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What Was The Main Point Of Disagreement In The Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy

By markelton, December 21, 2020

The first major supporter of superior criticism within the Presbyterian Church was Charles Augustus Briggs, who had studied superior criticism in Germany in 1866. His inauguration speech as a Hebrew teacher at the Union Theological Seminary in 1876 was the first salvo of senior criticism within American Presbyterism. Briggs helped found the Presbyterian Examination in 1880 and Archibald Alexander Hodge, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, was originally the co-founder of Briggs. In 1881 Briggs published an article on the defence of William Robertson Smith, which resulted in a series of responses and counter-reactions between Briggs and Princeton theologians in the pages of The Presbyterian Review. In 1889, B.B. Warfield became co-editor and refused to publish one of Briggs` articles, a turning point. In 1891, Briggs was appointed the Union`s first professor of biblical theology. His inaugural address entitled “The Authority of the Scriptures” proved to be highly controversial. While previously higher criticism seemed to be a fairly technical and scientific issue, Briggs has now laid out all its implications. In the address, he announced that the higher criticism had definitively proved that Moses had not written the Pentateal; that Ezra did not write Ezra, chronicles or Nehemiah; Jeremiah wrote neither the books of kings nor the lamentations; David did not write most of the psalms; Solomon did not write the hymn of Solomon or Ecclesiastes, but only a few proverbs; Isaiah did not write half of isaiah`s book. The Old Testament was only a historical record that showed man in a lower state of moral development, the modern man being morally beyond Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Judah, David and Solomon. In any case, writing as a whole is riddled with errors, and teaching the inability to write at the Princeton Theological Seminary “is a modern spirit of evangelization to frighten children.” [4] Not only is the Westminster confession false, but the basis of the confession, the Bible, could not be used to create theological absolutes.