Fundamentalism has been a movement that desires revival. So much so, that it has been willing to manufacture a synthetic kind of revivalism in its place since there is such a lack of revival. Revivalism, which is not true revival nor able to produce true revival is marked by man-made methods of producing the appearance of God’s blessing and spiritual power. Such inventions are altar calls, an atmosphere produced by music and worship style and emotionally appealing pulpitering.
Jonathan Edwards wrote a whole book against this during the Great Awakening called “A Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God” so that people could discern between true and false revival. Revival is a work of God by His Spirit through his word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown cold. In revival, God makes old things new, gives new power the gospel and new spiritual awareness to those whose hearts and consciences had been blind, hard and cold. So, if we seek true revival, we must look to those who experienced it as those whom were most ready for it. The Puritans prepared both America and England for revival for almost 100 years before it finally came in the post-Puritan era under Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and John Wesley. It’s important to note that God used both Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike in the Awakening because it was a quest for godliness and holiness that both kinds of men were seeking! Look at the kind of books that were produced by the Puritans; what were they most concerned with? Some titles reveal what they were pursuing: The Reformed (renewed) Pastor by Richard Baxter; The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs; The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie; The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson; The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton; The Mortification of Sin by John Owen; A Lifting up for the Downcast by William Bridge and Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks.
They were not as preoccupied with their movement as they were their holiness before God. Nothing in their estimation was more important for any man than that his conscience should be enlightened, instructed, purged and kept clean. To them, there could be no real spiritual understanding nor any genuine godliness, except as men exposed and enslaved their consciences to God’s word. This is what fundamentalism started out as. It was a militant defense of the inspiration and inerrancy God’s Word against liberalism and modernism but it seems that it became more of a position than a practical outworking in the lives of fundamentalists. This is evident by the kind of preaching, legalism and lack of biblical discernment in fundamentalism’s leading churches and colleges today. However, the Puritans lived out the Bible in every area of their lives and refused to be enslaved by legalism or licentiousness.
What kept the Puritans from deviating on one side or the other? The Gospel. It was not just the first hoop to jump through as it has become today. Without realizing it, we have traded in the gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. It is the content of the gospel that makes the difference. Today’s gospel preached in modern fundamentalism fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because that is not what it is trying to accomplish in the lives of whom we preach it to. We must stop seeing the gospel as merely a ticket to heaven; a get-out-of-jail-free card and proclaim it as a divine summons of God to come before Him and bow down under his Lordship so that He will be glorified in the conversion of His enemies! This kind of God-centeredness in the gospel carried over to Jonathan Edwards of whom J.I. Packer writes:
“The thought of man’s complete dependence on a free omnipotent God controlled Edwards’ whole religious outlook, and acted as the guiding principle of his entire theology. To Edwards, therefore, true religion was much more than either orthodoxy, or ethics or the two put together. Edwards held no brief for easy believism, or moralism, or formalism of any sort. True piety was to him a supernatural gift, dynamic in character and intensely experimental in its outworking. It was a realized communion with God through Christ, brought into being by the Holy Spirit and expressed in responsive affections and activities.”
This is the heart of a new dynamic that I would like to see characteristic of fundamentalism – not separatism, not militancy, not “old fashionedness”, not intellectualism and academics, not excitement, not soul winning, not high standards, not traditional worship, not conservatism – but rather holiness…true godliness at the deepest levels of the heart working its way out in every practice and form!
 Packer, J.I. A Quest for Godliness. Crossway Books 1990 p. 36
 Ibid. p. 311