I recently finished reading a very stimulating book entitled "Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism" by Rolland McCune. In this well documented work McCune identifies the presupposition that separates Evangelicalism from Fundamentalism. After their unsuccessful attempts to stem the tide of liberalism in the early part of the twentieth century the fundamentalists withdrew or were ejected from denominational structures. In response they established their own schools and mission agencies built upon the principle of ecclesiastical separation. Admittedly, this principle has been abused by some - resulting in the caricature of the fighting fundamentalist. Conversely McCune identifies the principle foundation of Evangelicalism as "infiltration," the attempt to bring Christian scholarship into the academy in order to establish Christian influence among the opinion shapers of the day.
By pursuing these incompatible values Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism have been driven increasingly distant from each other. Weaknesses exist in both first principles when they are unreflectively pursued. Fundamentalism becomes ingrown and self-destructive, while Evangelicalism grows broad-mindedly incipid and unable to discern the boundaries of apostasy.
Undoubtedly, Evangelicals who read "Promise Unfulfilled" will be stimulated and perhaps even offended by some of McCune's analysis, but his irenic style goes a long way towards making this a significant book on a very important topic. If you are tempted to look down upon your Fundamentalist forefathers you should give this book a thorough read before disdaining your heritage.