Is Evolution Calvinistic? -- By: Arthur B. Reeve

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:247 (Jul 1905)
Article: Is Evolution Calvinistic?
Author: Arthur B. Reeve


Is Evolution Calvinistic?

Arthur B. Reeve

New York City

In 1902, the Presbyterian General Assembly adopted an explanatory and supplementary creed, the genius of which was, “Away from Calvin.” Stress was laid on the love of God; there was no direct surrender of the doctrine of predestination, but the tendency was clearly shown not so much by what was said, as by what was not said, in the new creed. At subsequent assemblies, the trend of thought in the church has been unmistakable, as evidenced by the final admission of the Arminian Cumberland Presbyterian Church to the Calvinistic fold. In a most logical review of the situation, President Patton, of Princeton Theological Seminary, the foremost theologian of the opposition, said, “I am compelled to conclude that when the General Assembly declared there was a sufficient agreement between the confessions of faith to warrant a union of these two bodies, no possible construction can be placed upon that action other than this, to-wit, That the union shall take place upon the basis of what is generally known as the evangelical faith of Christendom, and not upon the basis of the Calvinistic system contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith. No argument is needed, therefore, to show that the union of the two churches on the plan now proposed is to all intents and purposes a surrender on the part of the church which I have the honor to serve of its traditional position as a witness to the truth of the Augustinian or Calvinistic system.”

It would seem, therefore, that Calvinism is growing distasteful to a large number of the Presbyterian clergy. It has long been distasteful to, and rejected by, the clergy of many other churches, Wesley long ago saying, “Calvin’s God is my Devil.” But it is hard to see how these churches can escape

Calvinism, and harder yet to see why the church that makes the Scriptures the only infallible rule of faith and practice should stand so ready and willing to cast overboard this doctrine, for which it has stood ever since its foundation. There can be only two valid reasons for rejecting Calvinism,—either it is contrary to the Scriptures or it is contrary to science.

Of the first of these reasons it is hardly necessary to say more than a word. Buttressed by an impregnable array of Scripture of which the strongest passages are found in the Pauline Epistles, can it be that the new thought in the Presbyterian Church considers the doctrine unscientific?, The usual course of one dissatisfied with the teachings of the Bible is to turn to science, and in the much-discussed conflict between science and religion endeavor to find a refutation of that which is distasteful. But is the doctrin...

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