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Miller, Haskell Horris.
I n s t i t u t i o n a l b e h a v i o r of t h e Cumberl a n d P r e s b y t e r i a n church, an American
Protestant religious denomination.,.-New York, 1940.
vi,311 typewritten leaves,
T h e s i s ( P h . D . ) - New York u n i v e r s i t y ,
S c h o o l of e d u c a t i o n , 1 9 4 1 .
Bibliography: p.284-287.
SheJf Let
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Some pages may have
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Filmed as received.
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The cooperation of scores of Cumberland Presbyterians has
greatly facilitated this study, and the author is sincerely grateful to each one of them.
Gratitude and appreciation hereby are expressed especially
to Reverend D. W. Fooks, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, for distributing the approximately 1,500 questionnaires used in the study,
to President E. K. Reagin, Dean H. B. Evans, Professor L. L. Thomas,
and the student body of Bethel College for"valuable assistance in many
respects, to the Bethel College library for the use of important books
and documents, to Union Theological Seminary for the unrestricted privilege of access to its splendid library, and to my wife who has carried
the burden of the research almost as much as I.
Indebtedness must be expressed also to the many others, both
living and dead, whose careful researches have contributed much toward
making this study as complete as it is.
The helpful advice and constructive criticisms of Dr. Francis
J. Brown, Dr. Samuel L. Hamilton, Dr. Ernest R. Wood, and Dr. Daniel
C. Knowlton, the members of my sponsoring committee, have been invaluable.
H . M. M.
A6459 5
Social Service Activities of 446 Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations During the Year 1938-1939
Replies of 399 Congregations to Questions Pertaining to Worship Forms and Practices; Tabulated According to the Sizes of the Communities in Which the
Churches Are Located
Status and Ecological Distribution of the Congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as
of 1935
Distribution of the Membership of the Cumberland
Jxesbyterian Church, Compared on the Basis of U r banization, as of 1935....
Average Size and Per Cent of Non-Resident Membership of Cumberland Presbyterian Churches, Compared
on Basis of Urbanization, as of 1935
Net Gain or Loss in Resident Membership of Rural,
Town and City Cumberland Presbyterian Churches
Over a Ten-Year Period, 1926 to 1935
Ratio of Conversions in Rural, Town and City
Cumberland Presbyterian Churches During the TenYear Period from 1928 to 1935 to Resident Membership in 1926
Conversions and Additions in Rural, Town and City
Cumberland Presbyterian Churches During the TenYear Period from 1926 to 1935
Classification of Members Received in Rural,
Village, Town, Small City and City Cumberland
Presbyterian Congregations During the Year 19381939
Per Cent of Cumberland Presbyterian Rural, Village,
Town, Small City and City Congregations Observing
Special Occasions Designated by the Denomination
for the Year 1938-1939
Average Per Cent of Rural, Village, Town, Small
City and City Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations Observing Each Special Occasion Designated
by the Denomination for the Year 1938-1939
Number of Churches Within Three Miles of 318
Rural and Village Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
TABLES (Continued)
Rank of 29 Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
Among A H Churches in Towns of 500 to 2,500
XIV. Location of 30 Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Buildings in Cities of More than 5,000 Population
Frequency with Which the Lord's Supper Is Observed in 446 Rural, Village, Town, Small City and
City Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
Agreement of Bethel College Students with 33 Cumberland Presbyterian Doctrinal Statements, As Compared with Other Groups of Cumberland Presbyterians
Definitely Positive and Definitely Negative Reactions in a Group of 100 Persons at the General
Assembly in 1939 to Items 42, 67, 69, 70, 71, 89,
92, of the Attitude Scale
Reactions Indicated by 100 Persons at the General
Assembly in 1939 to Items 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37
and 38 (Relating to Social Behavior) of the Attitude Scale
Reactions of 32 Students in Bethel College in
1939 to Items 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37 and 38 (Relating to Social Behavior) of the Attitude Scale
A Comparison of the Per Cents of 201 Methodists
and 100 Cumberland Presbyterians Marking "Surely Agree" to Attitude Scale Statements Based
Upon the Apostles1 Creed
Tenure of Pastors in 322 Cumberland Presbyterian
A Comparison of the Number of Adult Members Per
Congregation in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
and in All Denominations in the United States
During the Years of 1906, 1916, and 1926...1....
A Comparison of the Value Per Adult Member of All
Cumberland Presbyterian Church Property and of
Church Edifices Only of All Denominations in the
United States in 1906, 1916, and 1926
Women Deacons in 412 Cumberland Presbyterian
XXV. Women Ruling Elders in 418 Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations. •
TABLES (Continued)
Attitudes of 100 Persons at the General Assembly
in 1939 Toward the Ordination of Women.....
XXVII. Marriages and Divorces in the United States During the Period from 1890 to 1935
Attitudes of 155 Cumberland Presbyterians Toward
Statements Related to the Problem of Marriage and
Increase in Church Expenditures as Compared with
National Income, 1916 to 1926
Tabulated Reactions of 100 Persons at the General
Assembly, 32 Students in Bethel College, and 23
Church Members Selected at Random, to Statements
on Attitude Scale.
The Number of Synods, Presbyteries, Candidates,
Licentiates, and Ordained Ministers in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church from 1895 through
XXXII. Number of Churches, Number of Full-Time Churches,
Number of Churches Not Reporting to the General
Assembly, Total Value of Church Property, and
Number of Churches Paying Pastor $1,200.00 or
More Per Year, 1895 through 1939
Expenditures of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
1895 through 1939
Conversions, Additions, Total Membership, Sunday
School Enrollment, and the Highest pastor's Salary in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1895
through 1939
An Outline of the Four Major Divisions of Presbyterian Church Government. (Based on Cumberland
Presbyterian Practice)
Cumulative Additions and Net Membership of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1915 through 1939
3. Number of Churches or Congregations in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1907 through 1939
Total Expenditures in the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church as Compared with Per Capita National Income, 1909 through 1939
5. Total Amount Paid Pastors in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as Compared with Per Capita National Income, 1909 through 1939.....
Per Member Expenditures in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as Compared with Wholesale Commodity
Prices, 1895 through 1939
Conversions and Additions in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as Compared with Wholesale Commodity
Prices, 1908 through 1939
The Problem
It seems apropos to posit two statements at the beginning
of this study:
First, "An inquiry into institutions may supply the analy1
tical knowledge essential to a program of social control".
Second, as W. Robertson Smith pointed out in his The Religion
of the Semites (London, 1894), there is need for "inquiry into the re2
lation between religious institutions and social organization".
This study is an inquiry into the behavior of an institution.
The institution is the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, an American Prot5
estant religious denomination, and data have been assembled with a
view to presenting an intimate picture of it and of its behavior. The
picture presented will be sociologically analyzed.
Hypotheses laid down in the beginning of this research were:
1. There are exhibited by or within social institutions definite behaviors which lend themselves to observation,
description, and analysis.
2. There is a value to be derived for purposes of education
and social telesis from objective analyses of such behaviors.
1. Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Vol. IV, p. 89.
2. House, Floyd N., The Range of Social Theory, p. .224. :
3. See Chapters III and IV for an outline of the origin and
history of this denomination.
3. Whatever else the church may be, it is a social institution, subject to the laws which govern social institutions as a class.
The fundamental problem of education, as conceived by educa1
tional sociologists, is to effect changes in behavior.
That is to
say, a program of social control is the basic factor involved in the
truly effective democratic process of education. Since, therefore,
it appears that an inquiry into institutions may supply knowledge
essential to a program of social control, and since social control
is so closely related to the educative process, the pertinence of and
need for studies along the lines herewith proposed become readily apparent.
Human society functions through, or by means of, a complex
net-work of social institutions. These institutions vary in accordance with the peculiar characteristics of the culture of the particular social group. There is, however, reason to believe that the institutional structure of any one culture is similar in certain fundamental respects to that of every other culture. It can at least be
said that every culture tends to evolve institutions designed to can2
vas the areas of basic human needs. It is, therefore, apparent that
the welfare of a social group is directly related to the efficiency
of the functioning of its institutions.
Religion represents an area of human need in which, in practically every culture, a set of institutions is developed.
The pur-
1. See Payne, E. George, Readings in Educational Sociology.
Vol. I, pp. 32, 66.
2. See Sumner, William G., Folkways, p. 53; also Young,
Kimball, Introductory Sociology* pp. 20-26.
pose of the institutions is to provide satisfactions for the need, and
the original form of the particular institutions will depend primarily
upon the manner in which the social group has defined the need. Christian churches are, in our culture, outstanding among these institutions.
In addition to borrowing many denominational institutions from Old-World
cultures, we have, through revision, adaptation, and invention, created
some with features distinctly our own.
This study is concerned with such a denomination.
As the
following chapters will demonstrate, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
is peculiarly an American institution.
Its structure and functioning
are intimately related to its particular American social and geographic
America's Protestant churches have been, and still remain,
among her most important social institutions - performing educational
as well as religious functions. Although a considerable number of
"survey" studies have been made of church "trends" in the aggregate,
little serious effort has been given to the task of understanding the
behavior of a particular denomination, as a social institution.
It is
this task that the present study undertakes. Underlying its assumption
is the researcher's conviction that much is to be learned about institutions of this type by intimately studying their behaviors and by
attempting to understand these behaviors in the light of the institutions' cultural settings.
While this study involves only one institution, that institution is a self-contained unity which is large enough to be significant
and small enough to be studied intensively.
I. A typical study is that by Douglass, H. Paul, and Brunner,
Edmund deS., The Protestant Church As a Social Institution.
Sources of Data
Data concerning the institution and its behavior were collected
with regard to the following three aspects of the research: 1. The structure and behavior of the institution in the past; 2. Conditions, past
and present, of the institution's external environment; and 3. Contemporary structure and behavior of the institution.
For each of these aspects of the investigation data were collected from specific sources as follows:
1. The structure and behavior of the institution in the past.
In the analysis of this phase of the study, the Minutes of the
General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church were the principal primary source. These minutes contain a complete record of the annual meetings of the highest court of the church.
In addition to de-
tails of proceedings of the General Assembly they include year by year
statistical records of the denomination and reports of work planned and
accomplished by all denominational agencies. It was possible to consult
these minutes directly for the years 1848 to 1939, inclusive. Through
reprints contained in official digests, the names of which will be found
listed in the appended bibliography, records of the actions of assemblies prior to 1848, on all points essential to this study, were made
The Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
was another important source. This is an official statement of the denomination's creed, system of discipline, catechism, rules of order,
and directory of worship.
Although complete files were not available, a number of periodicals published by the denomination were consulted.
Several books published with the official or semi-official
approval and recognition of the denomination were examined. They were
found to be useful in clarifying and interpreting the behavior of the
Certain unpublished manuscripts concerning the denomination
constituted another important source. For the most part, these consisted of limited studies of a few special phases of the denomination's
Lastly, there were publications containing references to the
denomination but not produced under its auspices. An effort was made
to canvas the general ecclesiastical literature containing references
to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Doubtless many pertinent refer-
ences were missed, but those consulted yielded invaluable data.
2. Conditions, past and present, of the institution's external environment.
Works on general secular and ecclesiastical history were consulted for a conception of the milieu in which the institution arose
and has functioned.
Published surveys of church and religious trends
in the United States were carefully studied.
The United States Census
Records were relied upon for information concerning demographic changes
which have occurred during the institution's history.
3. Contemporary structure and behavior of the institution.
Because it was possible to obtain data directly and to check
them for authenticity, a major portion of this study deals with the contemporary structure and behavior of the denomination.
It was felt that
more reliable information could be obtained by studying the institution
in action than by merely analyzing what had been fragmentarily record-
ed concerning its behavior in the past.
Schedule-questionnaires, designed to obtain specific items of
information, were sent to the stated clerks of each of the sixty-one
presbyteries of the denomination.
Forty-eight of the stated clerks
(78.7 per cent) marked and returned them, leaving only thirteen from
whom no information was received.
A different type of schedule-questionnaire was sent to the
session clerk of each congregation in the denomination.
There are
eleven hundred aaA twenty congregations. Returns were received from
four hundred m& forty-six, or approximately 40 per cent.
Both sets of schedule-questionnaires were sent out in April,
1939. No claim is made that they were free from the generally recognized
limitations of such techniques. They did, however, supply an amount
of information, otherwise unavailable, which constitutes a vital portion
of the complete picture of the institution.
A simple type of attitude scale was devised for the purpose
of obtaining an indication of the attitudes held by members of the institution' s constituency on such issues as affect: the government and policy of the institution; its theology; its social outlook; and the ap5
proved social and moral conduct of its members.
It was felt that these
scales would throw light upon the role of the individual within the institution, the extent to which the institution is undergoing change and
adjustment and to which it is the victim of institutional lag, and the
degree to which it is succeeding or failing with regard to its purposes
toward the individual.
1. For a copy, see Appendix.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
The first eighteen statements on the attitude scale were
taken from a similar scale used by Williams In a study of social ad1
justment in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
apted from the Apostles' Creed.
They are statements ad-
The results obtained from their use
provide a basis of comparison between the two institutions, and thereby cast at least some light upon the behavior of each.
The remaining eighty-five statements on the scale were either
adapted from the institution's creed or formulated as expressions toward
other institutions or significant social issues.
Obviously it would have been impossible to have sent copies
of this scale to all persons holding membership in the institution.
For purposes of obtaining a representative sampling it was decided to
have the scale marked by as many as possible of the persons attending
the General Assembly which met in Marshall, Missouri, in June, 1939.
The members of the General Assembly and the Women's Missionary Convention, which meet in conjunction with it, are representatives elected
from presbyteries and congregations through the denomination.
Each of
these two bodies usually has an average of slightly more than one hundred
members in attendance. Although the exact number is not known, there
were probably at least three hundred aacl fifty people, members and visitors, at Marshall, Missouri.
Copies of the scale were distributed to all persons in attendance upon the third day's business meetings of the two bodies. Of
those marked and returned, one hundred were complete enough to be usable.
For purposes of comparison a sampling was also taken of the
1. See Williams, John Paul, Social Adjustment in Methodism.
students of Bethel College, the denomination's only institution of
formal education.
Copies of the scale were distributed during com-
mencement week, June 1939, to the approximately seventy students residing in the two college dormitories. Thirty-two were marked and
An additional group of twenty-three scales were marked by
persons selected at random.
These persons were visitors and faculty
members at Bethel College during commencement week, members of one
presbytery, and laymen from several congregations.
Results obtained from the scale will be found categorized
in detail in the appendix. No attempt will be made here to establish
for these results either statistical reliability or validity. Obviously one hundred a«4 fifty-five cases out of a possible seventy thousand or more constitute a very meager sampling. It is felt, however,
that the manner of their selection will justify the use to be made of
them in this study.
Important data concerning the individual's relationship to
the institution and the type of religious experience emphasized by the
institution were obtained through the solicitation of religio-autobiographical essays from the ministerial and missionary students in
Bethel College and the Theological Seminary.
Such manuscripts were
obtained from twenty (approximately 40 per cent) of these students enrolled during the third quarter of the year 1938-S9.
The investigator conducted a considerable number of informal
personal interviews during the summer of 1959, particularly with persons attending the General Assembly.
The purpose of these interviews
was to discover the institutional attitudes of individuals and to uncover all possible evidences of institutional malfunctioning, malad-
justment, and change.
In addition, the investigator has for the past fifteen years
attended and made observations concerning church courts, evangelistic
campaigns, and worship services conducted within the institution. Particular effort was put forth during the summer of 1939 to make observations objectively and analytically.
Method of Treatment
Data obtained from the sources enumerated above will be treated
from the viewpoint of the science of sociology according to what is commonly termed the historical technique. Although elementary statistical
techniques will be involved, their use will be only in a supplementary
It should be pointed out that an important contributing factor
to many of the obvious weaknesses of the study is that of the generally
recognized unreliability of church statistics. Such statistics are compiled and recorded so carelessly that they can be relied upon to give
little more than a rough approximation of the facts. This is especially
true with regard to those of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Wherever,
therefore, use is made here of numerical data taken from the denomination's records it is with the understanding that they are definitely limited in point of reliability.
From the beginning of the study there was a bilateral organization of the data. It seemed important, on the one hand, to consider
the institution in its relation to the significant social issues which
have arisen during its history; on the other hand, the data fell into
Important natural categories with regard to major social processes in-
volved in the institution's functioning.
Consequently, the two phrases,
"social issues" and "social processes", became the basic keys for the
classification and interpretation of practically all of the materials.
It is proposed to treat the data in £*Se main divisions, under
the following headings: 1. The historical background of the Institution;
2. The design of the institution, and behaviors resulting therefrom;
3. Social processes within the institution; and 4. The institution in
its relations with a changing social environment.
Every effort has been made to adhere to objectivity throughout
the study.
It is to be hoped that objectivity will not be interpreted
as either satire or criticism, for no attempt has been made to evaluate
the institution's behavior in terms of "Tightness" or "wrongness". On
the contrary, the purpose of the study has been to analyze the behavior
of the institution solely in terms of its sociological connotation.
Furthermore, the focus of attention has been upon only the one institution, it being impossible in this limited study to adequately view interinstitutional relationships. Such a procedure naturally results in the
treatment of many behaviors isolated from much of their context. For
this reason, tb'persons devoted to the denomination and unfamiliar with
the techniques of objective study, the study may seem unfair at times to
the institution.
What An Institution Is
It is obvious that at the outset of this study there must
be evolved a working definition of the term "institution".
This ob-
ligation is significant in view of the fact that there is considerable
confusion in the minds of both laymen and scholars as to what constitutes an adequate and significant definition.
The term has been employed quite loosely.
It has been used
in many areas of lay activities and scholarly research and has been
given many different shades of meaning.
As one writer points out,
it is often applied to a specific building or set of buildings, to
clusters of usages and rules, such as private property, credit, competition, and inheritance, and to instrumental systems such as money
and language.
Allport succinctly describes the dilemma in the following
The social experts, like the laymen, shuttle back and forth...
Their statements regarding the nature of institutions fall Into two
general classes: first, those phrased in purely abstract terms which
are nameB of classes, and second, those which are expressed in metaphors. Formulas of the first type characterize institutions merely
as collections of something else, with no hint of any substantive reality apart from the units of which the collection is composed. One
writer, for example, speaks of an institution as a "cultural complex";
another says the term "covers" such an such phenomena; still others
call an institution a "grouping of individuals", a "process", a "set
1. Fanunzio, Constantino, Major Social Institutions, p. 25.
of rules or practices", a "relationship", or a "means". An institution
has also been spoken of as "ways", "established usages", "ideas", or a
"system of habits or reactions"....
The analogical definitions of institutions are exceedingly
numerous and varied. They abound in personification, reification, metonyomy, and other figures. In no case, however, is It the institution
itself which is denoted, but only something which the institution is
said to resemble. Institutions have been spoken of as "social capital",
"machinery for performing collective functions", "vehicles", and "frameworks". 1
The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences recognizes the problem and gives the following not very helpful definitions: 1. "The real
component units of cultures which have a considerable degree of permanence, universality and independence
the organized systems of human
activities" ; 2. "Cluster of social usages.... Institutions fix the
confines of and impose form upon the activities of human beings".
Scholars, deploring the lack of a clear, concise, and universal
definition, have expended no inconsiderable amount of time and energy in
an effort to develop one.
Space does not permit a cataloguing of the
many definitions evolved.
Suffice it to say that much of the difference
between them seems to revolve about the question of whether an institution is purely a conceptual thing or whether it is also a structural entity.
Those who hold to the conceptual idea would restrict the use
of the term "institution" to those broad concepts which organize and constitute the basic systems of human activities. These scholars would distinguish between "institutions", so defined, and "organizations", "associations", "usages", "instruments", and the like, which, they readily
1. Allport, Floyd Henry, Institutional Behavior, pp. 10-11.
2. Malinowski, Bronislaw, "Culture", Encyclopedia of the
Social Sciences. Vol. IV, p. 626.
3. Hamilton, William H., "Institution", Encyclopedia of the
Social Sciences. Vol. VIII, p. 84.
admit, may be founded upon, or outgrowths of, the "institutions".
Panunzio seems to be one of the latest advocates of this approach. He
speaks of "associations" as a subsystem of institutions.
Associations are groups of persons united by common interests,
formally organized, having specific objectives, and usually bestowing
rights and duties upon their members.
The terms "association" and "institution" are often used synonymously, and so they may well be, since associations also consist of
systems of concepts, usages, organized groups, and instruments. According to our concept, however, associations are but the organized parts
of institutions and not the institutions themselves. Systems of ideas
and usages often antedate organizations, and organizations only give
more specific or peculiar expression to them.... Organizations never
embrace within themselves all the persons functioning in a given institution.... Millions entertain religious beliefs who do not belong to
churches.... Yet all these function within the totality of the respective institutions. Further, associations or organizations come into
and go out of existence in endless succession, whereas an institution
is a continuum.1
There can be no doubt that Panunzio is here pointing out a
distinction which needs to be made. What his statement really amounts
to, however, Is that there are systems of major institutions and related
subsystems of minor institutions. He apparently wants to emphasize the
idea of the concept as being the institution, yet he is not willing to
commit himself entirely to it. Should we accept his thinking we would
in this study refer to religion;., the general concept, as the "institution", and to the selected denomination as an "association".
Allport makes the interesting suggestion that,
An Institution, perhaps, is not a substantive thing at all.
It is not a term by which we denote something in the same category with
the natural objects about us; it is a term by which we do no more than!
record our observations that individuals are living and working together
in certain ways. It is not a tangible thing, but a conceptual relationship of things. The notion of an institution is, in some ways, like
the notion of a triangle.... Similarly the notion of.ah "institution"
1. Panunzio, op. clta_» pp- 12-15.
points out no object which answers to that name and can be concretely
studied; neither does it tell us anything about the individuals by
whose relationships it is constituted, beyond the suggestion that they
probably possess certain habits through whose functioning this relationship is maintained....
Institutions.... take on reality for us when we are looking
for the fulfillment of some purpose upon a collective, or multi-individual scale. We envisage an Institution when we regard human beings
as cooperating, in a regular and habitual fashion, toward the satisfying of some common human want.1
From this it appears that he looks upon an institution not as an entity
but as a relationship.
From the outset of this study it was apparent that selection
of any particular definition would have to be made somewhat arbitrarily.
Sumner's, although old and much criticized, seemed most helpful. It
embrajtces the idea of a concept plus a structure, in the following words:
An institution consists of a concept (idea, notion, doctrine,
interest) and a structure. The structure is a framework, or apparatus,
or perhaps only a number of functionaries set to co-operate in prescribed
ways at a certain conjuncture. The structure holds the concept and furnishes instrumentalities for bringing it into the world of facts and
action in a way to serve the interests of men in society.**
With this definition as a starting point the research was begun, assuming the religious ideas, notions, doctrines, and interests to
be the "concept" and the denominational organization with all its appurtenances to be the "structure".
As the study progressed, however, Chapin's definition proved
to be useful. He says:
Social institutions are essentially psychological phenomena
that consist of a configuration of segments of the behaviors of individuals. Social institutions are a pattern of attitudes or other responses conditioned to specific culture traits....
We may say that the structure of a social institution consists in the combination of certain related type parts into a configuration possessing the properties of relative rigidity and relative
1. Allport, op. cit.. pp. 13-21.
2. Park, Robert E., and Burgess, Ernest W., Introduction to
the Science of Sociology, p. 841.
persistence of form, and tending to function as a unit on a field of
contemporary culture.
The four main type parts that combine to produce the configuration or cultural concretion known as the social institution are:
First, common reciprocating attitudes of individuals and
their conventionalized behavior patterns.
Second, cultural objects of symbolic value; that is, objects
charged with sentimental meaning to which human behavior has been conditioned.
Third, cultural objects possessing utilitarian value;....;
objects called property.
Fourth, oral or written language symbols that preserve the
descriptions and specifications of the patterns of interrelationship
among the other three parts.... When the formulation is compactly
organized it is called a code.1
His delineation of the four main type parts of an institution was especially helpful, serving as chart and compass in steering the course
of this investigation.
For the purposes of this study it hardly seemed necessary to
attempt the formulation of a new definition of a social institution.
Since the Cumberland Presbyterian Church actually represents a structure organized around certain concepts in the area of human religious
need, Sumner's definition of an institution as a concept plus a structure was accepted, although not necessarily to the exclusion of the
Interpretive use of the definitions by Panunzio, Allport, and Chapln,
where these definitions might be of value in further interpreting the
behavior of the denomination.
What Institutional Behavior Is
Allport insists that an institution is not an entity or sub2
stantive reality in and of itself capable of behaving. There is no 1 .institutional behavior apart from the behavior of individuals. Instl-
1. Chapin, F. Stuart, Contemporary American InstitutlonsT
pp. xvii, 15.
2. See reference on page 14, Allport, op. cit.
tutional behavior is the behavior of individuals when those individuals
are "cooperating in a regular and habitual fashion toward the satisfying of some common human want".
These cooperative behaviors of individuals within an institution may be considered from two perspectives. First, there are those
the focus of which is within the confines of the institution itself.
Second, there are those which are focussed upon and directed toward
objects or situations outside the structural boundaries of the institution.
In keeping with Allport's emphasis, the term "institutional be-
havior" will be used in this study to denote the cooperative behavior
of individuals within an institution.
Behavior Characteristics of Religious Institutions
Religious institutions manifest, of course, whatever characteristics of behavior are common to social institutions in general.
In addition, they possess characteristics which are more or less peculiarly their own. Although it is not possible to enumerate here all
the characteristic behaviors of institutions so large and complicated,
some of the most significant should be briefly pointed out.
Dowd classifies all Institutional behavior in terms of the
performance of four essential functions: First, that of exercising authority; second, that of formulating the purpose or object of the group
activities; third, that of formulating standards, rules, codes, laws or
maxims as the prescribed or understood way of carrying out the purpose;
and fourth, that of devising a system of discipline for inducing or compelling the members to conform to the established standards or rules.
1. Dowd, Jerome, Control in Human Societies, pp. 12-13.
Panunzio calls attention to the fact that "each association
is mainly held together by one primary bond, essential to its existence and functioning, though it may and almost invariably does have
secondary interests. Moreover, an association disintegrates and often
disbands whenever the primary bond ceases to exist."
In addition to these broad general characteristics, it has
been pointed out that religious institutions, often spoken of as "the
Church" manifest, among many others, the following:
First, they tend to become "conservers of traditions" and
"guardians of the mores".
As such they may lend themselves "to maintaining a given social order longer than that order is necessary, or
even after it has become a stumbling-block to social progress."
Second, they tend toward rigidity and social lag,
ing habits especially resistant to change.
Despite this fact, however,
they inevitably change to a certain extent in keeping with changes in
the social order.
Third, they exercise a tremendous amount of social control,
although, as Swift points out, the church has in recent years been losing much of its centrality in the general scheme of the social order,
to which extent its control function has been decreasing.
1. Panunzio, op. cit.. p. 15.
2. Park and Burgess, op. cit.. p. 847.
3. Park and Burgess, op. cit., p. 847; also Williams, op. cit.,
p. 1.
4. Douglass and Brunner, op. cit., p. 15.
5. Swift, Arthur L., New Frontiers of Religion, pp. 53-54.
6. Douglass and Brunner, op. cit., p. 86; also Park and Burgess
op. cit.. pp. 846-848.
7. Swift, op^ cit., pp. 54, 55, 67.
Fourth, they, especially when starting as sects, tend to
effect reforms from within society outward.
Fifth, they "have an inherent gravitation away from creativity
toward self-imitation".... "Churches, in common with all other institutions, acquire a momentum that is repetitious and mechanical rather than
personal and creatively variant. Religion comes to mean being loyal and
obedient to the partial insight and the institutional creation of yesterday. Precedents, the product of a particular time, place, and state of
mind, become controlling assumptions, as though they were the eternal
truth, the will of God, or a finished creation".
Sixth, they conceive themselves as institutions apart, having divine authority, and therefore, not comparable to other organizations.
That the church, theologically considered, is an Institution
apart, not comparable to other organizations, has always been central
to the belief of the faithful. But it is high time to call a halt to
the blind extremes to which this theory leads. Whatever else it may
be, the church is a social institution with social duties to perform
and social relations to establish and maintain. Neither its claim to
divine authority nor its tendency to exclusiveness can excuse the ignorance and ineptitude of its social functioning. There is no good
reason why godliness should be made an excuse for futility.
The church is both a communion of saints and a social institution.3
These are a few of the most important behavior characteristics*
Others will from time to time be injected at appropriate places in the
The purpose of this Chapter has been to establish a working
definition of an institution and of institutional behavior, and to re-
1. Park and Burgess, op. cit.. pp. 873-874.
2. Coe, George Albert, What Is Christian Education? pp. 240, 241.
3. Swift, ojgu cit.. p. 4.
view some of the major behavior characteristics of religious institutions. An institution has been defined, in Sumner's terms, as a concept plus a structure, and Allport's definition of institutional behavior as the cooperative behavior of individuals within an institution
has been adopted.
Significant among the behavior characteristics pointed out
is the fact that institutions tend to be organized around and held together by a primary bond, that their primary function is that of exercising social control, and that they tend toward rigidity and cultural
It has been observed also that religious institutions tend to claim
divine authority for themselves and, therefore, to consider themselves
not comparable to other social organizations.
These points should be borne in mind as the analysis of the
behavior of the institution under investigation proceeds.
On February 4, 1939, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was
129 years old. It originated, in the year 1810, in what was known as
"The Cumberland Country", comprising parts of the present states of
Tennessee and Kentucky.
Its expansion was chiefly westward and south-
westward with the tide of empire.
As constituted in 1939, the church has 71,726 affiliated
communicants, 10 synods, 61 presbyteries, 670 ordained ministers, and
1,120 congregations, scattered over some 16 states of the South, West,
and Middle-west.
It has one college and seminary, located at McKenzie,
Tennessee, one publishing house, located at Nashville, Tennessee, and
one home for orphans, located at Denton, Texas. It rapports two foreign mission enterprises, one in China, and the other in Columbia,
South America.
The denomination can be generally characterized by the three
rural, evangelical, and "fundamentalist".
Factors Contributing to the Institution's Origin
In order to properly understand the character of this institution one must have clearly in mind the nature of the factors which
contributed to its origin.
1. Statistics based on records in the Minutes of the General
Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. 1939.
The setting, or background, of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church is at least three-fold in composition. It should, therefore,
be considered from three perspectives: First, the Scotch-Irish people;
second, Presbyterianism, Continental Protestantism, and dissenting tradition; and third, the American situation. These will be considered in
1. The Scotch Irish People
The people among whom the Cumberland Presbyterian Church or1
iginated were almost exclusively those known as Scotch-Irish.
people left a well-marked historical path which may easily be traced
from the Cumberland Territory back through the Valley of Virginia,
Pennsylvania, and the North of Ireland, to the Kirk of Scotland.
When Ulster was subjugated under the reign of James I, many
people from Scotland crossed over and settled in the area. Because of
their non-conformist attitudes, both they and their Presbyterian brethren in Scotland began to be severely persecuted by the English rulers
In the latter part of the seventeenth century. To many America appeared
the only alternative.
Successive emigrations from the North of Ireland
poured in such numbers into Pennsylvania that in 1705 there were enough
Presbyterian churches in that general territory to constitute a presbytery. By 1717 this Pennsylvania presbytery had expanded into a
For some time the Scotch-Irish immigration kept gathering
volume and force. The great stream of immigrants entering at the port
of Philadelphia and flowing westward and southwestward was joined by
T. McKamy, Rev. John A., The Development of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, p. 3.
2. See Davidson, Robert, History of the Presbyterian Church
in the State of Kentucky, pp. 14-16.
a tributary stream entering at Charleston. They proved to be hardy and
enterprising pioneers,- well-adapted to advancing the borders of the
frontier. In a comparatively short time, considerably prior to the War
of Independence, their settlements dotted the hill country from Penn1
sylvanla to Georgia. Particularly were they concentrated In the Valley
of Virginia. Germans had already occupied the fertile lands of the
Shenandoah; so the Scotch-Irish settled in Augusta County, which reached
to the rim of the Blue Ridge. As early as 1719 the records of the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia contain references to a congregation des2
ignated as "the people of Potomoke in Virginia".
It was over the Blue Ridge that the first explorers and settlers began seeping into the wilderness of Kentucky. The first permanent settlement in this broad expanse of new territory was effected by
Daniel Boone, April 1, 1775, when he erected the fort of Boonesborough.
At about the same time several other forts were established in this territory, which was at the time designated as the Transylvania Territory
and embraced all the land south of the Ohio River lying between the Ken4
tucky and Cumberland Rivers. These early forts were located in the
eastern or north-eastern part of the territory. From thenmany explorers and adventurers made trips into the wilderness of the West, return5
ing with glowing accounts of the country they had traversed. These
reports stimulated such a mass migration into the region that in 1776
1. Bacon, Leonard Woolsey, A History of American Christianity.
p. 186.
2. Davidson, op. cit.. pp. 17-19.
3. Ibid.. p. 52.
4. Evans, H. B., A History of Education in the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church. Unpublished Ph. D. Thesis, Peabody College, Nashville, Tennessee, 1937, p. 1.
5. Ibid., p. 2.
the status of the territory was changed from that of a part of Fincastle County, Virginia, to that of an independent county. By 1792
it was admitted to the union as the state of Kentucky.
By the year
1800 there were 220,995 persons in this new state of Kentuoky, by far
the greater number of whom had come from Virginia.
Most of these ex-
Virginians were Scotch-Irish.
In characteristics and temperament the Scotch-Irish people
were somewhat unique.
For generations they had been schooled to the
apprehension and acceptance of an elaborately articulated system of theology and church order as of divine authority. Their prejudices and
animosities were quite as potent as their principles. Especially did
they have a fixed hereditary aversion to the English government and the
English church.
They represented "a sturdy and uncompromising Puri4
and were "a people tenacious of its traditions to the point
of obstinacy."
2. Presbyterianism. Continental Protestantism, and the English
Dissenting Tradition
As has already been intimated, the Scotch-Irish were of the
Presbyterian faith. Presbyterianism had always prided itself upon being
peculiarly representative of Calvinistic theology.
In so far as it is
truly the embodiment of the spirit and teachings of John Calvin it bears
a direct relationship to Continental Protestantism.
1. Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th Edition, Vol. 15, p. 745.
2. Cleveland, Catherine C , The Great Revival in the West 17971805. pp. 2, 5.
3. Bacon, op. cit.. p. 186.
4. Ibid.. p. 55.
5. Ibid., p. 176.
6. The term "Continental Protestantism" is here employed as Hall
used it. By it is meant what Troeltsch called the "Church-type" of Protestantism, in contrast to the sect-type which came to be emphasized in England. See Volume I of the Oxford Reports: Oldham, J.H., and Visser't Hooft,
W. A., The Church and Its Function in Society.
Calvin, along with Luther and the other Continental reformers,
was deeply desirous of keeping in close touch with the historical Church.
Only gradually did they grow away from the Mother Church. The old fundamental, ecumenical creeds continued to be viewed by them as of great
They considered that, though Pope and Church Council could
and did err, yet historical Christianity was fundamental and even essen1
tial to a right understanding of the Bible.
"The Continental type of
Protestantism regards the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the
Old and New Testaments as the highest authority, but looks to a pure
conciliar historic Church to interpret that Word. This pure Church is
easily recognized by its possession of an orderly ministry, sacraments
rightly administered and a pure churchly discipline adequately maintained."'
In other words, it can be said of John Calvin that he was deeply sacramental in character and rather definitely inclined toward High Churchism.
The Calvinism embodied in Scotch Presbyterianism embraced essentially the characteristics referred to above. Most of these attitudes
and concepts became a part, explicitly or implicitly stated, of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Continental Protestantism in its pure form
did not, however, gain complete acceptance among the Scotch. Their peculiar situation and struggle for status in the British Empire produced
a considerable modification of it. Moreover there can be little doubt
that the old ideas and attitudes of English Dissent had penetrated Scotland considerably before John Calvin's name was heard there.
John Wyclif, born about the year 1324, was the father of the
English Dissenting tradition.
He began his separation from the thought
1. Hall, Thomas Cuming, The Religious Background of American
Culture, pp. 49-50.
2. Ibid., p. xi.
3. Ibid.. p. 16.
of his time by attacking the political authority of the Pope. His real
heresies, however, sprang from the fact that in the field of ethics
demanded an authority more trustworthy than that of the Pope. He also
attacked the purely magic character of the Eucharist. The old church,
the old orthodoxy, and the old Norman aristocracy, were so identical
that Wyclif was finally compelled to appeal to the common people. Consequently, the scene became that of a struggle between the haughty, aristocratic, Norman tradition, and a new passion filling the lives and
strengthening the hands of the poorest of the poor. He saw In the Bible
the authority, higher than Pope or Church, which he sought. He, although not a great preacher, set himself to the task of translating
the Bible and of training "Poor Preachers".
took from it (the Mass) for the ordinary man all
magic and external power. Preaching, he said was more important than
the sacrament, and the body of Christ no longer lay upon the altar as
the center of worship. The logic of his position was never more tersely expressed than by Emerson long after, who probably knew little of
Wyclif, when he said the sacrament had simply ceased to interest him.
The church building ceased all of a sudden to be a temple and became
a conventicle. Cathedral and minister were no longer shelters for the
Highest, lying in state upon the altar, but convenient places of assembly to hear preaching and to make room for prayer. For the common man
Wyclif swept away even more effectually than Luther and Calvin the
whole historic Church, for in its place he put the individual interpretation of the English Bible by every simple reader. The historic priesthood lost all meaning, for every Christian was a priest before God, and
was under obligation so far as he had gifts and strength to proclaim the
Word of God. The forgiveness of sin had nothing to do with either the
magic of a sacrament or the message of a minister, but depended solely upon the calling of God to life and duty; and only in the faithful
fulfillment of that duty could one make his calling and election sure.
The sinner could not earn it, but he could by loving service come to
realize that God had called and that he had come. Every soul could
and must come into God's presence without mediation of either priest
or Church. Salvation rested upon no external ceremony but solely upon
a change of heart to which God called all men, and to which all the
elect would respond. The Pope himself could not be sure of salvation,
save aB he lived the life of love. -
1. Hall, op. cit.. pp. 18-19.
With one sweep he had made the great Universal Church wholly
unnecessary, for the chief meaning of such a church is to guarantee to
the seeking soul the genuine character of the saving sacraments and the
administering priesthood.
Neither Luther nor Calvin went so far.
