on 5 November 2011
This was a seminal work on Fundamentalism as originally conceived, i.e. Protestant Christian Fundamentalism emerging as an intellectual reaction to the 'Higher Criticism' of the late 19th century. As its focus is very narrow (rather than subsequent studies which deal with non-Christian forms) it is a must-read for anyone that wants to *critically* engage with the issue. It is the brand of fundamentalism that is associated with the traditional conservative evangelicals - i.e. a 19th cent 'scientific' re-synthesis of faith for the scientific age. What he shows very well is how it became intellectually founded on absolute biblical inerrancy which makes it distinct from 'orthodox' and 'Reformed' traditions. His comments in the second edition preface are worth having as is the follow-up book 'Escaping from Fundamentalism'.
If it has a limitation, it is that it does not deal with 'post-modern' version of "fundamentalism" which you might associate with Pentecostal or charismatic Christianity, especially in the recent Latin American experience, which of course occured primarily after this book was written.
So, in summary, that is not to say that i necessarily agree with the conclusions and the type of spirituality that Barr seems to be promoting is elusive from the read and Christian Fundamentalism has moved on quite substantally from this pure intellectualism that he critiques.
Nevertheless, it is essential ground-reading.