The Doctrinal Attitude Of Old School Presbyterians -- By: Lyman H. Atwater

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 021:81 (Jan 1864)
Article: The Doctrinal Attitude Of Old School Presbyterians
Author: Lyman H. Atwater

The Doctrinal Attitude Of Old School Presbyterians

Lyman H. Atwater


In responding to the call to contribute to the catena of expositions of the polemics of various evangelical churches and schools, now in course of publication in this Journal, the link which represents the attitude of the body of Presbyterians known as Old school, in the premises, the writer will not long detain his readers with preliminaries. He will, at this point, offer but one or two cautionary remarks. First, the author only is responsible for this Article and its statements, except so far as it quotes the testimony of others. No one else is committed by it. It, therefore, can carry no authority beyond the confidence reposed in his qualifications for the task, and the intrinsic, self-evidencing weight of its statements and reasonings. More than this he cannot claim. Thus much, doubtless, all parties in interest will cordially concede.

Secondly, the doctrinal principles which Old school Presbyterians have been called, in providence, to maintain against the assaults of parties within or without the pale of evangelical Christendom, they do not regard as peculiarities, either sectarian or provincial. They are often characterized as such by adversaries and outsiders, as if they constituted a special body of dogmas peculiar to Old school Presbyterians, or even to some one of their theological schools, as Princeton. So we often hear not only of Old school Presbyterian, but of “Princeton theology”; and this, as if they respectively were made up of a set of singular tenets un-

known, or little accepted, elsewhere in the Christian church. Old school Presbyterians regard this matter in a different light. Their own doctrines which have brought them into conflict with others, they regard as catholic in the sense immediately to be pointed out, and the counter doctrines, with which these have been impugned, as the peculiarities of parties or sects or individuals hurled against the common faith. In order to preserve this in its integrity and purity, it has been requisite to defend it against the intrusion of such singularities, novelties, and long-exploded but resurgent errors. In saying that their contested doctrines are catholic, we mean either, L that, with insignificant exceptions, they are part of the avowed faith of all the great branches of the Christian church, Latin, Greek, Lutheran, and Reformed; or, 2. that, with like unimportant exceptions, they are professed by the evangelical churches of the Reformation, both Lutheran and Reformed; or, 3. that, so far as disputes among those called Calvinists are concerned, the doctrines maintained by us are the doctrines of catholic Calvinism of the Reformed and Puritan churches, as sh...

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