Luther carefully guarded the historic Church, although he preferred to
call it the Christian community; and Calvin no less carefully guarded
the historic teaching ministry with its episcopal rights and duties.
And for both men the sacraments were divinely appointed means of grace,
which the soul neglected at Its peril....
It was the taking away of the sacraments that made preaching and the English Bible so important if Christianity was to be preserved.1
Concomitant with his elevation of the Bible to the all-important position of infallible authority, Wyclif developed the practice
of sending out lay preachers.
No doubt Wyclif used the most educated material he could get,
but he is undoubtedly the Father of that lay preaching, which has marked
England's Protestantism in strong contrast to the churchly Protestantism of the Continent. And this was in accordance with his well-known
doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.^
Wyclif*s followers came to be derisively known as Lollards,
and the organized movement did not last long. The dissenting tradition,
arising out of Lollardism, has been from Wyclif s time a battling move3
ment of the lower class rising up to power. Hall points out that this
tradition is stronger and broader in its reach than Puritanism, which
aimed primarily at reformation within the Church, and that in reality
English dissent constitutes the very foundation of our present-day Amer4
lean social, structure with its extreme emphasis upon individualism.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is an inheritor of that tradition.
Despite his heresies Wyclif died in the communion of the
Church. Many of his later followers remained in the nominal membership
of the State Church and carried on an active propaganda therein.
Hall, op.
Ibid., p.
Ibid., p.
Ibid.. p.
cit.. pp. 20-21.
and out of the Church they were very numerous, being scattered over all
of Britain and southern Scotland and numbering perhaps as much as onehalf of the population.
Their antagonistic attitude towards sports and amusements was
probably due primarily to a class dislike of the expensive ways of life
of the oppressive upper class.
Presbyterianism was not, to be sure, quite so directly an outgrowth of the dissenting tradition as was Methodism. John Wesley has been
described as one of Wyclifs "spiritual children". But Methodism began
flourishing in the Kentucky soil side by side with the newly-born Cumber3
land Presbyterian Church. In fact, the spiritual ordeals which marked
the birth-throes of the latter were jointly participated in by Methodist
and pre-Cumberland Presbyterian ministers.
5. The American Situation
Despite many of our traditional assumptions the religious motives in the settlement of America were probably secondary to the economic in a great majority of cases. Men came here to better their fortunes.
Somewhat Incidentally some of them realized their desire to worship as
they chose. This would seem to be true even in the face of the fact that
the persecutions, which for many precipitated flight from the homeland,
were religious in origin.
Consequently, the American scene prior,as well as subsequent
to the nineteenth century, is primarily that of competition and conflict
in a mad scramble of economic exploitation. In this scene organized
religion has had recurrences of high tides and low.
1. Hall, op^ cit.. p.* 22.
2. Ibidl. p. 64.
3. Bacon, op. cit.. p. 203.
4. Ibid.. p. 233.
The original colonies, or plantations, which were haphazardly established along the Atlantic seaboard were of widely diverse Christian creeds. They bore evidences of and relationships to practically
all the Important controversies and persecutions of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. Especially were there represented among them
the curiously diverse elements that entered into the English Reformation
and the violent vicissitudes which marked its course. Well represented
were Catholics, Conformists, Puritans or Reformists, Separatists (among
whom were the Pilgrims), and the Quakers. From the beginning the colonies presented a sorry plight of schism, mutual alienation, antagonism,
competition, and strife, quite uncongenial to the spirit of the gospel.
It soon became apparent that no one of the mutually jealous sects was to
have any exclusive predominance over even comparatively narrow precincts
of territory.
In most of the colonies churches were often poorly sup-
ported, and religion was constantly matched against powerful currents of
indifference and irreligion.
Out of the vortex of this situation there arose the revival
spirit, which became characteristic of American religious life, and has
from time to time swept over the country. The so-called Great Awakening of 1740 was the first important manifestation of this phenomenon
of revivalism.
It was the most far-reaching and transforming event of
the eighteenth-century religious life of America. The exhausting toil
and privations of the pioneer had been succeeded by a good measure of
thrift and comfort. The severest stress of the Indian wars was passed,
Bacon, op. cit.. pp. 30-31.
Ibid.. p. 32.
Ibid.. pp. 54-55.
Walker, Williston, A History of the Christian Church, p.570.
and the institutions of a Christian civilization were becoming settled.
It was, nevertheless, a time of spiritual and moral depression, char2
acterized by an imaginative and mystical attitude of mind.
ism was receiving primary emphasis.
Under his intense preaching, the Great Awakening began in
Jonathan Edward's Northampton, Massachusetts, parish in 17S3. By 1735,
he could write,
The goings of God were then seen in his sanctuary. God's
day was a delight, and his tabernacles were amiable.... The congregation
was alive in God's service, every one intent on the public worship,every
hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from
his mouth; the assembly in general were from time to time in tears while
the Word was preached, some weeping with sorrow and distress, others
with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their
neighbors. Our public praises were then greatly enlivened.4
The spirit of this revival quickly spread throughout the Connecticut Valley, thence to Newark, New Jersey, and to practically all sections of the colonies. It is significant that it deeply affected a ScotchIrish community in New Londonderry, Pennsylvania. Their pastor, Samuel
Blair, writes the following description of what occurred there in March,
There was a visible appearance of much soul-concern among
the hearers; so that some burst out with an audible noise into bitter
crying.... While I was speaking .... They .... burst out in the most
bitter mourning..... The number of the awakened increased very fast,
frequently under sermons there were some newly convicted and brought
into deep distress of soul about their perishing estate. Our Sabbath
assemblies soon became vastly large, many people from almost all parts
around inclining very much to come where there was such appearance of '
the divine power and presence.... Several would be overcome and fainting; others deeply sobbing, hardly able to contain; others crying in a
1. Bacon, op. cit..p. 127.
2. Ibid., p. 156.
3. Brandt, Le Roy C , Socio-Geographical Influences on the
Techniques of Evangelism Amongst Protestants In the United States.r-.'.V.7.
Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, New York University Library, 1937, p. 37.
4. Bacon, op. cit.. p. 158.
most dolorous manner; many others more silently weeping and a solemn
concern appearing in the countenances of many others. And sometimes
the soul-exercises of some (though comparatively but very few) would
so far affect their bodies as to occasion some strange, unusual bodily
motions.... Several of them had very remarkable and sweet deliverances....
It was very agreeable to hear their accounts how that when they were
in the deepest perplexity and darkness, distress and difficulty, seeking God as poor, condemned, hell-deserving sinners, the scene of recovering grace through a Redeemer has been opened to their understandings with a surprising beauty and glory, so that they were enabled to
believe in Christ with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
George WhitefIeld, coming to America as a result of the 1mportunings of Charles and John Wesley, added great impetus to the revival in 1740. His practice of preaching in open fields, where necessary, was an innovation widely imitated here and by Wesley in England.
He was given to trusting "impressions" and to censorious judgments of
other men as "unconverted".
Edwards opposed him in these practices, but
to little avail. Some of Whitefield's associates and followers intensi2
fled these faults to an annoying degree.
The impetus of the Great Awakening gradually tapered off until the stormy days of the revolutionary period, when as a visible movement, it completely disappeared.
Among its significant results was a
split of the American Presbyterian Church into the "Old Side" and "New
Side" parties. The "Old Side" was the Scotch-Irish party, which was also
the anti-revival party.
The "New Side" was the New England party, which
actively favored the revival. The Old Side voted the New Side out of
the synod in 1741. The exclnded ones, however, immediately organized a
new synod and increased their numbers rapidly. The Old Siders had made
an early move to exclude the fervid preachers who had studied at Tennant's
Log College by requiring a degree from a British or a New England College
1. As quoted in Bacon, op. cit.. pp. 161-162.
2. Ibid.. pp. 163-166, 169.
as a condition of license to preach. This move was met by the New
-- 1
Siders' organisation of Princeton College.
It will be interesting to
note how closely this situation parallels that out of which the Cumberland Presbyterian Church originated.
In the Presbyterian Church, revivalism as a principle of
church life had to contend with rules distinctly articulated in its constitutional documents. So exclusively does the Westminster institute
contemplate the church as an established parish that its "Directory
for Worship" contains no provision for so abnormal an incident as the
baptism of an adult, and all baptized children growing up and not
being of scandalous life are to be welcomed to the Lord's Supper.
It proves the immense power of the Awakening, that this rigid and
powerful organization, of a people tenacious of its traditions to
the point of obstinacy, should have swung so completely free at this
point, not only of its long-settled usages, but of the distinct letter
of its standards.*
It should be remembered that, for the most part, it was the
Old Side, Scotch-Irish party, which migrated in such numbers into the
Cumberland Territory. Although slightly impregnated with the germs of
revivalism, this party was still "a people tenacious of its traditions
to the point of obstinacy."
By the end of 1742 there was hardly a parish in all the colonies from north to south which had not in some measure been affected
by the revival influence.
But by the middle of the eighteenth cen-
tury the religious fervor of the Great Awakening was perceptibly cooling and the intense interest in matters of religion was giving way to
other concerns. There was a new westward wave of population which was
relentlessly pushing across the Appalachian barrier. With land to be
cleared, homes to be built, and crops to be planted, the settler found
himself so occupied that religion was forced from a dominant to a second4
ary place of importance in his life.
Even the older colonies were af-
Bacon, op. cit., pp. 166, 172.
Ibid.. pp. 176-177.
Biederwolf, William E., Evangelism, p. 28.
Brandt, op. cit.. p. 65.
fected by the increased activity, one cause of which was the rising flood
of European immigration.
The War for Independence effectually effaced the last apparent
vestiges of the Great Awakening. At the beginning of the union of the
colonies there was a critical state of affairs. The federation was viewed
with uncertainty and suspicion. There was much sectional bitterness and
jealousy. Confidence in the new Constitution was weak. Agriculture and
industry were greatly retarded.
The new money was "not worth a Contin-
ental". In general, there was discouragement, lack of faith in institutions, suspicions, jealousies, and consuming hatreds. The moral restraints engendered by the Great Awakening had been dissipated with loose
army camp life. European Deism had crept in to weaken belief in revealed
religion, and there was schism and stultifying Inervation within the chur1
The two decades from the close of the War of Independence include the period of the lowest ebb-tide of vitality in the history of
American Christianity. The spirit of half-belief or unbelief that prevailed on the other side of the sea, both in the church and out of it,
was manifest also here....
The closing years of the eighteenth century show the lowest
low-water mark of the lowest ebb-tide of spiritual life in the history
of the American Church. The demoralization of army life, the fury of
political factions, the catch-penny materialist morality of Franklin,
the philosophic deism of men like Jefferson, and the popular ribaldry
of Tom Paine, had wrought, together with other untoward influences,
to bring about a condition of things which to the eye of little faith
seemed almost desperate.^
It was during this time that the streams of settlers began
entering the wilderness of Kentucky.
At this point the Scotch-Irish
and the Presbyterian Church again come into the focus of our considera-
1. Brandt, op. cit.. pp. 73-75; Bacon, op. cit.. pp. 208-209.
2. Bacon, op. cit.. pp. 219^250.
3. Brandt, oji^ cit.. p. 75.
tion. They, on this section of the frontier, were destined to exert
upon this age of spiritual delinquency powerful influences which were
to flow in all directions.
Practically all the religious persons among the early immigrants to this new territory were Presbyterians, Methodist, or Baptists.
Of these the Presbyterians numbered a large majority.
The Presbyterian
Church devised campaigns of home missionary enterprise, detailing pastors
from their parishes for temporary mission service in following the movement of the Scotch-Irish migration. The Methodists, who had only transformed themselves from a band of preaching missionary laymen to a living separate church in 1784, were present and active but not nearly so
strong as the Presbyterians.
The conditions of life on the Cumberland frontier were severe.
It was a place where each man was accepted for his ability to wrest a
living from the wilderness.
Indian fights were frequent and bloody.
The necessities of life were rare since practically the only means of
transportation to and from the outside world was by pack horses over
Indian trails. Occasionally flatboats, loaded with produce, were
floated down the river to New Orleans. Since these could not be brought
back, they were sold for wood, and the men walked back home through the
Indian country.
Prices on imported necessities were extremely high.
Sugar was used only for the sick or on very special occasions. Salt was
sold at $10.00 per bushel, and iron at #25.00 per hundred-weight. The
Bacon, op. cit., p. 220.
Cleveland, op. cit.. pp. 15-16.
Bacon, op. cit.. pp. 219-220.
Brandt, op. cit.. p. 77.
McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 1.
Evans, op. cit.. p. 6.
McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 3.
cabins and their furniture were built without benefit of nails. Cloth1
ing was made from skins, furs, buffalo wool, and the lint of nettles.
There were no shoes other than moccasins made of untanned hides. The
men, like the redskins, carried the scalping knife and the tomahawk in
their belts. There were only wooden dishes and not more than one or
two knives and forks to a family.
Houses were made of logs, and the settlements were often in the
form of palisaded forts which offered protection against Indian attacks.
The law of retaliation —
"An eye for an eye" and a life for a life —
became the code of conduct for both the white man and the red.
The country was sparsely settled, and the society was broken
up into small parts because of the difficulties of transportation — even
good wagon roads being for a long time completely lacking. Naturally
the people,, under such conditions, developed the dominant traits of selfassertiveness and independence. Class distinctions were precluded. Life
was lived with a sort of reckless abandon. Religion, education, and cul7
ture received very little attention.
By the beginning of the last decade of the eighteenth century
these conditions were becoming somewhat modified. After Wayne's victory
in 1794, there was less fear of the Indians, so settlements began to
spread away from the rivers. A marked contrast arose between life in
the town and in the country, although for the majority there still re1. Evans, op. cit., p. 6.
2. McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 3.
5. Evans, op. cit.. p. 6.
4. Cleveland, op. cit.. p. 6.
5. Evans, op. cit.. p. 7.
6. Cleveland, op. cit.. p. 6.
7. Brandt, op. cit.. p. 77.
mained the round of hardship and privation, the loneliness and solemni
ty characteristic of all sparsely settled regions. Class distinctions
were emerging among the population. Most communities had some sort of
school, the Bible being the favorite text-book, and churches were fairly prevalent. Social life centered within the community on weddings,
dancing, spinning-bees, corn-huskings, singing-schools, and the liks,
which things were condemned by many people as not being in keeping with
the welfare of the soul.
The typical pioneer had come to this region seeking material
and not spiritual things. Consequently, there was a low state of spir2
itual interest.
Bishop Asbury, writing in 1797, indicated the cause
when he said,
When I reflect that not one in a hundred came here to get
religion, but rather to get plenty of good land, I think it will be
well if some or many do not eventually lose their souls.3
There was much speculation in land, as a result of which land
values were sky-rocketed out of all proportion to reason. In fact, the
"Father" of Presbyterianism in the region, Rev. David Rice, who first
went there on a business trip with the intention of trying to make provision for his numerous and dependent relatives, was so disgusted with
the spirit of speculation which was rife that he left without purchasing
an acre.
Many of the immigrants, however, had been God-fearing men and
women. They greatly missed the ordinances of the church and were anxious to see places of worship erected in the new communities. Aside from
the facts of general infidelity and indifference, a chief drawback to
this accomplishment was the almost total lack of ministers. The settlers
1. Cleveland, oju cit.. pp. 7-12.
2. Evans, op. cit., p. 8.
3. Asbury, Francis, Journal. II, p. 286, as quoted in Cleveland,
op. cit., p. 29.
4. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 64.
had not brought their pastors with them.
uneducated and incompetent.
Those who had come were usually
When Rev. Mr. Rice made the trip referred to above he was invited to preach on many occasions and was importuned to move to the area
and become the pastor of groups in several adjoining communities. This
he did in 1783, organizing congregations at Danville, Cane Run, and the
Forks of Dick's River.
Chiefly as a result of Mr. Rice's influence the Synod of Virginia began to take a more definite interest in the churchless Presbyterians in Kentucky.
Consequently, the first Presbytery in the new ter-
ritory was organized in 1786. It was called Transylvania Presbytery —
Transylvania being a euphonious and classical name for "the backwoods".
All historians of the period seem agreed that by the middle
of the last decade of the eighteenth century the religious life of most
of the United States had reached an unprecedented low.
ritory ihe
situation was particularly bad.
In the new ter-
There had been a short-lived
revival of interest in Mr. Rice's congregations about the year 1790, but
from that time on conditions had grown steadily worse. It was reported
that a majority of the people were infidels, and that almost every known
form of vice was openly practiced.. For a time it appeared that organized
religion was liable to become totally extinct in the area. The Kentucky
legislature, In 1793, even voted to dispense with prayers in its sessions.
1. Brandt, op. cit., p. 79.
2. Davidson, op. cit., pp. 65, 67.
5- Ibid.. pp. 81, 82.
4. Ibid.. pp. i/99,100.
5. Thompson, R. E., A History of the Presbyterian Churches in
in the United States, p. 75.
The Great Revival of 1800
It was at about this time that Christians of different denominations in Europe and America began uniting in concerts of prayer for
the revival of religion in the world and for the more general propaga1
tion of the gospel.
The first spark of a re-awakening was felt in New
England in 1792. From there in the next five or six years it spread
through most of the states down the Atlantic seaboard.
Finally, just
at the close of the century, it reached the new West beyond the Alleghanies, where it touched off a conflagration which has. profoundly af2
fected the religious life of the entire country ever since. The result
was a Second Great Awakening, commonly referred to as the Great Revival
of 1800.
The key figure in bringing this revival to a head was Rev.
James McGready. Born in western Pennsylvania of Scotch-Irish parents,
he was educated for the ministry, and in 1788 was licensed to preach
by the PreBbytery of Redstone, Pennsylvania.
Shortly after his licen-
sure he decided to move to North Carolina, where he had spent some of
the days of his boyhood.
On his way he stopped over for a few days at
Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia where a local revival was in progress.
During these days he became deeply impressed with the value of evangelistic preaching, and felt the kindling of revival zeal in himself. When
he reached North Carolina he preached with such effect that many were
converted. Possessed of great physical stamina and a voice which won
for him the title of Boanerges, he was so vehement in his denunciations
of sin and hypocrisy that, in 1790, his community in Orange County was
divided into two factions: his ardent supporters and his blood-thirsty
1. McDonnold, op. cit.. pp. 10, U .
2. Walker, Williston, A History of the Christian Church, p. 578.
enemies. He received a letter written in blood warning him to leave
the country at the peril of his life, and on one occasion his pews
were wrecked and his pulpit burned. Because of this hostility and
also because he wanted to follow some of his parishioners who had migrated, he moved to Kentucky in 1796, and there took charge of the
three small Presbyterian congregations of Gasper, Red, and Muddy
Rivers in Logan County.
In a short while he was inducing his people
to sign the following covenant:
We bind ourselves to observe the third Saturday of each
month, for one year, as a day of fasting and prayer for the conversion
of sinners in Logan County and throughout the world. We also engage
to spend one-half hour every Saturday evening, beginning at the setting
of the sun and one-half hour every Sabbath morning from the rising of
the sun, pleading with God to revive his work.1
With this covenant as a background remarkable revivals broke
out in all three of these churches in 1797, 1798 and 1799. These were
the fore-runners of the Great Revival of 1800.
McGready's churches were located in the southwestern part of
the state of Kentucky, in what was familiarly known as "Cumberland
Country," which, in addition to this area of Kentucky, embraced most
of the middle section of what came to be the state of Tennessee.
This was, up to that time,the latest section of Kentucky-Tennessee
territory to be settled. The Presbyterian churches in this area had
been meagerly served by a mediocre, elderly clergy who were past their
and who were generally Inclined to a cold, lifeless formalism.
These men were given to theological tediousness and were filled with
the prejudices and jealousies that had so disturbed the Presbyterian
Church in the older states. Their sermons, sometimes lasting for sev1. Dictionary of American Biography. Vol. XII, pp. 56-57;
also, Evans, op. cit.. pp. 15-16.
2. EvanB, op. cit.. p. 16.
3. McDonnold, op. cit., see map facing p. 1.
4. Davidson, op. cit... p. 103.
5. Evans, op. cit.. p. 15.
eral hours, had little or no appeal to the young or the unconverted.
About 1798, however, a number of local preachers of the Methodist
denomination and several younger Presbyterian preachers moved into
the region. They, for the most part, had come from places where mild
revivals were in progress and were eager to further such movements in
the new country.
In order to understand the revival's development it will be
well to keep in mind the fact that the three denominations chiefly affected manifested certain distinctive characteristics. The Presbyterians,
as suggested above, laid stress upon an educated ministry, and
were permeated with a stiff, dry, intellectual atmosphere.
The Bap-
tists, on the other hand, went to an extreme in their opposition to
education, holding that it impaired rather than augmented the ability
of a would-be preacher. The Methodists, who had from their inception
laid great stress upon personal religion, were insisting that there
should be some correlation between profession and living. To them religion was something to be actually experienced and felt, and the emo5
tions played a large part in their worship.
It was in such a setting that McGready's fervor began to
produce its rich results.
His doctrine was a modified Calvinism. He dwelt upon the
necessity for the new birth and the importance of knowing the time when
and the place where the conversion had occurred. This was a new note
in the Presbyterian denomination in that section of the world. But
there was another note in the gamut of his eloquence that was not new.
1. Davidson, op. cit., pp. 103-104.
2. Cleveland, op. cit., p. 36.
5. Ibid., pp. 48-49.
In New England under Edwards, and in Old England under Wesley, it had
sounded forth clear and strong and terrible in fearful denunciation
of the wrath of God upon impenitent sinners. A friend of McGready
(Rev. William Barnett) said of him that he would so array hell before
the wicked that they would tremble and quake, imagining a lake of fire
and brimstone yawning to overwhelm them and the hand of the Almighty
thrusting them down the horrible abyss.1
The revivals in his churches produced some very marked results.
Secular business was forgotten, and men under deep conviction
spent the days alone in the woods, weeping and praying. Groups that met
in the houses talked of eternity, and wept together over their ruined
conditions.... The hou3eB and the deep forests in Logan County rang*
with the prayers of souls in distress.*
It was in 1799, when the sacramental service was being held
in the Gasper congregation, that the results began reaching a climax
in public.
Men under overwhelming convictions fell to the floor, and
though they were entirely conscious, as they afterward testified, yet
they remained prostrate and motionless for hours. When they rose, it
was with the shouts of victory on their tongues.3
Naturally, word of such occurrences was noised abroad, and
curious crowds gathered to witness the excitement. One family, just
arrived from North Carolina, came to this 1799 Gasper meeting and camped
in their wagon on the church ground.
They found the arrangement so con-
venient that it suggested to Mr. McGready that it would be a good idea
to advertise the Gasper River meeting to be held in July, 1800, as a
"camp meeting".
To this meeting great numbers of people came, bringing
necessary provisions and equipment to last for the entire week of services. This is generally credited as being the first camp meeting ever
It continued four days, beginning on Friday.
The camp was laid
off in a square with the people arranging their tents and covered wagons accordingly.
The inner court of this square was used as the place
1. Davenport, Frederick M., Primitive Traits in Religious Revivals, p. 67, as quoted in footnote in Cleveland, op. cit., p. 44.
2. McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 11.
5. Ibid.. p. 12.
4. Anderson, T. C , Life of Reverend George Donnell. p. 92,
as summarized in Evans, op. cit.. p. 16.
of worship. A platform, erected in the center, was built of hewn logs
surrounded by hand rails. The remaining space in the court was filled
with seats made from hewn logs.
Several other ministers assisted Mr.
McGready. There was much emotional excitement.
"The camp resounded
with sobs and cries; and the ministers spent the night in passing from
one group to another, who were penetrated with pungent convictions of
sin, and anxious to obtain relief."
The camp-meeting plan, once introduced, spread over the country like wildfire. At least ten were held in Cumberland settlements
during the year 1800. It soon became the practice for Methodists, Bapi*
tists, and Presbyterians to sponsor them jointly.
Such meetings, jointly
sponsored, were called "general camp meetings". The most largely attended and famous of these was the General Camp Meeting held at Cane Ridge,
Kentucky, in August 1801. It was attended by a throng estimated to be
as great as 20,000.
Davidson describes this meeting at Cane Ridge in the following
Here were collected all the elements calculated to affect the
imagination. The spectacle presented at night was one of wildest grandeur. The glare of the blazing camp-fires falling on a dense assemblage
of heads simultaneously bowed in adoration, and reflected back from long
ranges of tents upon every side; hundreds of candles and lamps suspended
among the trees, together with numerous torches flashing to and fro,
throwing an uncertain light upon the tremulous foliage, and giving an
appearance of dim and indefinite extent to the depth of the forest; the
solemn chanting of hymns swelling and falling on the night wind; the
impassioned exhortations; the earnest prayers; the sobs, shrieks, or
shouts, bursting from persons under intense agitation of mind; the sudden spasms which seized upon scores and unexpectedly dashed them to the
ground;.... all conspired to invest the scene with terrific interest,
and to work up the feelings to the highest pitch of excitement.
Evans, op. cit.. p. 17.
Davidson, op. cit.. p. 135*
Ibid.. p. 135.
Ibid., p. 137.
When we add to this the lateness of the hour to which the
exercises were protracted, sometimes till 2 in the morning, or longer;
.... the eagerness of curiosity, stimulated for so long a time previouse; — the reverent enthusiasm which ascribed the strange contortions
witnessed to the mysterious agency of God;... the fervent and sanguine
temper of some of the preachers; .... and, lastly, the boiling zeal
of the Methodists, who could not refrain from shouting aloud during
sermon, and shaking hands all round afterwards, in what Mr. Lyle calls
"a singing ecstacy", and who did everything in their power to heap
fuel on the fire; — take all this into consideration, and it will
abate our surprise very much when informed that the number of persons
who fell was computed by Rev. James Crawford, at the astonishing number of about 3,000,1
The camp ground selected for such meetings was usually situated in a wooded place. The fires at night gave weirdness to the forest scene. Most of the food had been prepared before the campers left
home; that cooked in camp was usually coarse and poorly prepared, consisting primarily of "jerked meat and corn bread".
There was such open
fellowship that any camper's table was freely accessible to the hungry
stranger. At first, the people slept in their covered wagons or on
the open ground. Later, tents were utilized for living quarters. On
some occasions two large tents were provided for sleeping quarters, one
for men and one for women.
Straw, abundantly provided for beds, was
also scattered over the entire preaching ground. A nearby grainfield
was usually leased for the campers' horses.
When the numbers attending became so large that no one speaker
could address them all, additional stands were erected In the central
clearing and in the groves near by in order that several ministers might
preach at the same time. This arrangement had some unfortunate results.
The crowds became inclined to listen only to such addresses as were vociferous and impassioned, and would forsake the dry, dull preacher en
masse upon receiving word that things were "more lively" elsewhere.
Davidson, op. cit.. p. 138.
Evans, op. cit.. pp. 22-25.
Cleveland, op. cit.. p. 56.
Davidson, op. cit*. p. 159.
One is led to wonder If this may not have helped stir jealousies among
the ministers which ultimately led to the development In their ranks
of "revival" and "anti-revival" parties.
An eye-witness gives the following interesting description
of the meetings:
At first appearance those meetings exhibited nothing to the
spectator but a scene of confusion, that could scarce be put into human
language. They were generally opened with a sermon; near the close of
which there would be an unusual outcry; some bursting forth into loud
ejaculations of prayer, or thanksgiving for the truth; others breaking
out into emphatic sentences of exhortation; others flying to their
careless friends, with tears of compassion beseeching them to turn to
the Lord. Some struck with terror, and hastening through the crowd to
make their escape, or pulling away their relations.... Others, trembling, weeping and crying out for the Lord Jesus to have mercy upon them;
fainting and swooning away till every appearance of life was gone....
Others surrounding them with melodious songs or fervent prayers for their
happy resurrection in the love of Christ.... Others collecting in circles around the variegated scene, contending with arguments for and
against. And under such appearances the work would continue for days
and nights together.1
The scene must, indeed, have been at times that of the utmost
confusion; several ministers, not entirely out of ear-shot of one another,
preaching at once; individuals constantly fainting in the milling crowd,
and their friends hastening to their aid; as many as half a dozen hymns
being loudly, almost violently, sung at once; sometimes several people,
often whole congregations, bursting into a babel of prayer; great numbers
throughout the crowds being seized suddenly with extraordinary spasms •.
of violent bodily agitations; hysterloal laughter and ecstatic shouts
of "Glory! Glory to Godl," mingled with the fervent exhortations of men,
women, and even quite young children, who had "got deliverance;" the
crowd surging first to one point of excitement and unusual interest and
then to another; while cooking, eating, sleeping, and the like processes,
were all going on simultaneously with the religious services.
1. McNemar, Richard, The Kentucky Revival, p. 23, as quoted in
Cleveland, op. cit., p* 60.
2. Davidson, op. cit.. pp. 156-159.
It was only natural that a great many impious people were
attracted to a scene where there was so much excitement. Various records have indicated that liquor peddlers, pick-pockets, and prostitutes
were present, along with numbers of rowdies who were out to have a great
The bodily exercises exhibited were most unusual, and In the
course of the revival's progress they came to be grouped in several
classes, namely: the exercises of falling, jerking, rolling, running,
dancing, laughing, barking, and visions and trances.
The Jerks, as it was called, was entirely without precedent.
The first case on record of this strange manifestation occured in East
Tennessee when several hundred men and women were simultaneously seized
with involuntary convulsions. The most common form of this contortion
was a jerking of the forearms, but it often spread to other parts of
the body, and sometimes to all the muscles of the person so seized. To
quote from en early writer,
The subject was instantaneously seized with spasms or convulsions in every muscle, nerve and tendon. His head was jerked or thrown
from side to side with such rapidity that it was impossible to distinguish his visage, and the most lively fears were awakened lest he should
dislocate his neck or dash out his brains. His body partook of the
same impulse and was hurried on by like jerks over every obstacle,
fallen trunks of trees, or in a church, over pews and benches, apparently to the most imminent danger of being bruised and mangled. It
was useless to attempt to hold or restrain him, and the paroxysm was
permitted gradually to exhaust itself.5
When neck muscles were affected by this spasm, the head was tossed about
with such a frightful celerity that long hair was thrown back and forth
so "as to crack and snap like the lash of a whip."4
1. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 160.
2. Ibid.. p. 142; also, Evans, op. cit.. p. 27. Evan's description of these exercises is quite vivid and complete.
3. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 146.
4. Evans, op. cit., p. 51.
Physical demonstrations, regardless of their nature, often
ended with a period of unconsciousness varying from thirty minutes to
several hours in length.
During this period the subject had mysterious
visions or dreams. These abounded in colorful imagery and were symbolic of ^spiritual matters. Davidson quotes from Lyle's diary bearing on this point as follows;
At Lexington., October, 1801, H. McD's wife fell and swooned
away; though, when she came to, she had been asleep.... Dreamt she was
walking on the tops of trees. K. C. swoons often; and in one swoon saw
a vision of Heaven, with a small door. J. C. is in despair; has had a
vision of Hell, and heard a voice saying that he must die without religion in such a time, etc.... Two women in Stonermouth have fallen
into trances (July 12, 1801) and one has passed a golden bridge to
Heaven's gate, etc. The other has been in Heaven.1
These physical demonstrations and the excess of emotion which
accompanied them have been explained by secular historians as "forms that
mass religion may take in an untaught community, hungry for contacts".
In treating the revival such historians lay great emphasis upon the fact
that the isolation and loneliness of frontier life had created a craving for companionship and excitement which gave a peculiar character to
politics and play, as well as religion. Occasions for social gatherings
came infrequently, but when they came there were stores of pent-up lone2
llness to be relieved.
Opposition to the Revival
It was inevitable that opposition should arise to the revival
In the first place, the Presbyterian clergy were steeped In
a tradition of conservatism which naturally caused them to look askance at many of the revival practices. Although they were glad to see
1. Evans, op. cit.. pp. 27-56.
2. Paxson, Frederic L, History of the American Frontier. 17651895. pp. 115-117.
the revival, they had grave doubts as to the quality and permanence
of its outcomes. These doubts crystallized into convictions for many
as the revival extravagances became more and more pronounced.
points out that the only Presbyterian clergymen who were really engaged
in it were five from the lower settlements of Kentucky, where, as we
have already noted, there was also a strong Separatist sentiment among
the Baptists. These five men were McGready, Hodge, McGee, McAdow, and
Rankin. The others of their brethren strongly disapproved.
James Balch, a Presbyterian minister traveled through the Cumberland
region in 1798 in opposition to the methods employed by McGready.
is credited with having delayed the revival probably as much as a year.
In the great camp meetings of later years the opposition ministers were
often present, but felt such a loss of status because they would not, or
could not enter into the spirit of the occasions as did their revival
brethren, that their opposition became all the more intensified.
occasions they tried to calm the tempestuous enthusiasm of the multitudes,
to curb their fervent utterances, and to temper the extravagances. They
were rewarded with rebukes and with accusations of not being "regenerated".
When Mr. Lyle remonstrated with a layman for praying aloud
after falling, he replied that he must obey the dictate of his feelings;
he complained that the interruption had destroyed his feelings; and said
it was suggested to him that Mr. Lyle had no religion. When remonstrating with another enthusiast, he was told that he was not qualified to
judge of a work which he had never felt in his own body. 3
The open break between those favoring and those opposing the
revival came at a sacramental service held at Walnut Hill, Kentucky, on
the first Sunday in September, 1801. There were more than i a dozen
Presbyterian and Baptist ministers present at this meeting.
1. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 135.
2. Cleveland, op. cit., p. 57.
3. Davidson, op. cit., p. 168.
At the pre-
paratory service on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Rice, known as the
"father of Presbyterianism in Kentucky", being quite advanced in
years, "exhorted powerfully against noise and false exercise." Even
Mr. Lyle, who was strongly opposed to the extravagances of the revival, felt that this speech while revealing Mr. Rice to be "particularly and properly affected about the delusions and bodily affections
that prevailed" also indicated that "he was not so tender for the lost
souls of sinners as might have been expected."
It was natural that
many people at the meeting disagreed with Mr. Rice's views. These
people accused him and his sympathizers of being opposed to the revival.
From this time both people and clergy were divided into two parties
which became more and more widely separated as time went on and the re1
vival proceeded.
Those favoring the revival stigmatized those oppos-
ing as "Anti-Revival Men", while those opposing labeled as "The New
Lights" those favoring it.
Cossitt, writing in defense of the revival party, points out
the fact that the ministers opposing the revival were old men
wanted to carry on institutionalized religion on the frontier just as
it was carried on in more settled areas. They felt that ministers
should confine themselves to stationary pastorates, preaching only for
the regular services, which were usually held on the Sabbath. Their
preaching, according to Cossitt, consisted of "cold, formal, sapless
discourses, suited to drowsy eyes and slumbering consciences; while
the Macedonian cry was coming to them from every quarter". It was
1. Davidson, op. cit.. pp. 161-162.
2. Cossitt, Rev. F. R., DD., The Life and Times of Reverend
Finis Ewing. p. 343.
5. Ibid.. p. 340.
also said that "comparatively few cared to attend on their ministry or
to hear them preach, when they could hear any others; while the people
flocked in crowds to the appointments of the men whom they were so bitterly opposing. Their mortification, which must have been extreme, so
far from humbling them, seems to have stimulated them to renewed and
more vigorous efforts."
Bacon writes that the Presbyterians, "repelled by the grotesqueness and extravagance" of the revival manifestations, fell into the
grave error of condemning "the good work with which they were associated."
Even Davidson, whose record is obviously anti-revival in bias, admits
that among those "converted" in the revivals, "the number of apostates
were much fewer than might be supposed".
This chapter has traced the religious background and the environmental conditions of the people in the Cumberland Country from the time of
their settlement through the first few years of the nineteenth century.
Although a summary of the significant facts discussed will be included at
the conclusion of the following chapter, in which it will be shown how
these facts contributed to the origin of the institution under consideration, attention may well be called here to the point that the loneliness
and geographic and cultural isolation of the frontier had produced a high
degree of individualism, emphasis upon excitement and emotionalism, and
discontent with old Institutional forms unadapted to frontier social conditions. The setting in Presbyterianism was that of a situation ripe
1. Cossitt, op. cit.. p. 444.
2. Bacon, op. cit.. p. 241.
3. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 188*
»-,., "'^'^-.'A;
>*< '•I'f
^ '
for the emergence of a new institution adapted to social needs."The
common experiences of religion needed to be restated in terms of
frontier life."
1. Paxson, op. cit.. p. 118.
^''.«f,i»-,. \xii i;Mii^ii''Va,ii •cAr..V '
Creation and Dissolution of Cumberland Presbytery
As has already been noted, the revival began in the southwestern part of the state of Kentucky.
This was in the Cumberland
Country, over which the movement quickly spread. The area was also
within the bounds of Transylvania Presbytery of the Synod of Kentucky
of the Presbyterian Church.
The revival so enlarged the membership of the church in this
territory that it appeared necessary to create a new presbytery out of
the southwestern part of Transylvania Presbytery.
the new body was called Cumberland Presbytery.
This was done, and
The first meeting of
this new presbytery was held April 5, 1803. The synod had judiciously organized the body with an exact balance of power between the revival and anti-revival parties. There were ten ministers. Five of
them, James McGready, William Hodge, William McGee, John Rankin, and
Samuel McAdow, were sympathetic towards the revival. The other five,
Thomas Craighead, Tera Templin, John Bowman, Samuel Donnell, and James
Balch, were opposed to it. This balance did not last very long.
Methodist by the name of James Howe had been received into membership
in Transylvania Presbytery. He joined Cumberland Presbytery at its
first meeting. His sympathies were with the revival party, and his
vote broke the balance of power in their favor. The presbytery then,
1. McKamy, op. cit.. p. 4.
2. Evans, op. cit., p. 57.
under their control, proceeded to ordain three men of revival sympathies
who had been licensed by Transylvania Presbytery in the fall of 1802.
These men were Alexander Anderson, Finis Ewing, and Samuel King. Their
ordination was, when viewed in the light of the situation and the history of their cases, highly significant.
The revival had stimulated a most remarkable religious interest throughout the settlements of the Cumberland Country. Those people
who had attended the camp-meetings went back to their neighborhoods enthusiastic and anxious to spread the good work there. Soon the need
for ordained ministers was being keenly felt. Those available could
not supply more than one-third of the congregations which were calling
for their services. Mr. Rice visited McGready's field,
And being informed of the destitute state of most of the
churches, and the pressing demands for the means of grace, earnestly
recommended that they should choose from among the Jlalty some men
who appeared to possess talents and a disposition to exercise their
gifts publicly to preach the gospel, although they might not have
acquired that degree of education required by the Book of Discipline*
This propostion was cordially approved by both preachers and people....
