Some people think fundamentalists are a cantankerous bunch, and think that the tone needs to change. This is probably true to some extent. But fundamentalists (especially contemporary fundamentalists) do not hold a candle to the old Augustinian friar who started the Reformation. Toward the end of his work On the Councils and the Church, Martin Luther discusses marks of a true church. The first of these marks is that a true church possesses the Word of God.  He continues,

Now, wherever you hear or see this word preached, believed, professed, and lived, do not doubt that the true ecclesia sancta catholica, “a Christian holy people” must be there, even though their number is very small. For God’s word “shall not return empty,” Isaiah 55 [:11], but must have at least a fourth or a fraction of the field. And even if there were no other sign than this alone, it would still suffice to prove that a Christian, holy people must exist there, for God’s word cannot be without God’s people, and conversely, God’s people cannot be without God’s word. Otherwise, who would preach or hear it preached, if there were no people of God? And what could or would God’s people believe, if there were no word of God?

This is the thing that performs all miracles, effects, sustains, carries out, and does everything, exorcises all devils, like pilgrim-age-devils, indulgence-devils, bull-devils, brotherhood-devils, saint-devils, mass-devils, purgatory-devils, monastery-devils, priest-devils, mob-devils, insurrection-devils, heresy-devils, all pope-devils, also Antinomian-devils, but not without raving and rampaging, as is seen in the poor mentioned in Mark 1 [:23-36] and 9 [:17-29]. No, he must depart with raving and rampaging as is evidenced by Emser, Eck, Snot-nose [Luther’s name for Catholic theologian John Cochlaeus], Schmid, Wetzel, Bumpklin, Boor, Churl, Brute, Sow, Ass, and the rest of his screamers and scribes. They all are the devil’s mouths and members, through whom he raves and rampages. But it does them no good. He must take his leave; he is unable to endure the power of the word. They themselves confess that it is God’s word and Holy Scripture, claiming, however, that one fares better with the fathers and the councils. Let them go their way. It is enough for us to know how this chief holy possession purges, sustains, nourishes, strengthens, and protects the church, as St. Augustine also says, “The church is begotten, cared for, nourished, and strengthened by the word of God.” But those who persecute and condemn it identify themselves by their own fruits.*

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*”On the Councils and the Church,” in Church and Ministry III (vol. 41 of Luther’s Works; ed. Eric W. Gritsch; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), 150-51.

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