A History Lesson, by Robert Strong

I often come across the most interesting and useful things while searching out a patron’s request for some article or other material. For context, this article was written in the midst of those years leading up to the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. Strong’s audience would have been those men who were considering leaving the old Southern Presbyterian denomination in order to form a new, faithful Church.

A History Lesson
by ROBERT STRONG [1908-1980, and pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL, 1959-1973]

[The Presbyterian Journal, 27.42 (12 February 1969): 9-11.]

The struggle for the faith in the Presbyterian Church USA has been protracted. I grew up in that church and was ordained in it years ago when it was called the “Northern Presbyterian Church.” Thus I knew at first hand the issues as well as some of the people involved in the conflict.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, the strife deepened in intensity in the twentieth century and came to a climax in the 1920’s. Awareness of the rising tide of unbelief, and resistance to it, occurred in a spectacular way:

In 1923 the General Assembly endorsed adherence to five cardinal points of doctrine: the verbal inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, His mighty miracles, His substitutionary atonement and His bodily resurrection.

In reaction came the Auburn Affirmation, so-called because men of Auburn Seminary were its authors and from Auburn, New York it was distributed to gain additional signatures. In time, these amounted to 1100 names.

Cause and Effect

The Auburn Affirmation was in two parts: The first was an attack upon the right of the General Assembly to single out certain doctrines when the Northern Presbyterian Church was already committed to a system of doctrine as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was specious logic. This was illogic! This was evasive action. Continue reading “A History Lesson, by Robert Strong”


Can A Christian Student Rationally Reject Evolution? (1935)

The following address by Floyd Hamilton, delivered at a convention of evangelical students meeting in 1934, provides good evidence that the questions before us today are not new, nor are we without answers in our defense of the Christian faith. Rev. Hamilton graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1919 (Th.B.) and 1926 (Th.M.), was ordained by the Presbytery of Wooster (PCUSA) and served as a missionary to Korea, first under the auspices of the PCUSA’s Board of Foreign Missions, and then as a missionary with the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Hamilton was a founding member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, but transferred his credentials into the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (aka, Southern) in 1955 and served his last pastorate, 1964-1969, in a Reformed Presbyterian, General Synod church in Indianapolis. Rev. Hamilton’s son, David, is an honorably retired PCA pastor and foreign missionary, having served in Mexico and Ecuador.
Though perhaps dated in part, Rev. Hamilton’s address would at the very least stand in evidence of a thoughtful response for that era, still useful in many respects. Much, at least in principle, remains pertinent, particularly the opening two paragraphs.

[Photo source, The Independent Board Bulletin, III.4 (April 1937): 5.]


Floyd E. Hamilton, B.D., Th.M.

[An address (slightly abridged) delivered at the Ninth Annual Convention of the League of Evangelical Students in Boston, Massachusetts late in 1934, and subsequently published in The Evangelical Student, January 1935.]

The Christian student usually never makes any personal investigation of the evidence for evolution, but is simply over-awed by the sheer weight of scholarship on the side of evolution, and is paralyzed by the impressive array of materials in the museums of natural history, with their graphic groupings of the evolutionary sequence of different animals and men. The student reasons that since everybody believes in the fact of evolution, only an ignoramus can question it, and he doesn’t want to be classed among the ignoramuses.

A little thought about this matter however, would show him that questions of fact are not decided by majority vote, and that if a thing is false, all the professors in the world can’t make it true. Then, too, if he should study the history of science he would come across numberless theories formerly universally believed which are now universally discarded by scientists. When I studied physics and chemistry as recently as 1906 and 1907, all scientists believed that the atoms were indivisible and indestructible, but to-day that theory is as out-of-date as the idea that the earth is flat! Continue reading “Can A Christian Student Rationally Reject Evolution? (1935)”

Compromising the Authority of the Bible, by R. B. Kuiper (1935)


K. B. KUIPER, M.A., B.D.

[An address delivered at the Ninth Annual Convention of the League at Boston, Massachusetts, late in 1934.]
(and as published in The Evangelical Student, January 1935)

            Few men who lay claim to Christianity deny outright the authority of the Bible. Even the so-called advanced modernist hardly does that.