What still more clearly convinced them of the propriety of this measure
was that in almost every congregation that had been blessed with the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there were one or more intelligent and
spiritual men whoBe gifts in exhortation had already been honored by
the Head of the church in awakening and converting precious souls.
Accordingly three zealous, Intelligent, and influential members of
the church — viz., Alexander Anderson, Finis Ewing, and Samuel King —
were encouraged by the revival preachers to prepare written discourses and to present themselves before the Transylvania Presbytery at
its session in 1801. All these persons had previously been under
serious impressions that it was their duty to devote themselves to
the ministry, but as they had not enjoyed the advantages of a collegiate education, and were men of families and somewhat advanced in life,
they had been laboring under difficulties. At the meeting of Transylvania Presbytery, in October 1801, the case of these brethren was
brought before that body, from some of whom they met with warm opposition. However, after a protracted discussion, it was agreed by
the majority that they might be permitted to read their discourses
privately to Mr. Rice.*
1. McDonnold, op. cit.. pp. 48-49.
2. Ibid.. p. 48.
3. Evans, op. cit.. p. 38.
4. Smith, James, History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
p. 580, as quoted in McDonnold, op. cit.. pp. 48-49.
Mr. Rice, after hearing the discourses, reported favorably
to the presbytery, which then sent the three men out as exhorters to
the vacant congregations. In the spring of 1802 Anderson was, by a
majority of one vote, received as a regular candidate for the ministry,
and the others, by a like majority, were retained in the category of
exhorters or catechists. All three were licensed to preach in the
fall of 1802. The circumstances of their licensure were unique in
that neither of the men measured up to the high educational requirements of the Presbyterian Church and in that each man made a doctrinal
exception in accepting the Westminster Confession of Faith. This exception was with regard to the doctrine of fatality.
They adopted the Confession of Faith as far as they understood it, meaning that they did not understand what is taught concerning eternal election and reprobation. The same course, we are
informed, was pursued in the Presbytery in North Carolina, to which
most of the old members of Cumberland Presbytery had formerly been
On both of these points there was strong opposition to the
licensure and to Cumberland Presbytery's subsequent ordination of these
men. Mr. Rice, by direction of Transylvania Presbytery, wrote a letter
to the General Assembly requesting its judgment on the question of educational requirements. The Assembly sent the following reply:
A liberal education, though not absolutely essential, has
been shown to be highly important and useful, from reason and experience and the prosperity of the Presbyterian and New England churches.
But, whatever might be the Assembly's opinion, the standards are explicit on the subject,.... When the field is too extensive, catechists, like those of primitive times, may be found useful assistants.
But great caution should be used — If possessed of uncommon talents,
diligent in study, and promising usefulness, they might in time purchase to themselves a good degree, and be admitted in regular course
to the holy ministry.3
1. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 49; Davidson, op. cit.. pp. 224-226.
2. Smith, op. cit.. p. 598, as quoted in Cossitt, op* cit*. p.350.
3. Quoted in Cossitt, op. cit., p. 346.
Those in the majority in Cumberland Presbytery felt that they
were acting wholly in keeping with this deliverance when as a matter
of expediency they continued to appoint exhorters and to ordain those
who "purchased to themselves a good degree". Soon seventeen exhorters
were busy promoting the work. In other ways the presbytery proceeded
to adjust and adapt Presbyterianism to the frontier. The "circuit*
device was adopted from the increasingly popular and successful Methodists, and the exhorters travelled incessantly, preaching and organizing new congregations. The work was flourishing to such an extent
that the conservative anti-Revivalists began to fear that this element
would "establish a very undesirable ascendency in the Synod".
The minority, or opposition, group of the presbytery, finding themselves unable to do anything about the situation, made an appeal
to Kentucky Synod. The appeal was based upon two issues connected with
the ordination and licensure of exhorters. The first of these was with
regard to the fact that those licensed and ordained were without the classical training which it was felt the Book of Discipline required. The
second was concerned with the point that each individual had been allowed
to make personal reservations and exceptions when adopting the doctrinal
statement of the Confession of Faith. The Synod, in 1805, appointed a
Commission to meet in the bounds of Cumberland Presbytery and lnvestl2
gate the situation.
In defense of their action on the question of education, the
presbytery pointed to the urgency of the situation and to the success
with which those without standard educations had labored.
The Presbytery not only pleaded the exception made in the
discipline in extraordinary cases, but also the example of a number of
1. Davidson.op. cit.. p. 229.
2. Ibid.. p. 232.
the Presbyteries in different parts of the United States. They, moreover, appealed to a higher authority than either of the foregoing,
which was the New Testament, and inquired if there was any precept
or example, in that, which condemned the practice of licensing what
they (the Commission) called unlearned men to preach the Gospel? It
was likewise asked if God could not as easily call a Presbyterian to
preach, who had not a liberal education, as he could a Methodist or
Baptist? A number of whom are acknowledged to be respectable and useful ministers of Jesus Christ.1
It was also pointed out that none of those ordained were illiterate. All of them had practical English educations, but were primarily
deficient in the "learned languages".
On the second point, regarding doctrinal exceptions made when
adopting the Confession of Faith, the presbytery's stand strongly reflects the spirit of the dissenting tradition. It was "the high and
mysterious doctrine of predestination" which raised the difficulty. The
revival preachers could not reconcile it with the spirit of evangelism
with which they were so completely motivated.
The exigencies of the
frontier situation in which they labored made such realists of them
that they were unwilling to give much attention to tedious elaborations
and distinctions of technical theology. Perhaps because of not having
been schooled In the classical tradition, they were not able or Inclined,
as were some other Presbyterians, so to rationalize the doctrine of predestination as to remove from it the idea of fatality and make it fit
the spirit of evangelism.
They felt that the Bible was the Word of God
and could be more relied upon than any human creed, and that there was
nothing amiss in allowing individuals to adopt the Confessions of Faith
1. From A Circular Letter issued by the reorganized Cumberland
Presbytery in 1810, "Addressed to the Societies and Brethren of the Presbyterian Church, recently under the care of the Council by the late
Cumberland Presbytery." As quoted In Stephens, Rev. J. V., The Cumberland Presbyterian Digest, pp. 8-9.
only in so far as they considered it to correspond with the Scriptures.
They so resented some of the crude applications of the predestlnarlan
doctrine they had witnessed that they were strongly inclined to discard
it wholly.
To them the idea that there were "infants in hell not a
span long" because they were not "elected" to be saved was totally ob2
The Synod's Commission was not very well received. The people
of the presbytery were suspicious of it because they felt it was composed
of men who were enemies of the revival and determined to stamp it out.
They were denounced as a species of inquisition, whose odious
errand it was to stop the revival, and cut off all the young preachers
and circuit-riders, because they were unacquainted with Latin and Greek.
The forces of ridicule, as well as of malice, were brought to bear upon
them, and the respective members were designated by opprobrious nicknames. The whole community were exasperated. There was but a single
man in the entire neighborhood, (and he lived three or four miles from
the Church) who was willing to open his house and extend common hospitality to the members.5
The revival party complained much of the haughty and dictatorial language used by the commission in all its demands upon them.
It often reminded them that they were no longer where they were in a
majority, and could have things their own way, but were standing at
the bar of their masters, arraigned for trial.*
Many bitter things were said by members of both factions,
and feeling ran so high that there was almost a danger of mob violence.
The Commission was not inclined to accept the presbytery's
arguments or reasons on the points in question. Instead, it resolved
1. Evans, op. cit., p. 40; A Circular Letter In Stephens,
op. cit., p. 9.
2. Their passion on this point was so strong that it became
definitely embodied in the traditions of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church. The writer has often heard how the Presbyterians used to dramatically preach that there were "infants in hell not a span long".
3. Davidson, op. cit., p. 235.
4. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 81.
5. A Circular Letter. Stephens, op. cit., p. 9.
6. Davidson, op. cit., p. 235.
to institute its own examination of the twenty-seven men who had been
admitted, licensed, or ordained by the presbytery. The first case
taken up was strangely, that of James Howe, the Methodist, who had
really been first received into Transylvania Presbytery.
Howe refused
to submit to a re-examination, on the ground that he had already been
admitted and could not legally be brought to trial except on a charge
of heresy. All the others of the twenty-seven, encouraged and supported
by those older members of the presbytery who had been responsible for
their licensures or ordinations, likewise refused to be examined, contending that according to the law of the Presbyterian Church a presbytery had the sole right and power to judge of the faith and qualifications of its own candidates for the ministry. They admitted that the
Synod had the right to try and discipline the presbytery, but not to
assume the presbytery's prerogatives with regard to relationships with
individual members.
The Commission then proceeded formally to prohibit all those
whom Cumberland Presbytery had licensed or ordained from preaching or
administering sacraments{ in the name of Presbyterians and cited those
who were called the old members to appear before the next session of the
Synod for trial on questions of faith and for not having given up the
young men to be re-examined.
The censured members of the presbytery then, after the Commission adjourned,
....formed themselves into a Council, consisting of ministers, elders,
and representatives from vacancies. All the congregations connected
with the party heartily united, with very few exceptions. At these
Councils no Presbyterial business was transacted. They continued to
preach, and encouraged the young men to exhort and preach, regardless
1. McDonnold, op. cit.. pp. 77-81; Davidson, op. cit., pp.236238; Stephens, op. cit., pp.*tf9-ll.
2. Stephens, op. cit., p. 10.
of the Commission's prohibition. Meanwhile the revival continued to
make progress and numbers were added to the churches*
The Council Immediately drafted a petition which was sent to
the General Assembly of 1807, appealing from the action of the Synod
on the ground that the Synod's Commission had acted contrary to the
Church's Discipline.
The Assembly addressed a communication to the
synod and one to the Council, reprimanding, in a sense, both, but expressing a much more sympathetic attitude toward the revival party than
had the synod. The only result was that the synod reviewed and reaffirmed all of its actions in the matter. The Assembly of 1808 received no record or message from the synod, but was strongly affected
by another written appeal from the Council. Dr. J. P. Wilson, a leading figure in the Assembly, wrote a personal letter to one of the members of the Council, "expressive of strong sympathy, reflecting severely on the Synod; pronouncing The Commission unconstitutional; assuring
him of the favorable sentiments of the Assembly; urging him to return
and appeal regularly, although a disagreeable condescension". The next
year, 1809, the synod sent a letter, the minutes, and- two able men to
represent itself before the Assembly. The two men, who went "at great
expense and self-denial", were Mr. Lyle and Mr. Stuart. Mr. Lyle had
been Moderator of the Commission, and had quite a keen personal Interest in the outcome of the whole affair. The two men were at first somewhat disconcerted by "observing the unfriendly eye with which the whole
Assembly, with Dr. J. P. Wilson at their head, appeared to regard them,"
Mr. Lyle was, however, equal to the occasion. Being a powerfully emotional type of speaker, he, "yielding to his feelings as was his wont,
wept freely as he portrayed in vivid colors the probable effects of the
1. Davidison, op. cit., p* 243*
2. Stephens, op. cit.. p. 11.
discomfiture and disgrace of the friends of truth and order. A deep
impression was made. Every heart was touched with profound sympathy."
This turned the tide completely. Without a single dissenting vote, all
the proceedings of the synod were sustained.
Cumberland Presbytery Reorganized •
The effect of this decision upon the Council's subsequent
actions is well summarized In the following excerpts from the Circular
Letter Issued by the group in about 1810:
This step at once superseded the necessity of an appeal; therefore, the
Council, generally, 'thought it was now time to constitute into a Presbytery, and proceed to business again in that capacity. But some of the
members wished to make the last effort with the Synod, who now had the
business in their own hands, and the whole agreed — to propose their
last terms and forward them to the Transylvania Presbytery, or Synod,
by two commissioners, to be appointed for that purpose, which was accordingly done; and the terms, in substance, were as follows:
"We the preachers belonging to the Council, both old and young,
from a sincere desire to be in union with the general body of the Presbyterian Church, are willing to be examined on the tenets of our holy
religion, by the Transylvania Presbytery, Synod, or a committee appointed for that purpose; taking along the idea, however, that we be received
or rejected as a connected body; also that all our ministers, ordained
and licentiates, retain their former authority, derived from the Cumberland Presbytery. It was, moreover, understood that if the Synod should
require the preachers to re-adopt the Confession of Faith it should be
with the exception of fatality only." Our Commissioners were directed
to go, and take a copy of the above minute, without any discretionary
power whatsoever to alter the propositions in any way. And it was unanimously agreed and determined that, if the Synod would not accede to
the propositions, on the fourth Tuesday in October ensuing they (the
whole Council) would go Into a constituted state* The commissioners
accordingly went to the Synod; and, after their return, informed us
that the Synod would not consider our case, as a body, but as individuals. Neither would they suffer any of our preachers to make the exception to the Confession of Faith.... The vote was then taken whether
or not the Council would put the resolution of last Council into execution (which went solemnly to declare that unless the Synod acceded to
their propositions they would on this day constitute into a Presbytery),
which was carried in the affirmative by a large majority, after which
Messrs. William and Samuel Hodge, ministers, and Thomas Donald, elder,
withdrew from the Council, virtually declaring their intention to join
the Transylvania Presbytery. There being then only three ordained ministers present, it was inquired whether they were now ready to go into
a constituted state; when it was found that one of them was embarrassed
1. Davidison, op. cit/.. pp. 248-251.
in his mind. The Council then adjourned and met again, waiting the
decision of that member, who at length declared he could not feel
free at the present time to constitute. The Council then.... entered
upon a free conversation on the subject....; when it was finally agreed
to, that each ordained minister, licentiate, elder, and representative
shall continue in union, and use their influence to keep the societies
in union, until the third Tuesday in March — , and then meet at the
Ridge Meeting House; "after which each one shall be at liberty from
this bond, unless previously to that time three ordained ministers belonging to this body shall have constituted a Presbytery; then, in that
case, the committee will consider the bond of union perpetual."1
The outlook for the Council was at this time a gloomy one.
There were only four ordained ministers left In It. They were William
McGee, Finis Ewing, Samuel King, and Samuel McAdow. McGready, Hodge,
and some others, had gone back into the synod; Rankin joined the Shakers.
Of the four left, Ewing and King were among those who had been irregularly ordained.
Consequently, only McGee and McAdow were of the regularly
ordained and recognized Presbyterian Clergy.
McAdow was ill and not
able to be present at the Council meeting referred to in the letter above.
McGee was unwilling to participate in the organization of a new presbytery.
This left only Ewing, King, the licentiates, exhorters, and elders, —
representing, in reality, the group which were genuinely products of both
the frontier and the revival. Ewing was willing to constitute a presbytery with only two ordained ministers. The others were reluctant to
do so, however, since the Discipline of the Presbyterian Church required
This seems to indicate that they did not intend(to/completely /
sever relationships with that body. Evidently the hope was that they
would be reinstated as a new and separate presbytery.
Since March had been set as a deadline when a presbytery would
either be organized or the Council disbanded, Ewing, King, and licenti-
A Circular Letter. Stephens, op. cit.. pp. 13-15.
McDonnold, op. cit., p. 84.
Davidson, op. cit.. pp. 224-225.
McDonnold, op. cit., p. 84.
ate Ephralm McLean, met at McLean's house, February 2, 1810, to discuss
what should be done. After a long discussion it was decided that the
three of them should go the next day to McAdow's house In Dickson County,
Tennessee, and ask him to help them constitute a presbytery and ordain
They made the long ride and arrived at McAdow's house just be-
fore night, February 3. McAdow was hesitant, apparently being more concerned than the others over the possibility that such a move might lead
to a complete break with the mother church*
Each of the men went to a
separate place in the woods near McAdow's cabin and spent the night in
The next morning McAdow "said God had given him clear assurance
that the proposed step was approved of Heaven."
Consequently, on that
morning, February 4, 1810, the new presbytery was constituted.
Kentucky Synod, following the Commission's report, had officially dissolved Cumberland Presbytery and re-annexed it to Transylvania Presby1
tery, the new body called itself the re-organized Cumberland Presbytery.
Their purpose in organizing an independent presbytery was not rebellion
or schism, but simply to meet pressing demands of their environment which
had been created largely by the revival, which was still going on, and
also In order to give proper authority to certain young /imen, who were
still waiting to preach. It was not their purpose to project a new denomination. 2
The first official act of the new Cumberland Presbytery was
to ordain Ephralm McLean. A brief constitution was then adopted, justifying their action and recognizing the Confession and Discipline of the
Presbyterian Church as their standards. All who could adopt these standards without exception were at liberty to do so; but provision was made
for those to make exceptions who objected to the seeming fatality in the
doctrine of predestination.
Formal college or seminary training was
1. McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 84.
2. McKamy, op. cit.. p. 61
not required, but all candidates were to be examined on English grammar,
geography, astronomy, natural and moral philosophy, Church history, ex1
perimental religion and theology.
The chief effort of the new body for some time was toward effecting a reconciliation with the synod. Direct negotiations proving disappointing, an indirect attempt was made in 1811 to reach some sort of a
relationship with West Tennessee Presbytery. This, too, failed.- In
1812, struggling Cumberland Presbytery wrote into its record the fact
that it had been striving for and still desired a reunion with the Pres5
byterian Church.
The emphasis was so much in this direction that at
the end of a year after its organization only six congregations had af4
filiated with the presbytery.
Both Davidson, whose record is unquestionably biased against
the , rebellious group, and MfcDonuLd, their sympathetic historian, are
agreed that the one supreme difficulty which prevented a reconciliation
was the doctrinal one. Other differences, it is asserted, could have
easily been reconciled.
A New Denomination
Having finally come to the conclusion that theirs was, at least
for a time, to be a separate destiny, the new presbytery set to work in
earnest to enlarge its boundaries. Some of the disgruntled revivalparty congregations of the Presbyterian Church came in, but apparently
the greater number of additions were new congregations and "societies"
1. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 253.
2. Ibid., p. 254.
3. Minutes of Cumberland Presbytery, November 3, 1812. See
McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 93.
4. McKamy, op. cit.. p. 6.
5. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 255; McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 67.
established by the fervor and incessant labors of the ministers.
These men, stung by the stigma imposfed upon them by the Presbyterian
Church, were determined to prove themselves. The sympathies of the
frontier people were with them. Being of the frontier, they understood how effectively to apply the gospel to the frontier.
In three years the presbytery was large enough to form three
presbyteries. This was done, and in October, 1813, these presbyteries
"met in the Beech Church, in Sunnier county, Tennessee, and constituted
a Synod".
Increasing growth brought about the formation of a General
Assembly, which held its first meeting in 1829, in Princeton, Kentucky.
With this accomplishment the group emerged as a full-fledged denomination.
From the name of the first Presbytery, members were, by outsiders at
first, designated as "Cumberland Presbyterians". The name stuck with
An effort was made in 1850 to have the General Assembly change
the name to "The American Presbyterian Church".
This the Assembly re-
fused to do, however, and the group has continued under its original,
though accidental, appellation.
The expansion of the church was almost phenomenal. It had
been established in eight states at the time the General Assembly was
organized. Six of these had become states since the church's origin.
Reverend James Smith, who wrote and published a history of the denomina-
tion in 1835, estimated the numerical strength of the group that year
to be:
Synods, 9; presbyteries, 35; ordained ministers, 300; licensed
preachers, 100; candidates, 75; and communicants, 50,000.
1. McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 86.
2. From "The Preface" to The Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, p. iii.
3. Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church. 1850. p. 37.
4. McDonnold, op^ cit.. p. 207.
5. Smith, James, History of the Cumberland Presbyterian. Nashville, Tennessee, 1835. As quoted in McKamy, op. cit., p. 20.
In 1820 the denomination had spread to Alabama, Arkansas,
Illinois,Indiana, Missouri, and Mississippi. Missionaries were also
laboring among several Indian tribes. A volunteer and self-supporting
Cumberland Presbyterian missionary by the name of Sumner Bacon began
preaching in Texas in 1828. Others rapidly carried the church into
the newer communities all along the frontier. In a short while it
was established also in Louisiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Iowa, Georgia,
California, Oregon, and Western Territories.
In 1831, in response
to a petition from some of the members of the Presbyterian Church in
the western part of the state of Pennsylvania, five missionaries were
sent by the Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly to that area. A
revival was the result, and Pennsylvania Presbytery was organized in
Congregations sprang up so rapidly that it was necessary to or-
ganize Pennsylvania Synod in 1838. A little while later a number of
congregations in New Jersey were affiliated with the rapidly growing
Cumberland Presbyterians. It was a matter of pride to the Cumberlands
that some of these congregations were in the vicinity of the Presbyter2
ian stronghold of Princeton.
Most of the denomination's expansion was, however, towards the
west and southwest. Kentucky and Tennessee continued, of course, to be
the central points of strength, but Texas came to occupy a position only
slightly secondary to them in importance.
By the beginning of the twentieth century the church numbered
considerably more than 100 presbyteries, almost 3,000 congregations,
approximately 2,000 ministers, and considerably more than 175,000 com5
1. McKamy, op. cit., p. 19.
2. Ibid.. p. 20.
3. See Minutes of the General Assembly of -toe Cumberland Presbyterian Church for the years 1900 to 1905.
The church began without any city congregations. It was
nearly fifty years, before it could number more than half a dozen congregations in large cities, and these congregations were struggling
It suffered all the hardships of poverty and disorganization
attendant upon conditions of frontier-ruralism. The camp-meeting and
circuit-preaching were the two instruments chiefly relied upon tict prop2
agate the work.
Ministers received little or no pay, it being gen-
erally assumed that they should either support their families by some
secular pursuit or leave them to manage for themselves. Not one of
the preachers who attended the first General Assembly had ever been a
pastor in the sense of serving a settled permanent station which re3
quired his full services and paid him a set salary.
Many of the preach-
ers and people considered that- pastorates were"invented by self-seeking men who dreaded the hardships of an itinerant life and wanted big
In fact, there existed so much positive opposition to the
office of settled pastor that the second General Assembly, meeting in
1830, declared it desirable to strike out of the form of Government
the whole section recognizing the pastoral office. When, however, this
question was submitted to the presbyteries, they voted against the
change. Only gradually did there come recognition of the fact that
the pastoral office would have to be retained and established.
MacDonnold says that it became the custom to look upon thrilling popular
sermons as the sole test of a pastor's fitness. This historian also
McKamy, op* cit*t p. 9.
Ibid., p. 20.
McDonnold, op. cit._. p. 208.
Ibid.. p. 242.
Ibid., pp. 242-243.
Ibid., p. 244.
points out the fact that another problem the young denomination faced
was that of an aversion to any considerable centralization of power
and authority within the body.
Schools and papers sprang up everywhere,
often supported by only one small presbytery.
Any sort of general de-
nominational board was opposed because there were fears that it would
become a "Pope". A crippling semi-paralysis resulted from the "private
Independence which makes anarchy".
Efforts Toward Union With Other Denominations
McKamy says that the re-organizers of Cumberland Presbytery
had no intention, in the beginning, of projecting a new denomination.
This statement is substantiated by the fact that from the time of the
denomination's birth there were many of its leaders who felt it should
effect a union with some other church. No less than seven efforts to5
ward such organic union were made prior to 1906. The denominations
toward whom these efforts were directed included the Presbyterian Church
in the United States of America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and
the Methodist Protestant Church. Always, however, there was some kind
of difficulty, doctrinal or otherwise, which prevented the consummation
of a union. For several years prior to 1906 a rather Intense pressure
was developing towards a union with the Presbyterian Church in the
United States of America. This church represented the main body of
Presbyterianism from which the Cumberland Presbyterians separated in
idle first place.
There seem to have been several Important factors contributing to the issue of bringing the question of union to a head.
1. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 565. Institutional attitudes will
be considered in greater detail in a later chapter.
2. McKamy, op. cit., p. 6.
5. Peyton, Hughston, Background and General Survey of the Attempted Merger of 1906. Unpublished manuscript in the Cumberland Presbyterian Historical Collection, McKenzie, Tennessee, p.3; also, Stephens,
op. cit.. pp.235-268.
First, there was emerging in the ranks of American Protestantism an increasingly Insistent emphasis upon toleration and the elimin1
atlon of denominational differences and prejudices. There had been a
decline of interest in the theological hair-splitting and narrow sectarianism which had so generally characterized the preceding period.
Practical endeavor was gradually assuming priority over dogma, and Protestant bodies were recognizing the necessity of coming together upon
common ground.
A primary reason for this trend could probably be found
in the fact that the Roman Catholic Church, because of the increased
immigration of Catholic peoples and because of the division and strife
among Protestant sects, was rapidly increasing in size and importance.
Second, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was experiencing
certain difficulties which, to many of its constituency, made union
seem desirable. The dissenting spirit of almost anarchical independence was apparent, giving rise to a general disregard for any kind of
authority within the institution.
Deliverances of church courts went
In addition, possibly because of economic and demographic
changes on the frontier, country churches and colleges were suffering
because of inadequate endowment, professors In the one theological seminary working on embarrassingly limited salaries or, in some cases, on
none at all; and for a decade there had been a decrease in the size of
the membership.
An article appeared in the church paper in 1896, list-
ing the reasons given by ministers who had left the church and gone to
other denominations. These reasons doubtless reflect something of the
conditions within the institution. The reasons were:
1. Bacon, op. cit*, pp.405-418.
2. Kirkes, L. C , Facts In Outline (1906). Pamphlet in Cumberland Presbyterian Historical Collection, McKenzie, Tennessee.
5. See Peyton, op. cit*. p. 2.
1. The absence of the church in many of the large cities.
2. The church's lack of aggressiveness and liberality.
3. The narrowness of the opportunities which the church
4. The church's lack of educational privileges.
5. The offer of a better salary.
6. Fortuitous circumstances not disparaging to the church.
7. Narrow and jealous feeling among the ministry and the
ignorance displayed by some of them.
8. The selfishness of church leaders.
9. Dissatisfaction with the Board of Missions.
10. The geographical location of the church.
11. The church's indefinite system of government.
12. The church's disposition to emphasize dogma at the expense of practice.
13. The belief that the church had not a promising future.
Third, there was the fact that the Presbyterian Church in the
United States of America had in 1903 revised its West-minister Confession
of Faith, apparently eliminating the doctrinal differences which had been
the chief issue in the formation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Historians of the 1810 controversy, as did the contemporary participants
on both sides, agree that all the other issues between the Presbyterian
Church and the Council which formed Cumberland Presbytery might have
been satisfactorily adjusted, had it not been for the doctrinal exceptions which members of the Council made when adopting the Westminster
Confession of Faith.
Many Presbyterians resented and denied the fat-
alistic interpretation which the Cumberland revival party read into the
statements of the Westminster Confession. These persons felt that rightly interpreted, the Confession embraced most of the doctrinal points for
which the revival party was contending.
Since many of them recognized,
however, that the Confession was rather ambiguous in it3 treatment of
some of the questions, there arose a sentiment in the denomination for
a revision which would clarify the church's statement of its beliefs.
1. Howerth, Prof. H. W., "Why Young Men Leave Our Church,"
The Cumberland Presbyterian, November 12, 1896, p. 7. See also Peyton,
op. cit.., p. 10.
2. Davidson, op. cit.. p. 255; McDonnold, op. cit., p. 67.
This sentiment finally culminated in the revision of 1903*
The Revision of 1903 was undertaken for two reasons, the first being
the "disavowal of certain inferences drawn from statements in the
Confession of Faith"; the second the "declaration of certain aspects
of revealed truth which appear at the present time to call for more
explicit statement." These reasons are quoted verbatim from the
Declaratory Statement appended to the Confession of Faith.1
The Cumberland Presbyterians, in 1814, had adopted as theirs
the Westminster Confession of Faith revised with reference to four
points on which they dissented from it as they interpreted it. These
four points, in their own language, were:
1. There are no eternal, reprobates*
2. Christ died not for a part only, but for all mankind.
3. That all infants dying in infancy are saved through
Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit.
4. That the Spirit of God operates on all the world, or
as co-extensively as Christ has made atonement, in .such a manner as to leave all men inexcusable.*
This revision, as well as the one In 1883 which aimed to further accomplish the same objectives, was made by going into the text of the Confession and changing those sections which seemed to teach-the objectionable doctrines.
The Presbyterian revision in 1903 was done in a different way.
Since many Presbyterians felt that the Confession had merely been wrongly interpreted by some, it was felt that all that was necessary was to
add a "Declaratory Statement," pointing out the construction or interpretation which was to be placed upon the controversial sections, and in
addition, incorporating a few new doctrines which were considered necessary to supplement the teaching of the Confession. Professor Benjamin
B. Warfield, of Princeton, who had opposed the revision, later, in de-
1. Roberts, Rev. William Henry, D.D., "Revision and the Basis
of Union." Pamphlet, reprinted from the Westminster, November 19, 1904*
2. Smith, op. cit., p. 646, as quoted in Stephens, op. cit..
p. 22.
fenee of it, summarized its accomplishments by saying that it had incorporated into the Confession "A definite repudiation of the whole
mass of assumptions on which has been founded an annoying assault upon
certain important doctrines taught by the Confession, by which assault
the adherents of the Confession have been vexed ever since its formulation." He gave the following as the new doctrines added, "the doctrines
of Common Grace, of the External Call, of Infant Salvation, of the Holy
Spirit in the Church." These doctrines, he said, supplemented the Confession "in a particular direction —
the direction, to wit, of the gen-
eral or universal aspects of grace. By their insertion into the Confession larger space has been given in it —
larger emphasis, if you
wish —
to the universalistic side of the Gospel as the old Confession
did not."
Chapters three and ten of the Old Confession had been the
ones over which most of the controversy had raged.
Concerning these,
the Declaratory Statement said,
....That concerning those who are saved in Christ, the doctrine of God's
eternal decree is held in harmony with the doctrine of his love for all
mankind, his gift of his son to be the propitiation for the sins of the
whole world, and his readiness to bestow his saving grace on all who seek
It. That concerning those who perish, the doctrine of God's eternal decree Is held in harmony with the doctrine that God desires not the death
of any sinner, but has provided in Christ a salvation sufficient for all,
adapted to all, and freely offered in the gospel to all; that men are
fully responsible for their treatment of God's gracious offer; that his
decree hinders no man from accepting that offer; and that no man is condemned except upon the ground of this sin...; that it is not to be regarded as teaching that any who die in infancy are lost. We believe that
all dying in infancy are included in the election of grace, and are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and
where and how he pleasee.*
1. Warfield, Benjamin B., The Confession of Faith As Revised in 1905.
2. "Declaratory Statement," The Westminster Confession of Faith.
Revision of 1905; see also, The Voluntary Committee on Union Information,
Bulletin, No. 1, Reasons Why the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the
Presbyterian Church in the Union !Statea of America Should Be United. 1906,
pp. 14-15.
Many in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church welcomed this revision as being the accomplishment of exactly that for which their early
church fathers had contended.
Such statements as the following were re-
joicingly publicized,
....Had this explanatory creedal Amendment been a part of the Confession
in the days of our founders, who can imagine for a moment that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church would have been ever organized?1
Throughout the denomination the question was raised, "Can we
any longer justify ourselves before the religious world?"
in favor of union grew very strong.
There were, however, others among the Cumberland Presbyterians
who were suspicious of the "revision," contending that the Declaratory
Statement could not possibly be in harmony with the Confession, and that
if the Presbyterians had been genuinely sincere in their desire to revise and clarify they would have changed the text rather than merely
have appended a statement. They pointed to the fact that the Presbyterian General Assembly, after the revision, declared that it had not "impaired the integrity of the system of doctrine contained in the Westmin5
ster Confession."
While others interpreted this statement as meaning
that the Presbyterian Assembly felt the revision had clarified, enhanced,
and strengthened the "system of doctrine" in the Confession, this group
of objectors took it that the statement meant the Presbyterians were
trying to use a sly form of deception to lure them Into the union.
1. The Voluntary Committee, Bulletin, No.l, op. cit.. p. 15.
2. Ibid.. p. 19.
5. Ibid.. p. 17.
4. The investigator has often heard older ministers refer
to this matter in a manner indicating that the "U.S.A.'s" told the
Cumberlands they had revised their Confession, and told their own people
that they had not revised it.
The Union of 1906
Stirring, and at times bitter, controversy arose between
the two factions in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church over the question of whether or not the union should be consummated.
From the very
beginning it seemed that, among the leadership of the denomination,
those in favor of the union held a balance of power. They out-voted
the opposition in four consecutive General Assemblies. The General
Assembly of 1904 approved union by the necessary two-thirds majority
and submitted the question to the presbyteries, which during the next
two years gave the favorable simple majority which authorized completion
of the merger.
Those opposed to the union claimed that the majority vote of
the presbyteries had been gained by deception and fraud. They looked
upon the union advocates as an organized group secretly committed to
a betrayal of the church.
During the years immediately preceding the year 1903, there arose within
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church an element of her ministers who were
dissatisfied with the material progress our church was making. This element began concentrating their vision on "larger things" in a material
way, much to the neglect of the spiritual things for which the church
was established and for which it stood. Sad to say, those men sought and
obtained the highest offices within the gift of the church. These offices
of power and influence they used fortiieirown interests, and while they
were supposedly working in their official capacities for the best' interests of the church, they were in reality devising a scheme by which they
might bring about a merger of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church into a
larger and wealthier denomination where they would receive their "thirty
pieces of silver" for the betrayal of their one hundred and eighty-five
thousand brethren and property worth five million dollars into the hands
of a denomination which, although much larger and richer than ours in a
material way, was seriously lacking in the revival spirit which had originally brought about the separation of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church from this same larger and richer denomination.
Words can not adequately express the unbecoming and un-Christian means resorted to by
(those).... who devised and put into
operation their scheme to make a wholesale betrayal of our church into
the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Before openly advocating their scheme
for a so-called union with the Northern Presbyterian Church, these men
first gained control of the most important offices in the church.1
1. Campbell, Thomas H., In the Sunlight of God's Love. Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary; Unpublished B.D. Thesis, 1929,
pp. 2-3.
It was held that these "traitorous" leaders gained the twothirds majority vote of the 1904 Assembly in favor of submitting the plan
of union to the presbyteries by representing to some of the uninformed
members of the body that the purpose was not to get an official vote
from the presbyteries but merely to ascertain all the presbyteries'
feeling with regard to the question of union; also by having the vote
taken at an unexpected hour of the night, when a number of those opposed
had retired from the floor of the Assembly.
Following this, it was
asserted that these "unionists" used "every political device known to
man" to cajole or coerce the presbyteries into voting for their "plan
of union". One charge was that they hired unemployed ministers to move
from presbytery to presbytery, voting in each one in favor of the union.
The above charges, and many others of similar nature, were in3
dignantly denied by those against whom they were made.
Briefly summarized, the outstanding points around which the
controversy centered were: 1. The question of doctrine, the anti-unionists holding that the 1903 revision did not in reality change the Westminster Confession and the unionists asserting that it did;
stitutionality of the proceedings;
2. The con-
3. The question of separation of
races, anti-unionists, despite detailed plans to the contrary Included
in the plan of union, asserting that "niggers" would have "social equality in the Presbyterian Church"; 4. The charge, mentioned above, that
there had been deception and fraud in the proceedings;
5. The question
of Administration under the united church, anti-unionists arguing that
the management of the local churches would be interfered with, their
property taken from them and the right of selecting their pastors denied
1. B»apball.op. cit.. p. 6.
2. Ibid.. p. 7.
3. Peyton, op. cit.. p. 21.
them; and,
6. The fate of the Cumberland Presbyterian country churches,
anti-unionists warning that these would be neglected or disbanded by
the "aristocratic city Presbyterian Church, U.S.A."
With regard to
this last- point, the following interesting hand-bill, entitled A New
Array of Startling Facts, was issued by the anti-unionists in 1906:
Country preachers and Country Churches had better stop and
think, for their lives depend on this question.
This union is the Graduate Preacher's Scheme and the UnderGraduate's Ruin. Read below Hudgins' facts from the Northern Presbyterian Records and you will be convinced that 2,000 of our churches
will be put on "The Doomed List at Once Should Union Be Consummated."
That would mean that the great majority of our Preachers would at once
be thrown out of employment.
Just read the editorial in the Cumberland (?) Presbyterian
of Feb. 22nd, on the country churches and say whether or not it is
Theory and guess work without a single fact beneath it. Then read
Hudgins' article below showing the policy of the Presbyterian Church,
U.S.A. for 20 years.
The country church that cannot pay $250.00 a year must be
left to die — this is based on the facts of Pres. records for twenty
-By Rev. J. L. Hudgins, Pastor, C. P. Church,
Union City.
Dear Brethren: —
The Presbyterian Church is a distinctively aristocratic city church, and has always been to maintain great
congregations in city centers and to pay but little attention to the
village and country districts. With a view to ascertaining the policy of the Pres. Ch. with regard to the small country churches, I
have traced its custom through the past twenty years, as shown by
Assembly Minutes.
From its own statistical tables 1 find that it is its custom, and therefore Its policy, that when a congregation becomes unable
to pay as much as $250. for pastoral support a year, that congregation
is left without a pastor or supply and after a few years Is dissolved.
In the same statistical tables I find that the Presbyterians have dissolved about 1,450 congregations in the past twenty years, almost half
as many congregations as we have in our church. Examining our own
Assembly Minutes for 1905, I find that there were only 531 congregations
that paid as much as §250. for pastoral supply last year, leaving 2,390
Cumberland Presbyterian congregations that must be placed upon the
doomed list just as soon as the union is consummated, unless the Presbyterians change their policy, and they have nowhere given us any assurance that they will change.
Now, brethren, think of your own congregation and of what it
has been able to pay for pastoral support and of what you can reasonably expect it to pay for the next few years, and then decide whether
it would be best to vote to place It under a management that is almost
sure to let it die, or to keep it under the management that has helped
It to live for all the years of the past notwithstanding the limited
means of the people composing it.^
1. Summarized from Peyton, op. cit.. pp. 16-22.
2. As quoted in Peyton, op. cit.. pp. 7-8.
This hand-bill, which was a deliberate attempt to gain for
the opposition the sympathy and support of the mass of small rural
congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was answered in
the following letter by an outstanding representative of the Presbyterian Church.
Dear Brother:
Yours of February twenty-eighth came duly. You speak of an
extract from the Cumberland Banner saying that it is the custom and
therefore the policy of our church, when a congregation becomes unable to pay as much as two-hundred and fifty dollars a year for pastoral support that congregation is left without a pastor or supply and
after a few years is dissolved.
