with them, and I could not do so until they severed their yoke with the movement which is departing from the faith. If just believing the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the vicarious death, the bodily resurrection and the second coming of Christ makes one a fundamentalist, then many who are yoked up with apostate denominations would be classified as fundamentalists.

There are several interesting things about the Old Testament law of separation for Israel.

1. They were not allowed to sow different seeds together. Deuteronomy 22:9, "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled."

2. They were not allowed to plow with an ox and an ass in the same yoke. Deuteronomy 22:10, "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together."

3. They were not allowed to wear a garment with different materials such as wool and linen in the same garment. Deuteronomy 22:11, "Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together."

In the Bible, seed is a type of the Word of God. Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Luke 8:11, "Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God." The spiritual teaching is that we should not mix the Bible with other seed. The Bible is not one of God's books, it is THE Word of God! There is a special judgment on those who add to the seed. Revelation 22:18, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book."

A garment in the Bible is a type of salvation. Adam and Eve, as soon as they had sinned, tried to cover their nakedness. Genesis 3:7, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." Their own efforts failed, and God covered their nakedness with the skins taken from a slain animal. Genesis 3:21, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." The Apostle John reminds us that the linen garments worn by the redeemed are symbolic of righteousness. Revelation 19:8, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."

This means that it is an abomination when anyone adds anything to salvation apart from faith in the finished work of Calvary. It is not salvation by faith plus baptism, it is not salvation by faith plus communion, it is not salvation by faith plus confirmation, it is not salvation by faith plus the sacraments, it is not salvation by faith plus good works. This is mixing material in the garment of salvation. The song writer put it well when he said, "I gave Him my old tattered garments; He gave me a robe of pure white." The robe of salvation is made by God Himself and is given to all who realize their sinful condition, who realize they are under the condemnation of God, who believe that Jesus has paid the penalty for their sins and by faith receive Christ as Saviour and His payment on the cross as full payment for sin.

Now we come to the yoking of an ox and an ass together. An ox in the Bible is symbolic of the man of God. Deuteronomy 25:4, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." I Timothy 5:17, 18, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." In I Timothy 5:17, the word "elder" is a synonym for "pastor" or "man of God," which means that the man of God should not be muzzled. Hence, the ox is symbolic of God's man. I Corinthians 9:9, "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?"

Just as the ox is symbolic of God's man, the ass is symbolic of false prophets and apostates. God is saying to us that just as He does not want His Word diluted, and just as He does not want His plan of salvation diluted, He does not want the testimony of His servants diluted by their being in a yoke with unbelievers. II Corinthians 6:14-18, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

You will notice in verse 14 that a believer is not to be yoked up with an unbeliever. Righteousness is not to be yoked with unrighteousness, and light is not to be yoked with darkness. In verse 15 you will notice that we are not to yoke a believer with an infidel. In verse 16 we are forbidden to yoke the temple of God with idols. In verse 17 we are admonished to come out from among them. (This takes us back to the origin of the term "fundamentalist.") God does not want His people yoked up with unbelievers. II Chronicles 19:2, "And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord." Notice God's attitude toward His man being in the same yoke with those who are not God's people. When we do such a thing, we ourselves become enemies of God. James 4:4, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

The Apostle Paul admonishes us that we are not to fellowship with darkness. Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." We are taught in Psalm 1 that we should not walk in the counsel of the ungodly nor stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of the scornful. Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." God teaches us very plainly that we are not to intermarry with unbelievers. Marriage is a yoke. When a Christian marries an unsaved person, he disobeys the command of God; he yokes a believer with an unbeliever; he yokes righteousness with unrighteousness; he yokes light with darkness.

In the day of Nehemiah when Jewish men married unsaved women, Nehemiah rebuked them. Nehemiah 13:23-27, "In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?"

The downfall of Solomon was in marrying heathen women. I Kings 11:4-8, "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods." Not only does this passage show Solomon's downfall, but it shows how it happened. He married wives who worshipped heathen gods. Because of this, his heart was turned away from his own God, and he even built heathen places of worship. How tragic for a man who was so wise to be so foolish!

In Genesis 4:25, 26, we are told of the birth of Seth. "And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord." Seth was a Christian man whom God gave to Eve and whose seed would replace the seed of Abel, who was killed by Cain. Seth had a son whose name was Enos, who also called upon the name of the Lord. However, Seth's descendants began to intermarry with unsaved people. This led to wicked practices and finally to the judgment upon the earth by the flood. Basically this tragic judgment came because of God's people intermarrying with those who were not God's people.