            Eventually the logic of the modernist’s position must drive him to the rejection of all external authority. Present-day liberalism is deeply indebted to Hegel. It is hardly an exaggeration to call him its philosophical father. But Hegelianism is thoroughly pantheistic. Did not Hegel style the human will a Wirkungsform of the divine will and boldly declare, “What I do, God does”? Modernism too is pantheistic. It reduces the difference between Christ’s Divinity and man’s to one of degree only. It gloats over the divinity of man. Recently a liberal minister preached on The Other Me, who turned out to be none other than God. But, obviously, thoroughgoing pantheism leaves no room for external authority. If I am God, I will majestically decline to take orders from another. If I am God, I am my own authority.

            If, on the other hand, I am merely a finite human being, it behooves me to give heed to the voice of the Infinite. And if I am not merely finite but also sinful, so sinful in fact, that I cannot possibly save myself from sin and its consequences, it emphatically behooves me to obey the orders which God gives me in the Bible for my salvation.

          Continue reading “Compromising the Authority of the Bible, by R. B. Kuiper (1935)”

This Still Preaches

Another of the many tracts found as a collection among the papers of PCA pastor “Bud” Moginot was one titled “The Crime of the ‘Auburn Affirmation’ (A Sermon)”. This tract was authored by the Rev. Ira Miller, and is dated 4 February 1942. Miller had been a minister in the Presbyterian Church,U.S.A., from around 1906 until 1942, at which point he was entered on their rolls as honorably retired. He attended the Fifth General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1942 and in November of that year, transferred his credentials to the BPC. He was active in the BPC Presbytery of the Midwest, and served as the moderator of Session when the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis was without a pastor, up until that church called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. Rev. Miller even participated in Schaeffer’s installation as pastor, with Miller giving the Charge to the Congregation. By 1948 he was no longer on the roll of Presbytery and we think he may have moved to California.


But if any provideth not for his own, and
specially for his own household, he hath
denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”
(I Tim. 5:8, R.V.)


Let no one suppose that I am ignorant, or seeking to take advantage of your ignorance, in denying that Paul is here speaking of provision for the PHYSICAL and TEMPORAL needs, especially of a man’s parents, widow and children. He is exposing to well-deserved contempt the conduct of a man who would be indifferent to these while at the same time pretending to be devoted to the service of God. His faith, says Paul, is worse than NO faith ; his service worse than NO service ; his state worse than an unbeliever’s state. The condemnation is severe.


But let us suppose this same man, or the men of an entire Christian congregation, or the minister of that congregation, or the entire denomination to which that congregation belongs, is equally indifferent to proper provision for SOULS under their care? Is that not a greater fault? Consider that the soul, unlike the body, is not for a fleeting day, and then dissolves into dust. No, it is for ETERNITY, and must live eternally, or die eternally. Then consider that God has constituted each father a shepherd and provider for the souls of his household, each congregation for its people, each pastor for his flock. If they neglect this duty, would not the guilt be greater, seeing that eternal, and NOT temporal loss, would be the certain consequence? Then should not the condemnation be more severe even than this of Paul here? Continue reading “This Still Preaches”

Machen on Fellowship and Conflict

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. Continue reading “Machen on Fellowship and Conflict”

The Church’s Call

Yet another article from THE EVANGELICAL STUDENT. Watch for more news about recent work with this publication.

by J.G. Vos
The Evangelical Student 1.2 (October 1926): 6-7.]

ERROR is always with us. It assumes many forms and makes various appeals. The systems of falsehood are almost without number. There are errors as old as the ages, and there are errors of recent origin. Errors appear, disappear, and reappear, while the truth of God abides continually. So sporadic, indeed, have been the errors, and so constant is the truth, that some have concluded that all error, because it is error, is about to die; and that all truth, because it is truth, is sure to survive.

This conclusion is certainly fallacious. It is true that error often dies, and that the truth usually survives; but the error does not die because it is error, nor the truth survive because it is truth. If error dies, it is because the Holy Spirit has used means to cut it off. If the truth survives, it is because the Holy Spirit has used means to ensure its survival. Continue reading “The Church’s Call”

Pantheistic Modernism

In my recent expedition to copy off some more articles from THE PRESBYTERIAN, there was among the lot another one or two articles by the the Rev. David S. Clark, father of Gordon H. Clark. The following is from the 5 September 1929 issue.

Pantheistic Modernism

It had become conspicuously evident that the Modernism of the present-day is shot through and through with the philosophy of Pantheism. This was inevitable since most of the modern liberalism can be traced back through Ritschl to the theology of Schliermacher, and increasingly inevitable because the evolutionary philosophy, which characterizes Modernism and which gives less and less recognition to a theistic conception of the universe, naturally runs to Pantheism. If Spinoza were living to-day, he would be highly pleased to see how his philosophy has penetrated the church and influenced the highbrows of both secular and religious education.

