Most people assume that when the Confession of 1967 comes before the 179th General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the middle of May, it will be passed with alacrity. It can be assumed also that what is done at this assembly will have its effect on many other denominations, will open certain doors for renewed ecumenical discussions, and will bring joy or sadness to a great number of people.
Most of the opposition to the new confession has come from those who are considered conservative or fundamentalist. Many people thought the confession had departed too far from the established and classical position of the Westminster Confession, and much of the work of the revision committee was to “tighten up” the confession so as to make it tolerable to those who inhabited the right of the spectrum.
Yet a new note is creeping into the discussions, a note of opposition from the other side. The confession, even before it was revised, was not so liberal or radical as some theologians would like it to be. It certainly, as a committee operation, showed some signs of compromise. The work of the revision committee made it even more of a compromise and less palatable to those who were most anxious to have a new confession in the first place. An uneasiness is beginning to show itself among those who are dissatisfied because the new confession is not liberal enough. And, as Whiting Williams once put it, “the chrysalis of faint misgiving can soon become the butterfly of panic.”
A sign of this uneasiness is an excellent article by Dr. George S. Hendry, who has been Charles Hodge professor of systematic theology at Princeton since 1949. Hendry was a member of the original committee appointed to draw up the new confession and is considered ...1
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