Genesis 6:1-7, "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them."

Lest some believer become carried away with a misguided zeal, God plainly instructs the Christian who is ALREADY married to one not a Christian not to break his vows and not to leave the unbelieving mate. I Corinthians 7:10-16, "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" After the marriage is made, it is too late to prevent tragedy. The best thing to do is stay with the unsaved mate and live the kind of life that perhaps can atone for the sin of the marriage.

The Apostle Paul teaches us that widows may marry, but they can marry only Christian men. I Corinthians 7:39, "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." Notice the words, "ONLY IN THE LORD." In other words, when a woman's husband is dead, she has a right to marry, but only in the Lord.

This yoke, however, pertains to more than marriage. A man of God should not yoke up with unbelievers in a ministerial association. He should not yoke up with unbelievers in a united evangelistic crusade. He should not yoke up with unbelievers in an Easter sunrise service, a Thanksgiving service or a Good Friday service. A man of God should not preach under the sponsorship of unbelievers. Immediately critics would say, "Well, I have heard that you have preached in taverns." Yes, you heard correctly. I have preached in taverns, and there are conditions under which this is acceptable. Suppose, for example, that I get a letter from the local tavern keeper and he says, "Reverend, I would like for you to come and bring a Bible message to my customers at 3:00 on Good Friday." So, at 3:00, I enter the tavern. The tavern keeper calls the people to attention and introduces me. He says, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have Reverend Hyles to speak for us today. He is Pastor of First Baptist Church, and I have asked him to come and bring a Good Friday message. I am happy to present to you Reverend Hyles." If under those conditions I speak, I am appearing in a yoke with the tavern keeper. He and I are sponsoring the service. We are working together in the same yoke.

Now suppose I go to the same tavern some day and walk in and start preaching. I am not invited, and I warn the people against the sins of liquor and strong drink. The tavern keeper does not stop me, and I continue to preach. Everybody there knows I was not invited by the bartender or the owner. Everyone knows I came on my own. I was not sponsored by the wicked liquor traffic. I am there to oppose his business; I am there on my own; he did not know I was coming, and he did not invite me.

The Bible has more bad things to say about false teachers than about tavern keepers and bartenders. For that matter, the Bible has more to say about false teachers than it does about strong drink. If an unbelieving pastor invites me to speak for him and I accept, I am being sponsored by him, and he and I are in the same yoke in holding a service. This is unscriptural and something that is an abomination to God.

The argument is advanced, "But think how much good you could do if you preached in liberal churches." It is best to let God decide how much good can be done. He has already decided this and on the basis of how much good can be done He has given us His commandments. Wise Christians will obey and trust the eternal judgment of an omniscient God rather then the reasoning of finite human minds.

Satan has always wanted to dilute the message of God through the unequal yoke. He asked his liberal prophets to extend a hand to the fundamental prophet so that they might work under the same yoke. The fundamentalists in general refused his offers, but the Devil was not through. If he could not get the fundamentalists to join hands with the liberals, he called in another to join hands with the liberal and to offer his hand to the fundamentalist. This other was the neo-orthodox which means, "new orthodoxy." This is the one who believes wrong but talks right. He talks about an inspired Bible, but he does not mean a verbally inspired Bible. He talks about a Heaven but not the one of the Bible. He talks about a hell that has no fire. He is liberal in his heart but is deceitful with his mouth. He joins hands with the liberal and then extends his hand to the fundamentalist. All the time Satan is trying to get the fundamentalist in the same camp with the liberal.

For the most part, however, this failed. The fundamentalist refused to join hands with the neo-orthodox, but Satan was not through. He then brought someone else into view. We call him the neo-evangelical. He is the one who believes right but talks wrong. He is probably saved, believes the verbal inspiration and other fundamentals of the faith, but he is not willing to bear the reproach of Christ and the stigma of separation, so he joins hands with the neo-orthodox who has already joined hands with the liberal. He then offers his hand to the fundamentalist. Satan knows that if the fundamentalist can join hands with the neo-evangelical who has joined hands with the neo-orthodox who had joined hands with the liberal, then he will have the fundamentalist and the liberal in the same camp. How shrewd he is!

