A church may die. Some have in the history of Christianity. But the Church will never die, and our Lord has promised that He will preserve a church on this earth faithful to His Word until He returns. The Scripture is cleat . , on this matter, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19). And our Saviour has assured us that on the rock of His deity He will preserve a witness and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This teaching, too, is in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which. has now been laid aside, but it cannot be found in the new confession, even though the church becomes all consuming and all-important as the instrument of revolution.

A candlestick may be removed. The Westminster Confession in Chapter XXV, “Of the Church,” expresses it in this manner:

V. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.

VI. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only head of the Church, and the claim of any man to be the vicar of Christ and the head of the Church, is unscriptural, with out warrant in fact, and is a usurpation dishonoring to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Though we have not dealt with the question at any length in this discussion, the “renewal” in the Roman Catholic Church, as seen in Vatican II, resulted in the Protestants no longer being called “heretics” but “separated brethren,” and the inclusivist, broad, ecumenical sweep was actually designed to bring the Protestants back into the Roman Catholic fold. The ecumenical concept of a church and its authority is essentially Roman Catholic in that the Bible is subordinated, though this subordinated Book is tragically mangled by the critics. The church now, turning from the Bible, is to bring glory and honor and power to herself.

Therefore, with the history that we have outlined and the current development of the ecumenical church, one can understand why the word “Bible” was placed in front of the word “Presbyterian” when our real break in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. came in 1936. The succeeding years have simply emphasized the need for this exaltation of the infallible Word of God. In fact, the Spirit of God truly led the Bible Presbyterians when they sought a name for the church which would carry on in the spiritual succession of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

Dr. J. Gresham Machen, who had been the leader in the great struggle to preserve the Christian faith and had been greatly beloved by all who believed the Holy Scriptures, died of pneumonia on January 1, 1937. The church which he had established, the Presbyterian Church of America, and of which he was the first moderator, divided. There developed a strong party within that church with decided Christian Reformed traditions and desires in contrast to the position and heritage of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Questions were raised as to whether the church would be a new one or a spiritual successor, carrying on the same heritage and doctrine and continuing the same great struggle for the historic Christian faith. The grcup that wanted a different kind of church called itself the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and indeed became a new church and has been different. It declined to be a part of the ongoing controversy as it developed in the struggle between the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, under strong modernist Presbyterian leadership, and the American Council of Christian Churches which the Bible Presbyterians helped establish. It entered the International Council of Christian Churches for a short time; then dropped out.

The other group, desiring to preserve this spiritual succession and to continue the fight, rallied around the Bible Presbyterian standard. This is the denomination which has continued to join the issue in the struggle over the Auburn Affirmation, the reorganization of Princeton Seminary, the formation of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, the ecclesiastical trials of 1936, and the further unfolding of the conflict in the formation of the American Council of Christian Churches in 1941 to challenge and offset what was then the Federal Council of Churches, but today is known as the National Council of Churches. Then, as the struggle expanded throughout the whole world and groups were brought together for fellowship and comfort, it was this leadership from America that issued the call for the founding of the International Council of Christian Churches in Amsterdam in 1948. Thus the struggle was expanded to its most significant stage. The World Council of Churches became the example and the emblem of everything that the apostasy in the last days could typify. Here are included virtually all the liberals, the Greek Orthodox, the Communist-controlled churches from the Iron Curtain countries, and all the different shades of fundamentalism, neo-orthodoxy, compromise, existentialism-yes, a true Babylon. It is at this point that the struggle has now been brought to its largest and most significant focus, and Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, the stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church, was elected to be general secretary of this World Council of Churches with headquarters in Geneva.

As Presbyterians have played such a decisive part m the development of the inclusivist ecumenical program, this account which we are now giving concerning the history of the separations and the work of the Spirit of God to preserve a true Presbyterian church is of the greatest possible significance for all who would understand the world-wide struggle. The Bible Presbyterians in a sense have been in a straight line from the very beginning-the line of blessing, the line of spiritual succession which they were determined to help maintain and preserve for God’s glory.

Perhaps I should add just here a personal word, for I cannot help but feel that my own life-since I was brought into the struggle when I went to Princeton Seminary in 1928 and have continued to be a part of it as the issues have been joined through these years-has been ordained of God, called to this ministry of obedience to the faith and for the furtherance of the Gospel.

