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The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 6: Modernism C – The Conservatives Divide While the Modernists Unite.

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Presentation on theme: "The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 6: Modernism C – The Conservatives Divide While the Modernists Unite."— Presentation transcript:

1 The History of Presbyterianism in the United States Part 6: Modernism C – The Conservatives Divide While the Modernists Unite

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 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

3 Auburn Signers Continued Influence 1933 – Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions 1934 – G.A. Mandate 1935 – Machen put on trial by New Brunswick Presbytery 1935 – Various actions of G.A. secure power of Modernists over Conservatives. ▫Ministers serving on the Independent Board were barred from the Assembly. ▫A committee was formed to “assist” churches in the filling of pulpits with new pastors. ▫Conservative presbyteries were politically targeted.

4 Auburn Signers Continued Influence 1936 G.A. ▫Dr. Machen appealed to the G.A. but the conviction was upheld. ▫Eight ministers, including Dr. Machen, were suspended from the ministry due to unwillingness to support denominational foreign missions. ▫Other conservatives debated whether to leave or work for reform from within the church.

5 The controversy has also been interpreted as a rhetorical battle. To be sure, liberal evangelicals … mastered the vocabulary of liberty, diversity, and peace, while militant conservatives employed the less winsome language of strife and warfare. … Moreover, conservatives arguably lost this conflict less because of their belligerence than their unwillingness to fight. H&R

6 Recognizable Patterns Those in control of the Presbyterian Church in the USA argued that the church is under a constitution, … and when it delivers a mandate, … it must be obeyed by the members of the church. Similarly, the Roman Catholic must obey the voice of the church speaking through its Pope and councils.

7 Recognizable Patterns The signers of the Auburn Affirmation saw themselves as fighting for freedom of thought and the progress of the church: 1 st, they pled for tolerance, then, they demanded acceptance, then they imposed requirements, and finally, they punished opponents.

8 Recognizable Patterns The signers of the Auburn Affirmation saw themselves as fighting for freedom of thought and the progress of the church: They used intellectual challenges to traditional values. They emphasized man’s progress and development. They used the media to label opponents as reactionary. They used politics to control the administrative powers and legalities to control the judicial system.

9 “The modern Reformers stood for all that Luther stood for regarding the absolute authority of the Scriptures, plus a great deal more. If the situation in the sixteenth century demanded a new church, how much more the situation in the twentieth century.” R. K. Churchill

10 Formal Division Begins 6/27/1935 – A meeting of conservatives in Philadelphia result in the organization of a Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union. Being rebuffed by Dr. Samuel Craig, editor of Christianity Today, previously a supporter to conservatives, The Presbyterian Guardian is created as an organ of public communication. We cannot trust the world; we cannot trust that elusive something known as ‘civilization!’ We cannot, alas, trust the visible church. But when God speaks we can trust Him. He has spoken in the Bible. We can find our way through all the mists if we will make that blessed Book our guide. J.G. Machen, in the 1 st edition

11 Formal Division Begins 6/11-14/1936 – Immediately following the suspension of 8 ministers at the PCUSA G.A., the convention of the Covenant Union was called to order in Philadelphia. ▫An act of association/doctrine was drawn up and signed. It was called the Presbyterian Church of America. ▫J. Gresham Machen was unanimously elected moderator. ▫Westminster standards, previous to 1903 (Van Dyke) amendments, were adopted. ▫A resolution declaring all church property belongs to the local congregation. ▫All censures inflicted by the PCUSA lifted. ▫Governmental power at presbytery level was restricted. ▫Free and open debate was to be a premier “unwritten law”.

12 Formal Division Begins 6/11-14/1936 – Immediately following the suspension of 8 ministers at the PCUSA G.A., the convention of the Covenant Union was called to order in Philadelphia. 8/13/1936 – Legal proceedings began by the PCUSA against the PCofA over the similarity of name. (After losing, the name was changed to “The Orthodox Presbyterian Church” in 1939.) 11/1936 – 1 st G.A. of the PCofA convened.

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15 First Presbyterian Church, Leith, ND Begun as a Sunday School in 1906, it was organized as a church in Nicholas C. Emch was one of two elders elected at the beginning. In 1912, the church occupied the church building owned by the community. In 1932, the church called her sixth pastor: The Rev. Samuel Allen, as stated supply.

16 The Rev. Samuel Allen Allen had begun his studies at Princeton Seminary. But he transferred to Westminster and was part of the first graduating class of Upon arriving, he set to work visiting all the families in the congregation and educating and persuading them about the growing liberality in the denomination and challenging them to come together and leave the PCUSA as a church body. Upon calling for the vote, the Leith congregation chose unanimously to leave.

