Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

The Modernist Controversy through a Journalist’s Eyes, Part IV (1933)

In Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Samuel G. Craig on 16/06/2009 at 21:15

Part IV.

The motives and results of Dr. Craig’s career possess a significance beyond any personal interest we may have in him. They summarize for us important principles at issue today and are a catalog of most of the accomplishments of the whole company of contenders for the Christian faith during two decades of upheaval within our Church.

Motives are mentioned first, for a majority of Presbyterians may now be numbered among those unpredictable Christians who refuse to be convinced that journalism as exemplified in Dr. Craig has a legitimate place in the shifting streams of modern thought. It is common knowledge that a few Presbyterians have gone out of their way to denounce such journalism as worse than futile, and as essentially wicked. Certain varieties of religious papers indeed may not be needed, and if they conform tot he fashion of the world, unquestionably they are wicked. But the journalism Dr. Craig expresses, for all its disturbance to our complacency, is so absolutely right and so immeasurably valuable that the Christian Church must have it in some form within its wide frontiers or risk the surrender of its corporate testimony and invite degeneration into religious tribalism.

It should be remembered moreover that criticism which once was aimed at the old Presbyterian and now finds a target in Christianity Today, can be applied to the New Testament itself. When Dr. Craig announces the purpose of “stating, defending and furthering the Gospel in the modern world,” he is following a pattern. Read the prologue to Luke’s writing, or the first chapter of Paul’s letter tot he Galatians, or the last two verses in John XX, or the Second Epistle of Peter, or the concluding words of Revelation XXII, and see the pattern. It runs all the way through the New Testament. The proclamation of the Gospel in the early Church encountered opposing views. They were met and dealt with in the Apostles’ vigorous and widely circulated writings until the churches were delivered from danger.

kennedyBy a form of journalism, the Apostles built up and preserved primitive congregations as churches of Christ instead of churches of a hundred varying allegiances. Therefore a Christian editor in the tumultuous twentieth century who persists in the duty to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine” is actuated by motives derived from the commands and example of the Word of God.

This must be the explanation of antagonism to Dr. Craig. When he went to The Presbyterian the editor-in-chief was the able, resourceful and lovable Dr. David S. Kennedy. They were of one mind in standing unflinchingly for the Christian belief as that belief is Scripturally stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The motive that marked their association together, and upon Dr. Kennedy’s retirement, the motive that was to distinguish Dr. Craig as he went forward alone, is solely a tenacious loyalty to consistent and Biblical Christianity. To the natural man such a motive is exceedingly offensive, and has been always. Some men who are prominent in Christian churches find it difficult to forgive the calm assurance that is based on a mere “thus saith the Lord,” and whenever controversy grows warm, or lines of division have to be drawn between out-and-out believers in the Gospel and advocates of popular and plausible substitutes, their attitude has to be reckoned with.

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