Harry Emerson Fosdick’s 1931 sermon “A Fundamentalist Sermon by a Modernist Preacher” reveals many of the ambiguities and internal inconsistencies of liberal evangelicalism. Fosdick criticizes liberal evangelicals for insufficient concern for spiritual things and too much accommodation with American culture. Taking these critiques seriously reveals what a tenuous balancing act early twentieth century liberal evangelicalism was: its advocates struggled to maintain both a commitment to traditional evangelical devotional methods with accommodation to the intellectual, social, and cultural demands of modernizing urban America. Fundamentalism, on the other hand, is best understood as an aggressive assertion of traditional evangelical devotion.
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