17 The Rev. Samuel Allen Allen wanted other like-minded congregations in the area to join Leith in leaving the PCUSA. Allen invited Dr. Machen to conduct a speaking tour during the seminary’s Christmas break. Already worn out and suffering from a cold but disregarding counsel to take the break to rest, Machen accepted the invitation. The temperature in ND at the time averaged -20◦

18 After speaking in Leith, Machen’s cold became decidedly worse. Allen rushed him to St. Alexius Hospital in Bismark to be examined. Machen determined to speak that evening at a public rally. Afterwards, he collapsed. Returning to the hospital in Bismarck, he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

19 From under an oxygen tent in the hospital in Bismarck: Telegram to John Murray: “I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.” Last words: “Isn’t our faith glorious? It is sufficient to the very end.” Machen died on January 1, 1937.

20 January 5, 1937 Led by fellow professors at WTS Hymns, Scripture, Prayer “Not one word of eulogy was spoken. His name was not mentioned.” The pall-bearers were students and faculty of Westminster Seminary. Buried, Green Mount Cmty, B’more. Funeral Service at W. Spruce St. Baptist Ch., Philadelphia, PA

21 “Faithful unto Death”

22 H.L. Mencken on Machen “He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the modernist manner would be its complete abandon- ment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives. Thus he fell out with the reformers who have been trying, in late years, to convert the Presbyterian Church into a kind of literary and social club, devoted vaguely to good works. … His one and only purpose was to hold it resolutely to what he conceived to be the true faith. When that enterprise met with opposition he fought vigorously, and though he lost in the end and was forced out of Princeton it must be manifest that he marched off to Philadelphia with all the honors of war.”

23 Pearl Buck on Machen “We have lost a man whom our times can ill spare, a man who had convictions which were real to him and who fought for those convictions and held to them through every change in time and human thought. There was power in him which was positive in its very negations. He was worth a hundred of his fellows who, as princes of the church, occupy easy places and play their church politics and trim their sails to every wind, who in their smug observance of the convictions of life and religion offend all honest and searching spirits. No forthright mind can live among them, neither the honest skeptic nor the honest dogmatist. I wish Dr. Machen had lived to go on fighting them.”

24 Dr. Machen was by far the most distinguished minister of the Presbyterian Church in the USA in his generation. The Rev. Caspar Wistar Hodge, Ph.D., professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and a member of the famous Hodge family, wrote, ‘I regarded him as the greatest theologian in the English-speaking world.’ Edwin Rian

25 Formal Division Begins 6/11-14/1936 – Immediately following the suspension of 8 ministers at the PCUSA G.A., the convention of the Covenant Union was called to order in Philadelphia. 8/13/1936 – Legal proceedings began by the PCUSA against the PCofA over the similarity of name. (After losing, the name was changed to “The Orthodox Presbyterian Church” in 1939.) 11/1936 – 1 st G.A. of the PCofA convened. 1/1/1937 – Dr. Machen died of pneumonia in Bismarck, ND Infighting intensifies dramatically over the issues of: ▫acceptable views on the Millennium (Disp. influences). ▫temperance (Fundamentalist influences). ▫relationship of the new denomination with the Independent Board of Foreign Missions (Issues of polity, personality and political influences)

26 the Rev. Carl McIntire

27 The Legacy of the OPC “In the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Calvinism was given a new impetus in America. The spiritual heritage of Reformed teaching which had been stifled in the Presbyterian Church in the USA received a welcome in this church body, and the great doctrines of the Reformation, such as the sovereignty of God and salvation by grace alone, came to life again. Upon this high biblical ground the Orthodox Presbyterian Church stands, convinced that God will be pleased to use her to his glory and to the advancement of his kingdom. The original purpose and determination to make the church a truly biblical and truly Presbyterian body which would carry on the spiritual succession of the Presbyterian Church in the USA was insured.” E. Rian

28 The Legacy of the OPC “Machen rejoiced that he and his comrades had ‘become members, at last, of a true Presbyterian church.’ … But initially Orthodox Presbyterians were more united in their opposition to modernism than they were in their understanding of the genius of American Presbyterianism. [The] OPC was a small church which continued to shrink from defections of those with conflicting agendas. … [It] continued to suffer losses of ministers and churches who found greater affinity with American evangelicalism than Presbyterian confessionalism.” H&M

29 “Reckoning fully with the Presbyterian controversy involves going beyond theological method or rhetoric.” Some, such as Bryan, were anti-creedal and pietists who were crusading for a moral gospel … the reform of society and the maintenance of national moral standards. Others, like Macartney, declined to use the assemblies of the church to enforce the church’s constitution. Machen’s defense of Reformed doctrine fell on deaf ears among conservatives who were fearful of splitting the church. In the end, Machen stood nearly alone in upholding the integrity of the church to proclaim the Reformed faith. H&R

30 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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