Some years ago we sat in the class rooms of Princeton Theological Seminary. By our side sat a brilliant young man from the South. He was scholarly, forceful and enthusiastic. No one went out from the class better fitted to preach the saving power of Christ to a lost world than our dear old friend, John H. Boyd. His ability soon won him recognition and he became pastor of a large and influential church, the First Church of Portland, Oregon. From this field he was called to a professorship in McCormick Theological Seminary. In his farewell sermon to his Portland congregation, he said : “I have not pleaded with you to believe in God. I have not asked to bring your sins to be forgiven primarily. I have not asked you to believe in the realities of the spiritual world. I have asked you to believe in yourselves, in the divinity of men, in the greatness of the human soul. Men are what they are because of a fatal disbelief in their own divinity.”

We were dumbfounded when we read such words. What had happened to our dear friend, John Boyd? We remembered his manliness, his ready tongue, his broken ankle in the gymnasium, his courageous spirit in the face of misfortune, and all our admiration. But what had come over him since we  sat in the class rooms of Princeton? That is all explicable enough. He had drunk in the modern poison. He had simply changed his conception of God and man with all the logical implications. He had just dropped out the distinction between Creator and creature, and identified God and man. To him, man was a spark of God. Sin had little significance. It did not need to be forgiven in any serious way, it was just a failure, as yet, to arrive. Man must remember his own divinity and, remembering that, will be inspired to act accordingly. That, I take it, is the solution of our old friend’s theological somersault. And the Pantheism of it is not hard to discover, and the same streak of Pantheism runs through all Modernism. Continue reading “Pantheistic Modernism”

An Old Threat That Never Really Goes Away

And as promised — As you read this, think to see if this isn’t remarkably in line with what Dr. Peter Jones has been pointing out in recent years concerning the ongoing cultural battle between what he terms “one-ism” and “two-ism.” While there clearly are differences between Jones’ thesis and the concerns voiced here in Greenway’s article, still I think there is also a relation connecting their separate concerns. Unitarianism is at root just another part of that broad spectrum of “one-ism” that fails to maintain the Creator-creature distinction.


The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent

By Rev. Walter B. Greenway, D.D.

[THE PRESBYTERIAN (23 September 1926): 6-9.]


THE old Arabian story, variously told, is familiar to all. The camel plead with the Arabian nomad for permission to put his nose through the flap of the tent. Thinking this to ‘be harmless, the Arab consented. While the Arab slept, the camel pushed through his head, then his shoulders, finally his body, and when the Arab awakened from his sleep he found no room in the tent for himself, it being all but wholly occupied by the camel.

There was an evil camel’s nose that diligently sought admission into the Church’s tent at its beginning. It has been quietly but persistently working its body into the Church, until now it is head and shoulders within and it is high time we awakened, before our tent is wholly occupied. Modernism is the nose of the camel. The camel is Unitarianism. The nose, Modernism, is considered harmless by a large element in our Church to-day. This is because they fail to see the camel to which the nose belongs. The camel is that doctrine that robs the Son of God of his special divinity and brings him down to the level of man. The camel, Unitarianism, has always stood just outside the tent of the Trinitarian Church, seeking admission.

It appeared in the first century, when we find certain of the Jewish Church were attracted by the personality of Christ, and agreed to accept him as a leader, but would not recognize him as divine. In the second century there were those who were willing to recognize in Christ one superior to a man, a kind of a connecting link between God and man, but in no wise God. In the third century Ammonius Saccas and the philosophers of his day loudly proclaimed the beauty of his character, but declared him only a lovely man. In the fourth century, Arius of Alexandria went so far as to acknowledge the pre-existence of Christ, and even proclaimed that he would be the Judge at the end, but denied he was God. Continue reading “An Old Threat That Never Really Goes Away”

Teaser for a future post

Our next post will be “The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent,” by Dr. Walter B. Greenway. Here, in reverse order and  by way of introduction, is an editorial that appeared in THE PRESBYTERIAN in the next issue following the publication of Dr. Greenway’s article.  

