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Christian Fundamentalism's Roots in Monrovia

You have probably heard the term, "Christian fundamentalism." Well, there is a connection between Monrovia and the founding of this movement. Here's the story.

Wikipedea says the fundamentalist movement began at Princeton Theological Seminary ( but adds that it was "prefigured by The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth, a collection of twelve pamphlets published between 1910 and 1915, by brothers Milton and Lyman Stewart. It is widely considered to be the foundation of modern Christian fundamentalism."

Lyman Stewart was the co-founder and long-time president of Union Oil and helped found Occidental  College, Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola University), Union Rescue Mission, and women's shelters, among other things.  In 1909, he established  Testimony Publishing Trust to produce and publish The Fundamentals, in defense of the Bible and traditional Christian faith.  As they were published these collections of essays by conservative scholars were sent to Christian leaders throughout the English-speaking world.

Stewart asked Dr. Louis Meyer, Jewish by birth and Christian by faith, to join the editorial team.  In 1911 Meyer took charge of the project, according to a paper entitled, "Dr. Louis Meyer: A Centennial Observance," by Paul W. Rood of Biola University.

Rood writes that overwork, constant travel, and personal attacks led to Meyer's physical deterioration, and to save his life Stewart "arranged for Meyer and his family to be transported by private rail car from Cincinnati to the Pottenger Sanitarium in Monrovia, where he was diagnosed with an acute and advanced case of tuberculosis and possible meningitis."

(The Pottenger Sanitarium, once located on North Canyon, was notable for treating tuberculosis cases.)

But Meyer brought his work with him. 

"Meyer brought all of his boxes of manuscripts and correspondence with him and continued to edit and publish two more volumes of The Fundamentals during his last six months of life."

Rood adds that Meyer suffered terribly during his final seven weeks and died on July 11, 1913. His memorial service was at Pasadena Presbyterian Church and he is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena.

While Louis Meyer was living at the Pottenger Sanitarium his wife and young children were staying nearby.  According to correspondence between Monrovian David Campbell – to whom I am indebted for bringing Meyer to my attention – and Rood, Meyer's family rented the house  at 177 N. Encinitas until his death, then moved to Altadena.

Photo of Meyer from a 1913 issue of the Missionary Review of the World in a special article honoring Dr. Meyer.

- Brad Haugaard

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