Regrettably a day late, but as we haven’t shared any Machen news lately, we’ll squeeze this one in. The following news item appeared in THE PHILADELPHIA BULLETIN on April 22, 1936. This news clipping is from the scrapbook collection gathered by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. When the General Assembly did meet, Machen and the others were suspended, as was expected, and so the split did occur, less than two months later, though admittedly the numbers that left the old denomination were surprisingly few by comparison.
Dr. Machen Says It Will Come
If General Assembly Confirms
Suspension of Pastors.
5 Fundamentalists Out.
“If the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., at its meeting next month, confirms the suspension of five Philadelphia militant Fundamentalist clergymen from the ministry then there will be a split in the Church.
This assertion is made today by the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen, of Westminster Theological Seminary, 1528 Pine St., leader of the militant faction and one of those under suspension.
“If that action is taken by the General Assembly,” says Dr. Machen, “some earnest people, at very great sacrifice of worldly goods and with bleeding hearts, will leave church buildings, hallowed for them by many precious memories, and will sever their connections with a great church organization.
“The time for separation comes when the existing church organization ceases to heed the Word of God and follows some other authority instead. It is schism to leave a church if that church is true to the Bible, but it is not schism if that church is not true to the Bible.”
Further warning of a separation from the Presbyterian church is given in an editorial in the Presbyterian Guardian, official organ of the militant Fundamentalists, which, in the current issue, says:
“If the Church should say ‘No’ to reform, in such fashion as to demonstrate that reasonable hope of purification is impossible, true Christian men and women would, we believe, be obliged to separate themselves from an apostate organization.
“Who is there that can look forward with untroubled mind to an indefinite continuation of the unnatural union between belief and unbelief and unbelief that prevails in the church, and to all that accompanies such a union?”
The five local clergymen who have been ordered suspended from the ministry because of their refusal to obey the General Assembly Mandate and resign from the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, in addition to Dr. Machen, are: the Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, editor of the Presbyterian Guardian; the Rev. Merril T. MacPherson, minister of Central North Broad Street Church; the Rev. Edwin H. Rian, of Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Paul Woolley, of the Independent Board and also of Westminster Seminary.
At Columbus, O., yesterday the Rev. Carl McIntire, youthful pastor of the Collingswood, N.J. Presbyterian Church, lodged three complaints against the Presbytery of West Jersey with the permanent judicial commission of the church.
The complaints resulted from McIntire’s conviction by the New Jersey Synod on charges similar to those against the Philadelphia minister.
The first complaint charged that the Presbytery erred in starting McIntire’s trial after a constitutional stay signed by more than one third of the members had been obtained.
The second charged that the Presbytery rescinded illegally an overture to the general assembly to “clean up” the regular board of foreign missions of the church, after it had been passed with only one dissenting vote, and the third charged the Presbytery with violation of the constitutional right of ministers to protest actions, and have their protests made a matter of record.
Words to Live By:
Some of the best treatments on the subject of schism were written by the old Scottish theologians, in particular, James Durham and James Wood. In short, they taught that it is only right to separate from a church when staying would mean having to sin. One quote from Rev. Wood will have to suffice here today:
“How often was it so with the ancient Church, that we may say, more than three parts of four were profane and naught? And yet did not the godly and the Prophets of the Lord continue in the exercise of the Ordinances and Worship of God in that Church? Was it not so in the Church of the Jews, in the time of Christ’s being amongst them upon earth? Did ever Christ for that require his disciples to depart and separate from that Church? Or did he not himself, never a whit the less, continue in the Church communion thereof? Yea when in glory writing a letter to the Church of Sardis, of whom he testifies, that they had a name that they were living, but yet were dead, and that there were but a few names there which had not defiled their garments: Yet his wise and meek zeal is not for pulling down and rooting up and separating from the Church Communion in his Ordinances and Worship. But that is his direction (vs 2, 3), Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain and are ready to die. — Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent.”