Continuing our series on conservative Presbyterian responses to the Auburn Affirmation, I’ve just located a long series by Chalmers W. Alexander and will post the first article today.
I’ve also set up a permanent page for resources concerning the Affirmation over at the PCA Historical Center’s web site. Besides the initial conservative Presbyterian response to the Affirmation (1924-1926), there were at least three waves of response in the following decades, first in the 1930’s in connection with efforts to bring some of the Affirmationists to trial, and then as part of the successful effort to defeat the merger of the PCUS and the PCUSA, both in the early 1940’s and again in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Alexander’s articles fall into that latter context.
Chalmers W. Alexander was a ruling elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS and an editor of The Southern Presbyterian Journal. He had graduated from Princeton University, Class of 1932, and the Princeton Alumni Weekly provided this information upon news of his death in 1996:
A leading citizen of his lifelong hometown of Jackson, Miss., Alex died June 29, 1996, of heart failure at the Willard Bond Home.
After obtaining his law degree from Jackson School of Law in 1938, Alex worked with the IRS from 1938-48 except for his three years in the military service. He entered the Army Air Force in WWII as a private and retired as a captain in 1945, having served in India, China, and the US.
He practiced law in Jackson from 1948-52, then became the city commissioner of Jackson for the next five years. He was head of the trust department at First Natl. Bank in Jackson from 1957-73 and consulted thereafter until he retired in 1978. He was active at various times in two Presbyterian churches and in the Riverside Independent Methodist Church, where he served on the board of stewards. He was a contributing editor to the Southern Presbyterian Journal.
I will nail down later the exact tenure of his service on the Journal. I’m also looking for a photograph of Mr. Alexander. And I’d like to hear from anyone who knew him. For now, here is an overview of the series, which ran cumulatively under the subtitle Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance and Co-operation (see the explanation of that subtitle below in Alexander’s introduction to the series) :
1. The Heretical Auburn Affirmation And The Northern Presbyterian Church
2. What Happened To The Signers Of The Auburn Affirmation?
3. The Influence Of The Auburn Affirmationists Today
4. Some Popular Attitudes Toward The Auburn Affirmation Today
5. What The Northern Presbyterian Church Did To Dr. J. Gresham Machen, # I
6. What The Northern Presbyterian Church Did To Dr. J. Gresham Machen, # II
7. What The Northern Presbyterian Church Did To Dr. J. Gresham Machen, # III
8. The Cause Of The Doctrinal Trouble In The Northern Presbyterian Church, # I
9. The Cause Of The Doctrinal Trouble In The Northern Presbyterian Church, # II
10. Dr. J. Gresham Machen On Christianity And Modernism Or Liberalism
11. Summary – Contending Earnestly For The Faith
Other articles by Chalmers W. Alexander:
“The Use of Names And Terms In The Current Controversy”
“Do We Really Want A Great Revival?“
And finally, in preface to his first article, Alexander wrote this brief introduction:
“Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation”
Our General Assembly has decided that the Southern Presbyterian Church, in considering the possibility of uniting with the Northern Presbyterian Church, should now “explore avenues of acquaintance and co-operation” with reference to that denomination.
In reaching this decision, our General Assembly has followed the advice which was contained in the majority report of our denomination’s Committee on Co-operation and Union. This majority report listed a large number of avenues which might be explored in order to learn more about the Northern Presbyterian Church.
However, there is one broad and well-lighted avenue of acquaintance which the Committee on Co-operation and Union very pointedly failed even to mention — and that avenue is the study of some of the events which have taken place in the Northern Presbyterian Church during the past twenty-five years.
It may be that some of the members of the Committee on Co-operation and Union would like very much for the Southern Presbyterian Church to forget completely those events.
But a very careful study of some of the things which have transpired in the Northern Presbyterian Church in recent years will reveal, as nothing else could reveal, the deplorably unsound doctrinal condition now prevailing in that denomination. And a careful review of those events will show clearly the rank Modernism which has existed in recent years among many of those who hold high places in that church.
Many Bible-believing Southern Presbyterians will be utterly amazed at some of the events which we intend to discuss. And it will not take long for them to reach a decision relative to the proposed church merger.
Therefore we shall now address ourselves to the task of exploring and reviewing some of the recent history of the Northern Presbyterian Church. And the first article in this connection, which is entitled “The Heretical Auburn Affirmation and the Northern Presbyterian Church,” appears in this issue of the Journal.
And in the issues which are to follow there will be additional articles discussing other relatively recent events which have taken place in the Northern Presbyterian Church. All of these articles will bear, in parenthesis, the sub-title : “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance and Co-operation.”