Presentation on theme: "The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 6: Modernism D – Reform From Within?"— Presentation transcript:
The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 6: Modernism D – Reform From Within?
Strategic Theological Compromises Within Conservative Presbyterianism Adopting Act of 1729 Scottish Common Sense Realism A philosophical response to the skepticism of Scottish Philosopher, David Hume. It emphasized mans innate ability to perceive common ideas and that this process is inherent in and interdependent with judgement. Common sense therefore, is the foundation of philosophical inquiry. It was advocated/embraced at Princeton Seminary in response to Higher Criticisms denial of the supernatural. But later, it was also used to advocate theistic evolution.
The "Orthodox" consensus is that Presbyterian professors at Old Princeton Seminary (1812- 1929) betrayed traditional Reformed theology by claiming that human reason was in certain significant ways unaffected by the fall. Through a masterful examination of the Old Princetonian's writings, Paul Helseth turns the orthodox interpretation on its head, showing what Alexander, Hodge, Warfield, and others actually believed regarding the power of reason. P&R
Master Timeline United StatesEurope 1620 – Mayflower lands 1730s-1743 – 1 st Great Awakening 1776-1783 – American Rev. 1790-1840 – 2 nd Great Awakening 1830 – Book of Mormon 1850-1900 – 3 rd Great Awakening 1861-1865 – American Civil War 1870 – Scottish Common Sense 1889 – Moody Bible Institute 1891 – Briggs address 1909 – Scofield Reference Bible 1910 – Pres. G.A.: 5 Fundamentals 1914-1919 – World War I 1922 – Shall Fund.s Win? 1923 – The Auburn Affirmation 1925 – The Scopes Trial 1929 – Westminster Theo. Seminary 1936 – Orthodox Presbyterian Ch. 1936 – John Mackay, Princeton Sem. 1643 – Westminster Confession of Faith 1650-1800 – Age of European Enlightenment & of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy 1770s-1900 – Rise of German Higher Criticism 1789-1799 – French Revolution 1827 – Plymouth Brethren begin meeting 1833 – Slavery Abolition Act of England 1859 - Charles Darwin – Origin of Species 1862-77 – Darby travels to the United States United States (cont.) 1937 – Death of J. Gresham Machen - Bible Presbyterian Ch. (McIntyre) 1966 – RTS, Jackson, MI 1967 – Confession of 67, Book of Confessions 1973 – PCA 1983 – Union of UPCUSA & PCUS
The Wrath Over Property 1936 G.A. of the PCUSA – a Special Committee on Legal Procedure is formed to deal with the upcoming fight over church property, using a 1919 ruling. The … congregation … holding the property is but a subordinate member of the general church organization …. The local congregation is itself but a member of a much larger and more important religious organization, is under its government and control, and is bound by its orders and judgments. Therefore … it is and remains the property of the general Church which exercises such general and ultimate power of control. It does not belong to the particular congregation which uses it, much less to the individual members of such a congregation. … It belongs to the church, which is composed of its entire membership.
Grace Presbyterian, Phil., PA the Rev. David Freeman, 6/15/1936
The Wrath Over Property 1936 G.A. of the PCUSA – a Special Committee on Legal Procedure is formed to deal with the upcoming fight over church property, using a 1919 ruling. Many congregations, including those who were going into the PCofA or into independency, went to court over the property of their church buildings. Pastor Carl McIntire and the Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, NJ
1936 G.A. of the PCUSA – a Special Committee on Legal Procedure is formed to deal with the upcoming fight over church property, using a 1919 ruling. Many congregations, including those who were going into the PCofA or into dependency, went to court over the property of their church buildings. Only two PcofA Cong.s who contested for their property rights retained their buildings: -2 nd Parish, Portland, ME -1 st Pres., Leith, ND The Wrath Over Property
1912 – Congregation moved into the community owned church building. 1915 – Using a loan from the mission board of the Presbytery of Bismarck, a parsonage was constructed. 8/2/1936 – congregation voted to leave unanimously. 1/17/1939 – The court ruled in their favor (no local appeal). 1940 – Allen accepted a call to a church in Philadelphia. The Wrath Over Property Pastor Samuel Allen
1945 – Pres. of Bismarck appealed the decision when only $100 was left on the loan from the mission board. 1949 - A settlement was finally reached for the re-purchase of the property from the Presbytery of Bismarck. The Wrath Over Property
As small as the exodus turned out to be (five thousand members from a two-million-member church), the controversy left mainline Presbyterianism scarred for a long time. For many years, according to Loetscher, memories of the conflict would largely inhibit frank and realistic discussion of theological issues among Presbyterians. In his words, the less theology the better seems to be the lurking implication – at least so far as the Churchs statistical growth is concerned. H&M
A Determination to Reform from Within Reform is imperatively needed and every true Presbyterian should give himself for the task. the Rev. Dr. Samuel G. Craig, D.D. Christianity Today, October, 1936 But the question is: What are you prepared to do?
