Though in the 1930s, pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick questioned many liberal premises, in the 1920s, he was an ardent champion of modernist thought. In a 1926 essay, "What Christian Liberals Are Driving At," he outlined two major aims of liberalism; the following is a condensed excerpt.

Certainly I cannot claim the right to speak for all Christian liberals. There are too many different sorts of them, from swashbuckling radicals, believing not much of anything, to men of well-stabilized convictions who are tolerant of differences and open-minded to new truth. But there is a large and growing group in our churches for whom I shall try to speak.

The uproar of the last few years associated with fundamentalism has been caused in part by the clear and true perception of the reactionaries that the liberals are gaining and that, if not stopped now, they will soon be in control. What the liberals are driv-ing at, therefore, is an important matter, not only to the churches, but also to the public in general. Let me try to group their major aims and motives under two heads.

Getting with it

For one thing, liberals undoubtedly wish to modernize Christianity's expression of its faith. The Protestant Reformation was a valiant stroke for liberty, but it occurred before the most characteristic ideas of our modern age had arrived. The Augsburg Confession is a memorable document, but the Lutherans who framed it did not even know that they were living on a moving planet, and Martin Luther himself called Copernicus a new astrologer. The Westminster Confession is a notable achievement in the development of Christian thought, but it was written 40 years before Newton published his work on the law of gravitation.

Protestantism, that is, was formulated ...

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