Modernism, modernist Christianity, and liberalism are labels applied to proponents of a school of Christian thought which rose as a direct challenge to more conservative traditional Christian orthodoxy. The terminology was coined during the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, which began near the close of the 19th century in the Evangelical Protestant Christian denominations. Religious teachings and beliefs became increasingly polarized between the two schools of interpretation with the rise of fundamentalism in response to modernist attitudes.
The term as it applied to religious thought did not constitute a rigorous and well-defined school. Modernist writers were concerned in integrating Christian thought with the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment in light of new understandings of history and the natural sciences of the day. Some modernist writers drew inspiration from writers such as Maurice Blondel and Henri Bergson.
The term continues to be used in an analogous sense by fundamentalists or traditionalists in virtually all dogmatic religions, including Catholicism, Judaism and Islam.
Modernism or liberalism has been defined as an intentional attempt to modify the doctrine and practice of the church to conform to modernism. The term neo-liberalism has been used to denote a similar practice with post-modernism.
- Hutchison, William R. The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
- Mather, Kirtley F. Christian fundamentals in the light of modern science. Granville, Ohio : Times Press,1924.
- Stephenson, A.M.G. The Rise and Decline of English Modernism. London: SPCK, 1984.
- Vanderlaan, Eldred Cornelius. Fundamentalism versus modernism. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1925.
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