In November 1933, Oliver W. Van Osdel of Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, published the following Baptist Bulletin article.


Some years ago there was started in connection with the Northern Baptist Convention a movement called Fundamentalist. Since that time until now we have been trying to find out just what Fundamentalists are, but they differ so widely in their doctrinal belief that we have found it impossible to get an accurate definition. Well, these brethren chose to call themselves Fundamentalists. Dr. J. C. Massee was in the lead, and owing to the fact that the Grand Rapids Association of Regular Baptists had parted company with the State Convention on the ground of the Convention’s ceasing to be Baptist except in name, we naturally came into the movement.

The movement has continued until the present time, holding from year to year what they have chosen to call a pre-Convention meeting, and so far as we know the entire influence of these meetings has amounted to little outside of the immediate circle engaged in the conferences. As a whole the accomplishment of this movement has been to furnish amusement for the Modernists who have controlled the Convention from the beginning. We tried to the extent of our ability to persuade the good brethren who are in control of the movement that so long as the Modernists could have control of the use of their money, they were quite willing the Fundamentalists should get together and absorb their own noise, but we got no hearing.

Then came the independent movement of the Baptist Bible Union, and multitudes of brethren, literally, flocked to our ranks, many of whom were expecting some personal advantage. The thought on the part of those leading this movement was that it should become an organization composed of faithful men who had the courage of their convictions, and would undertake to be Baptists in every practical sense; but to our sorrow the whole movement was more or less influenced by those who were in it simply for fellowship, and were not seriously inclined to do anything that would cause criticism.

Finally, the Union has been replaced by a General Association of Regular Baptists, and now some of those identified with the movement seem to raise the question as to whether it is anything more than just a sentimental fellowship. So far as this writer is concerned he is quite ready to say that he is always delighted so long as there is any particular profit in it, but if it is just that and that only, which the brethren call good fellowship, we would prefer not to spend very much time or money with it. We have come upon perilous times, and the great principles for which Baptists have shed their blood are threatened on every side. Modernism is in control of the Northern Baptist Convention, and Modernists are rising up on every hand ready to turn courageous brethren to their notions and rob them of their power.

It is our judgment that it is perfectly useless to spend time and money with the General Association of Regular Baptists if this Association is to be controlled, or even influenced by men who are still holding on to the tail of the Northern Baptist kite. There’s a great cry from the mission fields The great boards which have had money and power in former years are now weak and calling missionaries home. The call to missionary undertaking was never louder. The demand for the spread of Baptist principles was never more imperative, and the purpose of this article is to declare the writer’s purpose to have an organization of Regular Baptists, if there are only fifty in it, who mean thorough-going Baptist missionary undertaking, and thorough-going Baptists endeavor along all lines where Baptist and faith and policy point out the direction.

Some brethren have pointed to the Denominational failures, so called, although Baptists are not a Denomination, and have urged this as a reason why there should be no attempt at systematic organization for large undertakings. This suggested difficulty, if it be such, appears to us scarcely worth mentioning. The entire history of the human race is a history of failures and of new beginnings. A very large percentage of all business undertakings are failures, but men of necessity must go on venturing in business. It is ours to undertake in obedience to the command of God and not ours to hatch up difficulties. The Northern Baptist Convention may be corrupted by unbelieving men, or men who deny the supernatural, but that does not take away one mite of shining history of the American Baptist Missionary Union, and the American Baptist Home Mission Society, and the American Baptist Publication Society through the man years of their faithful and aggressive work. The work of these great societies has been worth while even if today they have departed from the faith of their fathers. If fifty years hence the General Association of Regular Baptists should be corrupted or paralysed by unbelieving and evil minded men, that is no reason at all why the Baptists of this day and opportunity should not immediately go into the field and exercise themselves to the utmost in sending out missionaries and sacrificial giving and the propagation and dissemination of the principles which have made the Baptist name great.

We are happy to know that the next meeting is to be held in Gary, Indiana, and we shall do our utmost to get men of courage and of faith and of vision to be there to undertake great things and to expect great things in the name of the blessed Master who has honored us with His call. The work is great, the call is loud, and the opportunities unmeasured. Let us then who call ourselves Baptists of the present generation show ourselves worthy as followers of the great men who have lived and planted and reaped before us. The Baptist name ought to mean something when we consider the marvelous history of those who have borne the name. Let us quit ourselves in this critical time as men.