The Presbyterian League of Faith 1931 – Begun in New York City by the Rev. Walter D. Buchanan and others in a response to the Auburn Affirmation (1924). Its constitution upheld the five fundamentals and was devoted to reform from within the PCUSA. It was eventually signed by 1,200 ministers. The members instigated the early vision/endorsement for the founding of Westminster Theo. Seminary. 1936 – The League members adopted resolutions expressing loyalty to the denomination but deploring the expulsion of Machen, et.al. as severe treatment.
The Presbyterian League of Faith 1937 – Their 1 st opportunity Overtures were coming before G.A. to change the wording of WCF, ch. 23 to move the stand of the church toward military/governmental pacifism. But opponents to the proposal came from both liberal & conservative points-of-view. When the overture failed it was not seen as a clear victory for the Reformers.
The Presbyterian League of Faith 1929 – the re-organization of the Board of Princeton Theological Seminary 1936 – a change in the presidency of Princeton Seminary: J. Ross Stevenson retires and John Mackay takes over (1936-1959)
The Presbyterian League of Faith 1937 – Their 2 nd opportunity Since the re-organization of the board of Princeton Seminary and the death of C.W. Hodge, new professorial openings needed filling. Dr. Emil Brunner The Rev. E.G. Homrighausen
The Presbyterian League of Faith Brunner is invited as a guest professor to occupy the chair of Systematic Theology created and made famous by the Hodges – Charles, A.A., and C.W. Brunner rejects the historical gospel and holds, instead, to its supra historical nature: The resurrection of Christ does not belong to history but to eternity. Brunner effectively rejects: the infallibility of Scripture. the virgin birth. Pauline authorship of the epistles.
The Presbyterian League of Faith I think it is no news that President Mackay whilst differing in some points from me has the intention of leading Princeton Seminary back to the real Reformation theology, the real Biblical theology of which Warfields theology is a decided derivation.
The Presbyterian League of Faith Members of the League protested this guest appointment, As did others outside the denomination, including Prof. Cornelius Van Til of Westminster who claimed that Brunners views were contrary to Calvinism and historic Christianity. But only having guest position, Brunner returned to Switzerland after teaching at Princeton for 2 years before any effective protest could be accomplished.
The Presbyterian League of Faith E.G. Homrighausen is invited to a permanent position as chair of Christian Education & this must be approved by the G.A. He repudiated a belief in the full truthfulness of the Bible and contented that the gospel must be expressed in modern thought forms. (Rian, p. 188)
The Presbyterian League of Faith 1938 G.A. - Macartney and Craig both appeared and argued their case before the G.A. committee processing the approval request. The committee determined to take no action – meaning the confirmation was indefinitely postponed. During the following year, Homrighausen issued a declaration of faith which sounded more orthodox and which satisfied Craig and other members of the League. Dr. Van Til, of WTS, warned that these changes were deceptive and suspicious. 1939 G.A. – Homrighausen approved.
The League ceased further initiatives and was abandoned by 1937. No real program of reform was ever adopted or executed. They never went after and, therefore, did not succeed in having the 1934 Mandate against the Independent Board rescinded. No further overtures toward a recovery of orthodoxy were ever presented. No rallies or mass meetings were ever sponsored in the efforts to sway ministers and elders minds.
The League ceased further initiatives and was abandoned by 1937. Fortunately, with the exception of those one or two minor skirmishes, all is now quiet on the theological front. Of course we can never tell when the battle will break out again in all its ancient virulence but it looks as though we are in for an era of theological good-feeling. The conservatives are not so conservative, or at least not so militant, and the liberals are not so sure of themselves as they were a few years ago when Dr. Clarence Edward Macartney was the self-appointed knight of reaction. His occasional Cassandra calls may be as strident as ever but they have lost their sometime magic and in consequence his followers have been reduced to a weedy segment of their former battalions. Dr. J.A. MacCallum
The League ceased further initiatives and was abandoned by 1937. No one would rejoice more than the former ministers and members of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, who have formed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, if the reform from within group should succeed in reversing the 1936 decisions against the Independent Board, in gaining control of the boards and agencies of the church, and in placing orthodox professors in the theological seminaries of the church. But this seems impossible, not only because the reform movement has no organized plan, but also because the history of the Christian church seems aligned against it. It is strongly suspected that history will repeat itself and that the League of Faith has set a hopeless take before itself. E. Rian, p. 193
Clarence E. Macartney Continued to preach his conservative message in sermons, pamphlets & over forty books. preached on college campuses in the following decades and was asked to deliver the Stone Foundation Lectures at Princeton, the Smythe Lectures at Columbia Theological Seminary, and the Payton Lectures at Fuller Theological Seminary. Mentored over a dozen assistant pastors, including Harold Ockenga, the founder of the National Association of Evangelicals.