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The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 7: Recovering Lost Ground A – From PCUS to PCA (1865-1973)

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Presentation on theme: "The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 7: Recovering Lost Ground A – From PCUS to PCA (1865-1973)"— Presentation transcript:

1 The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 7: Recovering Lost Ground A – From PCUS to PCA ( )

2 Master Timeline United StatesEurope 1620 – Mayflower lands 1730s-1743 – 1 st Great Awakening – American Rev – 2 nd Great Awakening 1830 – Book of Mormon – 3 rd Great Awakening – American Civil War 1870 – Scottish Common Sense 1889 – Moody Bible Institute 1891 – Briggs’ address 1909 – Scofield Reference Bible 1910 – Pres. G.A.: 5 Fundamentals – World War I 1922 – “Shall Fund.s Win?” 1923 – The Auburn Affirmation 1925 – The Scopes Trial 1929 – Westminster Theo. Seminary 1936 – Orthodox Presbyterian Ch – John Mackay, Princeton Sem – Westminster Confession of Faith – Age of European Enlightenment & of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy 1770s-1900 – Rise of German Higher Criticism – French Revolution 1827 – Plymouth Brethren begin meeting 1833 – Slavery Abolition Act of England Charles Darwin – Origin of Species – Darby travels to the United States 1919 – Rise of Neo-Orthodoxy United States (cont.) 1937 – Death of J. Gresham Machen - Bible Presbyterian Ch. (McIntyre) 1955, 1960 – Inherit the Wind 1966 – RTS, Jackson, MI 1967 – Confession of ‘67, Book of Confessions 1973 – PCA 1983 – Union of UPCUSA & PCUS

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4 PCUSA – Old School Old School PCUSA – New School New School Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America

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6 The Consequences of War: Many southern church buildings had been destroyed and Christians demoralized. “Reconstruction” added insult to injury and enflamed racial tensions and prejudices. The progressiveness of the North scandalized the South and served to strengthen the Old School.

7 The Consequences of War: Many southern church buildings had been destroyed and Christians demoralized. “Reconstruction” added insult to injury and enflamed racial tensions and prejudices. The progressiveness of the North scandalized the South and served to strengthen the Old School. The Presbyterian Church in the United States

8 The South’s “Lost Cause” Continuing Defense of the Principle ▫War was over States’ Rights and Against the Oppression of the Majority. ▫Negroes are not equal with whites and that slavery is a higher moral institution. A Mourning of What Has Been Lost ▫A “cult of chivalry” was perpetuated. ▫“These, too, shall not have died in vain.” ▫“The New South Creed”. Jubal Early Alexander Stephens

9 Robert L. Dabney, “I hear brethren saying it is time to forgive. Mr. Chairman, I do not forgive. I do not try to forgive. What! Forgive these people, who have invaded our country, burned our cities, destroyed our homes, slain our young men, and spread desolation and ruin over our land!” The southern church sought to preserve their historic affirmation that Scripture sanctioned the institution of slavery and that wisdom would argue for continued segregation. R.C. Reed, Columbia Seminary

10 James H. Thornwell, “the most brilliant minister in the Old School Presbyterian Church, and the most brilliant debater in the General Assembly.” Henry Ward Beecher Northern Congregationalist Preacher

11 James H. Thornwell, Pastored three congregations Prof. & President, South Carolina College Prof. of Didactic and Polemic Theo. at Columbia Theo. Sem. Elected moderator of the 1847 G.A. at the age of 35. Dying at the age of 50, he left 4 volumes of writing. “The Southern Presbyterian Church was unquestionably the lengthened shadow of James Henley Thornwell.” Longfield

12 James H. Thornwell, “Old School Presbyterianism, primarily as interpreted by James H. Thornwell, remained the theology of the Southern Church, of Mary Gresham Machen, and thus of her middle son, John Gresham.” Longfield

13 James H. Thornwell, Set the church’s task - ▫not as social but spiritual. ▫not dictating/manipulating government. ▫not confronting/changing social injustice. Set the church’s agenda – ▫to heed only the Word of God. ▫to shun innovation in doctrine, law, modes of worship.

14 John L. Girardeau, “the Westminster Standards were the impregnable ramparts against error; … to teach what is contrary to any statement of the doctrinal standards was to teach what is contrary to some statement of doctrine in the Scriptures.”

15 John L. Girardeau, [T]he church “can utter no new doctrine, make no new laws, ordain no new forms of government, and invent no new modes of worship.” spoken before the 1875 G.A.

16 The Presbyterian Church in the United States Divinely Sanctioned Presbyterianism The only pronouncements the church could make about its theology, polity, or worship were ones to which it could append the words, “Thus says the Lord.” Scriptural warrant must undergird every aspect of its faith and practice. A rejection of denominational boards in favor of committees. A Puritan austerity regarding worship was kept. Ministers were trained to preach expositionally three times a week. The doctrines of inspiration, the authority of the Scriptures and a heightened sense of confessionalism were maintained.

17 Prof. C. A. Briggs Union Seminary, 1891 “It is upon this foundation – the integrity, authenticity, genuineness, supernatural origin and divine authority of the Bible – that the church needs to center her most serious attention.” Prof. W. M. McPheeters, Columbia Seminary, 1891

18 The 20 th century “The South was experiencing immense social change. Its population was exploding, its cities were growing, and its economy was industrializing. … Industrialization, urbanization, and especially the race question all required southern Presbyterians to rethink their mission.” H&R

19 Prof. James Woodrow Uncle of Pres. Woodrow Wilson Prof. of Natural Science at Columbia Theo. Seminary Became persuaded ▫of the science of evolution (“mediate creation”). ▫that the Bible was silent on the subject (no conflict). Released from his post by 1886 G.A. ▫that “Adam’s body was directly fashioned by God”. ▫and that he had not natural animal parentage.

