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The word fundamentalism dates from around 1920 in the United States, but fundamentalist beliefs within Christianity clearly date back to Christ and the New Testament writers in the first century AD.

The word fundamentalism originally referred to fundamental beliefs that existed solely within Christianity. Powerful church revivals up to the 19th century had seen countless numbers commit their lives to Christ. But by 1900, conservative church leaders started seeing erosion of church influence because of liberal German biblical criticism and the increasing acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

In response to these attacks, many evangelical Christian leaders and churchmen who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible came together and formed the American Bible League in 1902. Between 1910 and 1915 these evangelicals published a series of 12 pamphlets called The Fundamentals: A testimony to the truth. The pamphlets responded to, and counterattacked, the biblical critics, and reaffirmed the authority of the Bible. They were distributed to clergy and seminary students at no cost.