My answer to that is we have no such custom and therefore no
such policy. We nurse churches without the slightest reference to the
amount they are able to pay at the present time. We have a good many
that are doing practicallynothing. Our policy is to nourish the churches in the country districts, because we hold the theory that from them
often come those who are the strength of the churches in the towns and
cities afterward. It is true that many of our congregations are dissolved from time to time, as is true in all denominations. For this
I fancy there are two reasons: First, pioneer churches are sometimes
organized before there is any real call for such organizations; and
second, the changeable chracter of western population; places that
promise to be a metropolis this year may, in the changes of population,
fade away entirely in a few years.
Fraternally yours,
C. L. Thompson
A mass of similar literature was produced by both sides.
Much of it was more uncomplimentary and less courteous than the examples
It should be said, however, that the tone of that published by
the group favoring the union was, generally speaking more intellectual and refined, appealing less to the emotions and prejudices than that of
the opposition. This is probably explained in part by the fact that
practically all the best trained denominational leaders favored the
The advocates of the union were either too hasty in forcing
the issue, or did not take into account the dissenting attitude of the
1. As quoted in Peyton, opj. cit.. p. 9.
great numbers of members who were so socially and geographically isolated as not to have previously had much voice in the formulation of denominational policies. At any rate, although the vote was legally cast
by the presbyteries and the General Assembly in favor of the union, there
were many so radically opposed that they determined, at whatever cost,
not to become a part of the united church. When the General Assembly
at Decatur, Illinois, in 1906, voted the church into the union and adjourned sine die, a minority group, consisting of about one hundred commissioners, withdrew to a hall across the street from the Assembly church
and reorganized the "General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian
• 1
This reorganized "General Assembly," despite the fact that
in the technical sense it was illegally constituted, repudiated all the
actions of the larger body, declaring that such actions were those of
"unionists" and that they were "unauthorized".
The following statement
was issued:
We do this in order that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church may
maintain its separate church organization and that its distinctive doctrines, for the propagation and maintenance of which we and our fathers
have labored for nearly a century, shall be preserved to us and our posterity unimpaired. We are convinced that these doctrines would not be
preserved by an organization which refuses to take them as their Faith,
but demands their renunciation as the price of entrance to their fold.
Holding these views, we declare ourselves to be the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the repository of its established Faith, the owners of
its property and the director of its trusts.
Trusting in the help of Almighty God, we now set ourselves to
the task of fulfilling the high expectation which our conduct has engendered, and lest we should incur the imputation of presumption, our
prayer shall be that the common people may hear us gladly, for by that
means our common gospel was first established*^
Ncne of these "loyal" commissioners who withdrew and reorganized the Assembly at Decatur were men who had held positions of impor-
1. Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1907. (1906 Supplement, p. 4 ) .
2. Ibid.. p. 10*
3 . C. P . Assembly Minutes, op. c i t . . 1907. (1906 Supplement,
p . 10).
tance in the denomination. Only one of them could claim the honor of
being a denominational board member. Not one had been an officer in
the Assembly from which they withdrew. What they lacked in influence
and prestige, however, they made up for in courage and zeal. Men unaccustomed to leadership found themselves suddenly in the spotlight as
saviors of the Faith.
Every board was reorganized and filled with "loyal"
All the machinery of the church was reconstructed as nearly as pos-
Every available channel of communication was utilized for inform-
ing the entire denomination of their stand, and for propagandizing for
loyalty and support. A meeting of the "General Assembly" was set for
the next year at the original birthplace of the denomination, near Dickson, Tennessee.
There followed all manner of strife and contention. The "loyalists" and the "unionists" engaged in a grim struggle for the sympathy
and the property of the local congregations, as well as for all property
formerly held In the name of the denomination. Local congregations by
the scores and hundreds were split into hostile factions, one faction,
in many cases, using locks or guns to keep the other out of the church
buildings. Lawsuits over church property were carried to the supreme
court of practically every state in which the denomination had any considerable holdings. The "loyalists" did not fare so well.
In only one
state, Tennessee, were they able to hold practically any of the property.
In that state the court's decision was that a church building could
be held as long as there was a "Cumberland Presbyterian" organization to
use It.
That the rural churches were more inclined than the wealthier
city churches toward the "loyalists" is indicated by the fact that al-
1. Campbell, op. cit.. p. 20.
though forty-nine percent of all congregations recognized the authority
of the "loyalist" General Assembly which met in Dickson, Tennessee, in
1907, by sending reports to it, only twenty-nine percent of congrega-
tions with property valued at ten thousand dollars or more did so.
Although the "loyalists" represented less than thirty-five
percent of pre-union membership they contended that all the property
was theirs because they were the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, from
which all other members had simply deserted. They developed the attitude that they were being ruthlessly robbed when any of this property
was not all owed them.
When, after ten years, the smoke of battle had somewhat cleared,
it wae found that the still surviving "Cumberland Presbyterians" numbered
64,731 members, as against 185,786 which had been in the denomination one
year before the union. The estimated value of church property was $1,663,5
075, as compared with more than five millions of dollars before the union.
The struggle of the group since 1906 has been to survive and re-attach
to the name "Cumberland Presbyterian" the honor and prestige which belonged to it before 1906. In 1959 there were 71,726 members and property
valued at $5,092,800.
A Sociological Summary
Briefly summarized, one may say that the history of this institution Illustrates the "figure upon a background" concept. The institu-
tion did not arise spontaneously. It was precipitated as the result of
the convergence upon a peculiar American frontier environment of certain
definite factors in its cultural heritage.
1. Deduced from statistical tables of C. P. Assembly Minutes,
op. cit.. 1907.
2. Campbell, op. cit.. p. 19.
5. Deduced from statistical tables of General Assembly Minutes,
C.P.. op. pit.. 1905.
4. Ibid.. 1959.
Clues to the contributing factors in the cultural heritage
are to be found in conflicting elements embraced in the nature of Scotch
Presbyterianism and in the temperament and culture of the Scotch-Irish
The Presbyterianism which the Scotch-Irish brought to America
tried to incorporate within one body the conservative institutionalism
of Continental Protestantism, the radical individualism of English Dissent, and the rationalized weaknesses of the Calvinlstlc system of theology. Under conditions of a stable and homogeneous social environment
Institutional controls were strong enough to over-rule and relegate to
practical unimportance these elements of potential difficulty.
On the
American frontier, however, where environmental conditions placed a
premium on rugged individualism, where the old institutional controls
were practically non-existent because they were not adapted to frontier
needs, and where the fine arts of logic and intellectual rationalization gave way to emotional impulse and vigorous action, they became more
than mere potential difficulty.
They made a break in Presbyterianism
most probable. The weight of that probability is best realized when
one keeps in mind that institutions are almost always characterized by
rigidity and comparative inflexibility*
It was well-nigh impossible for
the Presbyterian Church to make the radical adjustments which the extreme
conditions in the Cumberland Country demanded.
Cumberland Presbyterian-
ism was an offspring born in the throes of institutional adjustment.
Isolation is the primary environmental factor which contributed to the origin of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It probably
should be termed sq^Lo-geographic isolation, because it was both social
and geographic.
Distance and the lack of facilities of transportation
and communication, together with uncertainty and hard living conditions,
produced an ever-widening gap between the Presbyterians of the frontier
and those of the mother church.
controls should be weakened.
It was Inevitable that institutional
The prolonged struggle for existence in
a geographically isolated environment produced such social distance
that the people of the frontier came to have little in common with
the larger body of institutional Presbyterianism.
It was among the most isolated group on the westernmost sector of the Kentucky-Tennessee frontier that the Cumberland Presbyterian
revolt culminated.
It was as the barriers of isolation and social dis-
tance were broken down that the reunion of 1906 began to appear as a
The group which refused to participate in this reunion
were rural and small town congregations which again represented the
greatest amount of isolation and social distance.
It should be observed also that conditions on the Cumberland
frontier tended to strip religion of institutional artificialities and
force it back to its more primitive functions.
In its origin the Cum-
berland Presbyterian Church undoubtedly represented an adjustment in
this direction.
Although it is not feasible to further summarize here the
sociologically significant points in the institution's origin and history, enough has been said to indicate that the causes of its origin
were primarily sociological rather than, as some have assumed, theological.
Such issues as theology and educational requirements for mini-
sterial ordination were merely symbols upon which were focussed more
fundamental social differences. This will be further borne out in the
1. This statement will be further substantiated by data to be
presented in the following chapters.
2. This will be further brought out by the treatment, in Chapter V, of Cumberland Presbyterian theology.
following chapters by the analysis of the structure and behavior of
the institution.
As has already been noted, Dowd classifies all institutional
behavior in terms of the performance of four essential functions:
That of exercising authority;
or object of the group activities;
2. That of formulating the purpose
3. That of formulating standards,
rules, codes, laws or maxims as the prescribed or understood way of
carrying out the purpose; and
4. That of devising a system of disci-
pline for inducing or compelling the members to conform to the estab1
lished standards or rules.
Chapin's concept of the structure of an
institution as consisting of related type parts, emphasizes:
reciprocating attitudes and their conventionalized behavior patterns,
cultural objects of symbolic and utilitarian value, and oral or written
language symbols which preserve the descriptions and specifications of
the patterns of interrelationship.
Institutions tend to organize themselves around some purpose
and, after defining this purpose, they take whatever steps seem necessary to insure their successful operation and perpetuation.
of purpose, establishment of conventionalized behavior patterns, and
the organization of functional and disciplinary machinery, may be observed as characteristic developments of many Institutions. It should
1. See Chapter II, reference Ip.p* 16.
2. See Chapter II, reference 33* P» 15.
be pointed out, however, that an institution's conscious definition of
its purpose may not always coincide with the sociologically significant
definition. This study bears out these generalizations as they apply
to the specific institution under investigation.
The purpose and institutional organization of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church will be treated under the following headings:
1. The System of Theology,
2, Forms of Worship, and 3. Government.
Many of the institution's conventional patterns of behavior are directly
related to these three aspects of its structure.
The System of Theology
This institution's definition of its purpose can be best discerned through an analysis of its theology. Most Protestant churches
have felt called upon to formulate creeds setting forth their positions
on theological issues. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is no exception.
It has already been pointed out that a theological Issue; figured
significantly in its origin. This issue related itself to the doctrine
of fatality which the founders of the church felt was taught in the
Presbyterian doctrine of predestination.
On the day that Ewing, King, and McAdow organized the independent Cumberland Presbytery, they entered into a compact which contained
the following statement:
All candidates for the ministry who may hereafter be licensed
by this presbytery, and all the licentiates or probationers, who may
hereafter be ordained by this presbytery, shall be required, before
such licensure and ordination, to receive and adopt the Confession and
Discipline of the Presbyterian Church, except the idea of fatality, which
seems to be taught under the mysterious doctrine of predestination. It
is to be understood, however, that such as can clearly receive the Confession without an exception shall not be required to make any.1
1. From "A Circular Letter", Stephens, op. cit., p. 2.
Thus it appears that from the very outset there was recognition of the
need for a formal creed.
Since these men did not have the time or in-
clination to write a new one they adopted that of the church from which
they were revolting.
For more than three years this Confession was used
without revision, it being left to the discretion of the individual as
to whether or not he should subscribe to that part of it pertaining to
the doctrine of fatality.
In three years Cumberland Presbytery had grown sufficiently
large to form three presbyteries. When these met in October, 1813, and
constituted a Synod, one of the first Items of business undertaken was
the formulation for publication of a statement setting forth the points
wherein Cumberland Presbyterians "dissented from the Westminster Confession of -Faith."
A committee was also appointed to prepare a Con-
fession of Faith which would be suitable to the new denomination.
revision of the Westminster Confession, which this committee presented
to the Synod in 1814 was unanimously adopted. It was simply the Westminster Confession with certain objectionaifeLterns expunged and more
acceptable ones Inserted.
This rather clumsy revision seemed to satisfy the church for
almost seventy years, despite the fact that to outside theologians it
presented many apparent weaknesses and inconsistencies from the standpoint of logic. In 1883 these weaknesses had become of sufficient concern that a further revision was considered necessary.
It was recognized
that was impossible to eliminate all the features of hyper-Calvinism
from the Westminster Confession of Faith by simply expunging words,
phrases, sentences, or even sections, and then attempting to fill the
vacancies thus made by corrected statements or other declarations, for
the objectionable doctrine, with its logical sequences, pervaded the
whole system of theology formulated in that book.1
1. Preface to The Confession of Faith, op_. cit.. p. iv.
Each preacher considered himself an evangelist,, and every service was looked upon as an opportunity to win lost souls. Gradually,
however, there evolved a set e# pattern for "revivals". At first they
were in the form of camp-meetings in connection with which sacramental
services were held.
These camp-meetings were in vogue until well past
the middle of the nineteenth century.
As McDonnold says, "The church
papers teem with accounts of revivals at these meetings."
It is inter-
esting to note that whereas the camp-meeting was at first primarily a
community affair, often participated in by several churches of different denominations, it gradually began to be absorbed into the programs
of the particular local churches. Each congregation tended to sponsor
its own annual camp-meeting. This revival period became so absorbed into
the program of the congregation that when camp-meetings began to lose
their popularity it continued as an annual or semi-annual period of evangelistic services held in the church building, or in a tent or brusharbor near the church building. The record of this absorption and adaptation constitutes an interesting study in institutionalization.
Although the degree of success attendant upon revival efforts
in the denomination has varied from time to time, the revival has retained its position of primary importance as an institutional technique. One of the chief sections of the church paper is still devoted to the
reporting of revival results. The following, selected at random is a
typical report:
Twenty-One Saved, Five Added
Mt. Carmel, Term.
I began the revival at Mt. Carmel August 6. Brother M
did the preaching. This resulted in one of the best meetings that
the church has had for a number of years. Visible results were twentyone professions and five added to the church.
1. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 210.
In that year the Confession was carefully re-written.
No further com-
prehensive revision of creedal statement has since been considered
Before turning to a close-up scrutiny of the system of theology contained in this creed it should be pointed out that the attitude of the group toward its theology and creed is significant. At
first, when the founders of Cumberland Presbytery were still hoping to
be readmitted to the Presbyterian Church, distinctiveness in doctrinal
convictions was not made a criterion for membership in the group. A
person could be a member and agree or disagree with the doctrine of fatality.
Consequently, the Westminster Confession of Faith was accept-
able, in toto, so long as It was understood that the individual might
make an exception to it if he wished. As institutionalization proceeded,
however, the creed and doctrinal conformity came to be looked upon as
more and more important. When the Synod was formed in 1814, the Westminster Confession plus the privilege of making exceptions were no longer
considered sufficient. It was felt necessary to formulate a distinct
creedal statement, even though only a revision of the Westminster Confession. As the institution became older, the creed assumed further
significance until it was necessary to make it even more distinctive
in 1883. There is no record that a ministerial candidate was permitted
to make any exception to the new Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of
Faith which was adopted in 1814. His freedom to believe in the doctrine
of fatality if he chose seems to have been eliminated at that point.
The revision of 1883 requires the candidate to reply affirmatively to
the following question:
"Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Con-
fession of Faith and the Cathechism of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church as containing the system of doctrines taught in the Holy Scrip-
Thus institutionalization destroyed the freedom which the
institution was created to provide.
Cumberland Presbyterians called theirs a "medium" system of
It evolved from the preaching at camp meetings and it was
more concerned with being Biblical than with being strictly logical.
It was not a well-defined system elaborated by a particular theological
leader; rather, It seems to have sprung up more or less spontaneously
as a result of religious conditions on the frontier. Its deep roots are,
doubtless, to be found in the tradition of English Dissent, which made
the Bible supreme authority and every man his own priest. Its chief emphasis was upon the future life.
In order to see the true significance of theological differences in denominational history, we must remind ourselves of the emphasis Christianity has placed, historically upon the future life.
Recent emphasis upon the "social gospel" is perhaps responsible for a
comparative lack of emphasis upon the importance of religion as a preparation for the future life. But in the early nineteenth century the
future life was a matter of the gravest possible concern; by comparison, the present was not so important as a religious interest.^
The,,medium" system of theology revolved about the point of
how and when a person's salvation for the future life is determined.
Upon this point Cumberland Presbyterians sought a middle ground between
Calvinism and Arminianism —
inated protestantism.
the two theological systems which have dom-
It was against the Calvinistic doctrine of "divine
decrees" that the revival preachers in the closing years of the eighteenth century began to revolt. They felt this doctrine taught that a person's fate in the future life was determined before he was born —
when a baby came into the world God had already decided whether it would
go to heaven or to hell. They felt that such a doctrine left man no
1. Confession of Faith (C.P.), op^ cit., p. 106.
2. Orr, Horace Eugene, Adventuring in Heart Religion - Cumberland Presbyterians, p. 23.
will in the matter and reduced this life to a mere demonstration of
the justness of God's decree. It is easy to see how a doctrine so
favoring the "elect" would not be acceptable to the largely unchurched
masses on a turbulent frontier.
The founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church represented
those who most strenuously objected to this interpretation of Calvinism.
Arminianism, on the other hand, was just as unacceptable to them. They
interpreted it as holding that a person's fate was not determined until the hour of his death —
that whether he was "saved" or "lost"
would depend upon how he was living at the moment of his death. The
idea of a person's being in "grace" and then being able to "fall from
grace" left too much insecurity about the Christian experience to be
satisfying to them.
Their problem, then, was that of finding a middle
ground between these two extremes of irresistible grace and unlimited
human freedom.
This they attempted, though students of logic
had long
maintained that no such middle ground existed.
Cumberland Presbyterian theologians gave the Bible a position
of greater importance than logic, and by so doing they felt that they
found the middle ground. The following statement from one of their
periodicals expresses their attitude:
If the divinity student tells you what Is his system of mental
or moral science you need not ask him whether he is Calvinist or Arminian. He is first indoctrinated in philosophy, and then goes to the
stud#y of theology; the former molds the latter. Hence, Calvinism,, Arminianism and the other isms, each having a particular system of philosophy which predominates over the Bible. Reverse the order. First
take your theology from the Bible, and then let It shape your philosophy, and both will be sound.1
They were not so concerned with highly intellectual elaborations of theological systems as they were with the problem of making religion work
1. "The Middle System Neither Calvinistic Nor Arminian," The
Theological Medium, Vols.. I and II (1845-46-47), p. 494.
in-people's lives. This problem was intimately bound up with the conditions of life under which the people lived among whom they worked.
Paxson says, because of the monotony and loneliness these people craved
"companionship and warmth rather than close-reasoned theology."
inclination, then of the early denominational theologians, was to accept that theology which best facilitated the practical application of
religion. McDonnold, their official historian, says:
In the great revival men who studied their English Bibles
while laboring for the salvation of souls, rejected the medieval fatalism in that system to which their church adhered, and, without being
scholastic enough to attempt a theodicy, they confined their creed to
a plain middle of the track of revealed truth.
A cold scholastic logic applied to theology always terminates
in one or the other of two extremes. Grace and freedom are Jacob and
Esau struggling in the womb together. Logic destroys one or the other
and ends the struggle. Practical pulpit theology lets both live, and
lets the struggle go on, nor makes any effort at reconciling things
which, though both clearly revealed, are, in appearance, irreconcilable.
We have far more confidence in a system of theology growing out of a
revival, than in a system made by scholastics writing in the midst of
their books and aiming at logical consistency.2
The creed which they worked out in support of their "medium"
system is distinguished by one of their writers as follows:
The creed of Cumberland Presbyterians, as it differs from
Calvinism on the one hand and Arminianism on the other, may be stated
in connection with the doctrine of the new birth - The Central theme
of the revival of 1800 - as follows:
1. All men must be born again or perish.
-2. All may be born again and not perish.
3. None who are born again will perish.
The first proposition, while it is accepted by all, means
more to Cumberland Presbyterians than to others, for they believe that
the soul's salvation is made certain in the hour of the new birth, while
Calvinists believe that this certain election of the soul of eternal
life was made by divine decree before the foundation of the world, and
Armlnlans hold that the soul's decision or choice cannot be so made as
to secure it from reversal or failure until after death. The second
proposition Cumberland Presbyterians think is contradicted by the Calvinistic doctrine of election, and the third by the Arminian doctrine
of apostasy.5
1. Paxson, op. cit., 117.
2. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 100.
3. Hudgins, Rev. J. L., "A Christ on the Plain," Six Books
in One Volume. Privately printed, 1907 (?), p. 7.
They answered their theological critics by saying that whether
or not their position was entirely logical it was the one actually held
by the great masses of Christian people, regardless of denominational
affiliations. Following is a statement of this attitude:
It is also claimed....that every one must either be a Calvinist or an Arminian in his religious belief, else he is nothing;
but such an assertion, when we analyze it, is absurd - might as well
say that-there is no territory between the North and South Poles, or
that there is no space between the extreme ends of a platform....
....There Is a medium ground between Calvinism and Arminianism. On that medium ground the Cumberland Presbyterian Church stands;
and it rejoices to know that its foundation is broad and secure. Nor
do we hazard the truth in saying that not only the Cumberland Presbyterian Church stands upon this medium ground, but that nineteen-twentieths of the Christian world today really occupy the same position.
How rare to find a Calvinist who adopts all the sentiments of Calvin?
And how rare, too, to find an Arminian who adopts all the sentiments
of Arminlus? Instead, then, of finding no ground upon which to stand
between these extremes, we find a vast area — an area large enough to
hold not only Cumberland Presbyterians, but also the great body of
professing Christians throughout the world. The people can find that
medium ground, although theologians may not be able to do so.
A concise summary of the doctrines of the church is contained
in the following statement:
Passing by the catalogue of doctrines, in which all orthodox
Christians substantially agree — such as the existence of God, the
Trinity, the authenticity of the Bible, Creation, Providence, the Fall
of man, et««, etc.', — the Cumberland Presbyterian Church holds to the
following doctrines: That Christ died for the whole human race; that
the atonement is sufficiently broad to embrace in its provisions every
son and daughter of Adam; that"the Holy Spirit strives with all; that
the sinner is saved by the imputed righteousness of Christ; that faith
is the condition upon which salvation is bestowed; that every truly
regenerated soul will be saved; that all infants dying in infancy are
regenerated and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, so also are others
who have never had the exercise of reason, and who are incapable of
being outwardly called by the ministry of the word; that water baptism
is not for the remission of sin, but is simply a sign and seal of the
covenant of grace; that dipping the person into the water is not necessary, but that baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person; that the Church of Jesus Christ is composed of believing parents and their children; that the sacrament of
the Supper should be administered to all Christians of good standing
in their respective Churches.^
1. Blake, T . C . , The Old Log House. A History and Defense
of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, pp. 267-268, 270-271.
2. Ibid., pp. 272-273.
One cannot comprehend the significance of these doctrinal positions
without having lived in an atmosphere where each one of the several
issues is considered vitally important. They were considered important at the time the church originated and in the eyes of the group
they have tended to remain important.
Broadly viewed, the theology of the group has several characteristics which are sociologically highly significant. The first
and most important of these characteristics might be said to illustrate what W. I. Thomas calls the "wish for security.11
ready been pointed out that the conditions of life were particularly
hard in the Cumberland Territory during the days preceding the Great
Revival. The means of livelihood and life itself were uncertain and
insecure. There was little that resembled a stable social order upon
which dependence could be placed.
In view of these facts it is little
wonder that "salvation" which gave assurance of a happy and secure
existence in the life after death should be looked upon as all-important.
In many respects the story has been often repeated in religious
It was religion which could be experienced by the individual
and which offered positive security for the future that people on the
frontier wanted.
This was the type of religion that the early Cumber-
land Presbyterians attempted to incorporate into their theology.
Cumberland Presbyterians refused to hold with uncertainty
on either side of man's spiritual birthday. They insisted that any
man may be saved; they insisted also that a saved man knows both that
he is saved and when the miracle took place; they insisted, finally,
that once saved, no weakness of his own nor any power of hell can avail
to rob a man of his security.1
1. Orr, op. cit.. pp. 30-31.
The manner in which this point of view was incorporated into
pulpit theology is illustrated by the following testimonials
Among the first ministers of the Cumberland PreBbyterian
Church I ever heard was the Rev. R. D. Hardin. He used an illustration in his sermon that day that caught me. Illustrating divine sovereignty and man's moral agency he said that It took both God and
man to make a crop of corn or wheat. God gives us the ground to till
and the seed to plant and sow, and the rain and sunshine from heaven,
etc* But unless man breaks the ground and plants or sows the seed
and cultivates the soil, no crop would be made. Said he, "God is just
as powerless under natural laws to make a crop of corn or wheat without man's help, as man is without God's help. It takes both to produce
a crop of anything." Of course, the application is easily made. God
has provided salvation for the whole world of his own free grace and
love, but our being saved depends upon our complying with certain conditions which he has stipulated, "Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." When man complies with this stipulation,
God fulfils his part — justifying, regenerating and adopting the
penitent believer into his family.1
McDonnold says:
A state of full assurance was insisted on in every protracted
meeting which these men (early church fathers) held.2
The elements of assurance, then, which Cumberland PresbyterIan theology embodied were: 1. That anyone who wants to be saved can
2. That a person can know the time and place when the "new birth"
takes place, 3. That no one who has been truly "regenerated" can ever
be lost.
These elements were strengthened: by the conception that believers could be baptized with the Holy Ghost - "endued with power from
on high," by faith in the power of prayer, and by confidence in the providential care of God. McDonnold's history is replete with records of
1. Dale, W. T., "Introduction," Six Books in One Volume. „ ^ ..'.
pp. 5—6•
2. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 106.
3. Confession of Faith (C. P.), op. cit.. (edition of 1883), p.
4. Ibid.. p. 41
5. Ibid.. p. 39.
almost miraculous power given to some of the ministers, of direct answers
to prayer, and of instances of God's afflictive and rewarding providences.
After reviewing these and other records, Orr appropriately remarks:
Such whole-hearted acceptance of the idea that natural law
could be interfered with for the benefit of men of faith, would make
for a feeling of confidence and security. Thus, when one accepted the
gospel, as proclaimed by these preachers, he literally came into a fold
of safety. Not only was the after life cared for by assurance of heaven,
which was as certain as if one were already in it, but the present also
was under a divine guardianship which guaranteed that no forces capable
of working evil remained beyond control of the power which religion was
able directly to release in a man's life.
The question of infant salvation was also very important in
the theology of early Cumberland Presbyterians. It was, of course,
tied up with their revolt against the doctrine of election and predestination, but it was also probably affected by the high infant mortality rate on the frontier*
At least they wrote into their creed the state-
ment that "all infants dying in infancy, and all persons who have never
had the faculty of reason, are regenerated and saved."
Cementing the whole structure of the "medium" theological system together is the basic Dissenting attitude that every individual's
religious experience is a direct relationship with God, effected without mediation of priest or holy church. Cumberland Presbyterian preachers
still preach that a man can be "saved" between the handles of his plow
as easily as he can in church.
The relationship of this spirit of em-
phasis on individualism to the sodo-geographic conditions of life on
the frontier has already been pointed out.
That the doctrinal position of the group has not changed materially is illustrated by the following statement taken from a recent issue
of the church paper:
1. Orr, op. cit.. pp. 54-55.
2. Confession of Faith (C. P.). edition of 1883, op. cit.. p.36.
3. This Investigator has often heard such stated from the pulpit.
The essential doctrinal points of Cumberlandism are: God
loved every person living to the extent that He gave His only Son to
redeem them from sin. Every one has a divine right to be saved and
no one can be cheated out of that right. However, every one must
confess his sins, repent of them, and accept Christ before he can be
saved. It all depends upon the individual. God is always willing
and ready. When anyone once entrusts his life and his soul to God,
God keeps it safe forever. God does not play at the job; neither
does He half do His work. When a soul really believes and accepts
God, God does whatever is necessary to keep him throughout eternity.
One may sin after he has believed and accepted God. One never reaches
the place in this earth when he is perfect. He will suffer because
he has wronged His Father. He will be punished at least by having
that muc'u of his life - his activity - wiped out since it cannot benefit him or God. Everyone has a right to decide for himself whether
he is able to partake of the Lord's Supper. Children should be baptized in infancy. This is to encourage them and their parents in
the greatest Christian steps that can be taken in rearing them in
the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Baptism is a sign of being
set apart in consecration to the Lord.
Out of this "medium" theological position there have arisen
within the institution a number of significant behavior patterns. Following are a few of the most important of these:
1. Emphasis upon "Revivals"
As has been pointed out, both the denomination and its the*ology had their origin in the Great Revival. The "revival" became the
message and program of the group. The chief objective was the salvation of souls, and the revival was looked upon as the best and most
direct technique for attaining it. Finis Ewing, one of the three founders, in a lecture entitled "On Revivals of Religion", said,
Let all who pray "thy kingdom come", be ardent to promote,
and careful to cherish revivals of religion. By them the world must
be converted to God; by them the "knowledge of God will cover the earth
as the waters do the great deep". By them the time must come when none
"shall teach his neighbor, saying know ye the Lord", but when all shall
know Him from the least to the greatest.2
1. The Cumberland Presbyterian. Vol. 112, No. 8, February 1,
1940, p. 1.
2. Ewing, Finis, A Series of Lectures on the Most Important
Subjects in Divinity, pp. 132-155.
Not only our own people were revived but all the Christian
people of the community also.
We had the people from other denominations to attend the
services and they said it was one of the best meetings that they were
ever in. This is the second year Brother M
has held the meeting
for me and he is stronger now than the first meeting he held. We have
already made arrangements with him to hold our meeting
year. Brother M
is one of the best revivalists I ever heard.
His preaching is more like the preaching that we read about in the
year of 1800 when people fell at the altar of God and asked, "Men
and brethren what shall we do to be saved?" Any preacher or church
in need of a preacher to hold a revival can make no mistake by getting
this man of God to do the preaching for them.1
The extent of the revival movement today is shown by the fact that
337 of the 446 congregations replying to the questionnaire,sent out
in the course of this investigation,reported one or more revivals
during the preceding year (1938-1939). Of the 69 reporting no revivals 41 were rural congregations which seem not to have had them
because of weak and disorganized congregational conditions rather
than because of any lack of faith in the revival technique. One
church reported four revivals during the year. Approximately 35
per cent of the total number of revivals were conducted by the local
pastors of their respective congregations.
The General Assembly has consistently placed repeated emphasis upon the revival practice. It adopted a five-year plan in
1938 including a goal of 6,000 conversions each year,
and recom-
mended "that a denomination-wide, simultaneous revival be held be3
ginning Sunday September 18, 1938."
The Assembly of 1939 adopted
a resolution to the effect that "we call for special, definite prayer
to be made at 3 p.m., Sunday, July 23, 1939, for a spiritual awaken4
ing, and a baptism of fire from above."
1. The Cumberland Presbyterian. September 14, 1939, p.12.
2. General Assembly Minutes ( o T p . ) , 1958, p. 137.
3 . I b i d . . p . 133.
4 . General Assembly Minutes ( 0 . P . ) . 1939, p . 133.
The denomination early adopted John 3:16 as Its theme,
and prided itself upon preaching the "Whosoever Will Gospel"* The
success of revivals has been gauged primarily in terms of the number
of "conversions," i.e., the number of persons publicly professing repentance for their sins and acceptance of the love of God through belief in Jesus Christ. An additional objective has been that of "reclaiming" those who once professed faith but became "backsliders".
The emotional excesses and strange bodily exercises which
marked the crest of the Great Revival of 1800 were not approved or
encouraged by the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Such extremes were consistently deplored and discouraged by them.
They did, however, emphasize a more conservative form of emotional
expression In their revivals. "Shouting" was both approved and commonly practiced until comparatively recent times. It usually took the
form of an ecBtatic and uncontrollable outburst of speech —
of relief, joy, and praise to God. The person affected might be a
Christian who became happy in contemplation of the joys of his estate,
or a "new-born soul" crying, with relief upon reception of assurance
of his release from the doom of the wicked. The rapid disappearance
of this practice is being much deplored by many Cumberland Presbyterians today, and those rare occasions when it reappears in the services of a revival are heralded as a return of the "old-time religion".
Also related to revival practices was the "mourner's bench".
This usually consisted of a plain wooden bench placed in the altar of
the church as a kneeling-place where penitents might "pray through %»
1. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."
2. McDonnold, Cossitt, Orr, and many other writers insist
that this is true. It is held that these extremes were practiced by
the "Stoneites" and those who instigated the "New Light Schism" but
not by Cumberland Presbyterians.
to victory". It is still maintained in a majority of Cumberland
churches, but its use is on the wane. In replying to the questionnaire 79 congregations indicated that this oneejessential item is no
longer Included in the equipment of their houses of worship. However,
297 declared that they still have it, and one reply added that "all
true Cumberland Churches do". It is obvious to one attending revivals
in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church today, however, that the "mourner's
bench" is little used even in the churches retaining it. Conversion
has come to be more of a matter-of-fact experience, less and less emotional agony attaching itself to the process of the "new birth".
It is always difficult to pick a typical situation out of
a large number of varied ones, and no revival in the Cumberland Church
is exactly like any other. The general pattern is, however, well enough defined to be possible of fairly accurate description as follows:
The date is usually In the summer at a season when farm crops are not
demanding too much attention; services are held morning and evening
for a period of from one to three weeks; the evangelist begins by
preaching a few sermons to the church members and Christians, to "warm
them up"; the sermons are then directed toward the unsaved with the
purpose of making them sense their "lost and undone condition"; after
a few build-up services the sermons become purely exhortatory and each
is closed with an invitation to the unsaved to come forv/ard to the altar
and profess faith In Jesus Christ while the congregation sings an invitation hymn. If any come forward they give the minister their hand,
and he may or may not invite them to kneel for a prayer which he usually leads. When it appears that no more "sinners" will come, the invitation is extended to "backsliders" to come forward and reconsecrate
themselves. The service is concluded by having all the converts or
reclaimed stand in a line in the altar while members of the congregation, singing an appropriate hymn, file by and give them the "right
hand of Christian fellowship". Tears often freely flow when mother,
wife or friend greets a wayward child, husband or neighbor in this
altar line.
An approved revival technique which seems to be falling into
disuse in recent years is that of the public "testimonial". Formerly
almost every evangelist gave a period in the services to the hearing
of testimonies from those members of the congregation who might want
to confess their faults, express their love for and praise to the Lord,
or make requests for prayer for themselves, their families, or their
The testimonies were usually heard before the sermon and pro-
vided an excellent conditioning background for the exhortation to spiritual decision. The technique is still commonly used, and although
it is not as popular and successful as in earlier days, it is still
no unusual thing to hear a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher goading the
slow-to-respond in his audience with the words, "Don't be ashamed to
stand up and testify for your Lord."
Those who "stand up" are almost
always emotionally affected by the psychological tension of the situation, and those professing Christians who let the opportunity pass without "testifying" are left with a feeling of guilt which may be calculated to cause them spiritual disturbance.
2. The Development of "Preaching" Pastors
A second set of institutional behavior patterns related to the
system of theology is built up around the function of the minister. Early
Cumberland Presbyterians felt that the most important task in the world
was that of getting souls into the "fold of safety" through the process
of conversion. Although every Christian was supposed to feel the
obligation of this task, the minister was considered one "called of
God" to perform it. His was the privilege and responsibility of preaching "the Word".
The burden of the eternal destiny of souls rested
upon his shoulders each time he entered the pulpit. The following
statement from one of the early ministers aptly expresses the attitude
commonly held:
With a firm belief that, by his own faithfulness and activity, he can, instrumentally, add to the number of the redeemed, or then,
by his sloth and inactivity he will swell the dark list of the eternally damned, the minister goes to his field of labor with the undying interests of heaven and the endless woes of hell circling around
his soul. He trembles, he fears, he weeps, he prays, under an awful
sense that some immortal soul, made for realmB of immortality, may,
through his want T,of faithfulness, feed the flames that never expire.1
Such an attitude made a missionary evangelist of every Cumberland Presbyterian minister. Preaching was the most important part
of his work, and settled pastorates requiring extended care and oversight were frowned upon. McDonnold says,
Many of our preachers and people came to think that pastorates were invented by self-seeking men who dreaded the hardships of an
itinerant life and wanted big salaries.**
Ministers were supported by their families or by secular employment
and discharged the obligations of their professional calling by traveling from place to place and preaching. At first there was positive opposition to the office of settled pastor. The second Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly, which met in 1830, voted, by a large majority, to amend the Form of GoTernment by striking out the whole section
recognizing the pastoral office. This proposed amendment was defeated
when submitted to a vote of the presbyteries, but the fact that it
1. From a sermon by Rev. A. Templeton, The Ecological Medium.
October, 1847, p. 562.
2. McDonnold. op. cit.. p. 242.
passed the Assembly indicates how strong the attitudes were on the
Here again one finds considerable light thrown upon the
process of institutionalization.
The revival and its ideals consti-
tuted the "cause" which the Cumberland Presbyterian Church originated
to promote. At first the prosecution of this cause almost completely
occupied the arena of interest and activity. Much of the preaching
was done at "stations" where little effort was made to organize permanent congregations, and little concern was manifested when many of
those persons converted joined congregations belonging to other denominations.
Evangelization was the important concern and the interests
of the institution were secondary and unimportant.
Gradually, however,
the order was reversed. The establishing of permanent congregations
and the building of churches began to be emphasized. Whereas the minister's work had been almost exclusively that of preaching and there had
been opposition to settled pastorates, there slowly emerged an insistence upon the pastoral office as being essential to the welfare of the
institution. The General Assembly of 1836 Illustrated the degree of
change in this respect by unequivocally declaring itself in favor of
^ c
the pastoral relationship. From that time down to the present one of
the chief elements of struggle within the institution has been with
regard to this effort to overlay the non-institutional general evangel*
istic pattern of behavior with the institutional-centered pattern of
permanent churches and settled, salaried pastors. In time there began
to emerge a distinction between pastor and evangelist. As pastors
became more established and congregations more institutionalized, professional evaagelists appeared on the scene, and the tendency was to
relegate evangelism to the brief "revival* period observed annually
by each congregation.
The process of institutionalization may also be observed
In connection with the attitude toward the payment of salaries to
The early revival preachers declared that salvation was
free, meaning, of course, that God freely provided it for all those
who would accept. The idea seems to have evolved, however, that it
should also be freely delivered by His messengers. Frontier conditions
making the payment of large salaries impractical contributed to the
development of this attitude. Doubtless, many of the early preachers
supported themselves because the people were not able to support them.
It was taboo for preachers to mention money in public services, and
since the conversion of souls, rather than the maintenance of churches,
was emphasized the people did not see the necessity for consistent
liberal giving.
