Modern Presbyterianism and the Destruction of the Principle of Plurality of Elders

By Bojidar Marinov - Posted at Christendom Restored:


It wasn’t until very recently that some Presbyterians in the US started re-discovering their rich history of involvement in the formation and the founding of America, as we know her today—or as is the common perception of what she was supposed to be, originally. That rich history of Presbyterian initiative, involvement, and leadership in the political and judicial battles for liberty and justice in America has been hidden beneath several generations of government education of millions of American schoolchildren, and those Presbyterians who have cut their addiction to government schools have begun to actually study history and discover the historical truth about Presbyterianism.

The process of discovery of that truth has been both glorious and painful. Glorious, because we have been learning that Presbyterianism has been a much weightier factor in the formation and the founding of the United States as a nation, polity, economic and intellectual community, etc. than we ever thought. We have been discovering things like the real reasons for the Revolution: the sermons of Presbyterian pastors in the three decades before 1775. We have learned the unofficial name given the American Revolution by King George—the Presbyterian Rebellion; or the words of Horace Walpole’s announcement of the beginning of the hostilities, “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson.” In the first one hundred years of the existence of the United States, Presbyterianism—both as a church culture and as a theological system—was the major factor of forming the business and intellectual world of the young Republic. For better or for worse, Presbyterians were disproportionally over-represented on both sides of the War Between the States, and their theological systems were used on both sides for justification of political causes. Presbyterian ministers were among the leading voices against corruption and police brutality into the early decades of the 20th century. In the international arena, American Presbyterian missions—together with their British brethren—were shaping America’s foreign policy much more ably and successfully than her State Department: whether in China, or in India, or in the Ottoman Empire, or in Africa, Presbyterian missionaries exercised cultural influence far above their small numbers on the field, and by this, they were the true representatives of Christian America and therefore America in general. Presbyterian churches gave America many business and political leaders, and for a while the cultural war between conservatism and liberalism was only a broader reflection of theological conflicts within Presbyterian circles. It won’t be too much of an overstatement if one said that America was founded as a Presbyterian culture, and that influence was felt for several generations after the Revolution.

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