The Liberal Captivity of the Presbyterian Church

atheismThe question was recently asked,

“How do you reconcile the idea of faith being really important to you … with the fact that, at least in our democracy and our civic discourse, it seems as if folks who take religion the most seriously sometimes are also those who are suspicious of those not like them?” *

I’d like to take it back a century and apply this inquiry to the beginning and the end of the American Presbyterian Church.

Ted Cruz 2016


An unorthodox, liberal co-opting of all mainstream denominations had become commonplace by the early 1930’s. The sinister fruits of the enlightenment had a firm hold on mainstream culture and would come to infiltrate many a church body and denomination.

One of the most shameful takeovers was the contra biblical makeover of the Presbyterian Church. A divided house cannot stand, nor cease to pollute the surrounding atmosphere…

“Too often today, men think there can be security and justice in the nation even if the church becomes apostate. But surely this is a precarious security. …The church is to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, the spiritual teacher and example for the state. Does not history teach us that before a state is destroyed, its altars must first be polluted? (Luke 23:31)” ~ Pastor Richard Churchill

It does not take long for a spiritual infection to metastasize to a point in which the whole living body is affected. In the case of the Presbyterian church, the wound was mortal and would run deep. In fact, the dispute cut right to the heart of Biblical truth.

The higher liberal critics had declared themselves purveyors of Biblical interpretation and would come to exercise their own verdicts and decrees to accommodate the advances of modernity. Apostasy, compromise, and scriptual lukewarmness had become a perpetual norm that would run rampant throughout the whole Presbyterian church.

God’s word was on trial. A fair hearing in the courts of the high church swiftly became an impossibility. In a nutshell, those church leaders who stood on the side of orthodoxy were placed on the outside. They were essentially told to conform or else. All attempts to wholly square a form of progressive doctrine (increasingly more perverted by modernism) with scriptures would be shamelessly rebuffed by the adherents of liberal church reform.  A heretical majority of this once faithful denomination had taken over and no amount of scriptural clarity could tame their demonic progressive thirst for interpretive transformation (i.e. liberal hermeneutics).

Ultimately, the fallout and eventual schism was not born out of a debate between Calvinism and Arminianism, or the like; but rather, a humanistic rationalization of scriptures. The supernatural exclusivity of Christianity had been minimized to the point of superfluity and by necessity extinction. Thankfully, out of the ashes of the apostate church would rise various faithful movements; but only through much trial and affliction would the truth be reclaimed.

In the end, God will have the final Word. In the meantime, let us consider the matter settled…

“Shall the truth of the Bible be upheld, or shall orders to support modernism be made the supreme authority over men’s conscience? This is no trivial matter; it is rather a life and death struggle between two mutually exclusive religions. One religion can without harm to its integrity reject the infallible Word of God, deny the virgin birth, repudiate Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice, and deny the resurrection. That religion will remain complete even if all these things are eliminated; but that religion is not Christianity.” ~ Dr. Gordon H. Clark (a former elder in the Presbyterian Church from an address delivered February 28, 1935)

*President Barack Obama

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A.J. Castellitto is a freelance writer who resides in NJ with his wife and five children. He holds a B.S. in Counseling and Human Services from the University of Scranton and his writings have been published at The Center for Western Journalism, The Christian Post, Intellectual Conservative and Reformed Perspective Magazine.
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  • DCM7

    Departure from Biblical faith is *always* due to feelings and/or popular opinion, and *never* due to knowledge.

    • franklinb23


      So who was closer to true orthodoxy during the Reformation? It can’t be both (or all) sides since they held mutually incompatible beliefs. For those that were in error, was it because they were dishonest or deceived or just ignorant?

      • WXRGina

        You are persistent in your defense of error, Franklin. But, there will come a day when you stand before the God of the universe. I truly hope you get right with Him before then, because your myriad empty arguments will evaporate when you stand before Him.

        • franklinb23

          If so, why don’t you let me worry about that?

          My question had to do with the theological differences between Catholics and the Reformers (and within the leaders of the Reformation itself).

          What “error” was I defending? I made no statement of partiality towards either. I’m also not trying to segue into any other issue. It was just a question. (As of late, there are certain topics I’m just not going to bring up on this blog as I know it would be both fruitless and arouse anger.)