It became an attitude of the group to expect a God-
called preacher to go forward and preach the gospel, pay or no~>. pay.
Nothing could more quickly or effectually ostracise him than for it
to be rumored that he was "out for the money". As through the years,
however, evangelization faded into institutionalization there emerged
a struggle on the part of the institutionalizing forces to overcome
the earlier pattern of non-support of "the gospel". Synods sent out
special agents to educate the churches to "give," resolutions on the
subject were passed in the various church courts, and ministers were
urged to give more attention to it in their preaching. Nevertheless,
the "free gospel" concept did not readily yield to the institution's
ever-increasing demands for support.
The practice of itinerant preaching and the attitude of reluctance toward financial support of churches finally crystallized into a
system of "preaching" pastorates. Under this system a minister might
be pastor of several churches, scattered over a wide territory, and
not live near any of them, his pastoral oversight being limited to
the filling of an occasional preaching appointment and the conducting
of funerals. Usually, too, he would be expected to conduct the annual
revival. He would be paid a small salary by each of the churches,
but would often also have to work at a secular job in order to support
his family.
The extent to which these various attitudes and behavior patterns are reflected by present conditions within the institution is
indicated by the following facts:
1. In the year 1939 there were 1,120 congregations on the
denominational roll, and only 670 ordained ministers. Only 105 congregations employed a minister for his full time, leaving 1,017 congregations with part-time or no pastoral care.
2. Of 446 congregations returning questionnaires in the course
of this study, 293 indicated the distances which their pastors lived
from them. These 293 were all village and rural congregations. In
only 71 cases did the pastor live as near as five miles. In 182 cases
the distance was more than 11 miles, and in 126 cases it was 21 miles
or more.
5. The total per capita expenditures of the denomination for
1939, including all the expenditures of all congregations, was only
Although it is not possible to compare figures with the average
for all United States churches for the same year, it may be evaluated
in the light of the fact that in 1916 the denominational average was
1. Items, except as noted, are deduced from statistics in
C. P* General Assembly Minutes for 1939.
$3.53 per adult member in contrast to the national average of $8.70,
while in 1926 the denominational average was $7.71 as contrasted with the
$18.44 national average.
4. Only 45 pastors in the denomination were receiving salaries of $1,200.00 or more during 1939, and a division of the total
pastoral Income among the 670 ordained ministers would have allowed
each minister only $329.85. Other gratuities, such as food and sometimes a house in which to live, would increase this figure slightly,
but even so it is quite low.
5. Of the total of 61 presbyteries, 48 returned questionnaires
submitted them asking for information pertaining to the matter of secular employment of their ministers. In these presbyteries 102 ministers
were depending entirely upon secular work for a livelihood.
A total
of 208 others were supplementing their pastoral salaries with income
from secular sources. Thus in these 48 presbyteries almost one-half
(310) of the denomination's total ministry (670) were engaged in full
or part time secular pursuits*
3. Stressing of the "Internal Call" to the Ministry
Emphasis upon the element of definite personal experience in
religion was accompanied by the attitude that ministers are "God-called"
and that no one should enter the profession who had not experienced a
definite "internal call".
In fact, the ministry was not considered a
profession but a "calling". The following statement with regard to
how presbyteries shall receive probationers for the ministry is incorporated in the Constitution of the church:
1. See Fry, C. Luther, The United States Looks at Her Churches,
p. 118.
It is the duty of the Presbytery, for its satisfaction with regard
to the real piety of each probationer, to examine him respecting
his experimental acquaintance with religion, the motives which influence him to desire the sacred office, and his internal call to
this Important work.1
The stress laid upon the divine call is illustrated by the
following excerpts from the opening sermon preached by the Moderator
of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at its
Centennial Anniversary meeting in 1910:
1. Don't go until you are invited. Don't try to walk on
the water till Christ bids you do so. Don't try to be an apostle
until God marks that out as your destiny.... Don't try to preach the
gospel till the divine call comes, then you can preach and sinners
will be saved.... When we are sure Christ bids us walk on the water
we should not hesitate one moment.... It is always safe to do what
God saye do. He will see us through. Moses said, *'Who am I, that
I should go to Pharoah. God said, say unto him, I am that I am
hath sent thee." When they tried to silence Amos, the prophet,
he replied, "The Lord said unto me, Go prophesy".... It is disastrous to decline such a divine call. Men have neglected a call
to preach and mourned over it all their lives.^
The following statement made recently by a young minister
of the denomination illustrates the manner in which the divine call
is conceived to operate upon the individual:
Before my conversion I, to a great extent, became disgusted
with sin in the lives of human beings with whom I associated; and
after that event I became not only disgusted with sin, but also had
a sympathetic feeling toward those whose lives were so dominated; and
I, myself, wanted to offer a helping hand by presenting to them the
life which Christ came to offer.
Shortly after this, I became intimately associated with a minister who had been my pastor; he it
was who introduced me to life as it was lived by a minister; and
some how it appealed to me. Too, I became more interested in the
work of the church as a whole; I even came to the point in life that
I really enjoyed attending Presbytery. In the summer of 1954 I attended the meeting of New Hope Presbytery. An invitation was very
graciously extended to those who wished to converse with the Presbytery in regard to an eternal call to the ministry. The invitation
was to me; I knew it, yet for some reason I wouldn't heed such an
1. "Constitution," Confession of Faith (0. P.). op. cit.. p.105.'
2. Barbee, Rev. J. T., "Moderator's Sermon," Centennial Sermons
and Papers Delivered at the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church before the Eightieth General
Assembly. Dickson. Tennessee. May 19-24. 1910* pp. 21-22.
invitation. I knew something of the hardships of a minister's life
and thought that I wanted to make a bigger "mark" in the world.
Perhaps these were the reasons for the delay in the acceptance of
the call. For the following year the Lord often and in various ways
showed me that He was needing me for a special work in His kingdom
and in July 1935 I surrendered unto the Lord's will for my life.
Happy was that day in my life, and I've never regretted taking such
a step down to the altar of old Antioch Church where I gladly confessed the call which I had received. So far I realize I've done
very little to promote His cause, but also I realize that I'm In
His hands and am trying to follow the leadership of His Spirit;
after a while I have faith to believe that His spirit shall lead
into greater fields of service.1
It has become customary in the denomination for each presbytery to devote a period of its regular meeting to giving an opportunity for those who have experienced the internal call to converse with
the presbytery, which is a way of saying that it extends an invitation to any persons who wish to be accepted as candidates for the ministry.
A minister usually preaches on the subject of the internal
call and persons who feel the call are urged to come forward and be
received under the care of the presbytery. The hardships and heartaches attendant upon failure to heed the call are almost invariably
vividly set forth.
Related to the conception of the divine influence in the
selection of the ministry is another practice which seems to have originated in the last few decades of the denomination's history. It
is the practice of holding "consecration" services. These services
have become associated particularly with the various summer encampments sponsored for young people. One such service is held in each
encampment and it Is planned as the spiritual climax of the encampment program.
It emphasizes the consecration of young lives to the
divine purpose for them, stressing always the yielding to the call to
1. From a personal document written by a ministerial student in Bethel College In 1939.
such"special" fields of service as the ministry or the mission field.
Seldom is one of these services held without a number of young people
responding, sometimes as many as 30 or 40. This is the chief means of
gaining recruits to the ministry.
That it is successful is indicated
by the fact that with an ordained ministry numbering only 670, and
with only 103 congregations offering full-time ministerial employment,
there are at present 147 persons in process of preparation for ordina1
The practice of "easy" ordinations is also related to the
concept that ministers are called of God. Over against institutional
efforts to restrict ordination to persons of special fitness and qualifications has always been the argument that if God calls a person to
preach, the church has no right to refuse to ordain him.
In consequence
of this argument the denomination has never had a standard requirement
for ordination, beyond the broad criteria that the candidate must have
good moral character, an experimental acquaintance with religion, an
internal call, a modicum of talent, and the rudiments of education. '
The Constitution of the church merely says:
Trials for ordination shall consist of a careful and satisfactory examination of the licentiate, before the Presbytery, or a
committee thereof, upon experimental religion, his internal call to
the ministry, his knowledge of geography, English grammar, philosophy,
astronomy, ecclesiastical history, the Holy Scriptures, natural and
revealed theology, and the Government of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Since each presbytery is allowed to make its own interpretation and application of these broad and indefinite requirements,
it has been possible for almost any Cumberland Presbyterian who claimed
to be called of God to obtain ordination. Some presbyteries are more
17 See statistical tables, General Assembly Minutes (C. P . ) ,
2. "Constitution." Confession of Faith (C. P. ) . op. cit..
pp. 107-108.
strict and exacting than others, but young and old, educated and uneducated are still being ordained.
A case like the following is not
I was ordained when I was 19 years old and had only finished my freshman year in college. I was preaching to some small
rural churches near school and felt, therefore that I needed ordination. My presbytery was a little reluctant at first because I was
so young, but it finally yielded and sent me out a full-fledged
minister of the gospel before I was old enough to vote.1
4. Congregations Little Organized to Meet Social Needs
The program which the congregations are organized to carry
out also bears a direct relationship to the system of theology.
the salvation of souls for eternity is the primary theological emphasis,
it is not surprising that congregations stress the preaching program of
the church. The tendency is for the local churches to be little more
than conventicles where "the gospel" is dispensed.
The attitude seems
to be that the proper delivereace of this gospel is the key to all
social need.
Consequently congregations are organized around the motives
of self-perpetuation and the preaching of the gospel. The idea that their
organization should be toward meeting more specific social needs related
to social problems in local communities seems to be little sensed or
The General Assembly adopted a five-year program in 1938. One
division of this program was concerned with the organization and functioning" of congregations. A set of standards or goals for congregations was developed for the 1939-1940 phase of the program in this division. These goals are significant in that they reveal denominational
emphases and suggest conditions of congregational malfunctioning.
They are stated as follows:
1. From a personal document by a Cumberland Presbyterian minister.
1. Shall be an organized active congregation.
2. Shall have an evergreen1 Sunday school and Y. P.
3. Shall have regular worship services.
4. Shall make an earnest effort for a woul-winning
5. Shall receive new members equal to one-tenth of its
membership per year.
6. Shall have a definite financial system that cares
for both local expenses of the church (including a paBtor's salary) and the denominational
7. Shall have at least one person taking at least one
hour credit in leadership training per year.
8. Shall have an active missionary society.
9. Shall send a representative to at least one meeting
of presbytery each year.
10. Must make report on General Assembly Blanks and have
same in the hands of the Stated Clerk of the
presbytery in time to be reported in the General
Assembly Minutes.2
It is apparent that there iB little "social gospel" consciousness In
these goals.
That congregations are little organized for or concerned with
social needs is further illustrated by the results obtained on questionnaires returned by congregations in the course of this study.
number of activities which might have a broader social connotation
than merely their institutional value were listed in the questionnaire
and each congregation was asked to indicate which of these it had sponsored or participated in during the past twelve months. Results from
the 446 questionnaires returned are tabulated in Table I.
Only slightly more than one-third of the congregations consciously attempted to do charitable work even at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and although the Board of Foreign Missions made earnest pleas
for money to relieve suffering in war-ravaged China, only 71 congregations had made any kind of offering for foreign relief.
1. This is a term used for continuous functioning. Many Sunday
schools and young people's societies function only sporadically, being
affected particularly by bad weather.
2. General Assembly Minutes, 1939, p. 129.
Table I
Social Service Activities of 446
Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations During the Year 1938-1939.
Per Cent
1. Promoted a civic or community reform... 10
2. Raised Community Chest or Red Cross
3. Maintained a Men's Club
4. Maintained a Boy Scout Troop
5. Consistently cared for poor families... 51
6. Gave to the poor at Christmas and Thanksgiving
7. Raised a special offering for Chinese,
Spanish, Jewish, or other foreign
8. Sponsored church and community
9. Sponsored or entered athletic contests.
10.Sponsored educational lectures...
11.Sponsored a Dally Vacation Bible School 25
secular activities such as maintaining scout troops, promoting civic
reforms, furthering adult education, or caring for community recreational needs, were hardly recognized by the congregations.
The spiritual rather than the social function of religion
was also emphasized by the 155 Cumberland Presbyterians marking the
attitude scale. Only 31 definitely felt that Cumberland Presbyterian
ministers should bring more about current events and modern social
problems into their preaching, while 120 felt that Cumberland Presbyterian ministers ought to "get back closer to the Bible in their preaching". Only 76 positively disagreed with the statement that "the church
should not be concerned with anything except converting sinners and .
saving souls" although, interestingly, 86 felt that "the church should
strive to care for the social and recreational as well as the spiritual
needs of its people". These last two points suggest that approximate-
ly 50 per cent of these Cumberland Presbyterians favored a social program
for the denomination. This provides an interesting contrast to the fact
that only 23.7 per cent of congregations sponsor "socials" and only 1.1
per cent take any part in "athletic contests". It was agreed by 74 persons that the church should take a stand on problems confronting our economic order, by 106 that it should take a stand against war, and by 105
that it should take a stand against race prejudice.
All In all, it may be said that the denomination has little
social vision beyond that of preparing souls for the future life, and
that the organization and functioning of the congregations reflect that
The questionnaires further substantiate this statement by reveal-
ing that there exist an average of only 2.5 organizations per congregation for the 446 congregations reporting, and that these 2.5 organizations
are usually a Sunday school and a missionary society or a young people's
5. Insistence upon a Personal Heart-felt Religious Experience
Out of the theology there has also arisen within the institution a well-defined pattern relating to the personal religious experience of the individual. There is strong insistence that religion is
"of the heart and not of the head". Members of the Board of Christian
Education, created by the denomination in 1936, stated in interviews
that their board was constantly being handicapped by the suspicion that
it was trying to "educate people into the Kingdom of God". One of the
most respected theologians of the denomination poignantly expresses
the general attitude in a formal discussion of the subject of "Regeneration":
1. Consult Appendix for complete results on these items.
The grand focal point of Bible theology Is regeneration.
The Great Teacher said to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God" (John ill. 3 ) . The doctrine of the
"new birth" was the theme not only of the Savior, but of the apostles....
Although the word (regeneration) itself is rarely used in the
Bible, yet the thing which it signifies is of frequent occurrence. Thus
it is called "a passing from death unto life" — "born of the Spirit" —
"born again" — "born of God" — "in Christ" — "a new creature" "created
anew" etc. The word, then, means the work of the Holy Spirit by which
we experience a change of heart — a new heart.
A brief negative view of the subject may assist in a clearer
understanding of it.
(a) It does not mean simply a conversion from infidelity to a
theoretical belief of the truths of the gospel.
Regeneration presupposes, but does not consist in, mere orthodox views upon the subject of religion. A man may understand and believe,
theoretically, the doctrines of the Bible, and yet be an utter stranger
to experimental and practical godliness....
(b) It does not consist in mere morality.
The young man who approached the Savior and asked what he
should do to inherit eternal life, as a strictly moral man, kept all the
commandments; yet the history of his case shows that he was not a Christian - was not regenerated. (See Matt. xix. 16-22)....
(c) It does not imply simply an observance of all the forms,
ordinances, and external duties of religion....
(d) It does not consist in a mere profession of religion....
To the question, then, what is regeneration? we repeat the
answer previously given: It is the work of the Holy Spirit by which
we experience a change of heart.1
The same emphasis is expressed in the following quotation
from a sermon by a prominent minister of the denomination on the subject
of "The New Birth":
Surely religious education, with all its modern methods and
equipment, is adequate to meet the needs of men's souls. But is it?
No, it can never take the place of the new birth. It has a wonderful
place in the work of the kingdom of God in teaching the child before
his conversion and training him for service after it, but it can never
be accepted as a substitute for the power of God working in the heart..*.
Nothing but an experimental work of grace in the soul Is adequate.2
The term "experimental religion" is frequently used in the
pulpit and press of the denomination to express the idea that religion
must be a matter of a definite personal experience taking place within
the individual. The term is used erroneously, since it intends to con-
1. Blake, op. cit.. pp. 241-244.
2. Walton, Howard Charles, "The New Birth," The Cumberland Presbyterian Pulpit, p. 119.
note an "experience" rather than an "experiment".
The manner in which the individual experiences the operation
of "experimental religion" is well illustrated by the following autobiographical descriptions of the conversion experiences of ministerial
students in Bethel College in 1938-1939:
1. For some time previous to my conversion I had been very
much interested in becoming a Christian. I remember very distinctly
the evening the family walked across the field to the arbor and I
thought perhaps that I would accept Him and take my stand for Him,
but felt that that evening was not the time. The altar was filled with
mourners and practically all the congregation had gathered as near the
altar as possible. I remember -my aunt and mother coming to me and
talking to me about becoming a Christian. I wasn't very interested
and they begged me to go to the altar. With the pleadings of my mother
I couldn't refuse and made a start. As the aisle was crowded I tried
to turn and go outside, but as I turned around I met my mother and aunt
and there was nothing left to do as I seemed to be hemmed in. At the
time I reached the altar I was not very interested about becoming a
Christian as I was so disturbed and torn up. But after about the third
session of prayer and words of encouragement, from numbers, the song
leader came to me and helped me to see the way clearly. Some way I
can't express the happy feeling and completeness that I felt within.
2. It was unfortunate that I joined the church before I was
converted. I realized afterwards, several years, that the change had
not come in my life that was needed. None of my relatives or friends
doubted my conversion when I joined the church; they, in some way,
seemed to think I was a "good boy41. It so happened that a short interval of my life was spent in N
, Alabama. During this interval in
a Methodist revival, I fully surrendered my heart to Christ; He accepted me, and from that time, I know I am His; "Old things were passed
away; all things were become new". I had a new outlook on life — new
likes, new dislikes, new and different ambitions, and a new zeal or
courage in my work.
3. I was converted July 14, 1928 at the church which I had
always attended. It took place during a revival meeting, and on this
particular night, the pastor of the church did the preaching. His subject was "Three Ways to Hell". No outside pressure of any kind forced
my decision. I went to the altar of my own accord. No one did so much
as talk to me. Considering my age and the subject of the sermon, I
would say that the fear element was probably one of the chief factors
that led me to go to the altar along with the fact that it seemed then
that I definitely felt myself to be a sinner.
4. I had a so-called conversion experience when in grammar
school which was unfortunate. It was during a revival and since it was
only a pseudo-conversion, served in the course of time to make me bitter
toward religion. During my freshman year at Bethel the annual revival
was held. The minister holding it was a likeable fellow and a friend
of my father's. Upon invitation one night I visited him in his room,
he had told me that he wanted to discuss the work I had chosen —
journalism. We talked about this subject for quite a while and he
pointed out various journalists of his acquaintance who were Christians. I knew then what he was approaching. He then went about to
prove to me that a man could be a news-hound and a Christian — an
idea that I did not until then believe and hardly then. His appeal
was direct, sincere, and without emotion. The rationalizing appealed
to me and I was convinced of the unsatisfactory life I was living.
We read the Bible and prayed for two hours and I felt better. He
asked me several questions which I answered to his satisfaction and
he pronounced me a Christian — just saved. I was not satisfied as
much as he but did not tell him so; after I left his room I prayed
and read the Bible until 5 o'clock that morning. That night I knew
something that I had never known before. It was the most important
night in my life.
5. I was converted when I was about eleven years of age, at
church during a revival meeting. There was no struggle in my conversion experience, I just felt that I was doing something that was very
necessary and was very glad that I had accomplished it.
6. I have since early childhood been subject to a religious
environment. Seemingly the whole community was interested in me,
especially an aunt who was a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church; also an uncle who was also a minister. In this environment
I professed Christ about the age of twelve. Since very early in childhood I have been sensitive to and conscious of sin. I have never forgotten that night that I professed Christ, but the experience was never
satisfying. I did my best to live a Christian life, but always felt
that there was something wrong or lacking in my life. Everyone supposed
me to be a Christian. A few years later through the influence of my
friends I united with the Cumberland Church. I had never learned to
pray and my life was indeed miserable. I could hardly refrain from attending church and Sunday school, but was miserable while I was there.
I would hear people talk of me being a minister some day, and this
would set me on fire, so to speak. My aunt (the minister) told me
one day that while she was praying that it was revealed to her that
I had been called to the ministry and for her to talk to me about it.
1 refused to talk with her then and later about It. In this condition
I finished high school. I never thought much of college, for as I
said before my life was miserable. I settled down at home working
on the farm trying to find rest and peace from my conscience. I knew
something was wrong. I couldn't read the Bible. I could hardly listen to a sermon. I didn't feel that I was lost, neither did I have .
the assurance that I was saved. In testimony meetings it seemed I
would die if I didn't stand or say a few words. The people began to
talk of making me an elder in the church. I couldn't bear the idea
while I was in this condition. Through hard work and worry my health
began to fail. Life meant nothing to me as far as joy and happiness
was concerned. It seemed I couldn't pray although I knew I should.
I received a New Testament from my Sunday school teacher after pledging to read one chapter each day. What a task, my misery became more
intense. One morning while on my knees getting some corn to feed the
mules I decided to offer up a prayer to God. After asking God to
show me what was wrong I felt some better. After that it was much
easier and I prayed two or three times each day. As I said I was sick
but didn't tell anyone about it and continued to-try to work. On July
7, 1956 seemingly I had gone the limit, I was walking in the field.
For several days I had been wondering if God hadn't called me to the
ministry. Then I would wonder if He didn't want to save my soul. I
was in the dark. About three o'clock In the afternoon on July 7 (what
a blessed day, a happy day) I sincerely prayed to God for peace and
relief. I promised God that I was willing to do anything if He would
only relieve me. Thank God, He did! I found peace and joy right there
and then. Seemingly the Spirit was poured out on me without measure.
The birds began to sing and the sun began to shine. I felt then and
there that God had something for me to do; that I must tell people
what great things He had wrought for me. I lived on prayer and God's
Word after that. I told my experience privately and then publicly.
I didn't know, neither am I certain now, whether this latter was a
conversion experience or not, but I do know that it was real, that
it brought freedom, happiness and joy, and that I have it in my heart
These cases reveal that the pattern of the conversion experience
was strikingly similar for each individual. By one means or another psychological pressure brought to bear upon the individual induced in him
"guilt" feelings and a sense of sin; after a struggle with these feelings,
he found joyous release through a complete spiritual surrender. The experience was always intimately personal and usually highly emotionalized,
being illustrative of "heart-felt religion".
In concluding this division, it should be pointed out that the
institution's system of theology has been developed around the revival
emphasis upon a personalized and emotionalized religious experience.
Logic and rationalization have been subordinated to this emphasis. The
element of personal, positive assurance of salvation and security both
in this life and in the hereafter, dependent upon the individual's free
exercise of his own will, has been given the place of primary importance.
This emphasis is directly related to the loneliness, the meagerness of
social contacts, the individualism, the lack of security, and the hard
living conditions which, as described in previous chapters, prevailed on
the Cumberland frontier. That is to say, the institution's theology
was definitely a response to the conditions of need in its early social
Worship is, of course, closely related to the system of theology, but it occupies so fundamental a place in the structure and functioning of the institution that it merits separate treatment.
A religious faith embraces a set of values which are held to
be absolute In their nature and of supreme worth. Worship may be said
to be the functional expression of men's efforts to relate themselves
to the set of values. In Christianity God is the personification of supreme values; Christian worship, therefore, may be defined as communion
with God.
To Cumberland Presbyterians "communion with God" is a phrase
weighted with literal rather than figurative meaning. Worship is looked
upon as an experience of the heart, for which no amount of form and ritual can serve as a substitute.
Emphasis in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as in Protestantism generally, is placed upon three types of worship:
worship, 2. Family worship, and
3. Personal worship.
1. Public
For purposes
of clarity, each of these types will be treated separately.
1. Public Worship
The strength of the dissenting attitude in the denomination is
nowhere more forcefully expressed than in its conception of the form and
function of public worship. This attitude is not overtly expressed In
the creed, but seems to lie deeply imbedded in the mores of the denomination' s constituency.
It is an attitude of aversion to "form and cere-
1. Compare with Williams, op. cit.. pp. 37-38.
mony," emphasizing informal group effort to establish "communion with
God". The Holy Spirit is relied upon Lfca evolve the desired experience
out of the group's sincerity and earnestness, unobstructed by "cold"
and "lifeless" formality. Public prayers commonly include a plea for
"an outpouring of the Holy Spirit" upon the service of worship in progress,
and the tendency is to judge services in terms of whether or not there is
"feeling" in them.
The attitude toward form and ritual is well expressed in the
following recent editorial from The Cumberland Presbyterian, the denomination' s official weekly printed organ:
A pastor writing to a church paper says that part of his program is "beautifying the mechanics of worship with more formality and
continuity in the order of worship". I wonder if he knew what he was
writing about, or did he merely desire to pen a high-sounding sentence.
One of the troubles with so many congregations today is there is too
much "mechanics" of worship, and what is said and done in the name of
worship Is like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
"Formality" in worship is what Is quenching the Spirit in
many places. A good sister, a member of a church where the services
were in the Spirit and free from cold formality, attended a service where
everything done and said had to come in a prescribed order. She listened for a 7/hile, and then expressed her opinion by saying "I wish to goodness something would bust". When I gave an Invitation in a revival meeting a woman came to the altar, carefully arranged her dress so it would
not wrinkle, and slowly took a seat on the front pew. Imagine a woman,
a sinner on the road to hell, thinking so much about her dress and planning that it should not get wrinkled while she was getting religion.
"Mechanics" of worship, "formality and continuity of worship".
Boshl I tell you what a lot of us need-is to have all the starch and
pride and formality knocked out of us.
This aversion to the polished mechanical forms of worship was
one of the chief instruments used in keeping the union with the Presbyi
terian Church In the U. S. A. from being a complete success in 1906.
Following is a statement from the literature which sought to defeat the
1. Editorial, The Cumberland Presbyterian. September 28, 1939,
p. 4.
Who of us is ready to see one of our ministers appear in the
pulpit with a clergyman's gown on, as the Rev. Dr. Van Dyke did when
he came to preach the opening sermon of the Presbyterian General Assembly at Los Angeles, in 1903? This is a step towards ritualism. I suppose the next thing we know we will have a prayer book thrust into our
hands. The Presbyterian Church, North, .-already has a committee at
work on a "Book of Common Worship," so by the time we get into that
church they will have a prayer book ready for our use.
But who of us is ready to surrender the plain, simple untrammeled form of service adopted by our fathers and take up a ritualistic form of service?1
The aversion has probably been stronger in the denomination since 1906
than before because the attitude became one of the criteria which operated in the selection of the members who did not go into the union.
The Constitution of the church recognizes the following as
being aspects of public w6rship: Prayer; singing praises; reading, expounding, and preaching the word of God; administering the sacraments;
and public solemn fasting and thanksgiving.
Although fasting and
thanksgiving were considerably practiced in the earlier days of the
church, they have at present fallen into almost complete disuse. Worship services in Cumberland Presbyterian churches now consist almost exclusively of preaching, praying, and singing, interspersed occasionally
with the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The preaching, as has already
been pointed out, is almost wholly exhortatory, the singing is in "lively"
time, and the praying is extemporaneous.
More often than not the services are not formally planned ahead
of time. Hymns are often selected by the leader or the congregation while
the service is in progress, and it is common practice for the minister
to call upon devout persons In the audience to lead in extemporaneous
prayer. Prayers are never written, and the minister who reads his sermons definitely loses caste, Scripture selections printed in the hymn
1. Dale, W. T., "Difference in Creedal Statement," Six Books
in One Volume, op* cit., p. 40.
2. "Constitution," The Confession of Faith (C. P.). pp. cit..
p. 87.
books are sometimes read responsively by the congregation and the minister, but this is about as much of a litany as is used except on rare
occasions in a few city congregations.
The above statements are based upon observation of several
hundreds of worship services in various parts of the denomination.
such general statements there are always, of course, a few exceptions.
For an indication of their accuracy they may be checked, however, against
the results obtained from the questionnaire sent to congregations. This
questionnaire included eight questions pertaining to worship forms and
practices. These questions were answered by 399 congregations, and the
results, tabulated in Table II,Aindicate that the rural churches are least
formal while formality increases with urbanization.
Only six churches
had vested choirs, and all six of these were in large cities. Only three
ministers wore pulpit gowns; two of these were in city churches and one
in a rural. One interesting rural reply answered the questions regarding both these items with, "No, we don't believe in style; it isn't God's
way." That there is more planning of worship services in city "than in
rural churches is indicated by the fact that the percentage of churches
leaving the selection of hymns until the time of the service consistently decreases as the environment becomes more urban. The use of anthems
also illustrates this point, as does the practice of reading responsively.
If it be considered that these replies prove anything, one might
conclude that objection to formality in worship, which is a decided characteristic of the denomination, arises from social distance growing out
of the cultural isolation of a rural environment more than from religious or theological convictions, per se.
The attitude toward prayer is reflected in the excerpt from an
editorial in The Cumberland Presbyterian:
Table II
Replies of 399 Congregations to Questions
Pertaining to Worship Forms and Practices;
Tabulated According to the Sizes of the
Communities in Which the Churches Are Located.
500 pop.
1. Does the choir wear
2. Does the minister
wear a pulpit gown?
3. Are hymns selected
after the service
4. Are persons in the
audience asked to
lead prayer?
5. Does the choir sing
6. Does the choir sing
"amens" to prayers?
7. Does the congregation
join in responsive
8. Are candles ever burned
on the altar?
In a meeting I heard the chairman call on a person to lead the
prayer and then tell the person for what to pray.... We have gone far
afield when we outline what one's prayer shall be. The Bible tells us
"we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered"
(Rom. 8:26). While one should respond to a request for prayer, if so
impressed, yet we need to learn that the Holy Spirit is our Teacher
in prayer.
.... We need more "praying in the Spirit*" more listening to God, more
intercessions, more thanksgiving in prayer. When prayer is a mere
formal part of the program to be said like a speech, it ceases to be
Lord, teach us to pray.
Hymns employed in the worship services of the denomination
are primarily "gospel" hymns rather than the churchly hymns of more liturgical denominations. An official hymnal is now in process of production.
It will include the hymns which are looked upon by evangelical
denominations as "old favorites". Heretofore, Cumberland Presbyterians
have had no hymnal of liieir own but have selected miscellaneous ones of
various origins. A number of rural churches have used pseudo-gospel
hymnals, or "Song-books," not accepted by the denomination as a whole.
These "Song-books," stressing what is derisively termed "jazzy" music
and "jingling" poetry, have been a minor worship problem, apparently
because they do not very well incorporate the worship values which have
been built up in the attitudes institutionalized in the denomination.
The following brief exhibit of hymn titles will serve to illustrate the type of hymns which are in use in the denomination.
are those of all the
The titles
hymns used, in a revival in one of the larger con-
gregations and in a number of miscellaneous worship programs of groups
and organizations within the denomination.
"Jesus Is Calling"
"Have Thine Own Way, Lord"
"Close To Thee"
• "Go Forward and Onward"
"Just As I Am"
"Only Trust Him"
"There Shall Be Showers of Blessings"
"Revive Us Again"
"Count Your Blessings"
"Let the Lower Lights Be Burning"
"Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?"
"Sweet Hour of Prayer"
"It Pays to Serve Jesus"
"Beneath the Cross of Jesus"
"Lord, I Have Shut the Door"
"Whosoever Will"
"When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder"
"I Need Thee Every Hour"
"He Keeps Me Singing"
"Take Time to Be Holy"
"Glory to His Name"
"Love Lifted Me"
"Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart"
"Near the Cross"
"I Can Hear My Savior Calling"
"•Tis the Old Time Religion"
"Marching On"
"Wonderful Words of Life"
"Lord, I'm Coming Home"
"Pass Me Not, 0 Gentle Savior"
"It Is Well with My Soul"
"If Jesus Goes with Me"
"Dwelling in Beulah Land"
"They Were Nailed to the Cross"
"Nothing But the Blood"
"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
"In the Garden"
"Does Jesus Care"
"Nearer Still Nearer"
"Great Is They Faithfulness"
"I Must Tell Jesus"
"Open Mine Eyes That I May See"
"Neath the Old Olive Tree"
"Almost Persuaded"
"Holy, Holy, Holy"
"Standing on the Promises"
"Give Me Thine Heart"
"There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood"
"Where He Leads Me I Will Follow"
"In the Resurrection"
. "Holy Manna"
"Jesus Shall Reign"
"I Gave My Life for Thee"
"Faith Is the Victory"
"Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life"
"Jesus Calls Us"
"Something for Jesus"
"Praise Him! Praise Him!"
"More Love to Thee"
"Faith of Our Fathers"
These hymns and the other data which have been presented suggest
that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has sought to Institutionalize
and perpetuate the worship forms and practices which were characteristic
of the Great Revival in which the denomination originated.
is placed upon the development of a felt realization of the presence
of God in the heart of the worshiper. Free range for emotional expression prompted by the working of the'Holy Spirit" is considered essential.
Family Worship
The denomination's official "Directory of Worship" contains the
following declarations:
31. Besides the public worship in congregations, it is the indispensable duty of each person alone in secret, and every family by itself in private, to pray and to worship God.
33. Family worship, which ought to be performed by every family, .ordinarily morning and evening, consists in prayer, reading the
Scriptures, and singing praises.
34. The head of the family, who is to lead in this service,
ought to be careful that all members of his household duly attend, and
that none withdraw themselves unnecessarily from any part of family worship, and that all refrain from their common business while the Scriptures are read, and gravely attend to the same no less than when prayer
or praise is offered up. 1
This pattern for family worship seems to have functioned satisfactorily for more than half a century, but as the simple, intimate
home life of the frontier began to disappear family worship apparently
declfined. At least, one of the denomination's first official expressions of concern with regard to the subject was voiced at the General
Assembly In 1833. In that year the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That this General Assembly expressed with deep regret its sorrow at the fact, that family worship is not kept up as it
should be, and that we urge upon our membership, through their ministers, the importance of the family altar.2
Since 1883 such resolutions have been often repeated, and many present
day Cumberland Presbyterian ministers continue to publicly extol the
value of the family altar. Nevertheless, only rarely is that Cumberland
1. Confession of Faith (C. p . ) , op. cit.. pp. 159-160.
2. General Assembly Minutes ( C. P . ) , 1883, p. 25.
Presbyterian family found wherein the practice is maintained.
3. Personal Worship
Article 32 of the "Directory for Worship" says:
32. Secret worship is most plainly enjoined by our Lord. In
this duty everyone, apart by himself, is to spend some time in prayer,
reading the Scriptures, holy meditation, and serious self-examination.
The many advantages arising from a conscientious discharge of these
duties are best known to those who are found in the faithful discharge
of them.£
A textbook written by the dean of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Theological Seminary and approved by the Board of Christian Education
for use in leadership training courses on personal worship, interprets •
the function of personal worship as follows:
Religious living has its spring in religious worship and
because of that, it takes an active part in life. We are assuming that
the individual will find out how to solve his problems if he lives in
the proper relationship to God. We are assuming that he will know right
from wrong and the best among the good things if he seeks to learn the
will of God. We are assuming that the primary concern of every person
who lives a religious life should be to know God and to have a personal
communion and fellowship with him.^
The form of government adopted by the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was that to which they had been accustomed in
the church from which they were separating. There is no record of their
having been concerned with making any changes. They simply tried to
duplicate the governmental machinery of the older body.
Changes which
have been made since the days of the founders have been very minor ones
which in no sense altered the essentially presbyterian governmental form.
1. This statement is based on ten years' observation as a minister in the denomination.
2. Confession of Faith, op. cit., pp. 159-160.
3. Reagin, Ewell K., Principles of Personal Worship, p. 8.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, therefore, recognizes
three types of "perpetual officers of the Church": Teaching elders,
or ministers of the word; ruling elders, the representatives of the
people; and deacons, who have oversight of the temporal affairs of the
local church. The organizational machinery within which these officers
function consists of a Church-session in each local congregation, made
up of the minister in charge and two or more ruling elders elected by
the congregation; presbyteries, each of which consists of all the ordained ministers and one ruling elder from each congregation within a certain district; synods, each of which consists of all the ministers and
one ruling elder from each congregation in a district comprising at least
three presbyteries; and the General Assembly, which is the highest court
of the church. Members of the Church-session are elected by the congregation; ordained ministers are initiated into the office by the Presbytery and hold their membership in it, where they vote with the representatives elected from each of the Church-sessions in the prescribed district; synods are larger than presbyteries, but their voting membership
is selected in exactly the same manner as that of the presbyteries, each
congregation and each minister having the right to a synodical as well
as to a presbyterial vote; and the General Assembly's voting membership
is elected from the presbyteries rather than, as might be supposed, from
the synods. In other words, the form of government is "representative,"
cloeely resembling the civil set-up of township, county, state, and federal units. (See Diagram 1, p. 124.)
The Church-session has oversight of the affairs of the local
congregation, for the proper managing of which it is responsible to the
Presbytery. The Presbytery has general oversight of the ministers and
Line of RepresentationLjne of Authority
(Consisting of
elders elected by
the congregation)
(Embracing all ministers
and congregations in a geographical area; each minister and one elder from each
congregation allowed a vote)
(Embracing all ministers and congregations in three or more presbyteries;
each minister and one elder from each
congregation allowed a vote)
(Embracing the entire denomination; each Presbytery
allowed not less than two, not more than four votes —
depending on size — evenly divided between ministers
and elders)
Diagram 1: An Outline of the Four
Major Divisions of Presbyterian
Church Government. (Based on Cumberland Presbyterian Practice)
churches within its bounds, deciding complaints and ordering whatever
pertains to the welfare of the work in its district. It is responsible
to both the Synod and the General Assembly.
are made to the Synod.
Appeals from its rulings
Appeals from the rulings of Synod may be carried
to the General Assembly.
Aside from being the court of last appeal, the
General Assembly is the general planning agency of the denomination, having the power to interpret doctrine, determine policies, create supplementary agencies, and order whatever seems necessary for the institution1
The power of the GeneraMssembly is limited, of course, by the
Confession of Faith, Cathechism, Constitution, and Rules of Discipline,
amendments to which must be approved by the presbyteries.
The greatest amount of power under this form of government
rests with the presbyteries, which have direct control over ministers
and churches,
elect the commissioners who compose the General Assembly,
have the final voice in changing the government or creed, and are the
channel through which practically all policies of the denomination must
be executed.
The presbyteries hold either one or two regular meetings per
year, and may convene on call as often as business demands. It is customary for the host church entertaining a meeting of a presbytery to
provide free meals and lodging for all persons.attending.
