Tracing the Journey of the Presbyterian Church in the United States

For those who are not very well-versed with the concept, the Presbyterian Church is one of the most liberal and forward-looking churches in the world. While it is classified as a Protestant Movement, the sermons and writings of a number of writers have been incorporated therein.

There is a 4-tier level of governance in the Presbyterian order and the four phases of governing bodies involved are the Session of a Congregation, Synod, Presbytery and General Assembly. The Presbyterian Historical Society has a mission of gathering, preserving and notifying the history to the community. This was established in 1852 in Philadelphia and the private archive can be viewed by the members.

In fact, during the 1920s and 30s in the United States, the issue of Fundamentalism versus Modernism in the evolution of Presbyterianism started. There was a lot of intense public debate amongst the masses, philosophers, social activists, political leaders and the theology of America. The crux of the issue was drawing a fine line between the overlapping of culture and state. While medieval states had religion and the Church in particular at the helm of affairs, the Presbyterian Church advocated a method that gave liberalism the forefront. For many orthodox preachers, this was not acceptable and this resulted in the conflict of interests. The Scopes Trial had captured public imagination, and there were efforts to undermine the concept of Darwinism.

According to many, the prime reason for this unrest was the strife between science and religion. And it did not end at that. The strife and differences were also prevalent between the old school and the new school of religion. Another significant movement that was emerging at the dawn of the twentieth century was the movement for Women’s Representation. This obviously impacted the already tense religious conflict. At that point of time, the church hardly had any female representation, barring the nuns of specific orders.

Finally the battle of the liberals gained ground and the Presbyterian Church of the United States was conformed to the very spirit that was intended for its foundation- the end of fundamentalism to a great extent and the emergence of a modernist religious body that advocated the individual’s personal liberty over religious dogma.

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