Recovering From and Rejoicing in Fundamentalism: Insights From Former Fundamentalists and the Pastors Who Shepherd Them

Full Title
Recovering From and Rejoicing in Fundamentalism: Insights From Former Fundamentalists and the Pastors Who Shepherd Them
Author
Eric Alan Vander Ploeg D.Min.
Abstract
Christian fundamentalism played a key role in protecting the gospel from liberal decay in
American history. Its leaders built a high wall of separation around the fundamentals of the faith
to protect them from the innovations of modernism. The wall kept cultural threats out, but it also
kept a particular era of Christian culture in. While America later experienced the most rapid
cultural upheavals in its history, fundamentalism remained largely unchanged within its walls,
and the cultural chasm grew wider and wider. Some of the children of fundamentalism have now
left these walls and are in search of something new.

This project seeks to help these “travelers” on their journey. Twenty focus groups with
self-identified “recovering fundamentalists” identified several patterns of personal pain along
with lessons learned that could benefit others. Nine interviews with experienced pastors yielded
best practices in shepherding travelers as they enter evangelical churches. These results were
collated to produce four key findings:

1. Living with the disapproval and disappointment of fundamentalist parents after
transitioning.
2. Learning how to trust authority (of leaders and of the Bible) after being told to “just
trust” and not ask questions.
3. Moving from a model of sanctification that is guilt-based to one that is grace-based.
4. Learning how to rejoice in the fundamentalism of one’s youth and to see God’s
kindness and glory amidst the errors of its proponents.
Degree Granting Institution
Country
United States
Degree Granted
Doctor of Ministry
Major
Pastoral Ministry
Type of Work
D.Min. Project
Advisor
Doug Sweeney Ph.D.
Andrew David Naselli Ph.D.
William Donahue Ph.D.
Language
English
Date
2020
Copyright Statement
Copyright is held by author. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.