Harry Emerson Fosdick:
"A Baptist minister, he rose to prominence as the weekly preacher at New York City's First Presbyterian Church (1918-1924). Fundamentalist Christians nationwide attacked his view that
'modern Christians' could doubt doctrines such as the literal truth of the Bible and the virgin birth of Jesus and still remain faithful.
"In a sermon, 'Shall the Fundamentalists Win?' (1922), he spoke out against the exclusion of modernists and their views. A Fosdick publicist mailed it to thousands of U.S. churches, fueling the controversy. Not wanting a prolonged national fight with Presbyterian conservatives,
Fosdick left and in 1925 became pastor of Park Avenue Baptist Church. The church moved in 1930 to a cathedral-like structure in Upper Manhattan, built by Park Avenue member
John D. Rockefeller Jr., and became the interdenominational Riverside Church. Fosdick preached there until his retirement in 1946."
Harry Emerson Fosdick
: "...if you own any written by Harry Emerson Fosdick, I wouldn’t give them
to your young children to read.... Valerie Jacobsen has
say about Fosdick and his writing:
"Harry Emerson Fosdick denied the Resurrection, Special Creation, and
Jesus Christ’s Deity and worked to teach and promote these unorthodox views.
His mission is plainly evidenced in his books, including his Landmark books
"Gary North... had some trivial information about Fosdick in
article last year. During the tumultuous years of communist concerns as well
as the liberal take-over of many church denomination, Harry Emerson Fosdick and
his brother were in the middle of many important events on both fronts:
"Note: For all you hard-core conspiracy buffs, [John Foster] Dulles served
as the ecclesiastical defense counsel for Harry Emerson Fosdick in 1924 when
Fosdick was brought to trial for liberalism. Fosdick was the brother of
Raymond Fosdick, who by 1924 had been running the Rockefeller Foundation for
three years. Harry was on the Foundation’s Board. John D. Jr. built the
Riverside Church for Fosdick after Fosdick resigned from the Presbyterian
Church in 1924, because, as a Baptist minister in a Presbyterian pulpit,
Fosdick at last had decided that he could not affirm the Presbyterians’ 1646
Westminster Confession of Faith, which nobody had previously asked him to
"Which brings me to the post which inspired this post. The
an article by John MacArthur about
Harry Emerson Fosdick and the Emerging Theology of Early Liberalism.
It’s an interesting history lesson as well as a warning to the
church today, which Pastor MacArthur thinks is poised on the
brink of the same liberal plunge."
From "Harry Emerson Fosdick and the Emerging Theology of
by John MacArthur,
21 March 2006
"In the early part of the 20th century liberalism took
mainline Protestant churches by storm. In fact, it might
be argued that the first half of the century ushered in
the most serious spiritual decline since the Protestant
Reformation. Historic evangelicalism,1
dominated Protestant America since the days of the
founding fathers, was virtually driven out of
denominational schools and churches....
"One of the most popular spokesmen for liberal
Christianity in its heyday was Harry Emerson Fosdick,
pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City.
"...Fosdick ultimately would not
acknowledge the literal reality of God's wrath toward
impenitent sinners. To him, 'the wrath of God' was
nothing more than a metaphor for the natural
consequences of wrongdoing. His theology would not
tolerate a personal God whose righteous anger burns
against sin. To Fosdick, the threat of hell fire was
only a relic of a barbaric age. 'Obviously, we do not
believe in that kind of God any more.'
"...in the theology of these recent years we have
taught a very mild, benignant sort of deity....
Indeed, the god of the new theology has not seemed
to care acutely, about sin; certainly he has not
been warranted to punish heavily; he has been an
indulgent parent and when we have sinned, a polite
'Excuse me' has seemed more than adequate to make
Fosdick wrote those words almost ninety years ago.
Sadly, what was true of liberalism then is all too true
in the so-called "evangelical movement" today. ...
"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God"
"Ironically, an overemphasis on divine beneficence
actually works against a sound understanding of God's
love. It has given multitudes the disastrous impression
that God is kindly but feeble, or aloof, or simply
unconcerned about human wickedness. Is it any wonder
that people with a such a concept of God defy His
holiness, take His love for granted, and presume on His
grace and mercy? Certainly no one would fear a deity
"Yet Scripture tells us repeatedly that fear of God is
the very foundation of true wisdom (Job
28:28; Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Mic.
6:9). People often try to explain away the sense of
those verses by saying that the "fear" called for is
nothing more than a devout sense of awe and reverence.
Certainly the fear of God includes awe and reverence,
but it does not exclude literal holy terror. "It is the
Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He
shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread" (Isa.
"We must recapture some of the holy terror that comes
with a right understanding of God's righteous anger. We
need to remember that God's wrath does burn against
impenitent sinners (Ps. 38:1-3). That reality is the
very thing that makes His love so wonderful. We must
therefore proclaim these truths with the same sense of
conviction and fervency we employ when we declare the
love of God. It is only against the backdrop of
divine wrath that the full significance of God's love
can be truly understood. That is precisely the message
of the cross of Jesus Christ. After all, it was on the
cross that God's love and His wrath converged in all
their majestic fullness.
Note: These are excerpts "from
the new Shepherds' Fellowship blog, Pulpit Live.
John MacArthur... is senior pastor of Grace
Community Church and perhaps is best known as the
teaching voice of 'Grace to You,' heard daily on hundreds of radio
1. From the time of the Protestant
Reformation until fairly recently, the expression evangelical has referred to those who believe that
the Bible is inspired and absolutely authoritative, and
who therefore understand that salvation from sin is
available through faith in Christ alone, not by any
works or sacraments. When I speak of "historic
evangelicalism," I'm using the term in that specific
and technical sense, minus all the contemporary
baggage the word evangelical seems to have
2. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Christianity and Progress
(New York: Revell, 1922), 173-74 (emphasis added).
exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will
come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to
their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will
heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears
away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be
watchful in all things..." 2 Timothy 4:2-5
Biblical Discernment and
Don't Be Deceived!