20 Ernest Trice Thompson, Prof. of Church History Union Seminary, Richmond, VA The church’s hostility to free and open theological inquiry marked its descent into a theological dark age, ruled by an “unyielding Calvinism” that was symbolized by the rigid “doubtlessness of Robert L. Dabney – the ‘dead hand of the past’”. H&M

21 Ernest Trice Thompson, Prof. of Church History Union Seminary, Richmond, VA “The question which now confronts Southern Presbyterianism is this: Shall we increasingly become a Church of the comfortable middle class, appealing to businessmen, professional men, and independent farmers in a few restricted areas, to executives and engineers, and white collar workers, or shall we seek to win also those in the lower income brackets, sharecroppers as well as independent farmers, laborers as well as industrialists, this less privileged as well as the more privileged, those who labor with their hands as well as those who labor with their minds?”

22 Ernest Trice Thompson, Prof. of Church History Union Seminary, Richmond, VA The Changing South and the PCUS: Two key moments in southern history: 1) colonial period – met by the Baptists 2) 19 th c. – won by Methodists The 20 th c. should be the Presbyterian moment! H&M

23 By the 1940s, Neo-Orthodoxy was introduced to the four Southern Seminaries. “Strict Calvinism” had deteriorated to “modified Calvinism” and then to “low Calvinism”. The G.A. had redefined and expanded the church’s social witness. There were louder and louder calls for racial integration. Enthusiasm for union with the north was rapidly growing. H&M

24 Further developments: 1954 – Renunciation of segregation – Joint Hymnal & foreign mission endeavors – Ordination of women, support for abortion, condemnation of capital punishment – Establishment of union churches and presbyteries. H&M

25 Objections From Within to Denominational Progressivism DispensationalismFundamentalism Columbia Bible College (1923) and Dallas Theological Seminary (1924) had Presbyterians as their first Presidents. Dispensationalism filled the gap that watered-down Confessionalism left behind. Moral crusades as opposed to social gospel. Distrust for higher education and resistance to social change. Expedient values replaced old Presbyterian principles. Focus on evangelism and individual conversions

26 1936 formation of the PC of A was “a false start”. Meanwhile …

27 Dr. L. Nelson Bell Medical Missionary to China “to call our Southern Presbyterian Church back to her original position, a position unequivocally loyal to the Word of God and the Standards of our Church.”

28 Concerned Presbyterians Presbyterian Churchmen United Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship Executive Committee on Overseas Missions “All of these differences allowed the southern continuing church movement to slow cook over several decades and not explode the way it did in the North, thus allowing for the formation of a greater, if more diverse, constituency.” H&R

29 Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, 1966 Independent explicitly Old School determined to be neutral in the denominational struggle

30 Further developments: 1954 – Renunciation of segregation – Joint Hymnal & foreign mission endeavors – Ordination of women, support for abortion, condemnation of capital punishment – Establishment of union churches and presbyteries – A Declaration of Commitment H&M

31 Declaration of Commitment, 1969 … in obedience to our ordination vows, we must strive to preserve a confessional Church, thoroughly Reformed and Presbyterian. … That, being fully committed by our ordination vows to the system of doctrine set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, we must oppose all efforts to change in substance or otherwise debase our historic doctrinal commitment. --- That, should the basic theology or polity of the Church be altered or diluted, we shall be prepared to take such actions as may be necessary to fulfill the obligation imposed by our ordination vows, to maintain our Presbyterian faith.

32 “Discipline in reverse”, 1973 The proposed plan of union with the PCUSA did not provide “an escape clause”. 12/4/73 – delegates from 260 churches gathered at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama Pastor Frank Barker

33 “Discipline in reverse”, 1973 The proposed plan of union with the PCUSA did not provide “an escape clause”. 12/4/73 – delegates from 260 churches gathered at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama It was named the National Presbyterian Church but was later changed to the Presbyterian Church in America. “The PCA was a theologically diverse collection of often- conflicting agendas. … The well-established practice of supporting parachurch organizations prompted an impulse toward independency that proved difficult for some churches to outgrow.” H&R

34 Births per Thousand in the United States Margaret Sanger 1916 – 1 st Birth Control Clinic in U.S – Founded Planned Parenthood

35 Compare and Contrast: OPC, 1936PCA, 1973 Modernism – an offensive, in- you-face denial of historic Christianity. Machen – a dramatic confrontation and “martyrdom”. UPCUSA 3-4 times larger, in a day of media attention/criticism. Doctrinally/Confessionally focused. Focused on individual theologians, pastors and churches acting by conscience/integrity. Growth slow and steady. Lasting trait: covets free and open debate. Neo-Orthodoxy – a subtle and semantic, opaque and nuanced compromise. A collegiate movement with a Southern disposition and pace. PCUS undisturbed, issues disregarded by outside world. Diverse collection of varying agendas. Created/supported by parachurch groupings and initiatives. 10 times larger with rapid growth. Lasting trait: maintains a lack of trust in presbytery authority.

36 New Covenant Presbyterian Church Preaching God’s Sovereign Grace to a World of Need 128 St. Mary’s Church Rd., Abingdon, MD


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