Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Dr. Machen’s Profession of Faith

In J. Gresham Machen on 28/06/2011 at 11:05

The following is taken from THE INDEPENDENT BOARD BULLETIN, the newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, vol. 1, no. 4 (April 1935), page 5. The statement made here by Machen is made in the light of the pending ecclesiastical trial over Machen’s involvement with the IBPFM. In 1934, the PCUSA had passed a declaration forbidding such involvement and Machen and about a dozen others were soon tried for their refusal to step away from the Independent Board.

H. McAllister Griffiths resigned his position as Managing Editor in August of 1935, leaving over presumed differences with the views of Samuel G. Craig concerning the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, with which Griffiths was heavily involved. By November of that same year, Griffiths had a new post as editor of the newly formed Presbyterian Guardian, as issued by the Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union in Philadelphia. The publication later became the denominational magazine for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Griffiths served as editor of The Presbyterian Guardian, from November 1935 through September 1936, at which time he was appointed “ecclesiastical counsel” for the trial involving the name of the newly formed Presbyterian Church of America.

[On Sunday evening, March 17, Dr. Machen preached in the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Pa.  In his sermon he said:]

“Just before I stand before that Commission next Tuesday morning at ten o’clock in the First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, New Jersey, I have a profession of my faith to make. I cannot make it before the Commission because the Commission has barred from discussion everything really relevant to the questions at issue and has thus refused even to hear my case. But I am going to make it before this congregation tonight, and I know that every real Christian here will sympathize with me when I make it.

My profession of faith is simply that I know nothing of the Christ proclaimed through the Auburn Affirmation, by the Moderator of that Commission. I know nothing of a Christ who is presented to us in a human book containing errors, but know only a Christ presented in a divine Book, the Bible, which is true from beginning to end. I know nothing of a Christ who possibly was and possibly was not born of a virgin, but know only a Christ who was truly conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. I know nothing of a Christ who possibly did and possibly did not work miracles, but know only a Christ who said to the winds and the waves, with the sovereign voice of the Maker and Ruler of all nature, ‘Peace, be still.’ I know nothing of a Christ who possibly did and possibly did not come out of the tomb on the first Easter morning, but know only a Christ who triumphed over sin and the grave and is living now in His glorified body until He shall come again and I shall see Him with my very eyes. I know nothing of a Christ who possibly did and possibly did not die as my substitute on the cross, but know only a Christ who took on Himself the just punishment of my sins and died there in my stead to make me right with the holy God.

I must be true to that Christ of the Bible, despite all efforts of Auburn Affirmationists and the ecclesiastical machinery to make me untrue. I promised to be true to that Christ when I took my solemn ordination pledge as a minister, and I cannot break that promise now. I cannot support the anti-Christian propaganda now being furthered by the official Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  I cannot place the shifting votes of General Assemblies or any other human councils in a place of authority that rightly belongs only to the Word of God.

I have offered to defend my position about both these points. I have offered to prove that the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America is unfaithful to its great trust. I have offered to prove that the actions of the last General Assembly requiring me to resign from The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions is contrary to the Constitution of the Church. The Commission has refused even to listen to my evidence. It has refused to listen to any argument by my counsel, Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths. It will of course condemn me. But I had rather be condemned for an honest adherence to the Bible and to my solemn ordination pledge than enjoy even the highest ecclesiastical honors and emoluments as the reward of dishonesty.”

[excerpted from THE INDEPENDENT BOARD BULLETIN 1.4 (April 1935): 5.]

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