Since I have mentioned the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the fact that it did not continue in the controversy, it is just at this point that a word needs to be said concerning another defection which developed. In 1954, there arose a group in the Bible Presbyterian Church under the leadership of the Rev. Francis Schaeffer, Dr. Robert Rayburn, and the Rev. Tom Cross, who felt that the-church could get a great deal farther if it would take a softer approach in dealing with the apostasy. They also were distressed over the fact that the church was not as tightly organized and under central control as they wished. On both of these issues they met with strong resistance. A true spiritual succession and a continuation of the great struggle required that the church regain the freedom and liberty which it had before the days when centralization set in and the consolidation of power resulted in the denominational control of all of its agencies in a socialistic structure. But this group became so set in its determination to change the position of the church and also the form of government of the denomination that it provoked and stimulated a division in 1956.

All those who desired to maintain the position of the Bible Presbyterian Church as originally established have done so under that constitution and no changes or alterations have been made. Those who desired a revolution in the church—for that is what it is called—have gone their way; first, in abandoning the name Bible Presbyterian, calling themselves Evangelical Presbyterian, and then in uniting with the small Reformed Presbyterian Church and calling themselves the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Evangelical Synod. All this church’s agencies are under the control of the General Synod in a socialistic structure and they have broadened out to such an extent tsat some of their leaders have gone back into ministerial unions and local councils of churches where they have fellowship with those who are a part of the National Council of Churches itself. It is sad indeed to see the way the leaders in this group have gone back on the faith they once professed and are now working in missionary cooperation with the new evangelicals and those who for various reasons do not want to take a stand or suffer the reproaches of those who do in these days of battle.

It was indeed the militant position of the Bible Presbyterian Church that brought its General Synod to arrange to meet concurrently with the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in Columbus, Ohio, in 1965, at the time that the new confession was to be introduced for its first consideration. Here the spirit of the pioneers and of the Scotch Covenanters of the old land was again manifest as these Bible Presbyterians spoke out in no uncertain terms against the abandoning of the Westminster Confession of Faith. So successful was this confrontation, without fellowship or compromise, that another Synod was arranged to be held in Boston at the same time as the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church, where the Confession of 1967 was adopted for commendation to the presbyteries. And now, as we shall point out, the third and largest confrontation is to be arranged for the final adoption of the new confession in Portland, Oregon, in May of 1967. There are Presbyterians by the thousands who value their faith more than all earthly possessions, and, when issues are at stake and before the church, they must be joined so that all may be without excuse in that great day when we stand before the Head of the Church and at the judgment seat of Christ.

God Almighty has raised up the Bible Presbyterian Church for this hour. Some may turn aside; some may fall by the wayside; some may become weak and weary; some may even regret that they took a stand; but there is indeed no discharge and the Word of God is not bound.

The final fruit of apostasy has manifested its corruption in the United Presbyterian Church. A church has died. A little leaven has leavened the whole lump. It started in the days of Charles Briggs and the introduction of the higher critical attack upon the Scriptures into the theological seminaries. And this unbelief, this rejection of the Bible, this reflection upon the person and work of our Lord spread into the colleges, the missionary societies, the pulpits, and finally into the Sunday school literature-the “New Curriculum.” “Faith and Life Series,” it is called. The whole church has been permeated.

The new curriculum, under various names, has also been developed in all the major denominations. In the Southern Presbyterian Church it is the “Covenant Life Series.” In the Lutheran Church it is “The Mighty Acts of God.” In the Methodist Church the same pattern is followed. In Canada, the United Church of Canada has been in the throes of a heated controversy which developed when the rank and file of the people finally learned that their leaders had given up Moses and David and Daniel as being the authors of their works as presented in the Scriptures. The National Council of Churches co-ordinated and developed all of this to the very end.

In 1936, when the Collingswood Presbyterian Church renounced the jurisdiction of the denomination, great pressures were put upon the local congregation in many ways to remain independent and unaffiliated, but our people had stood for true Presbyterian doctrine and order and believed that our testimony for Christ involved more than just a local ministry, but that as a congregation we had a responsibility, too, to the denomination out of which we had come and to the entire Christian movement in our nation, of which we were a part; and furthermore that, in obedience to the commands of Christ to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, we had a responsibility to all the people of God throughout the whole world. This is the Scriptural understanding and has given this church a place of leadership in the expanding movement through these many years.

A small minority of eight in the Collingswood Church, working with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., haled the congregation into civil court with a demand that they be expelled from their property. The congregation thought that their property belonged to them. When the court ruled that everything that the congregation possessed—the last penny in the bank had to be turned over to the General Assembly, the Session made the unanimous recommendation and the congregation inserted the word “Bible” before the name “Presbyterian” and became the Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, New Jersey.