Since most
of the churches are rural, the meetings of presbyteries have traditionally been occasions for social fellowship as welX as for the transaction
of business. The scene of a large group of people gathered about a
long out-door table In a grove of trees near a small church building,
talking gaily and eating great quantities of fried chicken and other
1. See Confession of Faith (C. P. ) , oo^ cit.. pp. 88-101.
delicacies prepared by the housewives of the community, is one which is
repeated year after year. Automobiles and urbanization seem to have
affected this pattern, but they have not destroyed it.
The synods and the General Assembly are required to meet only
once in two years, although they customarily meet once each year. They
were originally given free entertainment by the church with which they
met, but at about the close of the nineteenth century difficulties for
the General Assembly on this point began to arise. It now has to pay its
way. Most of the synods continue to be reluctantly entertained without
charge by congregations, although at least two of the synods have found
it necessary to pay congregations to entertain them.
Selection by the Church-session of one of its members to represent the congregation at Presbytery or Synod is made just prior to each
meeting of these bodies. Commissioners from the Presbytery to the General Assembly are selected anew for each meeting of the General Assembly.
The presiding officer of each Presbytery, Synod, and/.or General Assemi
bly, is called the moderator and is elected by vote of the particular
body. For one to be elected moderator of the General Assembly is to
have the highest honor of the church bestowed upon him.
The General Assembly has found it necessary to appoint agents
or create agencies from time to time to manage different aspects of the
general program of the denomination. The agencies are usually called
"Boards" or "Permanent Committees". Following is an outline of the of-
ficers and agencies of the General Assembly, as of 1939:
1. See resolution in General Assembly Minutes. 1881, p. 40.
2. These are Texas Synod and Kentucky Synod.
Stated Clerk and General Traveling Secretary
Assistant Stated Clerk
Board of Trustees of the General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Education
Commission on Educational Endowment
Board of Ministerial Relief
Board of Missions and Church Erection
Board of Foreign Missions of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Board of Publication and Sunday School Work
General Assembly's Board of Tithing and Budget
General Assembly's Board of Christian Education
Committee on Revision of the Confession of Faith
Committee on Army and Navy Chaplains
Committee on Minutes of the General Assembly
Historical Committee
Committee on Prohibition and Law Enforcement
Commission on Church Hymnal.
The primary weakness in the whole governmental structure of the
denomination has been that the spirit of individualism and independence
which figured so conspicuously in its origin has persisted to the extent of rendering the several church courts practically powerless to enforce their mandates, regardless of the authority given them in the written constitution.
Congregations have little respect for the authority
of presbyteries, and presbyteries have little respect for the authority of
synods and the General Assembly.
That this is true is indicated by the
following facts:
1. The General Assembly has for more than 50 years ordered presbyteries to make annual statistical reports, but has been unable to obtain very satisfactory results. Although more cooperation has been given
in recent years, there were 198 congregations in 1939 concerning which no
report was made.
2. The General Assembly of 1938 recommended that every congregation hold revival services during a specified week, but only 74 out of
the 446 congregations replying to the questionnaires sent out during this
study did so. In the same year the General Assembly's Board of Christian Education strove to have each congregation promote a local-church
Institute, but only 87 out of the 446 did so.
3. The Constitution says, "No minister shall take charge of
a church as its pastor, or otherwise, without the consent of the Presbytery in the bounds of which the church Is located, or subject to the
approval of the Presbytery at its next stated meeting."
Despite this ex-
plicit statement, however, 48 out of the total 61 presbyteries reported
only 28 pastors installed, 19 of whom were in one presbytery.
In 9
presbyteries all congregations had asked presbytery's approval of their
relations with their ministers, in 11 presbyteries none of the congregations had asked for such approval, and in all other presbyteries an average of only 5 congregations each had so recognized the presbytery's authority .
4. "Congregationalism" was listed on the questionnaire reports
as being the gravest problem confronting some of the presbyteries. Interviews with various officials of the denomination indicated that they felt
that this independent spirit on the part of congregations was a serious
matter. The term "Presbygational" was used by some to describe the government as it actually operates. These opinions were substantiated by answers to the questionnaires, on which it was estimated that an average of
42 per cent of all the rulings of the presbyteries were completely ignored
by the congregations, and on which it was reported impossible for the
presbyteries to collect "presbyterial dues" (a small tax never amounting
to more than 50 cents per member) from an average of 39 per cent of the
congregations. Although the Constitution makes no provision for the
reception of members except by the Church-session, the questionnaires
from congregations indicated that in 234 cases the entire congregation.:votes on the reception of members, whereas only 171 stated that
the voting on members is left to the Church-session.
All in all, the governmental situation within the denomination
appears to be that of disorganization and confusion, resulting from a
strong inclination towards individualism.
Through observations of church
courts in action this investigator has been impressed with the attitude
of aversion toward tightening the bonds of institutional authority.
Measures are frequently defeated on the floor of the General Assembly
because it is claimed that they represent "too much centralization of
The explanation for this situation would seem to lie" in the
fact that it represents a struggle between two diametrically opposite
One of these forces is that of independence and individualism,
having its origin in the basic attitudes of English Dissent and being
accentuated by certain frontier and rural conditions in America, and the
other is that of institutionalization.
The latter seems to be trying,
with questionable success, to bring the former under institutional control
The purpose of this chapter has been to outline the structure
and design of the institution and show how they are related to and affected by various patterns of institutional behavior. The treatment
has been with regard to the system of theology, forms of worship, and
The results indicate that the institution was organized around
the revival purpose of "saving souls* and that its major structural and
behavior patterns have grown out of the effort to institutionalize the
revival techniques and emphases. Institutional problems, however, have
arisen out of the fact that the revival embraced certain elements which
were inimical to rigid institutionalization. Most significant of these
is the strong individualism, rooted in English Dissent, which makes an
institutional church of little importance in mediating between God and
This has been manifested In the theological emphasis upon indiv-
idual security, the worship emphasis upon personal communion with God,
and the aversion to yielding great authority to a centralized institutional government.
The structure and behavior patterns of the institu-
tion are indicative of severe struggle between institutional and non-institutional forces.
The theological concepts and emphases have pointed to the fact
that the promotion of the revival and its techniques constituted the primary bond of the institution.
It has been shown, also, that the theological
system and its related worship and organizational practices have been directly influenced by conditions in the institution's social environment.
The institution in its origin represented a definite adaptation to social
need. The intensification of social contacts, resulting from the monotony
and loneliness of frontier isolation, was reflected in the emphasis upon
the "feeling" element in worship, religious experience and expression.
The individualism, insecurity and hard living conditions of the wilderness
unquestionably contributed to the theological aim at the provision of
absolute spiritual security, which might be obtained by means of the exercise of the individual's will.
It has been shown that the steps taken by the institution to
insure its identity, preservation, and functioning were definition of
theology, establishment of attitudes and patterns of behavior, and the
•'••: 151
setting up of disciplinary and administrative organizational machinery.
These steps well illustrate the accuracy of Chapin's and Dowd's descriptions of institutions. The illustration will be further borne out by
the description of institutional processes included in the following
This chapter is devoted to a study of the social processes
operative within the institution. An understanding of these processes is essential to an understanding of the institution in its relationships with a wider social environment.
Data for this aspect of the study will be organized under
the following headings: 1. Processes Related to Ecology,
Social Control Is Effected,
2 How
3. Social Adjustment Within the Institu-
4. The Role of the Minister, 5. The Role of Property, and
6. Some General Effects of Age Upon the Institution.
Processes Related to Ecology
A comparative study of rural, town, and city congregations
in the denomination, made in 1935 by a student in the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary, yielded statistical data which throw
considerable light upon significant processes related to the ecology
of the institution.
Since these data were evidently carefully com-
piled, and since it was not the purpose of the original compiler to
arrange or interpret them sociologically, they merit attention and
re-analysis at this point.
On the basis of information obtained from correspondence
1. Durbin, Wavonna Taylor, A Comparison of the Rural, Town
and City Congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Denomination.
Unpublished B. D. Thesis, 1936. Bethel College Library.
with the stated clerks of presbyteries, congregations of the denomination were classified as "inactive" (no functioning organization), "rural,"
"town" (incorporated places up to 2,500 population), anet "city" (above
2,500 population).
It was found that 15.0 per cent of the congregations
carried on the General Assembly's roll were without an active organization, that only 10.1 per cent were in cities with as much as 2,500 population, and that 63.9 per cent were in definitely rural areas. Table
III gives a complete tabulation of the results.
Table III
Status and Ecological Distribution
of the Congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as of
Number of
Per Cent of
The distribution of the total membership of the denomination
on the basis of urbanization is shown in Table IV.
It will be observed
that 64.1 per cent of the members live in rural areas, and only 24.1
per cent In cities.
The 736 rural congregations had an average membership of
only 63.3 persons, of whom 31.8 per cent were not resident in the community where the church wan located. That is to say, 63.9 per cent
of Cumberland Presbyterian churches were trying to operate with a , s.1
Table IV
Distribution of the Membership
of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church, Compared on the Basis
of Urbanization, as of 1935
Number of
Per Cent of
resident membership of only approximately 43 persons. That demographic changes were affecting rural churches more than urban was indica1
ted by the fact that whereas the non-resident membership of rural
churches averaged 31.8 per cent of the total, that of city churches
averaged only 25.6 per cent. Even so, however, it is apparent that
Cumberland Presbyterian churches are seriously handicapped in both
country and city by not being able to maintain direct contact with
their membership.
This corroborates the statement often made to the
effect that one of the greatest problems with which the denomination
is faced is that of not having enough congregations located in the
right places to receive the many Cumberland Presbyterians who are
moving from one community to another. The average size of congregations and the per cent of non-resident membership are recorded in
Table V.
Cumberland Presbyterian congregations, however, are growing
slowly in the rural areas and in cities of more than 2,500 population,
although they are suffering a loss of membership in the small towns.
1. A non-resident member is one who resides so far distant
from the church in which he holds membership as to prevent his attending
regularly. See General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1916, p. Ill, and 1929,
p. 117.
Table V
Average Size and Per Cent of NonResident Membership of Cumberland
Presbyterian Churches, Compared on
Basis of Urbanization, as of 1935
Location of
Number of
Per Cent
of Members
The rate of growth in cities is almost twice that in rural areas. This
is shown by a comparison of net gain or loss in resident membership
over a period of 10 years. Table VI gives the complete results of this
Table VI
Net Gain or Loss in Resident Membership
of Rural, Town and City Cumberland Presbyterian Churches Over a Ten-Year Period,
1926 to 1935
Resident Membership
Per Cent of Net
A measure of the success of the evangelistic emphasis, obtained
by comparing the number of conversions during the 10-year period from
1926 to 1935 with the resident membership in 1926, indicates that evangelism is most successful in rural churches and least successful in
those in towns. Conversions per year in the entire denomination over
the 10-year period averaged a number equal to 7.9 per cent of the total
resident membership in 1926. These statements are based upon statistics in Table VII.
Table VII
Ratio of Conversions in Rural, Town and
City Cumberland Presbyterian Churches
During the Ten-Year Period from 1926 to
1935 to Resident Membership in 1926
1926 Resident
1926 to 1955
Ratio in
Per Cent
Although rural churches have more conversions, they do not
have a gain in membership equal to the number of conversions. On
the other hand, town churches gain slightly more than they have con1
versions, and city churches gain considerably more.
This suggests
that rural churches are not organized as well as city churches to
capitalize on their revival successes, and that city churches are
increasing their membership at the expense of the rural or by gains
from other denominations.
Table VIII
Conversions and Additions in Rural,
Town and City Cumberland Presbyterian
Churches During the Ten-Year Period
from 1926 to 1935
1. An Indication of total membership gains compared with losses
is given in Diagram 2, which is presented later In this chapter.
The questionnaires returned by 446 congregations during the
present study revealed that in the year 1938-1939 rural congregations
received on the average only 39.8 per cent as many members as did city
congregations; also, that out of all members received, the per cent
received upon profession of faith almost steadily decreased as the degree of urbanization increased.
They showed, too, that a much smaller
per cent of additions in rural than in urban congregations were by transfer from other Cumberland Presbyterian congregations, which further suggests that, as point?out above, city churches are gaining members from
the rural. Slightly more than 20 per cent .of the additions to these
446 congregations during that year were by transfer from other denominations.
Table IX, under the divisions of rural, village (up to 500
population), town (500 to 2,500 population), small city (2,500 to 5,000
population), and city (over 5,000 population), gives a complete summary
of these data.
Table IX
Classification of Members Received in Rural,
Village, Town, Small City and City Cumberland
Presbyterian Congregations During the Year
Churches of Total
Reporting Additions
Small City
Per Cent Received by
C. P.
1. These classifications are not the same as those used in
Durban's study; consequently, exact comparisons are not possible, although In general the distributions obtained here compare favorably
with hers.
A list of 11 special days and occasions which the denomina-
tion requested each congregation to observe during the year was placed
in the questionnaire and congregations were asked to check those which
they had observed. Table X shows the per cent of congregations in each
classification which observed the various days and occasions. Theoretical-
ly, perfect institutional adjustment and functioning would demand 100
per cent observance of all these special occasions. No such adjustment,
however, exists in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Moreover, the
variation between the per cent observing one day and another was very
great. "Egg Day," a special Easter service in which an offering equal
to the value of eggs produced by the chickens of the members on that
day Is given for the denomination's Orphan's Home, was the occasion
most observed by all except city congregations. A special missionary
service on Mother's Day was more observed by city congregations. "Bethel
College Day," devoted to raising an offering for the denominational
Table X
Per Cent of Cumberland Presbyterian Rural, Village,
Town, Small City and City Congreations Observing
Special Occasions Designated by the Denomination
for the year 1938-1939
1. Bethel College Day
2. W. B. M. Day1
5. So. American' Day
4. Young People's Day
5. Egg Day (Easter)
6. World Bible Sunday
7. Denominational Week
8. Mother's Day Missionary
9. Local Church Institute
10. Evangelistic Services,
beginning Sept. 18
11. Leadership Training Class
None of the days'
1. Woman's Board of Mission Day.
Per Cent Observing
Rural Village Town a g £ { ^ City
65.1 87.1 87.0
46.5 46.9 57.0
27.9 53.6 30.0
12.4 13.4 33.0
college, was observed in town congregations more than in any others,
while occasions 2, 3 and 8, devoted to foreign missions, were observed
to a greater degree as urbanization increased.
By reducing the per cents in Table X to an average for each
classification, it is found that there was less than 20 per cent denominational cooperation on the part of rural churches and only slightly more
than 60 per cent on the part of those in the city. Cooperation tended
to increase in keeping with the degree of urbanization, as is shown in
Table XI.
Table XI
Average Per Cent of Rural, Village, Town, Small
City and City Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
Observing Each Special Occasion Designated by the
Denomination for the Year 1938-1939
Small City
Average Per Cent
Each Occasion
Something of the degree to which Cumberland Presbyterian
congregations are having to operate in competition with other churches
is indicated by the answers, summarized in Table
XII, of 255 rural
and 63 village congregations. There were two or more other churches
located within three miles of approximately 65 per cent of these congregations.
The status of Cumberland Presbyterian congregations in towns
Table XII
Number of Churches Within Three Miles of
318 Rural and Village Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
5 Miles
Per Cent of C. p. Congregations
7 or more
up to 2,500 population was indicated by 29 replies, which gave the
rank of Cumberland churches among all the churches of the towns when
compared on the basis of size of membership.
Table XIII shows that
most Cumberland Presbyterian congregations rank third, fourth or
fifth in the towns where they are located.
Table XIII
Rank of 29 Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations Among All Churches in Towns of 500
to 2,500 Population
Number of
C. P.
Per Cent
Replies from 30 congregations in cities of more than 5,000
population revealed that most of their church buildings were located
in residential or suburban areas of those cities.
Table XIV
Location of 30 Cumberland Presbyterian
Church Buildings in Cities of More than
5,000 Population
Number of
C. P.
Church Buildings
Downtown Business District
Factory or Industrial Area
Close-in Residential Area
Slum Area
Suburban Area
Replies of the 446 congregations with regard to the frequency
of observing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper provide an indication
of the contrast
between the functioning in matters of worship of rural
and urban Cumberland Presbyterian churches. The General Assembly, in
1854, recommended that "each church have the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper administered at least quarterly".
As Table XV shows, city
congregations tend to abide by this recommendation, while rural observe
the sacrament much less frequently.
The facts presented indicate, to summarize briefly, that when
viewed from the rural-urban standpoint the ecological distribution of
Cumberland Presbyterian congregations has a definitely modifying effect
upon the social processes operative within the institution. The denomination is predominantly rural, but the rural congregations are not as
1. General Assembly Minutes (C. P.), 1854,p. 31.
Table XV
Frequency with Which the Lord's Supper Is Observed
in 446 Rural, Village, Town, Small City and City
Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
Semi-Annu allay
No answer
Number of Congregations
^ <Jir
institutionally adjusted as are the urban.
How Social Control Is Effected
One of the primary purposes of an institution is to exercise
social control.
As has been observed, the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church, as an institution, has a system of theology which purports to
contain the goals and purposes toward which it alms to influence behavior.
In addition the behavior of the institution implies that it has
such other goals as promoting the revival and preserva*ing its own
status. What are the means employed for effecting control in the direction of thesejgoals?
Following are the most important techniques employed by the
institution for effecting social control:
1. Formal Education
Although, as pointed out in Chapter IV, high educational standards for ordination to the ministry was one of the two important causes
for the break of early Cumberland Presbyterians away from the mother
church, opposition to education has not been a characteristic of -the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
When the first presbytery was organ-
ized it immediately declared itself in favor of an educated ministry,
stating that it would require a classical education where practicable,
and that in no case would a thorough English education be dispensed
At the first meeting of this first prebbytery money was also
raised to start a fund for educating young preachers.
Finis Ewing,
one of the three founders, was an ardent advocate of education, and
made .speeches in favor of founding a denominational college which
were so masterful and passionate they were quoted years after his
Cumberland Synod established Cumberland College in 1825,
three years before the organization of the first General Assembly.
Existing records indicate that at least 84 educational institutions
have been sponsored by the denomination in its 130 years of history.
Aside from evangelization, no other subject seems to have
concerned the denomination in its early history quite so much as that
of education.
For years the General Assembly Minutes were replete
with reports concerning the progress of education in the various synods
The statement that the synods were "alive to the subject of education"
became common-place in these reports. It became customary for each
General Assembly to appoint a "Committee on Education," the report of
which was almost invariably, until the time of the Civil War, such as
the following:
"We are happy to find a growing interest clearly raani6
fested throughout your bounds on the subject of education."
McDonnold, op. cit., pp. 60-21.
Cossitt, op. cit., p. 281.
Evans, op. cit., p. 69.
Ibid., pp. 306^510.
General Assembly Minutes (C. P.). 1859, p. 25.
General Assembly Minutes (C. P.). 1852, p. 52.
The first educational concern of the church fathers was to
provide a trained ministry for the denomination.
Although worded
several years after the first schools had been founded, the following is a statement of this attitude:
Our mission is not only to disseminate truth ourselves, and
to labor for the conversion of men, but, if possible, to leave behind
us a ministry who shall wield the sword of the Spirit with more vigor
and effect than we have done.
It was considered necessary that ministerial training be under the auspices of the denomination because there was the feeling that public
institutions tended "to unfit the pupil for common employments in life,
to unnerve bodily vigor, and, consequently, produce mental imbecility".
However, despite the fact that the predominant attitude was
always in favor of a trained ministry, there are evidences which indicate the presence of an attitude of opposition with which reckoning
was constantly having to be made. A committee report adopted by the
General Assembly at Princeton, Kentucky, in 1849, outlined the advances
being made during the age, particularly in the establishment of schools
and colleges to teach secular subjects, and added:
Surely the church ought not to forget to provide facilities,
professorships — departments for instruction in the higher and more
important and more difficult science of theology.
An error on this subject prevails in the world, and in the
church to a certain extent. Some argue that a minister's usefulness
is impaired in the ratio of his wisdom or learning in the science of
theology; in other words, the more learned a minister may be in theology the less religion he has. The argument is unreasonable In this,
that it goes against light and knowledge generally, and decides that
ignorance is a more potent engine in converting and evangelizing the
world, than light and learning and widdom in the Sacred Oracles.^
1. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 201.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C. p . ) , 1854, p. 65.
3. Minutes of Cumberland Synod, October 19, 1819. (Manuscript
on file in the Presbyterian Historical Library, Philadelphia) As quoted
by Evans, op. cit., p. 70.
4. General Assembly Minutes (C. P.). 1849, p. 31.
A report of the Board of Education in 1859 by going into a defense of
education also intimates the existence of an attitude of suspicion toward an educated ministry.
The report said,
The demand for education and complete furnishing on the part
of the ministry is every day increasing. The Board is far from intending to indicate that any amount of education can supply the place of
a call of God and the unction of the Holy Spirit; but simply to say
that if these exist, and education be wanting, the efforts of the minister are fearfully paralyzed. Infidelity, skepticism and the devil
are all enlightened. The Christian minister must be so too. 1
McDonnold, writing in 1888, said that an error had prevailed
in the church to the effect that many were inclined to attribute the
wonderful spiritual power of the early church fathers to the fact that
they were uneducated.
He argued,
If lack of collegiate education gives this wonderful spiritual
power, why is it that all the army of uneducated ministers in our church,
and in other churches, today do not have it? The.... error is in calling Ewing and Donnell and their comrades uneducated men, and holding up
their example as an excuse for laziness and stupidity, as, alasI so many
of our presbyteries have done. True, these men were not graduates of
any college, and what scholarship they had was not obtained according
to regulation methods, but for all that they were educated men and profound thinkers. Their education came as Daniel Boone's did.... Between
these men and the lazy-boy of today who has it in his power to secure a
college education and will not do it, there is no similarity at all, and .
their example is a rebuke rather than an apology to all such.^
At present there is an increasing emphasis upon an educated
ministry, although 48 presbyteries out of the total 61 in the denomination report that only 97 of their ministers have college degrees and
that 154 are not even high school graduates. .Slightly more than 80
per cent of the persons marking the attitude scales Indicated that they
felt the Cumberland Presbyterian Church should increase and standardize
throughout the denomination its educational requirements for the or-
1. General Assembly Minutes (C. P.). 1859, p. 89.
2* McDonnold, op. cit.. pp. 57-58.
dination of ministers, which indicates that the constituency of the
denomination are becoming dissatisfied with the meager educational
qualifications of the present ministry.
The manner in which the purpose of education has been conceived is interesting.
In making provision for an educated ministry,
the purpose was not so much to educate persons as it was to strengthen
the institution.
Education was considered an important means for in-
doctrinating and equipping capable candidates for the ministry in order
that they might more successfully indoctrinate for aniprosecu#te the
purpose of the institution. Although schools were founded which sought
to enroll other than ministerial students, they were looked upon as
means of directly or indirectly promoting the interests of the institution.
Although the education of ministers and the propagation of
doctrines of the church were always the primary educational concern,
there is evidence that before the establishment of universal public
education the denomination was vaguely aware of having a share in the
responsibility of providing education for the mas sea. The General
Assembly in 1845 adopted the following ambitious recommendation for a
system of "inferior" schools to be established throughout the denomination;
Schools In the bounds of every congregation.
That a presbyterial school be operated in the bounds of
every Presbytery.
3rd. These crowned by the University at Lebanon, and the
colleges at Princeton, Beverly, and Uniontown, would constitute a system of education worthy of the best efforts of the church and be eminently calculated to do good in establishing congregational schools.
They would, of course, advise cooperation with all others. Neighborhood schools are not usually to be sustained but by a cooperation of
all parties and persuasions. What they recommend is, that every congregation and every session should struggleto keep up a school within
its bounds; at all events they should strive to arouse others to cooperate, but to maintain a school under any circumstances, at which
the children of the church may be educated.
Here there is little concern with education except for "children of
the church". Like many another recommendation of the General Assembly,
this one was never very completely carried out, although quite a number
of presbyterial and congregational "inferior" schools were established.
In speaking of the importance of educating ministers, the
General Assembly of 1849 declared that Cumberlandism's intermedial system was abstractly right, and that, given a trained ministry to propa2
gate it, it would "confute error" and soon become every man's theology.
The closest approach to an unselfish emphasis upon a democratic process of education is expressed in the following statement of
the General Assembly in 1849:
Religion and education may not be put asunder; for God hath
joined them together.... Education fails to accomplish its appropriate
work without the religious element; and so religion is of little or no
value without its proper and active educational influence.... The characteristic principle of our protestant religion calls for the education
of the masses, that they may govern themselves.
The Christian and the patriot, the church and the state, should
co-operate in the cause of education. Each should second the endeavors of
the other.^
There is in this statement, however, the inference that the welfare of
religion is bound up with the process of education, and that since the
denomination is identified with religion, it must, for its own institutional welfare, cooperate in promoting education for the masses.
The General Assembly in 1859 said, "Self-sufficient knowledge
is the parent of skepticism.... An irreligious education seldom wins any4
thing for religion."
This plainly indicates that the institution's
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1845. ^Manuscript on file in
the Presbyterian Historical Library, Philadelphia) As quoted by Evans, op.
cit., p. 264.
- 2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1849,p. 31..
3. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1849, pp. 46-47.
4. General Assembly Minutes (C.pT). 1859, p. 102.
primary interest in education was for its own advancement.
With the increasing trend toward universal education, the
General Assembly again in 1862 declared:
We should not only seek to bear our part In this work
(education) that we may bring our doctrines into contact with the
educated minds of the country, but we must also provide for the
literary and theological training of our candidates for the ministry,
in instruction under our own denominational influence.1
This statement definitely avows that the interest in education is
that of using it as a means of disseminating the doctrines of the
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was not alone, however,
in this rather selfish attitude toward education. Historians of education in the United States point out that many, indeed most, of the
early institutions of secondary and higher education were denominationally controlled, "the motives back of their establishment having root
in sectarian interest and pride."
There is no way of exactly classifying all the schools which
have been founded in the denomination, as the records concerning them
are incomplete. The favorite names for them were "seminary," "college"
and "university," although most of them undoubtedly were of the academy
type. The academy movement flourished in the United States from the
middle of the eighteenth century to 1860.
Subsequent to this period,
it began to be supplanted by the trend toward public high schools.
This resulted in a curtailment of the number of schools in practically
all Protestant denominations.
Although the time of the demise of many
of the 84 Cumberland Presbyterian schools is not recorded, the dates
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1862, p. 56.
2. Knight, Edgar W., Education In the United States, p. 573.
3* Noble, Stuart G., A History of American Education, p. 119.
of their founding reveal that the denomination's most prolific period
of educational interest was between 1840 and 1870. Its declining
participation in secondary education,-following this period, was concomitant with the decline in other denominations, although it seems
to have continued in the trend toward greater provision for higher
Since the union in 1906 so disrupted the educational
program, it is not possible to say what the effect of increase in public schools of higher education has been on the denomination.
After the attempted merger in 1906, there was only one small
college left to the denomination.
It came to be known as Bethel Col-
lege and the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Its sur-
vival has been difficult, but the denomination has clung to it tenaciously —
as though the future of the entire institution depended upon
the maintenance of at least this one college. Around it some of the
strongest controversies have raged, during one of which a prominent
figure in the church wrote:
The motive idea of a school, to be fostered by our people,
was to develop, and strengthen our position as a denomination, and to
permeate the world with our doctrines and to establish our denominational existence. We have no need to care for a college as a denomination, for any other reason.
The following statement, made by the General Assembly in 1916,
expresses practically the same attitude as that of the Assembly in 1849:
We believe in an educated people and in an educated ministry.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church does not place education above religion. We believe in the maxim taught by our Lord when he said, "Seek
ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things
shall be added unto you."
But we also believe that education placed in the hand of a
consecrated, God called minister, is a mighty weapon for good. We
1. See Evans, op. cit., pp. 306-309.
2. Braly, Rev. S. H., D. D., A Message to the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church. (Pamphlet printed for the author by The McKenzie
Banner, 192?.)
live in a land and in an age of public schools.... The time has come
in the history of the world and in the history of our church when we
must educate our ministry.
We believe that if we had sufficient numbers of well equipped
young ministers to send out in the field white unto harvest, that our
church would grow and develop as never before.1
This was in keeping with the strong attitude which has predominated in the church toward education since 1906. It was felt that
the reason so many had been willing to take the denomination into the
union was because its members had not been trained to loyalty in the
denominational schools. This error, it was resolved, must not occur
The General Assembly which met in 1907 adopted the following
in the report of its Committee on Education:
You may say what you will, but nothing will or can strengthen
our denominationalism more than that our own children shall be taught
intheir advanced education in denominational Academies and Colleges
which are manned by Cumberland Presbyterians.
This is an axiomatic proposition: The Cumberland Presbyterian
Church must educate her own children in her own denominational schools
if she expects them to remain loyal to the denomination. The most disintegrating factor with the more highly educated young people In the
past has been the sending them every-whither to Academy and College
rather than sending them to our own denominational schools. Wherever
you find loyal young people who have graduated from Colleges, they
are mainly those whose fathers and mothers thought no school as good
for them as Cumberland Presbyterian.^
The attitude scales which were used in the present study contained 33 statements taken from, or directly based upon the Cumberland
Presbyterian Confession of Faith.
They were statements related to the
most important points of doctrine. Each of the 155 persons who marked
the scale was asked to indicate whether he surely agreed, probably agreed,
was uncertain, probably disagreed, or surely disagreed with each statement.
By translating the answers into per cent, and by finding the aver-
age per cent of the answers given by various groups to the 35 questions,
some interesting relationships are shown. Although the purpose of the
1. General Assembly Minutes fC.Pl) 1916, p. lljg.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1907, p. 61.
church has been to make Bethel College an agency for indoctrination,
it appears that persons who have attended the college believe the doctrines of the church less than those who have not. Only 60.9 per cent
of the persons who had had Bethel training positively agreed with the
statements, as compared with 69.4 per cent of those who had not attended.
Students in Bethel College In 1939 were less In harmony with
the doctrines than any other group with whom their answers were compared. That the factor of age had something to do with this is indicated by the fact that the nearest approach to their degree of disagreement with the doctrines was made by the group composed of all
the young people under 30 years of age, of whom the Bethel students
were only a part.
Even so, however, Bethel students evidenced slight-
ly less agreement with the doctrines than did other young people.
Table XVI shows the average per cent of agreement of several
groups with the 53 doctrinal statements. The groups are: All persons
with Bethel training, persons with no Bethel training, persons reared
in Cumberland Presbyterian homes, persons reared in non-Cumberland Presbyterian homes, students in Bethel College in 1939, all persons marking the scale at the General Assembly in 1939, and all young people
under 30 years of age answering the questionnaire.
Symbols in the
table are as they were on the scale: A (surely agree), a (probably
agree), 2. (uncertain), d (probably disagree), and D(surely disagree).
1. It Is impossible to determine the relative Importance of
the differences indicated by these symbols. They are presented without
evaluative interpretation.
Table XVI
Agreement of Bethel College Students with 33 Cumberland
Presbyterian Doctrinal Statements, A3 Compared with Other
Groups of Cumberland Presbyterians
Average in Per Cent
8.0 9.3 4.1 14.7
4.2 5.9
5.0 7.2
4.9 5.7
9.6 9.3 5.4 15.2
4.4 5.4 2.4 14.8
7.8 9.7 4.6 15.1
1. With Bethel
2. No Bethel training
3. C. p. Homes
4. Non-C.P. Homes
5. Bethel Students
in 1939
6. Assembly group
7. Under 30 years
2.3 14.2
3.3 14.2
2.4 16.0
The Sunday school was also early adopted as a means of furthering denominational purposes. Its control function is well outlined in the following statement contained in the report of the Committee on Sabbath Schools, adopted by the General Assembly in 1853:
No means of grace (the ministry of the Gospel excepted)
are, in our opinion, so well calculated to impress the mind of youth
with their relationship and responsibilities to God and the human
family. None better adopted to lead children and youth to serious
consideration relative to religion, — to implant in their minds,
at an early period, a true sense of their depraved condition, of the
fear of God, and the absolute necessity of repentance and faith in
Jesus Christ in order to salvation....
The Sabbath School, properly managed, is the nursery of the
In 1939 there were 47,776 scholars enrolled in Cumberland Presbyterian
Sunday Schools.
Semi-formal education has been promoted by means of "Leadership Training Courses" which have been recently developed and are now
sponsored by the Board of Christian Education.
Each of these courses
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1853, p. 43.
consists of 10 one-hour class periods conducted by an instructor
who has met certain requirements specified by the Board.
certificate is issued for each-course completed.
A credit
In the 10 years pre-
ceding 1939 there were 9,956 credits earned by persons throughout the
The purpose of this form of education is also to pro-
mote the interests of the denomination.
The training is for denomina-
tional "leadership;" the most popular course has been the one on Cumberland Presbyterian doctrine; and scrupulous care is constantly maintained to prevent the teaching, by text or instructor, of anything not
in harmony with the creed or program of the denomination.
It is significant that "Leadership Training Courses" originated in connection with the denominational program for young geople.
When the denomination was being reorganized after the attempted merger
in 1906, the need for indoctrinating young people of the church was rec
ognized in the formation of a Board of Publication, Sunday School and
Young People's Work.
In 1927 a separate Board of Young People's Work
was formed, and in 1956 the work was enlarged and placed under a Board
of Christian Education.
Emphasis has been placed by all these boards
upon binding the young people more effectively to the program of the
An annual Young People's General Assembly has been pro-
moted since 1924. Annual summer encampments for young people have
been organized in all the synods and many of the presbyteries, and it
is at these that most of the training course credits are earned. For
a number of years, also, the Boards' plans have included the sponsoring of "Denominational Week," an annual celebration of the birthday
of the denomination, by the young "-people's organizations in each
local congregation.
1. "Our 10-year Record in Leadership Education". Leaflet distributed by the Board of Christian Education at the General Assembly in
2. Informal Education
A study of social control in the institution through informal
processes of education indicates that the role of the press has been
highly significant.
The church founders, before the organization of the first
presbytery, sent out several printed pamphlets under such titles as,
"The Remonstrance of the Council" and "Address to the Christian Reader".
The first official document was the "Circular Letter" published in 1810
as an announcement and vindication of the denomination's existence.
Between this and 1829, a few miscellaneous pamphlets, a hymn book, and
the "Lectures of Finis Ewing," comprised the publications.
The first
General Assembly, which met in 1829,appointed a "Committee on Publica2
tion" and the first official church paper was published in 1830.
the denomination grew, various publications sprang up, representing
different sections and interests within it. At first most of these
publications were privately owned.
As the denomination became more institutionalized the interest in publications increased.
After several unsuccessful attempts,
an effective "Board of Publication" was finally established by the
General Assembly in 1847. The Report of the Committee on Ways and
Means, adopted by the General Assembly in 1849, said:
The Committee on Ways and Means, would suggest, that it is
important to the interests of religion that the greatest possible efficiency be given to the operations of the Board of Publication.^
In that same year was adopted the report of the Committee on Publication, in which was quite clearly set forth the conception of the use
of the printing press as an agency for effecting social control In
line with the institution's interests. The following excerpt is from
1. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 585.
2. Centennial Sermons and Papers, op. cit., pp. 189-200, 224.
3. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1849, p. 33.
this report:
We most ardently hope that the day Is not far distant
when this auxiliary in your hands shall be instrumental in throwing
pure religious instruction broad-cast over the land — disseminating
the doctrines of your denomination, which your committee with you.'
believe to be the doctrines of the Bible, successfully abroad.1
McDonnold states that prior to 1888 there had been more
than 50 periodicals issued.
In 1874 the Board of Publication managed
to buy out the interests of the several privately published papers,
and it then proceeded to consolidate them all into one official den3
ominational periodical.
When the question of union arose and was being debated prior
to 1906 the members of the Board of Publication and the several editors were in favor of it. They, through the publications, took the
lead in the fight for it. The opposition claimed that this was an
unfair adventage and that their side was never given a hearing.
publishing house, in Nashville, Tennessee, became the center of the
controversial storm.
Leaders of the opposition issued private publi-
cations in order to get their case before the people. After union had
been voted by the General Assembly at Decatur, Illinois, in 1906, and
the opposition had set out to hold and reorganize the church, a lawsuit was immediately entered to decide which group should have possession of the publishing house. In 1910 the courts of the State of Tennessee awarded it to the group who did not go into the union, but in
1913 the United States Supreme Court reversed this decision and gave
the publishing house to the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1849, p. 33.
2. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 605.
3. Ibid.. p. 593.
4. See Centennial Sermons and Papers, op. cit., pp. 189-240;
also Campbell, op. cit., pp. 40-42; and General Assembly Minutes.
struggling anti-unionists immediately set about building up another
publishing house. The best talent of the group was dedicated to this
effort for several years. A reading of the documents and history of
this era gives one the impression that the success of the group in
perpetuating the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was inseparably bound
up with their success in building and operating a publishing plant.
Informal education is also accomplished through boards and
agencies to which the General Assembly commits different aspects of
the denominational work.
Each of these takes steps, through printing
literature, sending out field representatives, or some other means,
to secure support for their work. Some of these boards and agencies s*e*
General Assembly Board of Trustees, the Board of Publica-
tion, the Board of Christian Education, the Board of (Home) Missions
and Church Erection, the Board of Foreign Missions, the Board of Minister*
ial Relief, the Board of Education, the Educational Endowment Commission,
and the Board of Tithing and Budget.
The Board of Trustees handles money
and financial affairs belonging directly to the General Assembly.
Assembly's stated clerk and traveling secretary work in cooperation with
this and other boards, itinerating over the denomination making encouraging and optimistic speeches and soliciting wills and bequests in favor
of denominational interests. The Board of Publication prints leaflets,
books, Sunday school literature, and periodicals, and sends agents or
representatives to as many as possible of the meetings of church courts.
The Board of Christian Education employs two full-time secretaries whose
duties are to promote organizational and educational work in connection
with encampments, Sunday schools, and young people's societies throughout the denomination.
They keep a steady stream of printed materials
going out to the congregations. The work of the Board of Foreign Missions
is primarily committed into the hands of the women of the denomination,
who have organized missionary societies in local congregations, publish
their own missionary magazine, and quite actively sponsor a program of
missionary education throughout the denomination.
All the boards, ex-
cept the Board of Publication, which is self-sustaining, depend upon
the money raised by the Board of Tithing and Budget, which works constantly at the task of soliciting money and educating the constituency of the
denomination to give more generously.
The other boards also keep the de-
nomination informed, through the church paper or otherwise, of the needs
of their work.
