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January 9

Machen's Letter to the New York Times

On January 9, 1924, J. Gresham Machen wrote a letter to the New York Times regarding the publication of the Auburn Affirmation. The following article based upon Machen's letter appeared in the paper the next day.

Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES – Princeton, N. J., Jan. 9 – The statement signed by 150 Presbyterian ministers and published today upholding their Modernist views on church creeds was attacked today as opposed to “Historic Christianity,” by Dr. J. Gresham Machen, assistant professor of New Testament literature and exegesis in the Princeton Theological Seminary. He declared that the views of the ministers were similar to those of Dr. Fosdick and were opposed to the Presbyterian creed.

“The statement signed by the 150 Presbyterian ministers and published today in the newspapers will be understood in different ways by different people,” Dr. Machen said. “It will be understood in its true sense by all who are familiar with the present religious situation, no matter what their own religious views may be; they will understand perfectly well that many of the signers of this declaration agree with Dr. Fosdick in being opposed not only to the creed of the Presbyterian Church, but to everything that is really distinctive of historic Christianity.

“But plain people in the Church will unquestionably be misled. What these signers regard as ‘theories’ are regarded by plain people, whether in the Church or outside of it, as the basal facts or alleged facts, like the emergence of the body of Jesus from the tomb, with which Christianity stands or falls.

“The declaration as a whole is a deplorable attempt to obscure the issue. The plain fact is that two mutually exclusive religions are being proclaimed in the pulpits of the Presbyterian Church. They have been recognized as mutually exclusive by all clear-sighted persons, both radical and conservative. One is the great redemptive religion known as Christianity—a religion founded upon certain supernatural events in the first century of our era; the other is the naturalistic or agnostic Modernism, anti-Christian to the core, which is represented by Dr. Fosdick and by some of the signers of the present declaration.”

Picture: J. Gresham Machen in 1929.

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