Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Posts Tagged ‘The Adopting Act of 1729’

The Meaning of Subscription

In The Presbyterian on 12/08/2011 at 13:03

The following article appeared in an October issue of THE PRESBYTERIAN, authored by the Rev. Benjamin McKee Gemmill. Rev. Gemmill was a graduate of Lafayette College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and pastor of the Presbyterian church in Hartsville, PA at the time of writing this article. He had previously served on the staff of THE PRESBYTERIAN from 1904-1908.
Full context would require looking at the work and issues behind the Special Commission of the PCUSA’s General Assembly referenced at the start of Gemmill’s article. But not having the time for that here, I think the reader should be able to make sufficient sense of the article without that background. Gemmill is writing as a conservative northern Presbyterian.

The Meaning of Subscription to the Presbyterian Standards

By Rev. Benjamin McKee Gemmill, Ph.D., D.D.
[The Presbyterian 96.43 (28 October 1926): 6-7, 26.]

THE report of the Special Commission, on pages 10 and 15, respectively, says:

“Among those who take a different view of this matter are some who think that there is need for revision of our terms of subscription or for some clearer declaration of the rights of those who subscribe to the Standards, and of their obligation only to the system of doctrine which the Standards contain; but others think that the present terms and declarations and guarantees are adequate and that all that is necessary is a spirit of trust among us and a recognition of divergencies of view which are within our just liberties and do not affect our essential evangelical faith”; “The first of these controversies within the American Presbyterian Church ended with the acceptance of the Adopting Act of 1729. The first presbytery, formed in 1706, and the first synod, organized in 1716, fell heir to the discussions over subscription to the Confession of Faith which had distressed the churches in the motherland and had brought division into the Irish Church. Before 1729, the American Presbyterian Church was divided in its sentiment regarding subscription to the Confession of Faith. . . . The matter was keenly debated and in the end a compromise was effected. The Adopting Act was worded so as to be acceptable to everyone and laid the basis of a creedal church.” Read the rest of this entry »