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November 12

Second General Assembly - Day One

On Thursday, November 12, 1936, the Second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America (later to become the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As commissioners met for three days in the Manufacturers' and Bankers' Club on Walnut and Broad Streets, the main item on their agenda was the report from the Committee on the Constitution on the adoption of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as the doctrinal standards of the five-month-old church. The debate centered on whether or not the church should include the 1903 confessional revisions in its version of the standards. While it was generally agreed that those revisions were Arminian and anti-Reformed, some commissioners argued that the inclusion of those revisions would bolster the church's claim of being the "spiritual successor" to the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and thus help congregations in their legal battle to maintain their property. Cornelius Van Til spoke in opposition to such expediency: "Shall we be Arminians before the courts this year, with the full expectation of being Calvinists next year?"

The Presbyterian Guardian described the outcome of the debate in this way: "When the vote was taken by roll-call on this all-important matter the result was the adoption of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, without the obnoxious 1903 revisions, by the decisive majority of 57 to 20."


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