          • AJ Castellitto

            Hey brother, I’m not a know at all, often I like to think so….. But I do believe the way is narrow with snares on both sides….. There are Catholics, Arminians, Calvinists, Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists, etc all walking the narrow way since they are putting their faith in Jesus above and beyond all else. Many denominations place a hyperfocus in one or two areas of faith, belief or worship above all else which is very dangerous. Some use the culture and trends to reshape what they believe the church should be. If you look into the PCUSA they are in shambles because they lost their foundation….. So start with the 5 essentials mentioned in that last quote as the very foundational of Christianity. Take away even one and it all falls apart.

            P.S. I attend OPC, which is very balanced and does not spare the Gospel for some hard truth or denominational concentration. But

            • AJ Castellitto

              Creation > Original Sin / Fall of Man > Redemption in Jesus > Former Dead Sinners Walking in Newness of Life / Joyful Obedience to God

            • franklinb23

              I think the word “infallible” is generally understood to apply to the original manuscripts and not to every possible translation, no?

              Even conservative Bible scholars agree that translations can be more or less “accurate”. The NIV, for example, is actually more of a paraphrase of Scripture than a translation, per se. Some pastors consider the New Living and Contemporary English versions to be unreliable and reject them for use within their church. I think the latter is one of those “gender neutral” translations. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “KJV-only” folks, too.

              There are also some areas of disagreement on what constitutes the Bible to begin with. I’m unclear on why Protestants reject the canonicity of the Catholic “Apocrypha” and what they find heterodox, but I know they don’t utilize it (and it apparently doesn’t seem to add a whole lot). Conservapedia has an article where they outline why they reject the ubiquitous story of the woman taken in adultery (since it is not in the earliest manuscripts).

              So really, one should probably have some knowledge of Greek and Aramaic to really be able to approach Scripture in as close to its original meaning as possible, I would think.

              Interesting stuff. Whatever one believes about the Bible, it’s useful for folks to have some background on its history and formation. From that end, I think it should be taught (even in public schools).

              • Bob Ellis

                Yes, most Bible scholars attribute the infallibility of the Scriptures to the original autographs or documents, not so much to the subsequent copies of them.

                The copiers and translators of the Scriptures from their original texts (the first of which was written north of 3,400 years ago) took great care to faithfully transcribe from old copies to new when the old ones wore out, and to translate the meaning as precisely as possible when copies had to be translated from one language to the other due to the changing world and to make the Bible accessible to people worldwide.

                Though there are a few small differences between some of the bodies of texts (there are thousands of bodies of texts and fragments, including the famed Dead Sea Scrolls), those differences are remarkably small given the amount of time involved and the events that have transpired between the original writing and now. And none change any doctrinal teachings or really any significant details at all.

                There are also some differences between the Protestant Bible and the Catholic Bible. While I disagree with Catholicism on some important points, I’m not interested in doing any “Catholic bashing” here. I have a number of beloved Catholic friends, many of whom I expect to see in Heaven despite our differences, and that is not the purpose of this website. Still, those differences are there. The Protestant canon went with the books that were in the old Hebrew Bible (which I think is the most reliable policy), while the Catholic tradition included many works that are not authoritative scripture. They can be learned from, but they do not have the same authority as inspired Scripture.

                Put simply, a key test when the New Testament canon (I’ve already addressed the Old Testament above) was originally established in the early centuries of Christianity was whether the work was written by an apostle of Jesus, or was known to the apostles and the apostles had the opportunity to review the work for authenticity. After all, it was the apostles who walked with the Lord for three years, and were given direct charge to take God’s truth to the world.

                When you think about it, the reliability and authenticity of the Bible is truly amazing. There is no work that we have so many copies of going back so far-this includes all the classical writings of the legendary Greeks and Romans.

                In the end, we are without excuse if we reject the reliability of the Bible. Unless you have an ulterior agenda, the more you know about the Bible, the more your faith and belief grows…which is why so many people dismiss it out of hand without serious contemplation. It’s message isn’t an easy one to take, and it isn’t an easy one to live.

                But it’s the only way to find peace with one’s Creator, and to find access to the abundant eternal life that God originally intended for all people.

                Finally, you’re right that it should be taught in public schools. Even if you don’t believe it is the inspired word of God, you can’t understand America and why America is the way it is without a basic understanding of the Bible. It was the underlying philosophy of virtually everything that almost all of the founders considered important.