"The Fundamentals"
September 8, 2023, 11:40 AM

The Fundamentals

Men are not saved by doctrine, but men are not saved apart from doctrine!

The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

It has been 100 Years since the book “Christianity and Liberalism” was published. The author’s name is J. Gresham Machen. He was born in 1881 and went to be with the Lord in 1937. He was a Christian giant, a famous professor, and founder of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He is known as a defender of the Christian Faith, the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

His concern was the creeping in of liberalism in universities and seminaries. That which Machen observed and stood against continues to plague the Christian Church. Now, Liberal Christianity is accepted as a valid perspective. It is not!

Machen with his fellow theologians and Christian pastors of the early twentieth century gathered to define basic truths, the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. These men were given the name, Fundamentalists. They sought to list what every Christian throughout the ages confessed to be true about God’s plan of redemption. They arrived at five basic truths. History recorded these truths as the Five Fundamentals of the Christian Faith. They are needed as much today as they were in the early 19th Century. The Five Fundamentals are:

  1. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are inerrant;
  2. Jesus was born of a virgin;
  3. The atonement of Christ was full, penal and substitutionary;
  4. Jesus’ resurrection was a bodily resurrection;
  5. The miracles recorded in Scripture were authentic.

The first is the basis of the other four. The inerrancy of Scripture means that the Bible is without error. It does not refer to translations of the Bible but to the original autographs. Now, if you have been reading and studying the Bible for any length of time, I’m sure you’re aware that we do not possess any original autographs of Scripture. But, we do have thousands of New Testament manuscripts, the blessing of the oral tradition of the Ancient Hebrew people (the Masoretic text), the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, circa 250 B.C.)

The original text of the Holy Scriptures is reconstructed using the science of textual criticism. Nearly all of our English translations are based on the work of the textual critics. The result is, you can have confidence that your Bible declares the truth of God. Textual Criticism supports the accuracy of the Bible! It does not diminish it.

Second, the virgin birth was challenged during the period known as the Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. The liberals said that Jesus’ birth was a natural impossibility. But that’s exactly the point! Jesus was born outside of the natural course. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and Mary. If you look at Genesis 3:15, you’ll notice that it was the “seed” of the woman who would bruise or crush Satan’s head. The Messiah was born without sin because He was born out of the natural course. Jesus was the sinless and perfect sacrifice. Without the virgin birth, we’re all still dead in our sins! The Apostle Paul wrote, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Third, Jesus atonement was substitutionary. He took our place. It was penal. He was punished for sin. Jesus bore God’s wrath. It was full and complete. There is no other sacrifice for sin. John wrote that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only by for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2, emphasis mine). Jesus’ last words were “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Fourth, a man got out of the grave! The body that was buried was the body raised in glory. The Bible says that if Christ was not raised, our faith is in vain and we are the most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Fifth and finally, miracles are supernatural events. Only God can break into His created world and ordain a miracle. The miracles recorded in Exodus, of Joshua, of Elijah, and of Jesus and His apostles were factual occurrences.

Jude, the half-brother of Jesus said,” Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The fact of the matter is, we don’t as Christians make up our faith. We believe in a faith that has been revealed by God and given in His word written, the Bible.

The Five Fundamentals of the Christian Faith condense, and articulate biblical doctrine and all genuine Christians affirm them.