The name was already in use in the “Articles of Association of the Bible Presbyterian Synod,” which were drafted and signed in June, 1937. This was the first document giving birth to the Bible Presbyterian Church.


For the sake of fellowship in the principles for which we stand, and as a testimony to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and because of the official apostasy of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and because of the departure of the Presbyterian Church of America from the historic position of American Presbyterianism, we, a group of ministers and ruling elders, do associate ourselves together in the Bible Presbyterian Synod.

We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We reaffirm our faith in the system of doctrine set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms in the form in which they stood in the constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in May, 1936. We propose to amend these standards in any particular in which the premillennial teaching of the Scriptures may be held to be obscured. We reaffirm our belief in the fundamental principles of Presbyterian Church polity. The First General Synod convened in the Tabernacle of the Collingswood Church on September 6, 1938. Among its first acts were resolutions setting the record straight in all the conflict as the continuing church lifted its witness to the Word of God as Jesus Christ demanded. These resolutions unanimously adopted are as follows:


WHEREAS, as believing Christians God has commanded us to preserve a constant and clear witness to His truth and to proclaim it free from all surrender to, or compromise with, unbelief in any form; and

WHEREAS, the body known as the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, which for generations maintained a true witness to the revelation given by God in His Word, has now become dominated by that form of unbelief commonly known as “modernism,” so that believers are unequally yoked together with unbelievers (contrary to God’s command and to the peril of souls), and so that those who deny the necessity of doctrines which lie at the heart of the faith of the Church Universal are honored by being placed increasingly in positions of honor and power, while those who love the historic Christian faith have become an impotent remnant within it; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly of that body has, by solemn and final judicial action, required submission of men’s consciences to its own orders, and has in so doing denied that right of appeal to the Word of God which is the inalienable refuge and defense of all true Protestants, thus placing obedience to its own command above and contrary to that of obedience to God’s Word as a condition and test of remaining within its communion; and

WHEREAS, such action is a sinful usurpation of the Crown and Covenant rights of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only true Head and King of the Church, setting the servant above his Lord, and is an attempt to bring into intolerable bondage the souls of those who hold dearer than life itself the precious doctrine that “God alone is lord of the conscience” as the essence of spiritual freedom, and

WHEREAS, we view with inexpressible sorrow this action of a once-faithful Church as nothing less than official and judicially confirmed apostasy from the great Scriptural principle of the Reformation that the Bible and the Bible alone is the supreme and only infallible rule of faith and practice, from which high doctrine the whole doctrinal fabric of our faith derives its authority;

Therefore be it resolved, that this General Synod, conscious of human frailty and weakness, but in humble dependence upon God alone, declares its firm intention to maintain until our Lord appears in Glory the spiritual succession and witness which has been so tragically abandoned. To that end we earnestly pray the great Head of the Church to give grace and strength for this task which is inescapably laid upon us by simple loyalty, and by love for Him.

And be it further resolved, that we invite all Christians who find themselves unequally yoked together with unbelievers to join with us in testimony to the Gospel.


WHEREAS, the 148th General Assembly of the body now claiming to bear the title of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (which body this General Synod holds to have abandoned its true and lawful spiritual succession as a church of the Protestant Reformation) did, in Judicial Cases 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, pretend to be adjudicated by it, violate the express commands of the Word of God and the provisions of its own constitution; and

WHEREAS, such pretended adjudications are unlawful and void, ab initio; and

WHEREAS, certain ministers now under the jurisdiction of this General Synod did, before the pretended execution of the pretended censures ordered in consequence of the pretended adjudications aforesaid, sever altogether their relationship to the body named, such severance being the inalienable right of those belonging to a voluntary religious body; and

WHEREAS, judicatories of the body named did unlawfully pretend to inflict censures upon other ministers now subject to the jurisdiction of this Synod simply because they renounced its jurisdiction as being a body unfaithful to the Lord Jesus Christ;

Therefore be it resolved, that this General Synod declares that all persons under its jurisdiction having had inflicted upon them the aforesaid pretended censures are ministers in good standing in this Church, subject to no other ecclesiastical authority, and accountable to the courts of this Church alone.

This historic First General Synod also renewed its tie with the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, which had been the object of fierce attacks by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., in 1934. The Bible Presbyterian resolution most assuredly declared the truth. It read:

The Bible Presbyterian Church wishes to express its thanks to Almighty God for The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. It rejoices in the testimony of this Board to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, expresses its desire to support the Board in any way possible, and prays for the blessing of God upon its missionaries and members.

