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Loetscher, The Broadening Church: A Study of Theological Issues in the Presbyterian Church Since 1869

Camden Bucey and Lane Tipton discuss Lefferts A. Loetscher, The Broadening Church: A Study of Theological Issues in the Presbyterian Church Since 1869 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1954). This book is indispensable as a thoughtful and well-researched rationale for the reorganization of Princeton Seminary in 1929. It is a history told from the perspective of the mediating conservatives, who viewed Machen and other fundamentalists as “extreme conservatives.”

From the Publisher:

The far-reaching social and intellectual changes in the United States since the Civil War have had a definite effect upon the religious thought of American churches. In this volume, a distinguished scholar and theologian has undertaken an inductive study of theological issues in one of the major denominations, the Presbyterian church in the United States of America. Since this church was in the thick of the social and intellectual ferment that changed the living and thinking habits of Americans, much that transpired in it finds broad parallels in other leading American churches. Thus, the story of the Presbyterian church is, in essence, a kind of theological barometer of American history. Avoiding sweeping generalizations, Lefferts A. Loetscher briefly traces the history of the Presbyterian church from its founding by New England Puritans on Long Island in the 1640s to the disruption of 1837 and the “wedding day” of Old School and New School Presbyterians in 1870, following the reunion of 1869. From this point, he examines in detail the development of the church, analyzing the controversies that occurred over the years, interpreting the various theological issues that led to disputes.

Lefferts A. Loetscher was Professor Emeritus of American Church History at Princeton University. He is the author of A Brief History of the Presbyterians.

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