The first heresy trial in Belfast was against J. E. Davy, and at its core was a question of personality.
Irish Presbyterianism is a transatlantic denomination influenced by Scottish and American Presbyterian Churches, 1926, PCI was 33% of population. strong>, is largest denomination in Belfast, slightly larger than Church of Ireland (30%) and Roman Catholic Church (23%).
Presbyterianism came to Ireland in early 17th century thanks to Scottish soldiers who fought in Three Kingdoms War. Although Irish Presbyterian Church has developed a distinct identity, it remains closed to Church of Scotland; until 1815 its priests were almost always educated in Scotland and were required to sign Whis Minster's Confession of Faith, which is Kirk's doctrinal standard.
1840 Various schisms were eliminated with founding of General Assembly of Irish Presbyterian Church; instead, use of prepositions further emphasized church's identity as a branch of a larger organization.
Although PCI has its origins in Scotland, Irish Presbyterian Church has also played a defining role in United States. In early eighteenth century, Ulster-born Francis Makemey, "Father of American Presbyterian Church", brought in ministers from Scotland and Ireland to care for growing number of special Ulster immigrants, many of whom sought to avoid being disadvantaged from -for laws favoring established Anglican Church of Ireland, whose adherents may make up an eighth of Ireland's population yet dominate its political and economic spheres.
This transatlantic relationship deepened further in nineteenth century with establishment of College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and its seminary. Princeton, dominated by Ulster Scots (or "Scotch-Irish"), was center of America's early political and religious life.
The seminary, especially under direction of Charles Hodge of Ulster, Scotland, was home to "Princeton theology": piety, faith in biblical inspiration, a strong unique combination of commitment to Westminster Confession and epistemology based on philosophy of common sense.
Princeton theology was influential not only in United States; for Irish Presbyterian Church, Princeton was "headquarters of Peace Presbyterian Church", a position that was further emphasized in 1868 when Scotsman James McCosh, one of most famous advocates of common sense, came over from King's College Belfast to College of New Jersey as principal.
During nineteenth century, hundreds of Irish Presbyterians were educated at Princeton, including Robert Watts, professor of theology at Assembly College of PCI Belfast Theological Seminary. He was a Hodge fan and hoped to make "Belfast another Princeton".
In this he was quite successful; despite bitter controversy over issues such as instrumental music, Irish Presbyterian Church stuck to its theology and was relatively unaffected by schisms and inquisitions that rocked Scotland in nineteenth century. When General Assembly moderator John Macmillan was invited to Princeton Theological Seminary's centenary, he told audience:If there is one Presbyterian church that loves Princeton theology more than any other, it is Irish Presbyterian Church. Yes.”< /strong>
That year, 1912, was a difficult time for Irish Presbyterian Church. The upcoming Home Rule Act promises a delegated legislature in Dublin, while Protestant majority in Ulster, Ireland's industrial heartland, fears what it calls "Roman rule" of society and religious influence.
Mass demonstrations and threats of violence ended with outbreak of First World War, at end of which Ireland experienced another series of conflicts, and in 1922 island was divided into two countries. With formation of Northern Ireland, island had its first Protestant majority government.
Presbyterians, a minority in Ireland's Protestant minority but a majority of Ulster's population, formerly held an uneasy political position; many of leading Irishmen who attempted a revolution in 1798 were Presbyterians.
However, they are now firmly established in political establishment of Northern Ireland, which was emphasized at a meeting of Parliament in Parliamentary College at same time as establishment of Legislative Assembly in Stormont.
These events exacerbated sense of existential crisis that engulfed Europe and North America after war, and theologically culminated in a debate between fundamentalists and modernists.
Between 1915 and 1922 The replacement of almost entire seminary at Assembly College exacerbated difficulties associated with reforming PCI and dealing with problems of post-war Northern Ireland. Of these new professors, James Ernest Davy was appointed professor of church history in 1917.
David's father, Charles, was a respected evangelist who came here with an impeccable reputation. He studied at Cambridge, Edinburgh and Heidelberg and is now a Fellow of King's College Cambridge.
David attempted to respond to social changes brought about by modernism through a series of public lectures in which he outlined how he believed Christianity, and Presbyterianism in particular, provided an adequate, emotionally and intellectually satisfying solution. The lectures were such a success that they were published as books and pamphlets.
However, this intellectual approach brought David into conflict with other evangelists who pursued different strategies in the face of modern challenges. David is especially critical of preachers who use fear of hell to put emotional pressure on their audience and convince them to convert, which he traces back to American revivalist Dwight L. Moody.
While David argued that this approach reduced salvation to a "fire insurance policy", supporters of evangelist W. P. Nicholson regarded David's speech as a "subtle attack".
Nicholson studied with Lieutenant Moody, first in Glasgow and then at Los Angeles Bible College, which was headed by Reuben Archer Tory, Foundation's editor. Returning to Ulster in 1921, Nicholson launched a successful campaign among Ulster's industrial working class, preaching to large numbers of textile workers and shipyard workers.