Believing that the Independent Board is an agency faithfully representing the Gospel in all its fullness, and in loyalty to Presbyterian doctrine and polity, the General Synod commends it to the confidence, the support, and the prayers of Christian people.

The experience through which the leaders and their suffering churches had come bore immediate fruit in some of the major decisions which were made a part of the constitution and the testimony of the Bible Presbyterian Church. It was the desire of all to return to the testimony which the Presbyterians had in the United States of America before the division of 1837 between the Old School and the New School, and to regain the liberty and the freedom which Presbyterians had always had in managing their affairs and in conducting their colleges and theological institutions.

The Synod was determined that never again would it be a party to creating conditions that would develop into a bureaucratic, centralized, socialistic type of church government with autocratic and authoritarian control over the churches and individuals. These concepts it sought to protect in specific actions.

Among these were the following:

First, a decision that all property would be owned by the local congregation with no rights of any kind of reversion to the denomination. The “Form of Government” of the constitution, therefore, included in Chapter 20, “Of Incorporation and Corporations,” Sections 4 and 5, which read as follows:

4. All particular churches shall be entitled to hold, own, and enjoy their own local properties, without any right of reversion whatsoever to the Bible Presbyterian Church, its presbyteries, synods, or any other courts hereafter created, its trustees or other officers.

5. The provisions of this chapter are to be construed as a solemn covenant whereby the Church as a whole undertakes never to attempt to secure possession of the property of any congregation against its will, whether or not such congregation remains within or chooses to withdraw from this body. All officers and courts of the Church are hereby prohibited from making any such attempt. The provisions of sections 4 and 5 of this chapter are unamendable and irrevocable.

Second, the right of a church to withdraw from the denomination was also protected. To the consternation of many Presbyterians it was discovered that they did not have the right to withdraw, but instead, the denomination had the right to remove them. Thus Chapter 3, Section 2, of the Bible Presbyterian Form of Government, “Of Particular Churches of the Bible Presbyterian Church,” reads:

2. Particular churches need remain in association with the Bible Presbyterian Church only so long as they themselves desire. The relationship is voluntary, based only upon mutual love and confidence, and is in no sense to be maintained by the exercise of any kind of force or coercion whatsoever. A particular church may withdraw at any time for reasons which seem sufficient to itself.

Another section provides specifics for the denomination to work through independent agencies, commending these agencies to the churches for their support. And in this way the denomination began its backing of The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, which has continued to this day.

1n the same way, Faith Theological Seminary, which was established in 1937, became the seminary to which the church looked. As time moved on, Shelton College, an independent college, won the endorsement of the Synod; and later Highland College in Pasadena, California, was added to the list of approved agencies. This procedure meant that, instead of the commissioners coming up year after year to direct and administer agencies, and to align themselves with various interests with all kinds of temptations in the developing of a political machine, these affairs would be managed by the people themselves on the basis of their own desires and not through a General Synod or a General Assembly.

The Bible Presbyterian Church decided, since it was the spiritual successor of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., to take a place of responsible leadership in all the issues facing the Christian world at large. Thus we read, Form of Government, Chapter 2, “Of the Church,” Section 4:

The Bible Presbyterian Church declares itself to be a branch of the catholic visible Church of Christ and further declares its willingness to hold Christian fellow-

ship with all other such branches of the Church.

It was in accordance with this challenge and spirit that the Bible Presbyterian General Synod became one of the two denominations which took, the initiative in 1941 in establishing the American Council of Christian Churches, which did indeed challenge the broad, inclusivist, ecumenical program as presented by the old Federal Council of Churches which became, in 1950, the National Council of Churches. Today there are seventeen denominations comprising this fellowship of Bible-believing churches in the United States.

Likewise, in connection with the whole world-wide struggle, it was the American Council of Christian Churches that took the initiative in 1947 in issuing the call for an international council or fellowship of denominations to be established which would offset and challenge the broadening operation of the World Council of Churches. In Amsterdam, August 11-19, 1948, the International Council of Christian Churches was born. Today, 1966, it consists of 111 such denominations throughout the world.

The Bible Presbyterian Church has sought indeed to be an instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit in honoring the Word of God. The Bible Presbyterian Church is a true church, a pure church, a militant church, a suffering church, a missionary church, a tithing church, a church which has in it great joy and victory because it honors the Word, believes the Gospel, and is seeking to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ.

