Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Archive for the ‘Harry Emerson Fosdick’ Category

Machen on Fellowship and Conflict

In Fellowship, Harry Emerson Fosdick, J. Gresham Machen, Modernism, Prayer on 28/10/2011 at 22:38

Though this article is undoubtedly included in Machen’s bibliography (I didn’t check), no copy of it could be located on the Internet at this time. So it seemed good to post it. This is yet another item from THE PRESBYTERIAN.

Christian Fellowship and the World-Wide Conflict*
By Professor J. Gresham Machen, D.D. 

*Le Christianisme est-il crétien? Quartre conférences avec Notes documentaires et critiques. Par E. Doumergue, Doyen hononaire de la Faculté de Théologie pretestante de Montauban. Editions de l’union des chrétiens evangeliques, 32, boulevard de Vincennes, Fontenay-sous-Bois (Seine), [final three words of this text obscured]

Gradually the conviction is gaining ground among Christians throughout the world that Modernism and Christianity are two separate and distinct religions between which there can be no common ground.  In America the issue has been raised in the clearest possible way in what the Modernist opponents of Christianity call the “Fundamentalist controversy.”  In England and on the continent of Europe the controversy has sometimes been belittled as a curious American phenomenon like Prohibition or the Ku Klux Klan ; but the very attention which has been given to it — for example, in the recent elaborate series of articles in The British Weekly — shows that it is not so despicable as the advocates of theological peace-at-any-price profess to believe. The truth is that there is a larger number of evangelical Christians in the world than might be supposed by readers of The British Weekly or the Christliche Welt, and that what was done by Dr. Clarence E. Macartney, for example, the moderator of the last General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, at the beginning of the “Fosdick case,” was simply the raising of a standard of revolt which Christian men throughout the world, suffering under Modernist tyranny, had been inchoately longing to see. Read the rest of this entry »

“Dr. Fosdick’s Letter,” by Professor J. Gresham Machen (1924)

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Harry Emerson Fosdick, J. Gresham Machen, Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Presbyterian on 04/05/2011 at 19:29


While the brunt of this article appears to concern the removal of H.E. Fosdick from the pulpit of First Presbyterian church in New York City, Dr. Machen also makes clear reference to those men who signed the Auburn Affirmation, and so we include it here in this series.  In point of fact, Machen is actually more concerned in this article with larger principles in application to the Presbyterian Church, while Fosdick becomes simply an example to prove his point.  Fosdick and the Affirmation were closely linked in other ways as well, and perhaps more on that later, but for the Machen, the crux of the matter is this:  “Are we going to be content with the dishonest situation which now prevails in many sections of the church and in many parts of its organized work — a situation the existence of which is so definitely attested by Dr. Fosdick?”

“Dr. Fosdick’s Letter,” by Professor J. Gresham Machen.
[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 94.43 (23 October 1924): 6.] 

DR. FOSDICK’S recent letter in reply to the communication from the Presbytery of New York, amply confirms the contention of those who have insisted upon his withdrawal from a Presbyterian pulpit.

In the first place, this letter makes particularly plain the writer’s hostility to the whole factual basis of the Christian religion.  The Westminster Confession is here objected to not on the ground that it is false and some other creed true, but on the ground that no creed can be true.  Creeds, according to Dr. Fosdick, are simply the necessarily changing intellectual expressions of an inner experience ; they are useful, in other words, but can never by any possibility be permanently true.  A more complete skepticism would be difficult to find — or a more complete opposition to a religion, like the Christian religion, which is founded upon facts.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Shall the General Assembly Represent the Church?,” by J.G. Machen (1925)

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Harry Emerson Fosdick, J. Gresham Machen, Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Presbyterian on 22/04/2011 at 00:20

This next in our series on conservative Presbyterian responses to the Auburn Affirmation affords the opportunity to see one of the rarer articles by Dr. J. Gresham Machen.  The subject here requires a bit of explanation.  The Auburn “Correspondence Committee” sought to extend the influence of the Affirmation statement and issued in 1925 a  letter titled “For Peace and Liberty”.  It is specifically that letter that Machen here addresses.  

Shall the General Assembly Represent the Church? : An Answer to Criticisms of the Letter of Eight Ministers
By Rev. J. Gresham Machen, D.D.

[excerpted from  The Presbyterian 95.10 (5 March 1925): 6-8.]

The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America is passing through a time of decision. For many years the danger was concealed; the undermining of the faith was covered by a misleading use of traditional language; and another religion was gradually being substituted for the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, without any real knowledge, on the part of the rank and file, of what was taking place. But now the mists to some extent have been dispelled, and the church has been led to face the facts. Shall our Presbyterian Church desert the Bible, as many Protestant ecclesiastical bodies throughout the world have already done, or shall it hold to the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith and practice? Shall it merely admire and strive to imitate the reduced Jesus of naturalistic Modernism—the one whom the Unitarians and their co-religionists in other churches so patronizingly call “the Master”—or shall it hold to the Lord of Glory who is set forth in the Word of God? Shall it stand for Christ or against Him?

Some progress toward the answering of this question has been made during the past two years. But it would be the greatest possible mistake to suppose that the matter has now been settled, or that watchfulness is no longer in place. On the contrary, the attack upon the Christian faith within our church is, if anything, more acute now than it was in 1923 and 1924.

There are many evidences of this fact, but we shall now mention, by way of example, only two. One is found in the booklet, entitled “The First Presbyterian Church of New York and Dr. Fosdick,” which has been widely distributed by the clerk of session of that church; the other appears in the pamphlet, “For Peace and Liberty,” issued by “The Correspondence Committee” at Auburn, New York. Read the rest of this entry »

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

In Harry Emerson Fosdick, Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Samuel G. Craig on 20/06/2009 at 13:50

Part VII.

How far one paper went to rally Presbyterians to the defense of their heritage probably is still better shown in the events of 1922 and 1923. It was then that Drs. H.E. Fosdick, W.P. Merrill and H.S. Coffin, with a co-operating press within and without the Church, formed an apparently invincible leadership that threatened to break down permanently the Presbyterian Church’s corporate testimony to God’s Word. It is difficult to describe the turmoil and passion that culminated in this onslaught. Read the rest of this entry »