Nicholson brought grassroots methodology of American fundamentalism and some of its intellectual promises, such as premillennialism and hostility to evolution, but emotional content of Nicholson's approach and its effective engagement with working class. The most successful.
For Nicholson's supporters, David was a member of elite, cut off from those who most needed missionary's reach, which caused fierce controversy in local media.
William James Grier, a convert during Nicholson's campaign, was so inspired by evangelist's preaching that he decided to enter ministry himself, but instead of the General Assembly, Hall went to study at Princeton, which had a reputation for Orthodoxy.
At Princeton, Greer was heavily influenced by J. Gresham Machen, one of main participants in fundamentalist-modernist debate that shook Presbyterian Church in America.
Machen and Grier corresponded after returning to Belfast in 1925 to spend a compulsory year at Assembly College. In letter, Greer spoke of his concerns about Bible criticism, stating that "young people who come here to be strictly evangelicals" are "blinded by teachings of this devil."
In adopting this modernist technique, Greer argues that PCI professorial elite cannot represent Presbyterian church as a whole. Greer argues that young people who converted to Christianity during Nicholson campaign had no time for academy atheism (which logically should have been)." At same time, layman "hated modernism of pulpit" and "the union of elders strongly opposed modernism." For Greer, this was part of a larger struggle between traditionalists and modernists, masses and elite.
Machin, in turn, links this struggle to methods employed by Nicholson, arguing that "modernism in your country is about resisting salvation of souls in true revival."
Grier found a kindred spirit in James Hunter, a recently retired minister and Nicholson supporter. Hunt served on a committee that considered relaxing PCI subscription formula, responding to calls from Assembly presidents and college students.
He therefore shares Greer's concern that faculty elites are undermining orthodoxy and efforts to communicate with general public. Greer preferred a covert approach, while Hunt was less cautious, publishing a series of pamphlets denouncing academy as a "hotbed of rationalism".
Machin, to whom Greer sent copies of these pamphlets, found it very encouraging that level of resistance against modernist tyranny has risen in Ireland."
A committee has been convened to investigate claims in a pamphlet that James Hare, a college professor of systematic theology, taught that Bible is not infallible. Despite testimony of Greer, who studied with Hale, theologian was acquitted. The undaunted movement continued, and in May 1926 a grassroots support network, Presbyterian Bible Standards League, was formed, as well as a fund to send students to Princeton in hope that they would receive a theological education. there that is not influenced by modernist ideas.
Undeterred that Hale did not receive a reprimand, Hunt sought another decisive battle and on December 7, 1926, accused David at Belfast Presbytery of "teachings and doctrines contrary to Word of God and standards of Church."
David's public lectures and student notes were presented as evidence, and Greer agreed. During cross-examination, he was accused of misleading court by deleting parts of his notebook.
David takes a typically philosophical approach to defense, pointing out that even theology of Princeton differs from Westminster creed, in effect admitting that there are "many obvious differences" in Scripture.
David also criticized influence of American fundamentalism on PCI, stating that his real legacy lies in "Scotland, our Mother Church", not "America, Princeton and Dayton".
David was generally acquitted, and Hunt immediately appealed to General Assembly, which was convened ten weeks later. Just a few days before this meeting, Belfast media advertised visit of "great American fundamentalist" J. Gresham Machen to a series of meetings of Bible Standards Alliance, where he denounced modernism but criticized Bell. The fast Presbyterians were more cautious.
At his trial, David urged Presbyterian Church to avoid mistakes made by American fundamentalists in rethinking problems of nineteenth century, and in appeal, prominent members of church defended him, advocating restraint, unity and opposition "only for battle of words." 42 The call for unity was particularly strong given freshness of memory of sectarian strife and divisions.
As Steve Bruce remarked about socio-political context of 1920s,"It's unlikely that anyone would want to create another division, thinking that it had just gone through a major crisis. Come down". 43 When David became defensive again, he turned discussion to gospel foundations of his faith. Thus, he presents himself as a modernist through and through, without being a modernist.
By placing his faith on a hopeful evangelical foundation, he was able to connect it to sentimental but revered nineteenth-century revivalist style admired by many British and Irish evangelicals. This style eschews militancy of American fundamentalism.
Because debate focused on issues of identity and evangelical unity, debate on biblical criticism was sidelined and David was again acquitted by 707 votes to 82. Northern Whig reported that "the statement, in full justifying Professor Davy was warmly received.
Hunter and Greer, with support of prominent figures such as Coalition for Bible Standards and Machin, are understandably disappointed that this support is not reflected in PCI. Hunt, who had been reprimanded by General Assembly for publicly discussing lawsuit before an appeal hearing, resigned in July; Greer followed suit in August, and two eventually formed New Irish Evangelical Church together.