Such measures contribute much toward maintaining denom-
inational-consciou sness.
3. Evangelization
Evangelization is social control in a most potent functional
Every congregational meeting, every
the purpose of affecting behavior —
sermon, every revival is for
of bringing individuals under the
controls operative through the institution.
In addition to revivals and
revival preaching in congregations already established, Cumberland Presbyterians have always emphasized missionary evangelism.
The following
excerpts from minutes of the General Assembly as early as the middle
of the nineteenth century give an idea of the missionary zeal and emphasis:
The work must go forward; our operations must be expanded;
and, consequently, the demand for means must annually increase. The
world must be evangelized, and Cumberland Presbyterians ought to be
distinguished for their zeal and efficiency in this glorious enterprise.
Cumberland Presbyterians, who believe and teach that whosoever will may come and partake of the water of life freely — who believe, too, that God works by instrumentalities, cannot turn a deaf ear to
the loud Macedonian cry arising from so many parts of the country.,..
Even whilst your Committe have been detaining you in the reading of this report, more than five hundred untaught, unconverted souls
have passed into that bourne whence no traveler returns.
1. General Assembly Minute3 (c.P.), 1849, p. 40.
With these awful facts before us, can we fold our arms?
Can we sleep at our posts? Surely, surely notl Will we deny the
bread of life to the thronging multitudes who crowd the beaten way
down to everlasting wo? 1
The Church cannot, must not relax her energies until the
world is converted. The red man of the forest is looking wistfully
to her — even the Comanche seeks to be taught how to worship the
Great Spirit. Famishing Ethiopia stretches out her sable hands and
begs for the bread of life.^
Prior to 1906 missionary work was promoted among the rapidly
growing population of the United States, particularly among German
immigrants and among the American Indians. It was also carried on in
Liberia, on the Island of Trinidad, in Korea, in Japan, and in Mexico.
Following 1906, despite the denomination's struggle to maintain existence, the work of foreign missions was continued through the Woman's
Board of Missions. This Board labored zealously and now operates mission
units in China, Colombia, South America, and among the Chinese in San
Francisco, California.
In 1939, offerings to the Woman's Board of Mis4
sions amounted to $28,555.36,
where as there was contributed, through
the Board of Tithing and Budget, for all other denominational purposes
only $25,050.46.
4. Use of Symbols
Symbols, also, have been used effectively by the denomination
as means of social control. It has employed those symbols, such as the
Bible, the cross, bread and wine, and water baptism, which are generally
General Assembly Minutes
General Assembly Minutes
McDonnold, op_i_ cit., pp.
General Assembly Minutes
Ibid.. p. 108.
(C.P.), 1850, pp. 22,26.
(C.P.), 1859, p. 68.
(C.P.). 1939, p. 153.
characteristic of Protestantism.
In addition, however, it has developed
a set of symbols which are peculiarly Its own. A few of the most important of these will be briefly described.
The symbol which is, perhaps, most characteristic of the denomination is a crude two-room log house with a fire-place chimney in
either end and an open hall between the rooms. This is supposed to be
the type of house in which Samuel McAdow was living when the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church was organized in his home. Pictures of this cabin
are printed in denominational books and literature, and enlargements hang
on the walls of many church buildings. It is incorporated in the design
of the seal of Bethel College, and a replica, costing several thousand
dollars, stands on the college campus. A book, setting forth the distinctive doctrines of the denomination, was given the title "The Old
Log House".
The birthplace of the denomination, the site where McAdow's
log house stood, has been purchased by the denomination and turned into
a sort of shrine to be visited by the faithful. The , "loyalists" in
Decatur, Illinois, in 1906, determined to "save" the church, called for
a General Assembly to meet at this birthplace in 1907, even though there
were no buildings in miles of the site which could accommodate the meeting. The place was so important that tents were rented to house the
The phrase "Whosoever Will Gospel" has become identified in
the minds of the membership with the doctrinal distinctiveness of the
It and its scriptural counterpart, John 3:16, are often
quoted In song, pulpit, and press to arouse feelings of pride, responsibility, and loyalty.
1. Blake, op. cit.
The "mourner's bench" which, as has been shown, is.still
prominently displayed in most of the church buildings is, though infrequently used, symbolic of the revival background out of which the
denomination had its origin.
There are, also, certain symbolic scape-goats upon which have
been centered resentment, contempt, or derision.
Among these are Vander-
bilt University, "U. S. AJS," Catholics, and "modernists". Vanderbilt
University, being located in Nashville and being fairly liberal, has
been held in great contempt and branded as a hot-bed of modernism to
which Cumberland Presbyterians dared not sent their children. Young
ministers who have dared go there have been suspected of disloyalty and
unsoundness in the faith. The Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. is
almost always referred to as the "U. S. A.'s". The term seems to connote
something between a high-brow ecclesiastical pirate and an ordinary lowclass criminal. Upon "U. S. A.'s" are centered all the resentments
growing out of the 1906 attempt at union. There is no clear definition
of what "modernists" are, but anyone who questions the Bible or the orthodox interpretation of it is liable to be branded with the name. "Modernists" are enemies of the cause. The attitude toward Catholics is probably dervied from sources older than the denomination.
At least, the
Minutes of the General Assembly early carried references to the Catholic
Church as representing the "man of sin" spoken of in the Bible.
implication, or otherwise, all of these —
A.'s," Catholics and "Modernists" —
Vanderbilt University, "U. S.
are considered enemies. To brand
any person or movement with an accusation of being connected with anyone of them is to invoke a definite social control.
1. See General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1856, p. 41.
The names of Ewing, King, and McAdow, the founders of the
denomination, are held in high veneration. They have been bestowed
upon many children of loyal families.
The heroism of the 106 church fathers who re-organized the
General Assembly at Decatur, Illinois, in 1906, often is praised also.
On frequent occasions the surviving members of this group are honored
as staunch defenders and saviors of the faith.
Through these symbols and their accompanying mental and attitudinal stereotypes,institutional consciousness is developed, and the
individual is Induced to identify himself more closely with the group.
"Identification" is a major sociological premise. Kimball Young says:
"The commonly recognized symbol assists the person to identify himself
with his fellows. It promotes a sense of solidarity.
Often it comes
to stand not alone for the particular object or situation to which it
was originally attached, but to the whole group and its culture."
The more identification takes place, the stronger is the institution's
control over the individual.
It is with purpose, therefore, that the
denomination focusses emotionalized attention upon the symbols which
have been mentioned.
It is with purpose every Cumberland Presbyterian
child is made to feel that McAdow's two-room log cabin represents something noble and wonderful, and that any one of the 106 "loyal" members
of the Assembly at Decatur, Illinois, in 1906, is a hero to be honored.
5. The Development of Codes
It is, as reference to Dowd pointed out in a former chapter,
a favorite technique of institutions to develop codes for limiting behavior and effecting social control.
1. Young, op. cit., p. 287.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has a formal written
creed, which has been described in a former chapter. To this creed
every person who becomes a member of the church must subscribe.
the creed was first formulated, there was nothing particularly sacred
about it, other than that it was an attempt to state the beliefs of
the group composing the church. The necessity for forming it seemed
to be taken for granted, as though the institution could not maintain
identity without it. Its weaknesses were frankly admitted, but it
was justified on the basis that it was a tool for maintain^unity. As
Robert Donnell, one of the formulators
said in his last letter:
Our Confession of Faith, though not as perfect in phraseology
as it might be, yet has system and perfection enough to make us all
think alike; this unity is in accordance with the nature and tendencies
of experimental religion; for our very system is founded upon the doctrines of experimental religion. And while we maintain true experimental religion we will have a united church.1
As time passed, however, the creed came to be more and more
sacred and revered.
In 1852, less than 40 years after it had been form-
ulated, when Hernando Synod petitioned the General Assembly to revise it
in order to eliminate "ambiguities and obscurities" the petition was
refused on the following grounds:
Should the walls once be thrown down, it would be difficult,
if not impossible, ever to build them up so as to suit the peculiar
taste of each, and every section of the church....
We think, therefore, the old forms are the best as they stand,
allowing each this liberty.
The old forms are becoming venerable for their age, and the
memorable circumstances that gave them shape and being.^
It was 1883 before enough pressure could be brought to bear to
effect a re-writing which would eliminate these "ambiguities and obscurities". This was not a revision of the creed, but a polishing of
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1855, p. 47.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1852, pp. 43-44.
its mechanical statement.
The manner in which the creed is revered today is indicated
by the following excerpt from an article by "The Rover," a popular
writer for The Cumberland Presbyterian:
A good friend of mine recently held up his Bible and said,
"Rover, anybody who believes this Book is a Cumberland Presbyterian"*
That is true, but the gist of the Bible is contained in God's plan
of salvation, and my Church's doctrine has embraced that plan in
its entirety from the day it became a Church.
It has never been
necessary to change the dotting of an I or the crossing of a T in
its Confession of Faith to make it harmonize with the Bible. Others
that have some of the beauties of our fundamental tenets are cumbered
with something else that keeps it from being as attractive as ours.1
The institution has not been content, however, to leave the
codification of behavior with the formal creed. From time to time the
General Assembly has felt called upon to make deliverances regarding
types of behavior appropriate to "Christians". An elaborate set of
conduct codes is reflected in these deliverances, which are usually
stated with such finality as to leave little question concerning what
is "right" and what is "wrong".
"Worldly" amusements have been the subject of such deliverances
as the following:
Whereas, There is no specific law in the Discipline of this
Church, forbidding the members thereof attending fashionable balls and
parties, theaters, circuses, and such places of worldly amusement for
carnal indulgence of mere human merriment, gotten up and mainly sustained by those who are not connected with the evangelical Church;
Resolved, therefore, By this General Assembly, that in all
such instances where members of our Church are known to attend such
places for purposes of participating in them, they shall be held responsible to the church session of the congregation where such member holds
his or her membership, and that church sessions are hereby instructed
to adopt such rules in their respective congregations as may forbiA such
The practice of promiscuous dancing, as an amusement, by professed Christians, as well as attendance upon such places of amusement,
is hereby declared to be inconsistent with the Christian profession and
the pure and sacred obligations of our holy religion; and.... Presbyter-
1 . The Cumberland P r e s h y t e r i a n , October 5, 1939, p . 9 .
2. General Assembly Minutes ( C . P . ) , 1852, pp. 29-30.
ies and church sessions are advised that members persisting in such
practice are proper subjects of Church discipline.1
A memorial from Texas Synod has been referred to us, asking that a specific law be "incorporated in the Rules of Discipline"
forbidding "dancing, theater-going and card-playing".
The Comraitte think that the matters complained of need not
be expressed in a specific law, inasmuch as section third of the
Church Covenant of the Confession of Faith, properly interpreted, includes such things: and since we believe them to be evil, and only
evil, we recommend that this General Assembly declare its disapproval
of such practices, and urge the ministers and church sessions to instruct and exhort the members to refrain from participating in these
evils, which are altogether unprofitable and inconsistent with Christian character; and, whenever necessary, that discipline be exercised
according to the Constitution of the Church. (Adopted).2
We warn our people against becoming participants in questionable and doubtful social practices which have had their origin
among the lowest, vilest and ludest class of worldly humanity and
have gradually Insinuated themselves into those social circles which
have given them an air of respectability but have not and cannot
destroy the degrading destructive viris which is always present.
.... We here and now declare that we condemn the social practice of mixed bathing and swimming of men and women and boys and girls
unbecoming to Christian people and of evil tendency and warn that we
will withdraw our moral and financial support from any persons or institutions who indulge in or encourage this questionable social practice
"If it is doubtful it is sin." 3
Whereas, there seems to be a tendency among all the churches
to compromise more and more with the world, not recognizing the command,
"Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch
not the unclean thing."
And, whereas, too many, both in the pulpit and in the pew,
are looking with some degree of allowance on the card table, the dance,
and the miserable, debauching, modern dress, public swimming pool, Sunday ball, and obscene pictures in our picture shows; therefore be it
Resolved: That it is the sense of this General Assembly
that all such should be discouraged and that we reaffirm in our next
minutes the acts of our former General Assemblies, and that our ministers read the same from their pulpits and uasge a reform in the modern
dress of our girls among the mothers and Christian workers of our churches; thus, placing our beloved Church in an uncompromising position with
the modern sins now trying to break down the walls of partition between
the world and the Church.4
To your Committee has also been referred the Memorial from
Lebanon Presbytery regarding the "President's Ball". We do not know to
what depths of degradation these balls have descended, but recommend that
1870, p.
1895, p.
1934, p.
1921, p.
this Assembly endorse the spirit of this memorial and most heartily
and emphatically concur in the protest and request made of the President of the United States in the closing paragraph of the Memorial.
.... We are reliably informed that probably not more than
fifty per cent of those purchasing tickets attend the dances. Thus
the dance receives credit for the full returns, a considerable part
of which is the charitable gift of Christian people.
....We would warn all humanity that Satan can and also
does transform himself into an Angel of Light (II Cor. 11:14) and
he would deceive, if it were possible, the very elect, (Matt. 24:24).
His strategy in this case is to deceive both his own followers and many
of the weak and blinded professed followers of Christ into thinking
that they have done a great work of charity by attending these balls,
when they have in reality, done nothing but spend their time and money
in the selfish pursuit of pleasure if not in open debauchery.1
Sabbath observance has been the subject of deliverances by
practically every General Assembly.
The Sunday behaviors condemned
have always been in terms of the currently popular practices. A resolution adopted in 1891 contained the following declarations:
1. That it is the duty of every Christian to observe and defend the Sabbath, and to keep it holy, by spending it in a way that
will honor God and nourish and strengthen his own soul.
2. That Christians should not spend the day in social visiting and feasting.
3. That it is a sin and shame to spend the day in idleness
or in frivolous pastime.
4. That parents should require their children to attend church,
and not turn them loose, after Sabbath school, to spend the remainder of
the day as they please.
5. That Christians should not encourage Sunday newspapers by
buying them, reading them, advertising in them, or in any other way.
6. That Sunday trains and excursions are evils that no Christian should encourage.
7. That base-ball, picnics, and all similar amusements, are
gross and sinful desecrations of the Sabbath day.2
Gambling has been dealt with in deliverances such as the
Dealing in lottery stock or tickets is taking a risk for
money, and as such is a species of gaming that is sinful, and ought
to be discountenanced by every Church court and Christians.3
The use of tobacco, much debated in General Assemblies during the nineteenth century, was indirectly condemned in the following
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1938, p. 138.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1891, p. 36.
3. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1858, p. 33.
Resolved, That, as the use of tobacco has grown to be a
national evil, and is seriously hurtful to ministerial influence
and usefulness, this General Assembly counsels the ministers of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church against the use of tobacco in any
form whatever; also, that this counsel be earnestly pressed upon
the attention of the candidates for the ministry in all our Presbyteries.1
Ministerial students at present are not allowed the customary
financial aid from the Board of Education without signing a pledge to
abstain from the use of tobacco.
The General Assembly in 1924 defined the stand of the denomination toward the theory of evolution by concurring in a memorial containing the following statement:
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is united, decided and
strong; standing out singly and alone as a denomination, wholly and
unquestionably in favor of accepting the Bible as "the inspired Word
of God," and having no mixture or taint of evolution in our entire
denomination .2
Temperance was the subject of many deliverances. Since
these will be considered in the following chapter, they need not be
quoted here.
The above deliverances, and many more lake them, not only illustrate a means used by the institution for effecting social control,
but they also indicate the direction of that control. They are typical
derivatives of the tradition of English Dissent, being attitudes which
Hall describes as "drawn from the experiences of an economically weak
class in its contacts with luxury and wealth".
6. The Use of Pledges and Oaths
Use is made, also, of pledges and oaths in producing conform-
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1886, p. 30.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.J, 1924, p. 41.
3. Hall, op. cit*, p. 48.
ity, that through them the institution would be strengthened and
Persons who join the Cumberland Presbyterian Churdh are
required to subscribe to the following Covenant:
I. Do you receive the Scriptures of the Old and the New
Testament as the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and
II. Have you experienced that you were a condemned and helpless sinner, and, so far as you know your own heart, have you believed
in Christ as an all-sufficient Savior, realizing that God, for Christ's
sake, has pardoned your sins?
III. Will you earnestly strive to avoid the follies and vices
of the world, to increase in knowledge, to grow in grace^ and to live
henceforth for Christ?
IV. Do you promise to abide by and support the rules and regulations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church so long as you may be
a member thereof; to be faithful in your attendance at the public religious services in the congregation, including the prayer-meetings, as
God may give you health and strength, endeavoring to keep the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace; to love your brethren in the Lord;
to act toward them with kindness and justice; to judge with candor,
and admonish with charity?
V. As you consecrate yourself to God, you also consecrate
your substance; that being his steward, do you promise to contribute
of that substance, as he may prosper you, to the support of the gospel? 1
The questions below, answered affirmatively, constitute the
ordination vows which each minister is required to make:
I. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and the New
Testament to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith
and practice?
II. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of
Faith and the Cathechism of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as
containing the system of doctrines taught in the Holy Scriptures?
III. Do you approve the Government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Ohurch?
IV. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
V. Have you been induced by the Holy Spirit, as far as you
know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from
love to God, a desire to do his will, to promote his glory in the
gospel of his son, and the salvation of your fellow-men?
VI. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful, as God may
enable you, in maintaining the truths of the gospel, and the purity
and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise
unto you on that account?
1. Confession of Faith (C.P.), op. cit., p. 154.
VII. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the gospel,
whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavor, by
the grace of God, to adorn the profession of the gospel ministry in
your conversation, and to walk with exemplary piety before the Church
and before the world?1
By order of the General Assembly, all teachers employed in
the church school are required to subscribe to the following "avowal
of hearty acceptance of the fundamentals of the gospel":
I accept and believe the Bible account of creation as the
direct act of God; the Bible record of miracles; the immediate and infallible inspiration of the holy Scriptures as the very word of God;
that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin
Mary, was the only begotten Son of God, and that he came from heaven
to die as an atonement for sin; that he was crucified and died, and
the third day arose from the dead by a bodily resurrection; that he
ascended to heaven, from whence he will in due time return again. I
believe, further, that heart repentance toward God and faith toward
the Lord Jesus Christ bring spiritual regeneration, without which the
accountable soul cannot be saved. As a teacher I will, without compromise, steadfastly stand for these fundamental things, and actively
resist every encroachment upon them within my sphere of service.^
As pointed out above, ministerial students receiving financial aid while attending Bethel College are required to vow that
they do not use tobacco,
and if they later leave the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church they must, in keeping with their pledge when ac4
cepting aid, immediately repay all money they have received.
If, as Hugh Hartshorne intimates, an individual has character only as he functions spontaneously and creatively on the highest
possible social level,
the use of these pledges and oaths may be
deterrents to character formation. Although they strengthen the institution, they may weaken the character of its constituency.
Confessions of the Faith (C.P.), op^. cit., p. 154.
General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1925, p. 118.
Ibid.. 1920, p. 126.
Ibid.. 1925, p. 117.
See Hartshorne, Hugh, Character in Human Relations, pp.201,
are authoritarian rather than functional in their approach.
By ar-
bitrarily regulating behavior, they deny the individual the privilege
of evaluation and judgment in these areas and of functioning creatively
in new or challenging situations. However, the design of these vows
is to protect the institution, not to develop character in persons, ex1
cept as institutionalization is conceived to be beneficial to character.
7. Institutional Attitudes and Mores
Many institutional attitudes and mores which have a part in
effecting social control within the institution have already been described, directly or by implication, in the foregoing discussion. There
are a few others which are important enough to merit attention. Brief
consideration of them will contribute to a better understanding of
the institution.
When the General Assembly,about the middle of the nineteenth
century, began trying to collect statistical data concerning the denomination, it met with little success because of a prevailing attitude that
"statistical intelligence begets a spirit of pride".
Strong attitudes toward immigrants and the Roman Catholic
Church have been occasionally expressed.
The immigrants who were ar-
riving in the United States in such numbers at about the middle of the
century were designated by the General Assembly as "Romanists and foreign paupers," and it was felt that every effort should be made to de3
feat the purpose of the "Romanish Hierarchy" by evangelizing them.
1. It is not proposed here to argue the moot question of "internal" versus "external" control, although it might be raised at this point.
It may at least be said that oaths and vows constitute a questionable
form of social control.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1859, p. 107.
S« Ibid.. 1855, p. 36.
Some of the strong attitudes which exist at present in the
institution were revealed by the attitude scale marked by 100 persons
at the General Assembly in 1939. Statements on the scale were based
upon the investigator's several years of observation and experience in
the institution. The following general attitudes were strongly evidenced:
First, the sinner has a free will and is completely responsible for his sinful condition. This attitude, held by 89 out of the 100
persons, is not surprising, since it is one of the fundamental concepts
of the evangelical religious emphasis, and since it has a direct relationship to the fundamental Cumberland Presbyterian doctrinal concept.
However, it is highly significant when viewed in the light of modern
sociological emphasis upon the influence of environment in determining
crime, delinquency, and other "sinful" behavior aberrations.
Second, only those who are followers of Jesus Christ will be
saved and given homes in Heaven. It is probable that this attitude is
characteristic of a larger section of Christendom than the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, but the strength with which it is held in the latter
was indicated by the fact that 82 out of the 100 persons had a definitely positive reaction to a statement of It. This attitude is concomitant
with a number of others, such as: "Jews are lost and will go to hell
unless they are converted and become Christians." This attitude was
held by 66 persons. Apparently there is an inconsistency in the replies,
since, as stated above, 82 felt that only followers of Jesus Christ
would be saved.
Third, the Bible is the directly dictated word of God and as
such, an infallible source of authority. This attitude is so strongly
held by the denomination that, except on the point that the Bible was
directly dictated to man, no individual member dares openly question
Although there is some weakening with regard to the belief that
God directly dictated the Bible, 72 persons still felt that this was
the manner of its origin.
Fourth, there is a literal hell of fire and brimstone. This
attitude was indicated by 77 persons.
The definitely positive and definitely negative reactions to
statements based on these attitudes are indicated in Table XVII.
may be assumed that the persons not surely agreeing or disagreeing
either had no feeling on the subject or held the attitude to some degree.
Table XVII
Definitely Positive and Definitely Negative Reactions in a Group of 100 Persons at the General
Assembly in 1939 to Items 42, 67, 69, 70, 71,
89, 92, of the Attitude Scale
42. The sinner has a free will and is completely responsible for his sinful condition
67. There is a literal hell of fire and
69. The Bible is the word of God
70. The Bible is infallible
71. The Bible was directly dictated to men
by God
89. Jews are lost and will go to hell unless they are converted and become
92. Only those who are followers of Jesus
Christ will be saved and given homes
in Heaven
One of the strongest sets of mores in the institution is built
up around the maintenance of loyalty. These mores exert a subtle psy-
etiological pressure upon the individual, making him feel that to be in
any wise unfaithful to the institution would be a gross betrayal hardly
to be forgiven. Not much stigma is attached to the person who simply
loses interest and drops out of church activities. Apparently he does
not challenge the status of the institution nearly so much as does the
person who joins some other denomination.
It is against such a catas-
trophe that the mores most zealously guard.
The manner in which they
operate is difficult to illustrate. However, they may be sensed in
speeches in the church courts containing such references as, "I'll be
glad when every man who is ashamed of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
gets out of it;" and they show themselves in the tenacity with which numerous small congregations cling to existence, even though too weak numerically and financially to support a program.
When a minister joins
another denomination it is generally said that he did so because he was
"out to get more money;" for a few years after 1906 all persons who joined
the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., were spoken of as having "flopped".
The General Assembly which voted for the union in 1906 is referred to as
the"General Assembly of the Betrayal" and the Presbyterian Church, U . S .
A., is dubbed "ecclesiastical pirates". When a young minister decided
to do graduate work in a northern university, it was rumored that he
would "be lost to the church;" numerous individuals lectured him on not
getting ideas of quitting the church; and one of his best friends felt
called upon to make the following serious statement:
"I want you to
know you'll always have one friend in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church."
At every opportunity loyalty is emphasized in the church paper. The fol-
1, Centennial Sermons and Papers, op. cit., p. 233.
2. Ibid., p. 223.
lowing editorial illustrates the manner in which it is done:
It nearly kills some people because the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church is still living, still growing in numbers, wealth, and usefulness
year by year, and they belch up some of their soured ecclesiastical hate
when they see a copy of The Cumberland Presbyterian and read about the
progress of our church and the success of our church institutions. The
following rude, ill-mannered blast on a postal card was mailed in Chicago,
November 12:
"I supposed that your little group of prize bellyachers had
been entirely eliminated, but in a newspaper office I saw your paper,
representing the Cumbersome group still engaged in a frantic effort to
lay an egg." - Cyrus Stone.
It has been a third of a century since there was an effort to
adjourn the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church sine
die, and thus end its existence, and at this late day there are bigots
of hate who continue to squawk because they did not succeed in destroying our Church, and who still have jealous spasms because the Cumberland
Church is living and growing and the influence of her institutions is
being widely felt. Ecclesiastical hate and personal conceit are in evidence in Cyrus Stone's blast, and shows he is the one who is having
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is not jealous of the success of any denomination, it wishes them all well, it does not try to
proselyte, and it wants no members who do not want to be members. We
believe God called the Cumberland Presbyterian Church into existence,
and it will continue its efforts to do God's will in spite of the
groans and grunts of Cyrus Stone and all like him.
It is significant that the records prior to 1906 yield practically no evidence of insistence upon loyalty, or antipathy toward members who joined other denominations. In the early years promotion of
the revival was bringing such growth to the church that deserters were
no great concern. When the revival impetus began to wane, serious efforts were begun to effect a union with another denomination, and these
efforts were accompanied by a liberal spirit which did not place great
stigma upon the individual who decided to make a change without waiting for the denomination to do so. It is since 1906 that jealous insistence upon loyalty has assumed proportions of magnitude. This is
to be understood in the light of the institution's struggle for status,
1. The Cumberland Presbyterian, November 23, 1939.
and it is all the more acute because of the fact that the revival
has lost much of its significance as an integrating "cause". Loyalty is maintained by authority and pressure where it might cease to
exist on a voluntary basis.
Social Adjustment Within the Institution
Adjustment is here assumed to mean the harmonious relationship and functioning of all units within the institution.
It is a pro-
cess which is constantly going on, and which manifests itself in many
For purposes of this study, the assumption will be made that its
present level is indicated by the extent to which various phases of the
institutional structure have the support of current Cumberland Presbyterian opinion.
By reference to Table may be observed that agreement
with 33 doctrinal statements on the attitude scale ranged from 59.0 per
cent- for students in Bethel College to 71.0 per cent for persons at the
General Assembly.
This suggests considerable institutional lag with
respect to doctrine, and indicates that the problem is most severe in
the institution's relationship with the youth of its constituency.
Seven statements based upon the codes of conduct expressed
or implied in some of the deliverances of the General Assembly to which
attention has already been called were included in the scale. Reactions of the 100 persons at the General Assembly to these are tabulated
in Table XVIII.
From this table it is seen that dancing and the drink-
ing of liquor are the most consistently opposed, although 26 per cent
of the individuals were not positively opposed to dancing.
The General
Assembly's attitudes on smoking, movies and mixed bathing do not receive 50 per cent support. Even work and amusements on Sunday, concern-
Reactions Indicated by 100 Persons at the General
Assembly in 1939 to Items 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37 and
38 (Relating to Social Behavior) of the Attitude Scale
Reactions, in Per Cent
30. A Christian should not dance....
31. A Christian should not go to
32. A Christian should not smoke....
33. Mixed bathing is sinful
34. A Christian should not drink
liquor, even moderately
37. It is sin for a person to participate in any form of commercialized recreation or amusement on Sunday
38. It is sinful to work on Sunday..
24.0 13.0 13.0 19.0 30.0
40.0 9.0 18.0 13.0 19.0
40.0 10.0 17.0 8.0 24.0
67.0 7.0 14.0 4.0
50.0 12.0 15.0 12.0
which there have been a host of Assembly denunciations, are countenanced
by 30 to 50 per cent of these persons. Apparently, therefore, the institution is considerably lacking in adjustment on the subject of social customs and practices. This lack of adjustment is further emphasized by the
attitudes of 52 Bethel College students on the same questions.
Table XIX reveals that only on the issues of drinking liquor
and commercialized recreation on Sunday did as many as 50 per cent of
Bethel students positively support the attitudes of the Assembly. An
average of only 30.3 per cent of the students indicated "Surely Agree"
as their reaction to the seven statements, whereas the average of the
100 persons at the General Assembly was 55.3 per cent. In either case
the evidence supports a conclusion that in this direction there is poor
institutional control and a low level of adjustment in the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church.
Table XIX
Reactions of 32 Students in Bethel College
in 1959 to Items 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37 and 38
(Relating to Social Behavior) of the Attitude
Reactions, in Per Cent
30. A Christian should not dance...
31. A Christian should not go to
32. A Christian should not smoke... 3.1
33. Mixed bathing is sinful
34. A Christian should not drink
liquor, even moderately
37. It is sin for a person to participate in any form of commercialized recreation or amusement on Sunday
38. It is sinful to work on Sunday
12.5 15.6 15.6
6.3 18*8 62.5
21.9 3.1 15.6
18.8 9.4
12.5 9.4 15.6
25.0 18.8 12.5
That the institution is poorly adjusted with respect to its
governmental functioning has already been pointed out in the preceding
Only 57 per cent of the 100 persons marking the attitude scale
at the General Assembly indicated that they "surely" agreed with the
statement that "the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
is working at present in an effective and satisfactory manner".
Adjustment with respect to the traditional Christian concepts
embraced in the Apostles' Creed was also indicated by results from the
attitude scale. Although the Apostles' Creed has never been officially recognized by the denomination, it is printed in many of the hymnals
used in the congregations and is occasionally repeated in worship services.
It is used by Methodists more than by Cumberland Presbyterians.
The statements on the scale were taken from a similar scale used by
Yifilliams in a study of social adjustment in Methodism.
His scale was
marked by 201 members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Springfield District, Massachusetts. The level of Cumberland Presbyterian
adjustment Is indicated by comparing Williams' results with the atti1
tudes of the 100 Cumberland Presbyterians at the General Assembly.
The per cents of those who marked "Surely Agree" are compared in
Table XX.
Table XX
A Comparison of the Per Cents of 201 Methodists
and 100 Cumberland Presbyterians Marking "Surely
Agree" to Attitude Scale Statements Based upon
the Apostle's Creed
Per Cent
There is a God
Jesus sits at the right hand of God
God is a father
Jesus is the only son of God
Jesus is our Lord
Jesus was conceived by the spirit of God...
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day
after burial
8. God made heaven.
. 100.0
9. God made earth
10.Jesus will judge the living and the dead...
11.Jesus was persecuted and tried when Pilate wasi
12.Jesus died by crucifixion and was buried...
100.0 •
13.There is a Holy Ghost
14.The mother of Jesus was a virgin...........
15.Our bodies shall rise from the grave
sa. o
16.Jesus went up into heaven...
17.God is all powerful.....
18.Sins can be forgiven......
This table shows that Cumberland Presbyterians were in much
greater agreement with these concepts than were the Methodists. The
1. See Williams, op^ cit.. pp. 120-121.
average per cent of agreement on the 18 items was 97.4 for the Cumberland Presbyterians and only 67.1 for the Methodists. In respect,
then, to these broad theological concepts the institution seems to be
quite well adjusted, in^trast to its lack of adjustment on questions
of government, minor doctrinal points, and social issues. These are
the concepts which are considered basic to the institution's spiritual
mission. That there is more agreement and adjustment concerning them
than concerning more commonplace institutional and social matters is
significant in the light of the fact that the institution conceives
of its primary purpose as being spiritual rather than social.
However, except in the area of these general religious beliefs, there is a preponderance of evidence to indicate lack of adjustment within the institution.
Throughout the institution there is marked competition and
conflict, connoting a severe struggle for status. Various "interests"
seek to dominate different phases of the work. The struggle is often
concentrated upon the election of a moderator of the General Assembly.
If a particular faction is able to elect its candidate for this place,
he is responsible for naming all of the committees, and the committees
practically determine the policies of the Assembly. Bound up in this
struggle is often the desire to dominate the policies of certain boards
and agencies of the Assembly.
An "interest" group will go to a great
many extremes to keep its men on a particular board, and since a number
of board members retire from each board annually, the General Assembly
meetings are always scenes of lobbying, "wire-pulling" and "politiking".
The problem became so acute that in 1936 the following resolution was
passed by the body:
Whereas membership on any Board of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church is a distinguished honor and a place of trust and service, but
carries with it no authority or permission to dictate or attempt to out-
line the policy of the church at large in the selection of moderator,
Board membership or other places of trust and most certainly no privilege to make cowardly attacks upon the character and reputation of
men of honor and ability and character in order to carry out petty
political ideas or vent their spite upon those whom they may personally dislike which actions is not only unchristian but ungentlemanly
and cowardly;
Whereas, there are certain letters in possession of members
of this General Assembly attacking the character of some of our most
distinghed, as well as our ablest men, and attempting to dictate who
shall and shall not be elected moderator of this General Assembly,
which we consider as politics of the lowest and most degrading type
and below the dignity of any one who holds membership on any Board.
Therefore, be it resolved:
That it now becomes a law of the Church that hereafter any
officer, Board member or employee of the General Assembly who indulges
in similar activities automatically dismisses themselves and their
office becomes vacant and they are forever thereafter debarred from
any position in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church until they satisfactorily apologize to the General Assembly.1
This resolution was rescinded the following year, and the political
situation remains the same.
There Is also keen competition between conservatives and liberals, or, more accurately, between extreme conservatives and liberal
conservatives. There are no radical "modernists" voicing themselves,
but an issue is apparent between "fundamentalism" and "modernism". For
a number of years there has been a vociferous minority of "heretichunters," challenging text-books, insisting upon a literal interpretation of the Bible, accusing their opponents of unsoundness in the faith,
and generally annoying the liberals. The liberals seem to be in better
favor with the denomination at present, but they realize that their
status is none too secure. Of the total 155 persons who marked the
attitude scale, 62 signified that they "surely" agreed with the statement that "the Cumberland Presbyterian Church should join with the
'Fundamentalists' in opposing the 'Modernists'?
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1936, p. 26.
2. Ibid.. 1957, p. 35.
There is also intense struggle between congregations for
the services of ministers, and between ministers for the positions
as pastors. Since most of the congregations are small and the salaries
low, this struggle assumes unusual proportions.
When one of the better
pastorates becomes vacant, there Is a literal deluge of applications
for it from ministers all over the denomination.
It can almost take
its choice of ministers, since there are few ministers in the denomination who are not ready to move at the first good opportunity. This
competition seems to be largely to blame for the absence of the grouping system among the small congregations. Each minister wants the
best congregations he can get, regardless of how far apart they are;
and the congregations cannot agree on the minister, a strong congregation usually being able to get a better "preacher" by itself than if it
were linked with a weak neighbor. The struggle is reflected, to some
extent, in the short tenure of pastors, as reported on questionnaires
returned by congregations. The average tenure, shown by Table XXI is
slightly more than three years.
The point, however, upon which lack of adjustment is most
clearly revealed is that which pertains to the status of the institution itself. There is frustration and confusion within the institu-
Table XXI
Tenure of Pastors In 322 Cumberland
Presbyterian Congregations
Small City
Years of Average Tenure
tion. Many of the members recognize that there is something wrong,
but are determined to stand by faithfully and unquestioningly; others
have lost confidence in the institution, but seem not to know what course
of action to take; while a few are privately advocating radical measures
which they have not yet the courage to mention publicly.
The weakening of the primary institutional bond
and the ques-
tion of status lie at the root of this confusion. The denomination has
not greatly prospered since 1906. Numerically and financially it has
not gained sufficient status to satisfy the ego requirements of its
constituency, and it lost caste in the sisterhood of denominations because of the strife and contention which followed its emergence from
the attempted union. Its maladjustment and lack of vigor are clearly
indicated by Diagrams 2 and 3.
Diagram 2 compares a step graph of cumulative additions to
the membership of the denomination with a simple graph of net membership for the period from 1916 to 1959. It is very significant that
while each year there were being added approximately 4,000 members the
denomination's net membership remained static or decreased until 1951,
when it began to show a slight increase. The actual net gain between
1939 and 1916 was only 6,995 members, there being 64,731 members in
1916 and only 71,726 in 1939, whereas during the period a total of
93,348 members had been added.
There is, of course, the possibility
that many of the additions reported were simply transfers from one Cumberland Presbyterian congregation to another, since the records do not
classify additions. However, this does not account for the major portion of the addition*. Records of new members received upon profession
1. See reference to Panunzio in Chapter II.
of faith and baptism were kept for a part of the period, and these
indicate that members so received averaged more than half of the
total additions during each year. Replies from the 446 congregations
filling out questionnaires showed that only 11.2 per cent of the addi-
tions to their memberships were by transfer from other Cumberland Presl
byterian churches. The facts demonstrate, therefore, that the turnover
of denominational membership is very great. This is a good indication
of the degree of maladjustment within the institution. If the institution were well adjusted and functioning satisfactorily it seems likely
that so many of its members would not be willing to sever their relationship with it. While during the period from 1916 to 1926 the membership of this denomination was decreasing, that of the 22 principal denom1
inations in the United States increased 17 per cent.
What better cri-
terion of adjustment could be found than that of the institution's ability
to maintain the interest and support of its membership?
The matter of the institution's decline'in status is'well, illustrated
by Diagram 3, which shows the decline in the number of the denomination's
congregations between 1907 and 1939.
The "loyalist" General Assembly
which was organized after the attempted union ordered that the names of
all congregations be continued on the roll. This, of course, resulted in
a greatly padded roll, since a majority of the congregations actually went
into the union. By 1915, however, time and litigation had eliminated the
names of those which had not remained "loyal". There was a slight gain in
congregations between 1915 and 1919, but there has been an almost steady
at Its
loss since
the lowest points
in 1952
2. Although net membership has gained slightly, Table XXII
shows that the ratio of the size of congregations to those of other denominations has decreased.
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In 1916 the denomination had 1,443 congregations, in 1926 it had 1,228,
and in 1939 it had 1,120. The decrease between 1916 and 1926 amounted
to 14.9 per cent, which was greater than that of any of the 23 principal
denominations reported by the Federal Census of Religious Bodies for
the same period. The Southern Presbyterian Church, which covers much
the same territory aa the Cumberland Presbyterian, made a gain in the
period, according to the Census, of 3.1 per cent.
