The Monkey Trial and the Rise of Fundamentalism: Christian History Timeline

Growing Concern: 1870–1900

1876 
What will eventually be called the Niagara Bible Conference first meets (meeting annually until 1901); it inspires Bible and prophecy conferences nationally, which defend the Bible’s verbal inerrancy and promote holiness and premillennialism

1881 
Presbyterian theologians B. B. Warfield and A. A. Hodge write “Inspiration,” which defends the inerrancy of Scripture; such articles begin to appear increasingly

1889 
Moody Bible Institute founded, inspiring the founding of hundreds of Bible institutes and colleges that will become centers of fundamentalism

1892 
Charles Briggs, liberal professor of Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary, New York, is convicted of heresy for his liberal interpretations of the Bible

Defining the Issues: 1900–1920

1909 
Scofield Reference Bible, whose notes teach dispensationalism and Keswick holiness, published; will become best-selling Bible among fundamentalists

1910–1915 
The Fundamentals published; promotes conservative teaching

1910 
Northern Presbyterian Church affirms five essential doctrines: inerrancy of the Bible, the Virgin Birth, Christ’s substitutionary atonement, his bodily resurrection, and miracles

1919 
World’s Christian Fundamentals Association formed, the largest and longest–lasting (until the 1940s) international fundamentalist association

1920 
Curtis Lee Laws, editor of the Baptist Watchman-Examiner, coins the term fundamentalist

1920 
Conservatives in the Northern Baptist Convention organize the Fundamentalist Fellowship to combat spreading liberalism

Public Confrontations: 1920–1930

1923 
J. Gresham Machen’s Liberalism and Christianity defines liberalism as another religion

1923 
Baptist Bible Union formed to gather Baptist fundamentalists of various denominations

1924 
Evangelical Theological College (later Dallas Theological Seminary) founded; will become a dispensational stronghold

1925 
At the Scopes trial, fundamentalism fares poorly in most Americans’ eyes

1929 
Presbyterian fundamentalists found Westminster Theological Seminary

Institution Building: 1930–1950

1932 
Northern Baptist fundamentalists form the General Association of Regular Baptists

1936 
Presbyterian fundamentalists form the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

1937 
Disgruntled Orthodox Presbyterians form Bible Presbyterian Church

1941 
American Council of Churches formed as a conservative alternative to World Council of Churches

1947 
Moderate Northern Baptist fundamentalists form the Conservative Baptist Association

Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy

1874 

John Fiske’s Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy is one of many books that try to combine Christianity and the new scientific learning

1880 
Society of Biblical Literature formed to promote scientific study of the Bible

1891 
Washington Gladden’s Who Wrote the Bible popularizes the new biblical criticism 

1894 
William N. Clarke’s An Outline of Theology is the first systematic theology from a liberal perspective

1908 
Federal Council of Churches adopts “The Social Creed of the Churches” to promote the social gospel

1917 
Walter Rauschenbusch’s A Theology of the Social Gospel further popularizes the political and social optimism of liberalism

1922 
Harry Emerson Fosdick creates a stir with his sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”

1924 
Shailer Mathews’s The Faith of Modernism will become the most widely distributed book promoting modernism

1927 
Presbyterian General Assembly decides the five fundamentals are no longer binding for ministerial candidates

1932 
With Reinhold Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Society, neo-orthodoxy ascends, critiquing liberalism’s optimism and its accommodation to culture

1936
John Mackay assumes presidency of Princeton Theological Seminary; leads Presbyterianism in neo-orthodox directions

By

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #55 in 1997]

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