John M. Muir

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)





Beginning in the last half of the nineteenth century in America the Christian Church became radically divided over the issue of German Higher Criticism and the theory of evolution. Those who accepted German Higher Criticism and evolutionary theory called themselves Progressives, or Liberals, while those who rejected German Higher Criticism and evolutionary theory called themselves Fundamentalists. While those on the left usually see both names, Progressives and Liberals, as pejorative today, those in the Fundamentalist camp still hold proudly to the name and hold to the same basic beliefs. My thesis is that the Fundamentalist's rejection of German Higher Criticism is based on their total rejection of the evolutionary theory, not only in biology, but especially as it was applied to sociology and Biblical studies by the Germans. This study will attempt to define those basic beliefs and point out how they continue to separate the Fundamentalists from all other Christian groups today. This will be done by examining the evolution of theology and science from the Enlightenment to the end of the nineteenth century; and then examining the reaction to that theology by the Fundamentalists, continuing up to the present day.