The Peril of Moral and Spiritual Complacency

The article by Dr. Walter B. Greenway, entitled “The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent,” published in the last issue of THE PRESBYTERIAN, presents such an array of tremendously important facts portraying the perilous conditions in the Church, as to command special attention. Dr. Greenway deals with facts, not theories or speculations, or mere apprehensions. He shows that a terrible evil is already upon the Churches, and through the earnest determination of the enemies of Christ and the Bible, that the forces of unbelief have become fortified in many institutions of learning, have pressed themselves into conferences of the Evangelical Churches, and are using every means to capture the governing bodies and the congregations.

With the thousands of able, evangelical minsters of the various denominations with this nation, how is this advance of this enemy into the various departments of the Protestant Church to be explained?

We are persuaded that the failure to resist this anti-Christian movement is due in large part to putting the peace before the purity of the Church and a consequent moral and spiritual complacency. The evangelical men do not lack intelligence, nor do they mean to be disloyal, but burdened with many responsibilities in their effort to make successful the Church and the Gospel, they have been tempted to avoid all conflict. That attempt has failed, because while the evangelicals have been seeking to avoid the conflict, the Unitarians have been pressing their plans and capturing the evangelical position.

We all know that, as Dr. Greenway has stated, these determined attacks against the deity of Christ and the  authority of the Bible as the Word of God have appeared frequently and widely and intensely, so that the only way of escape is through a valiant resistance and counter-attack. Any attempt to seek peace by the way of moral complacency and spiritual anesthesia is deadly. Here is a case where nothing but open, systematic, persistent and determined opposition and counter-attack will be effective. This enemy of the truth must be overcome and put to flight, or the inheritance will be destroyed.

Our fathers met this same enemy and defeated it. It is time their sons were heeding the apostolic injunction, “Wherefore take upon you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” The time for moral complacency and spiritual concession is past, and definite, firm, Scriptural and Christian resistance and testimony must be maintained. It has been postponed too long, and the interest of the faith and of human souls have been seriously imperiled. Continue reading “Teaser for a future post”

The Theory of Knowledge Again

Returning for a moment to the pages of THE PRESBYTERIAN in 1924, there is this brief article by the Rev. Albert Dale Gantz, who was at that time pastor of a church in New York City. Here Gantz accurately diagnoses the root problem of modernism as one of epistemology. With such diagnosis then, little wonder that rising seminarians like Clark and Van Til chose to focus on epistemology as that place where the battle was fiercest. 

A Diagnosis of Modernism
by Rev. Albert Dale Gantz

An analysis of symptoms is necessary to a diagnosis of the pathological condition. From a careful observance of the symptoms of so-called “modernism,” the conclusion has been borne in more and more upon my mind that the difficulty—the real source of infection is not so much in theology—our God-given knowledge of the Supreme Being, as with epistemology—or man-made philosophy of religious experience.

Modernists are cramped by a theory of knowledge which limits all religious knowledge to experience. They cannot admit any fact into their mind except through the single, narrow door of experience. They talk loudly about “the open mind,” when, as a matter of close observation, I find that their minds are closed to all truths which cannot enter in through the one narrow door of experiment. In other words, all knowledge is reduced to the terms of experience, and must be tested, so to speak, by the laboratory method, applicable only to certain branches of physical science ; and so by limiting themselves to one method of obtaining knowledge all truth not capable of treatment under laboratory methods is rejected. It is very easy to see, therefore, that the trouble with the modernists is with his epistemology. He has not yet perfected an apparatus for knowing truths in the vast realm where the test-tube and the Bunsen burner are inadequate.

To illustrate the inadequacy of knowledge that is confined only to what is discoverable by experience is not difficult. Take, for example, knowledge of God. The modernist cannot affirm the eternity of God or the pre-existence of Christ, because forsooth these great truths are beyond his experience. He is unable to affirm the creative act of the Almighty in bringing the cosmos into existence, because he cannot bring the mighty cosmic acts of omnipotence into the small door of his own personal experience. Likewise, because he has no personal experience of the mode by which the Supreme Being operates to create life, the modernist feels that he cannot accept any revelation on that matter. In other words, the modernist has set for himself such artificial and prescribed boundaries to the acquisition of knowledge that he has closed the avenues of his mind to those great realms of truth which are spiritual discerned, and has reduced all knowledge to that which is physically discerned. His limitations, therefore, are not in the realm of theology, but primarily in the realm of epistemology. He is cramped by a theory of knowledge. Continue reading “The Theory of Knowledge Again”