Thus it is that the Bible Presbyterian Church held a special General Synod in Columbus, Ohio, when the Confession of 1967 was introduced for the first time in 1965. And here, on the national level, the issues were truly joined. The Bible Presbyterian Church issued a letter to all Presbyterians, calling them to be faithful to their heritage and to remain by the Westminster Confession. Again in 1966, the General Synod convened in Boston concurrently with the United Presbyterian Church. The issues again were joined clearly. A thesis detailing 67 separate points at which direct issue could be taken with the Confession of 1967 was prepared and posted on the door of the General Assembly, only to be snatched off by the Director of Public Relations, Mr. Frank H. Heinze.

Indeed, it is to the Bible Presbyterians particularly that God in His providence has given the opportunity and the privilege of bearing witness in this great conflict. And so it was that I said in Boston at the close of the General Assembly:

The United Presbyterians now have an ecumenical creed which has a 1967 setting and is not binding on the church as the Westminster Confession was. The church now has rejected the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God. With the collapse of the conservative resistance within the General Assembly, the struggle to preserve the historic witness to the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the literal virgin birth of Christ will be squarely joined with the Bible Presbyterians and those who fought the battle for the faith in the earlier days. We accept fully the challenge and will now direct appeals to and seek contacts with the laymen of the church. The laymen are sheep who no longer have shepherds. We call for an historic Presbyterian convocation in Portland next May at the time of the final ratification of the New Confession. Presbyterians who believe their faith is a confession of what the Bible teaches and not a crusading document formulated by modern liberalism will stand and suffer loss for their faith. The message and mission of the church never changes and must be a fulfillment of the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ on the eve of His departure to Heaven.

There can be no doubt that the Bible Presbyterian Church is indeed an instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God under tile guidance and direction of the church’s Head to be a testimony in preserving the faith and an instrument for genuine Christian co-operation. All Presbyterians who would be true to the faith of their fathers must now take their stand and separate. For indeed our Saviour has said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

The Bible Presbyterian Church offers to Presbyterians and other Christians throughout the land and around the world a haven of refuge, a place of fellowship, a church which is trinitarian, evangelical, Reformed, Calvinistic, and a church which is “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (Song of Solomon 6:10) in its suffering and witness “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9 ) . It is what the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. was in its earlier days before it went astray. It is a confessional church, bound by the same old ordination vows-that the Bible is- the only infallible rule of faith and practice, that the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms contain the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures. Here indeed is a church that stands in the great historic stream, in the main current of the Christian churches, which preserves a faithful witness to the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Paralleling the Presbyterian conflicts and the death and rise of a church to carry on the same great spiritual succession, similar conflicts were going on in the United States among other Protestant denominations-the Baptists, the Methodists, the Congregationalists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, and others. The history of these currents of testimony needs also to be written, and out of these, based upon the same principles that the Bible Presbyterians have sought to honor, have come the various bodies tha now believe in Christian co-operation, fellowship, spiritua oneness in Christ, which have made possible a genuint Twentieth Century Reformation which is extending in its growth and circumference throughout the whole earth. Truly the International Council of Christian Churches has been raised up of the Spirit of God to provide this fellowship and this witness for the joy and the comfort of God’s people.

There is “a cloud of witnesses.” God has more than seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Obedience to the commands of Christ is dearer than life. The Bible describes for us these latter days, “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” and the Apostle explains, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” Again, “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves …. false accusers . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

How many now are willing to turn away from a dead church? Our Saviour emphasized, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). The church that our fathers built is no longer their church. No longer can it be a question of memories or stained glass windows or endowments or pensions. They have been taken by those who have changed the church’s doctrine and made out of the entire operation a mighty system of worldly and fleshly power to obtain social and political ends. The promises of God always remain and they are as fresh to us today as they were in the very first century. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33 ).

The ecumenical fellowship, with its broad inclusivism, honoring men who deny the birth of our Lord of the virgin, and who reject His resurrection-this broad inclusivist circle indeed is a Babylon, and God’s Word is clear, “Come out of her, my people.” How can living Christians stay in a dead church where those who honor a dead god sit without fear at a Communion table where discipline has vanished?

The apostasy indeed is world-wide and the remnants with the Blessed Hope of Christ’s return in their hearts must separate and occupy, evangelize and contend, for the faith. The Bible Presbyterian Church is a candle that God has placed on a candlestick.

To God be the glory!