However, in most instances, he failed again. The fundamentalist refused the enticement of the neo-evangelical, but Satan is not finished yet. He must find a link that will join the fundamentalist with the liberal. Sad to say, he found that link. He placed a politician between those who joined hands with the neo-evangelical. He then offered his hand to the fundamentalist and gullibly the fundamentalist accepted! Now the fundamentalist joins hands with the politician who joins hands with the neo-evangelical who has joined hands with the neo-orthodox who has joined hands with the liberal, and we find fundamentalists, liberals, new-evangelicals and neo-orthodox joining together in the same yoke in order to get better men in office. Now we have Baptist preachers, Catholic preachers, liberal preachers and even cultists joining together in a common cause.

"But," cries someone, "this is not a religious endeavor. This is a secular endeavor." The truth is, however, that everything is sacred to the man of God. It is also true that the more we are around evil and evildoers, the less sinful sin becomes. These false teachers are usually likable people, and once we learn to like them, their doctrine will not be quite so bad.

Another tragedy is what this yoke does to the following generations. When Balaam was asked to come to Moab, he refused to go. Later on he went and with him he carried the purity of the faith. He had broken down the wall between the heathen and God's people. It wasn't long until their children intermarried and God's people were polluted through and through.

When Ahab was king of Israel (the northern kingdom), he had a wicked wife named Jezebel with whom he led the nation astray. The southern kingdom, however, was ruled by a good, godly man named Jehoshaphat. One day Ahab invited Jehoshaphat to enter into a nonreligious yoke with him. There was a parcel of land that was a very coveted possession that once belonged to Israel. Ahab suggested to Jehoshaphat that the two of them join together to take Ramoth in Gilead back from the heathen. Now this was a secular endeavor. When they got together, Jehoshaphat's son, Jehoram, happened to meet Ahab's daughter, Athaliah. They fell in love and were married. So he took the daughter of Jezebel, who was a "little Jezebel," back to the southern kingdom. Soon she polluted the southern kingdom just like her wicked mother, Jezebel, had polluted the northern kingdom. This would not have happened if Ahab and Jehoshaphat had not entered into the same yoke. The problem here is that our children should not be exposed to heathen young people less they meet them, court them, love them and marry them. The Christian young man will just as likely want to date an unchristian young lady whom he meets at a political meeting as much as he would one whom he meets at a united Thanksgiving service.

When God's people returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the wall and the temple at Jerusalem, enemies tried to thwart and hinder their work. They used many methods such as hatred, slander, ridicule, etc. Included in those methods was an offer to unite in the work. "Let us build with you," they said, but God's people refused to yoke up with them in this secular endeavor. Rebuilding the wall around the city was not a spiritual work but a secular one.

One never catches good health. If someone has hepatitis, he is not asked to get near someone who doesn't have hepatitis in order that the healthy person may cure the diseased. You don't cure mononucleosis by having someone with good health breathe on him. One hepatitis plus one non-hepatitis equals two hepatitis. One mononucleosis plus one non-mononucleosis equals two mononucleosis. You don't fall upward. No one falls and stumbles on the ceiling. The law of gravity is a downward pull. God's people cannot associate with the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world without being adversely influenced and finally contaminated. This is why people who are in denominations which have gone liberal should withdraw and become fundamentalists. It is not believing right within the movement that makes one a fundamentalist; it is the withdrawal FROM the movement and returning to the original dogma, practices and convictions of the apostate group that gives one the title of fundamentalist. The basic difference is the degree of importance that one places on the doctrine of separation.

When I was a high school student, I attended the W. H. Adamson High School in Dallas, Texas. I once had a date with a girl who attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. Everything was fine until there was a football game between our two schools! We agreed that during the first half of the game we would sit on the side of the field where the Adamson High School student body and fans sat; then for the last half, we would go across the field and sit with the student body and fans from Woodrow Wilson. For the first half all was well. I cheered loudly and courageously However, the last half posed a problem. The first time one of the players from my school made a good gain, I stood and screamed at the top of my voice. Then suddenly I realized I was the only one cheering ! The next time Adamson made a good play I remained seated and cheered softly. The next time I simply waved my hand in the air. The next time I silently said, "Rah, Rah!" I still believed in Adamson High School; I was still a student at Adamson High School, but my voice became silent, my testimony became nullified, and I would have not been classed as a loyal adherent to W. H. Adamson High School.

When the believer for any purpose sits side by side with the unbeliever, he will find his cheering for Jesus gets a bit quieter, his zeal is lessened, and soon his testimony will be silenced!


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