An indication of the status of the denomination is also given
in Table XXII, which compares the number of adult members per congregation of all denominations in the United States, of all denominations in
the states where the Cumberland Presbyterian Church operates, and of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It reveals that Cumberland Presbyterian
congregations have always been far below the average in size, and that
whereas they were almost half as large as the average in 1906, they are
now only slightly more than one fourth as large. It also reveals that
Table XXII
A Comparison of the Number of Adult Members Per
Congregation in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
and in All Denominations in the United States During the Years of 1906, 1916, and 1926
flumber Members Per Church
All denominations in the U. S.
All denominations in states where the
C. P. Church operates
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church
1. See Fry, bju cit.. pi 140.
2. General data taken from Fry, op. cit., p. 111.
3. It is customary to define an adult member as being one over
13 years of age; see Fry, op. cit., p. 2.
their size was greatly decreased following the attempted union, and
that in 1926 the average congregation was still nine members less than
their average number in 1906.
In 1939 their average was 64 members,
or only one less than in 1906.
Another indication that the maladjustment in the institution
could be due to the institution's low status is reflected in Table XXIII,
which shows the per member value of all Cumberland Presbyterian Church
property as compared with that of church edifices only of all other de1
This comparison reveals, that the ratio between the two
in 1926 was more unfavorable to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
than in either of the previous years. It also reflects the economic
poverty of the denomination, which is further emphasized by the fact
that in 1926 the average of $86.63 per member for edifices of all denominations was a composite of an urban average of $104.93 and a rural of
$55.77, making it clear that the per member value of all Cumberland Presbyterian property is almost 25 per cent less than the average rural edi-
A Comparison of the Value Per Adult Member of All Cumberland Presbyterian Church Property and of Church Edifices
Only of All Denominations in the United States in 1906,
1916, and 1926
Value per Adult Member
" 1906
Church edifices only of all United
States denominations
All property of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church
1. See Fry, op. cit., p. 113.
flees only in other denominations.
That maladjustment within the denomination is related then
to its declining institutional status is indicated by the fact that
while the net membership of the denomination has remained approximately
the same since the great decrease due to the union in 1906, the number of congregations has almost steadily decreased, and the ratio of the
size of congregations as compared with congregations of other denominations also has diminished.
Maladjustment in the institution is produced not only by the
lack of status indicated in the foregoing statistical facts, but it is
also caused by the fact that the denomination's doctrine is no longer
distinctive enough to provide the needed status. The Presbyterian Church,
U. S. A., the Southern Presbyterian Church and others have revised their
creeds so as to incorporate the points which once gave distinctiveness
to the Cumberland Presbyterian creed. Moreover, doctrine is no longer
as important as it was in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Also, the revival, which has largely lost its impetus, has been appropriated and more successfully exploited by other denominations. The reBult is that Cumberland Presbyterians feel both a lack of status and the
absence of a "cause" to promote or for which to fight.
This frustration and lack of an integrating "cause" may be
detected through a comparison of what the 48 presbyteries cooperating
in this study considered the "brightest and most promising aspects of
their work" and their ^gravest problems".
Discouragement, poor organization, absence of specific goals,
and the lack of a clear definition of purpose are even apparent in the
following, which were listed as the "brightest and most promising
< i
1. See Fry, op. cit., p. 133.
"Young people. This presbytery is in desperate need of
being revived, or going to work."
"The young people's work." (So listed six times)
"The cooperation of the congregational eldership with the
Stated Clerk in keeping the presbytery clear of debt."
"The work of the Sunday school*"
"Routine work."
"Teaching the young people; giving them a Christian education j helping them to live in a way that will overcome crime and the
whiskey traffic."
"Woman's Missionary work."
"The training of young people for future work."
"Interest in missions."
"Their plans for home mission work here in our own presbytery. "
"Spiritual zeal on part of ministers."
"Fine spirit existing among representatives and ministers."
"Presbytery very progressive for last 12 months,"
"The young people's work. New mission points seeking help*
The consciousness that the work is losing and they must be doing something about it; they're responding better than a year or so ago."
"The removing and rebuilding some houses of worship and
manses — we have only two, one furnished by congregation."
"Young folks are becoming interested."
"Do not know."
"Nothing has been done which really stands out."
"We have Rev. W. T. C.
in the mission work and he has
been able to reorganize Bower's Mill and Mt. Joy and is going to other
points which are doing nothing."
"I live wire missionary.f
"The missionary work of the presbytery."
"Evangelistic; and with the young people."
"The 5th Sunday rallies and Encampment training and its constant urge of evangelism."
"There seems to be somewhat of a spiritual awakening."
"The missionary work."
"Added interest in young people's work."
"Sunday School and Young People's Work."
"Home mission work."
"The rebuildings of the Cumberland Grove Church and getting
the congregation of 53 members to resume active work."
"Preaching services."
"Christian education. Our summer session given to this type
of work entirely."
"An Increasing consciousness that we are doing so very littfe.
This list indicates that missionary work and young people's
work are the most hopeful aspects of the denominational program, although
they are by no means prospering in all the presbyteries. It is possible
that, they were most frequently mentioned because they represent the direction of wishful thinking concerning the perpetuation of the institu-
"What is the gravest problem confronting your Presbytery?1?
was answered as follows:
"Lack of educated and informed ministers. The majority of
our ministers do not know the church program, never boost anything progressive, and give the young people no encouragement."
"The rural churches not having a resident pastor that can
look after the work as a pastor."
"Reviving the young people's work."
"The lack of all its ministers devoting full-time. No church
can make much progress with l/4 time preaching."
"Lack of spirituality."
"Enforcing its rulings."
"Getting interested in going to church and its work."
"Need of an intensive spiritual evangelistic program."
"Lack of interest."
"Getting some of the old ministers to retire and some of the
younger ones with more education at work."
"Lack of interest in presbyterial work. No interest to speak
of in committee reports. Work could be finished in one day."
"Lack of an educated ministry."
"Lack of trained ministers and trained leaders."
"We need God-called ministers that will evangelize and build."
"The securing of efficient pastors and missionaries; and the
disregarding the orders of the higher courts and boards."
"Lack of funds and smallness of membership; weakness of faith;
a kind of 'What's the use?' We have so few they are scattered."
"Lack of general vision."
"The lack of consecration on the part of the Christian people."
"Do not know."
"Bringing the weak and dead churches back to the full life of
worship and service."
"Lack of interest in church work and the salvation of lost
"Filling the pulpits with active men; getting young men into
the ministry."
"Non-attendance; lack of leadership."
"How to deal with the young people so as to make them realize
their responsibility without taking from them their liberty."
"Financing the local church."
"Indifference among some pastors and many elders."
"The fact that so large a percent of our members are old people."
"Lack of funds to help weak congregations and to enter new
fields. •"
"Missions. Lack of interest on the part of lay members of the
"Getting the congregations to employ pastors."
"Indifference and don't-care attitude of both laymen and
"Grouping churches for resident pastors."
This list of problems suggests much concerning the lack of integration of institutional functioning. Obviously the Stated Clerks,
who were the persons writing the statements, were keenly conscious of
inadequacy in the presbyterial programs. Lack of organization and cooperation, lack of money, lack of intelligent leadership, and general lethargy and disinterestedness seem to summarize the problems of which they
were most aware.
The lack of adjustment is most clearly revealed on the question
of whether or not the institution should continue to maintain separate
existence. The many institutional problems and weaknesses have stimulated much unrest in a large portion of the ministry, and there is much
under-cover talk to the effect that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
should unite with the Southern Presbyterian Church or with some other
body having similar doctrinal tenets. The subject is not openly and
publicly discussed because there seems to be a conviction that a majority of the general membership of the denomination would be violently opposed to it, and no individual seems willing
to risk his status by hav-
ing this opposition focussed upon himself.
Of the 106 "loyalists" who re-organized the General Assembly
in 1906 there were only two present at the General Assembly in 1939.
One of these very positively stated that it was his conviction there is
now no reason why the Cumberland Presbyterian Church should not unite
with the Southern Presbyterian Church. The other was a man who at various times since 1906 has been publicly accused of trying to lead the
church into another union. In an interview during the summer of 1939,
Reverend B. E. B.
, one of the 106 "loyalists" and generally given
most of the credit for having "saved" what there is of Texas Synod, was
asked whether or not he believed the church would ever consider another
union. His reply was that it probably would, but that the effort would
have to take place after some more of the "old heads" like himself had
passed off the scene. Despite his active part in opposing the attempted
merger, he stated that he had since wondered if possibly it was not a
mistake all did not go into the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A.
A son of one of the most ardent of the 106 "loyalists" states
that shortly before death his father wrote him saying that he had carried the scars and hurt of the union affair all his life since, that
he wondered if the fight was worthwhile, and that he hoped his son
would never let a thing like that spoil his spiritual life and mar ,
his ministry.
Informal interviews with ministers selected at random produced
the following interesting results:
Reverend A. L. T.
, an elderly minister who remained "loyal"
during and since the union controversy, when asked his opinion concerning the future of the church, said that he did not know but that it
looked to him like the church was not doing much right now; that unless
something was done right away it was going to "get in pretty bad shape;"
and that, although he and others could not see It at the time, it now
appears that it might have been better if all the church had gone into
the union.
Reverend H. S.
, of Kentucky Synod, said that he believed
another union inevitable, and that it would come in the next 15 years.
A student in the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary said that the 45 ministerial students then in school were beginning
to look seriously at the General Assembly report of only 90 full-
time churches and wonder where they were to find places to work.
Reverend H. G.
and Reverend K. P.
expressed a feel-
ing of shame that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church "refuses to even
cooperate" with other Presbyterian bodies. They were unwilling to say
it should never consider another union, and refused to say what they
thought about the future of the denomination, since it would cause them
to be branded as heretics.
Reverend W. W.
, who has travelled extensively over the
denomination recently visiting both weak and strong congregations, stated
that he had been discouraged by what he had seen: By the indifference
of preachers to the local situation as well as the denomination, there
seeming to be only one or two who were interested in each presbytery;
by the lack of equipment and the types of buildings — "just four blank
walls;" by the great number of communities where there were good opportunities but practically nothing being done — there being no Sunday
school or preaching services in many of the congregations; and by the
fact that in many places the old people "seem to have soured," leaving
the young people as the only basis of hope for the future of the work.
He added that he felt the situation was even more acute and discourag-
ing in the struggling city churches than in the rural areas.
.Ministerial students in Bethel College and the Cumberland
Presbyterian Theological Seminary were asked to express their opinions
concerning the future of the denomination. The 20 who responded gave
strong evidence of disturbance and uncertainty on the subject. Even
those who were most optimistic took a defensive attitude in"' '^he'iei-
pressitaa of their optimism. The following excerpts from the 20 state-
ments pointedly testify as to the maladjustment within the institution:
"I think that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has a great
and wonderful future, if her people will continue in the way which is
pleasing in the sight of God. I have heard people say that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church is dying, but I am convinced that they did
not know what they were talking about when they made such a rash statement."
"If the church will vitalize its teachings and present them
to the world it has a wonderful future, otherwise it shall be swallowed
up by other churches who are gradually coming to the realization that
a medium theology is the most sensible."
"I believe in the doctrine of our church and that it does not
go against the teachings of the Bible. Although I will not say that
it is the only doctrine that does agree with the Bible."
"I feel that it has served its purpose. It established a medium system of theology which others have finally accepted.
"I believe that it was God's will for a union between the
Cumberland Presbyterian and the Mother Church in 1906. Because of the
rebellious element which would not unite there exists today a small
struggling group which has not received God's blessings as they did
previous to this union effort."
"The Cumberland Church needs men who will give their lives
to service and sacrifice their own desires in order to minister unto
those that need them. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has a place
to fill and I believe she will fill it. With a better educated ministry and more systematic methods of work, progress can be predicted.
With a more consecrated leadership the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
will march on toward greater victories."
"The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has fine young men with
which to work. The doctrine is that doctrine which has a universal
appeal. We lack the resources with which we can do justice to our
cause. Our 'best bet' is to unite with a church without sacrifice to
our major beliefs and through that churches resources do a maximum of
service. We need to get the conception of a universal religion that
sees a work-above a prejudiced loyalty to a sectional name. The name
'Cumberland Presbyterian' does not mean as much as Christ. We should
sacrifice that name by uniting for the glory of the work we represent —
Christ first.-"
"I am persuaded to believe that our church does have a future. If we could get leaders who are boasters, and men who are interested in building our church then I can see the greatest future for
our church that it has ever had. As long as we have men who are interested in uniting our denomination with other denominations froma selfish
standpoint or in order to become smaller ducks In a larger pond or smaller cogs in a larger wheel then I can see our church remaining small and
to a certain extent non-progressive. I believe that the stage of nonprogression is about over and knowing that our church preaches or rather
supports a way of life that works I feel that our church is bound to
grow more, if we will push it."
"I am not settled in my convictions concerning the future of
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as a separate denomination."
"I do not believe that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
will ever be great numerically, but I do believe that it is a great
church. With a more competent and consecrated leadership (and I am
casting no reflection on those who have brought us this far) and a
more interested laity, which I believe can be obtained through good
leaders, I believe that the C. P. Church can become a more efficient
organization in the kingdom of God, that it will propagate a higher
type of Christianity, and that it will be of more service to humanity."
All in all, it may be said that there is considerable maladjustment in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Although it is not
possible to prove what are the causes of this maladjustment, it seems
that the most important are the loss of the emotional dynamic which
characterized the great revival, the loss of a sense of uniqueness and
doctrinal distinctiveness, and the structural disorganization and loss
of institutional status resulting from the attempted merger in 1906.
Concomitant with these has been a more general cause, social change,
which has gradually eliminated many of the factors of isolation, monotony, insecurity and individualism in which the emotionalism of the
great revival was rooted.
Apparently, also, social change has been
accompanied by a tendency toward liberalism and a decreasing emphasis
upon sectarianism, which have conflicted with or undermined some of the
institutional emphases of the denomination.
The Role of the Minister
Much light is thrown upon the social processes in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church through a brief consideration of the institutional role which has been played by the ministry.
The ministry represents the most important vested interest
group within the institution.
In fact, a consideration of the overt
acts in the history of the institution's origin could lead to the conclusion that the institution was created by the ministry, rather than
the ministry created by it. It has always been dominated by the min-
istry, and brief reference to some of the high points in its history
will suffice to illustrate the role which the ministry haB played.
It was the established order of the ministry in the Presbyterian Church which resented the modification by a minority element
on the frontier, of the educational standards for ordination during
the great revival. There is considerable logic in the assumption that
this opposition became strong because wholesale lowering of standards
threatened the status and security of those ministers already ordained.
This question of educational standards for ordination was one of the
main issues contributing to the origin of the Cumberland Presbyterian
The ministers who could not secure status in the old church
formed a new one in which they could have status.
Agitation within the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in favor of the union of 1906 came primarily from the highest ranking ministers of the denomination.
They were accused, and perhaps with some
justice, of being motivated with an ambition for "larger and greener
pastures," or in other words, of wanting to improve their status by
getting into a larger and more prosperous organization.
On the other
hand, it appears that those who most strenuously opposed the union were,
in the main, ministers who might have had reason to fear that they would
suffer a loss of status in the larger organization.
In 1810 the ministry set out to build the organizational structure of the institution.
At great sacrifice they organized groups and
preached to them, often neither asking nor receiving compensation. In
other words, they supported the institution in a rather literal sense.
Gradually, however, as has already been pointed out in another connection, permanent congregations were established and the non-paid itinerant preachers began to be displaced by a system of pastorates. As the
new congregations became strong enough to pay salaries, each minister
tended to contract with certain ones and serve only them.
As a re-
sult of his seeking the best possible remuneration, his several congregations were quite far apart, so that about all he could do was visit
them at stated intervals and conduct preaching services. Since he
was traveling almost as much as under the older system, and since the
congregations were having, with more regularity, the kind of ministerial services to which they had been accustomed, neither realized that
any fundamental change in their relationship had taken place. Neither
realized that whereas the ministry had once been the support of the
institution, the institution was now the support of the ministry. The
change was all the more radical as the impetus of the revival declined
and the ministers lost much of their evangelical enthusiasm.
The dominant role which the minister has played and still
plays in the institution is illustrated by the following facts:
The Constitution of the denomination provides that three ministers and no elders constitute a quorum of a presbytery, that five ministers and no- elders constitute a quorum of a synod, and that 20 commiss
loners, "at least ten of whom shall be ministers," constitute a quorum
of the General Assembly.
Of the 48 presbyteries making responses during this study,
33 had, at the time, moderators who were ministers, while only 15 had
elders, or congregational representatives, as moderators.
This is quite
significant when it is remembered that there are 1,120 congregations to
only 670 ministers, and that in the presbytery each congregation is supposed to have as much voice as each minister.
1. Confession of Faith (C.P.). op. cit.. pp. 95, 98, 100.
The General Assembly in 1939 was composed of 126 commissioners, of whom 73 were ministers and 53 were elders. It appointed 26
committees, and the chairmen of all of them were ministers.
The General Assembly at present maintains boards, permanent
committees, and commissions with a total membership of 104 persons.
Of these 104 important office holders, 61 are ministers and 43 are
The names of 100 "loyal" commissioners who preserved the
General Assembly at Decatur, Illinois in 1906, reveal that 53 were ministers and 47 were elders. Only four elders represented presbyteries
which did not have ministerial representatives. This is significant
in the light of the fact that elders in the General Assembly proverbially follow the leadership of the ministers from their presbyteries.
Since 1906 there have been 26 ministers and only 7 elders
elected as moderators of the General Assembly.
Of all the money raised by all the congregations in 1939,
$221,000.00 went to ministers, and only $205,930.00 to all other pur5
The Role of Property
The role of property, "cultural objects possessing utilitar6
ian value," also reveals much concerning social processes within the
See General Assembly Minutes (C.P.)* 1939.
Ibid., I;J7.
Ibid.. 1907.V
Ibid., 1939.
Ibid.. 1959.
See Chapter II, reference \ . p. 15.
When the institution originated it had no property. Worship services were conducted by the ministers in a few crude meeting houses, In brush arbors, in open groves, and in private homes.
Property soon began to accumulate, however, primarily in the form of
church buildings, colleges and schools, printing equipment, and offerings and endowments. McDonnold describes the period from 1829 to 1842
as a dark one for the denomination because of troubles which arose
over the college, the church paper, and the printing of books. The entire General Assembly attempted to manage these affairs directly, re1
suiting in confusion and heavy debt which almost proved disastrous.
After having learned a costly lesson, the General Assembly began to
create boards and other agencies to take charge of its business affairs.
By 1906 the institution had accumulated property to a total
value of more than five million dollars. When the question of union was
being debated, this property became one of the vital issues. Opponents
of the union claimed that a church forfeited the title to its houses
of worship if it changed its creed from what it was when the property
was acquired, while those favoring the union vowed that this was not so.
Following the revolt of the "loyal" commissioners at the General Assembly in Decatur, Illinois, in 1906, there ensued bitter struggle for almost every item of the property.
Both force and the civil courts were
often resorted to, and the denomination has since been strongest in the
one state, Tennessee, where the courts gave it the most favorable property settlement.
Bitterness which Cumberland Presbyterians are heard
1. McDonnold, op*.Cit.* pp. 212, 213.
2. Reasons Why, op. cit.. p. 27.
to express at present toward the "U. S. A.'s" is usually related to
the fact that "they robbed us of our property."
Almost continuously since the establishment of the first
college In 1825,
there have been financial "drives" and campaigns
sponsored by the denomination for purposes of creating endowments,
building buildings, paying debts and the like.
Endowments, given for specific purposes, have created problems
when changing conditions produced the need for realigning that part of
the institutional structure which they were given to support.
1906 the property of many congregations has been so deeded that it can
never be used for any other purpose than as a Cumberland Presbyterian
In some places where it has become needful to move the loca-
tion of church buildings or congregations it has not been possible to
do so because it would mean losing all the old property.
For instance,
in Austin, Texas, a fine old church building stands on a valuable piece
of property near the downtown business district.
The congregation has
become small and the members live In the suburbs. If the downtown property could be sold, the proceeds would build a needed suburban church.
The original donors of the property, however, angered by the 1906 union
and afraid that another might be attempted, had the deed so drawn that
the title reverts to their heirs if the property ceases to be used by
Cumberland Presbyterians.
In general it may be said that property has assumed a more
and more important role as institutionalization has proceeded.
has been a focal point of friction, and has often diverted energy from
prosecution of the evangelistic "cause" which the institution originated
1. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 214.
2. For an example in the case of the endowment of the Theological School of Cumberland University, see Campbell, op. cit., p. 45.
to promote. Its marked effect has been the increase of institutional
Some General Effects of Age upon the Institution
Many of the effects of age upon the institution have been implied in the foregoing discussion of social processes within the institution.
The most important ones may be summarized as follows:
The original impetus which brought the institution into exis-
tence was forced gradually to give way to the process of institutionalization. Whereas at first the "cause" was primary and the institution
secondary, the order has been slowly but definitely reversed as time has
The dwindling significance and uniqueness of the "cause" plus
the disruption of the institutional structure resulting from the attempted
union in 1906 have resulted in confusion, maladjustment and loss of vigor
in the institution.
Early patterns of behavior which arose spontaneously in the
prosecution of the "cause" have been carried over into institutional forms,
and variously adapted to meet changing institutional demands. The campmeeting became a period of evangelistic services in the regular program
of the church, and has been revived in part in the recent development
of "encampments" sponsoring a general program of recreation, study and
Itinerant preachers became non-resident preaching pastors.
Whereas at first the institution sought to effect social con-
trol through the preached word, it has since adopted a host of additional techniques. The tendency has been toward more and more control.
Rural and small town congregations have suffered most in the
changing conditions which increasing age have brought upon the institution.
With age there has come, also, increasing institutional rigidity and inflexibility.
The accumulation of property and the exten-
sion of the "vested interests" of the ministry have accentuated this
The purpose of this chapter has been to describe the social
processes operative within the institution.
The points listed above
as constituting some general effects of age well summarize the most
significant processes observed.
In addition, however, it has been
shown that the denomination is primarily rural, economically improverished, and poorly organized; that it is suffering from great inner maladjustment because of its declining social status and the weakening of
its primary institutional bond; and that as its status has declined,
it has attempted to draw the lines of social control more strictly.
The processes described indicate that the institution has been
greatly affected by cultural isolation, social change, its peculiar institutional experiences, and its general Protestant and dissenting heritage.
The effect of these influences will be further emphasized by the
facts presented in the following chapter, in which institutional functioning with respect to specific major social issues will be treated.
In order to understand the relationship of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church to its changing social environment, it is necessary to bear in mind the conception it has held concerning the needs
of the social order. As was pointed out in a previous chapter, preaching of the gospel has been considered the key to all social needs,
since through it the individual is led to experience a miraculous
working of divine grace, whereby he is transformed into "a new creature".
Although good works have been looked upon as no aid in gaining
this experience of "conversion", they have been judged a natural consequence of it. Finis Ewing once wrote, "Practical Godliness is a
sure consequence of experimental religion.... There is no cause and
effect more intimately connected than experience of grace and holy life.
Thus Cumberland Presbyterians have felt that transformation of the social order would be adequately provided for in the transformation of
the individual.
Consequently, they have devoted themselves primarily
to the task of promoting the salvation of individuals, and have mani- »fested secondary interest in specific social issues only when more or
less forced to take cognizance of them. Those social issues considered most liable to Interfere with individual salvation have usually been
the first to receive attention.
1. Ewing, Finis, "On Practical Religion," The Most Important
Subjects in Divinity, p, 108. As quoted in footnote by Orr, op. cit.,
p. 67.
Facing Reality:
The Institution and Specific Social Issues
The extent and manner in which the institution has faced
reality has been shown in the contrast, already described, between
its theoretically conceived theological and governmental ideals and
its actual practices. Much more is revealed through a study of the
manner in which the institution has adjusted itself to changing conditions in its social environment! To facilitate such a study, attention has been focussed upon the following specific social issues:
1. Sabbath Observance,
2. The Negro, Slavery and the Civil War,
3. Woman Suffrage and the Status of Women, 4. Temperance and National Prohibition,
5. Change in the Status of Marriage and Divorce,
6. The World War, and
7. The Present International Situation. These
have been selected because they represent some of the most significant
social situations which'have occurred during the institution's history.
1. Sabbath Observance
Insistence upon observance of the Sabbath is not original
with Cumberland Presbyterians. It is older than Christianity itself,
being rooted in Judaism.
Hall asserts that the predominant American
attitude derives from early Anglo-Saxon history, and is a part of the
tradition of Dissent.
The subject is treated here not as much be-
cause the Cumberland Presbyterian attitude has been unique as because
the manner in which it has been affected by social change reveals much
concerning the institution and its relationship with reality.
Cumberland Presbyterians have zealously guarded the Sabbath,
apparently with a dual motivation.
On the one hand, the Sabbath has
been conceived as essential to the welfare of the social order; on the
1. Hall, op_j_ cit., p. 137.
other hand, its careful observance has been looked upon as fundamental
to the welfare of the institution.
Both purposes seem to be implied
in the following statement from the "Directory for Worship":
Sanctification of the Lord's Day
1. It is the duty of every person to remember the Lord's
day, and to prepare for it before its approach. All worldly business
should be so ordered, and seasonably laid aside, as that no one may
be hindered from sanctifying the Sabbath, as the Holy Scriptures require.
2. The entire day is to be kept holy to the Lord, and to
be employed in the public and private exercises of religion. Therefore, it is requisite that there be a holy resting, all the day, from
unnecessary labors, and an abstaining from those recreations which
may be lawful on other days; and also, as much as possible, from worldly thoughts and conversations.
3. Let the provisions for the support of the family on that
day be so ordered that servants or others be not improperly detained
from the public worship of God, nor hindered from sanctifying the
4. Let every person and family, in the morning, by secret and
private prayer, for themselves and others, especially for the assistance of God to their minister, and for a blessing upon his ministry,
by reading the Scriptures, and by holy meditation, prepare for communion with God in his public ordinances.
5. Let the people be careful to assemble at the appointed
time; that, being all present at the beginning, they may unite with
one heart in all the parts of public worship; and let none unnecessarily depart until after the benediction.
6. Let the time after the solemn services of the congregation in public are over be spent in reading, meditation, reading of
sermons, catechising, religious conversation, prayer for a blessing
upon the public ordinances, singing psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs,
visiting the sick, relieving the poor, and in performing such like
duties of piety, charity, and mercy.1
The General Assembly has from time to time strengthened and
interpreted this restricted conception by means of special deliverances
on the subject. The following chronological summary of these deliverances constitutes a significant commentary on the manner in which the
institution has faced the reality produced by social change:
1. Confession of Faith, op. cit., p. 146.
2..This chronology is taken from the General Assembly Minutes;
the years and page references are given in the text to eliminate the
necessity of extensive footnotes.
1852. p. 31 — The General Assembly decreed that "if any
member travel on the Sabbath day, in going to or returning from the t-f'
Assembly, he be dealt with for an immorality."
1874, p. 28 — "We do hereby call the attention of our entire membership to the necessity of the careful observance of the
Christian Sabbath, and so much the more as Rationalism, Infidelity
and Romanism are combining their energies to destroy the sanctity of
God's holy day, and substituting therefor a day of mere recreation and
1879, p. 28 — "It is the sense of this General Assembly that
it is the duty of all the preachers and pastors of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to call the attention of their congregations frequently
to the duty of a scriptural observance of the Sabbath, setting forth
what the requirement is, the blessings promised for a proper, and the
curses that shall follow an improper, use hereof." Also recommended
that succeeding Assemblies each appoint a "Committee on the Prevention
of Sabbath Desecration."
1882, p. 21 — "We deplore the fact that trains are run and
t—/mail is delivered on the Sabbath."
1884, p. 31 — Urged ministers to set the example "to their
flocks and the community by rigidly observing this holy day; by discouraging the prevalent reading of secular papers on that day, and the w
insertion of church notices and services in the Sabbath issues of said
papers, and by needless railroad travel, even to fill pulpit engagements ."
1891, p. 36 — "We deplore the 'fact that our government compels
Sabbath desecration by its mail service, and.... we think that church
members should not go to the post-office on the Sabbath, or otherwise
encourage Sunday mails.".... "We are decidedly and unalterably opposed
to the opening of any department of the Columbian Exposition on the
1895, p. 12 — On hearing that the managers of "World's Columbian Exposition" had determined to open the gates on the next Sabbath,
the Assembly directed its Stated Clerk "to send at once a telegram to said
managers protesting against such opening of the gates."
1907, p. 82 — Disapproved fishing, hunting, visiting; patronizing Sunday newspapers, Sunday excursions and places of amusement; traveling, doing any secular business, or'staying at home from worship.
1908. p. 88 — Disapproved the working of servants or members
of the family in the preparation of food instead of going to church.
1915, p. 195 — Disapproved reading secular papers, business,
excursions, automobile riding, and baseball playing. "One should avoid
everything that would in any way weaken his religious consciousness or
hinder the progress of the Church."
1914, p. 155 - Disapproved Sunday excursions, baseball games,
and frequenting cold drink stands.
1915, p. 122 — Disapproved "fraternal and social visitation"
(picnics of fraternal orders, and general social visiting), business,
excursions, and frequenting soft drink stands.
1916, p. 120 -*- Disapproved excursions, picnics, baseball
games, motor trips, social visiting, and preparing food.
1917, p. 110 — Disapproved picture shows, travel by rail and
auto, and business.
1920,pp. 122-123 — Disapproved games, amusements, pleasure
trips, mere indolence, "abuse of automobile privileges," and "feasting."
" most positively set our disapproval against the use and practice of Sunday baseball and Sunday theaters, which are now being legally
allowed in many of our states."
1925, p. 177 — Disapproved Sunday movies, Sunday baseball,
joy riding, public bathing, and Sunday picnics.
1924. p. 1 4 8 ' — Gave a preachment on keeping the day holy.
No specific practices mentioned.
1925, p. 110 — Disapproved all unnecessary labor, all amusements "calculated to bring reproach," joy riding, train riding except
when necessary.
1926, p. 127 — Gave another general preachment, mentioning
nothing specific.
1927. p. 149 — Disapproved Sunday "home shows", baseball
games, picnics, and other amusements. "It is claimed that we are living
in an age that requires more work on the Sabbath. It is claimed that
the people can no longer keep the day sacred, as it was kept in former
times; but.... if God's people are willing, they shall humble themselves
before God and keep the day holy."
1928, p. 140 — "While the world is pleasure mad, and is desecrating the Lord's day to the' extent of joy-riding, swimming, fishing,
and the engaging in of all kinds of sports, let us urge the people of
our Church to refrain from all such misuse of Sunday."
1929. p. 134 — Re-affirmed the statement of 1928.
1950, p. 153 — Disapproved baseball, picture shows, pleasure
trips, "every form of amusement that would detract from the spiritual
side of life," listening to non-sacred radio programs. "No nation can
prosper that forgets her Sabbath Day."
1951, p. 124 — Gave general disapproval of "pleasure" and
"commercialism". A tone of resignation in the statement.
1952, p. 108 — Disapproved nothing specific, but urged improvement of worship services so as to draw people back "again and again
to the Lord's house for further worship."
1955, p. 119 — Gave a general preachment against Sabbath desecration, but disapproved nothing specific.
1954, p. 101 — Deplored increasing violation of the Sabbath,
recommended that the Church set a better example, but disapproved nothing
1955, p. 119 — A general preachment; no specific disapproval;
merely said, "We must cease from our worldly pursuits and... worldly
1936, p. 114 — Nothing specific disapproved; said church must
meet needs more; recommended one sermon per year in each congregation
on Sabbath observance.
1957, p. 166 — Gave a general preachment on the sacredness
of the day, but disapproved nothing specific.
1958, p. 145 — Disapproved nothing specific. Recommended that
ministers and elders "strive more and more to hold up to their communities the importance of Sabbath observance."
1959, p. 135 — Gave a general preachment; granted "the spirit"
of a memorial condemning baseball, shows, radio advertising and many forms
of labor, but was unwilling to grant the memorial itself.
The above record reveals that when social change forced the
intrusion of a new secular behavior upon the Sabbath the General Assembly first voiced an attitude of positive opposition, then gradually
assumed a less dogmatic tone, and finally became so reconciled that
the behavior was no longer mentioned.
In other words, there was first
disapproval, then toleration, and then acceptance. Although it was
decree^d in 1852 that members who were guilty of traveling to or from
the Assembly on the Sabbath should be dealt with for an immorality,
the practice is common today and is never mentioned.
The operation of
trains and the delivery of mail was opposed for a period of about 15
years, and church members were urged not even to go to the post-office
on Sunday; then the delivery of mail became accepted and the opposition
to operation of the railroads changed to disapproval of use of the
trains for unnecessary Sunday excursions; and finally the whole subject was completely dropped.
In 1914 and 1915 there was opposition to
"frequenting soft drink stands," but the subject has not been mentioned
since and Cumberland Presbyterians today apparently indulge in the practice with few qualms of conscience. Whereas all forms of work on Sunday, even the unnecessary preparation of food, were once positively
disapproved, as were practically all forms of amusement, the evidence
indicates that gradually there has been adopted an attitude of resignation on the subjects. It is not that the the denomination has come to
approve these "desecrations" of the Sabbath so much as that it has recognized its helplessness to do anything about them.
The indication is that the denomination was well integrated
and certain in its attitudes toward Sabbath behavior, then that it went
through a period of wavering and uncertainty, and that now it is becoming resigned to a reality it feels helpless to change, and is becoming introvertive through the adoption of attitudes of introspection.
The last part of this statement is borne out by the fact that there has
been no positive disapproval of any specific behaviors since 1931, and
that beginning about that time the emphasis began to be placed upon
the church looking within itself, improving its attractions, and setting
a better example. In an individual these would be 3igns of the beginning
of personality disorders and mental ill health, is it possible that they
are indications of a similar malady in the institution?
It is significant that the attitude of increasing toleration
and liberalism in the denomination has developed concomitantly with improvement in facilities for transportation and communication.
This fact
constitutes a challenge to one of Hall's major hypotheses. He explains
that the question of how the "Lord's Day" should be kept has depended
upon the economic status of the class involved.
His contention is that
certain classes opposed amusements and the like because of economic de1
privation which prevented them from participating in those amusements.
In other words, on this point as on others, he leans strongly towards the
idea of economic determinism.
In the case of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church, however, the data indicate that in addition to an inheritance
from the religious tradition of Dissent the most important factor has
been cultural isolation. There is no reason to believe that, as an economic class, the general status of the denomination has materially changed,
especially since 1906, yet there has been marked liberalization of its
attitude toward Sabbath conduct. It seems much more likely that improved
communication facilities have brought about the change than that it has
been related to any shift in economic status. Hall is probably right
in observing that improvement in economic status is attended by more liberal attitudes toward conduct. He is wrong, however, in assuming that
the economic factor is primary.
Cultural isolation is primary.
1. Hall, op. cit., p. 137.
One of
the ways cultural isolation is broken down is through improvement in
economic status. Another way is through improvement in the facilities
for transportation and communication.
2. The'Negro, Slavery and the Civil War
The Scotch-Irish among whom the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
was organized were not representatives of the so-called "southern aristocracy," nor were they owners of large plantations. They were poor
settlers who carved small farms and rude homes for themselves in the
wilderness. Consequently, they were never, as a class, large slave
holders, although as prosperity came to some of them a few slaves were
On the whole, however, the denomination never had a very
great "vested interest" in the practice of slavery. This fact probably
influenced its attitudes toward the issues involved in connection with
the Negro, slavery and the Civil War.
The Negro. Prior to the Civil War the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church accepted the Negro as a responsible human being, for the salvation of whose soul the church was responsible. Negroes were partici1
pants in the early camp-meetings,
they were taken into the membership
of the congregations to which whites belonged, they attended church at
the same time with the whites, they were ministered to by the white pas2
tors, and they were the objects of religious instruction. Negroes who
felt the "call" to preach were ordained by the presbyteries just as were
whites, except that more allowance was made for them in the matter of
literary requirements. It is estimated that there were 20,000 colored
members in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at the time the Civil War
1. Davidson, op. cit., p. 161.
2. McDonnold, op. cit.. pp. 432-433.
3. Ibid., pp. 432, 454.
In 1852, tiie report of the General Assembly's Committee on
the Minutes of Columbia Synod stated that there had been found in the
Synod's minutes
a resolution which is regarded as commendable, that the Presbyteries, composing said Synod, be recommended to revise and adopt some
effective, systematic plan for the spiritual instruction of the colored
population within their bounds.
The two following statements concerning Negroes were made
by the General Assembly in 1858:
Resolved, That it be recommended to members of our congregations who may feel disposed to liberate their servants and send them
to Liberia, to direct their attention especially to Cape Mount, where
such manumitted servants may collect together, establish a christian
society, and contribute to the prosperity of the mission established
We recommend increased attention be given to personal religion;
also to family worship and the religious instruction of children and
The Revivalist, a denominational paper published in Nashville,
Tennessee, between 1830 and 1836, carried the following comment in one
of its editorials:
No circumstances whatever can justify the master in withholding
from his servants a knovdedge of the Scriptures; wherein alone life and
immortality are brought to light. Doubtless, it was for this very purpose that God, in the depth of his councils, suffered the poor African
to be brought into bondage, intending by the subjection of his person
to bring him under the influence of the gospel, and thereby free his
immortality from the dark cloisters of gross superstition, and if so,
woe to that man or legislature that denies the African the light and
hope of the gospel. If you would not provoke the God of heaven to entail upon us worse than Egyptian plagues, and lead out the oppressed by
the hand of a second Moses, don't withhold from the African religious
Following the Civil VYar the status of the Negro in the denomination was radically changed. McDonnold contends that, "It was by their
own choice, and without any promptings by their former masters, that the
General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1852, p. 15.
Ibid.. 1858, p. 32.
Ibid.. p. 76.
As quoted in McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 415.
colored members of our church ceased to attend services with the white
He also tries to make it appear that it was wholly because of
the Negroes' own request that the General Assembly permitted them to or1
ganize, In 1869, a separate African Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
He was cognizant, however, of the fact that in 1870 the Negro leader who
was supposed to have taken the lead in the "request" for separate denominational existence, appeared at the Assembly with a commission from one
of the Negro presbyteries and applied for a seat, causing thereby "some
exciting discussions" which culminated in a refusal to recognize him; also,
that the same process was repeated the next year.
At any rate, the church was so affected by the strife and prejudices growing out of the war that it more than willingly allowed the
Negroes of its membership to form a separate organization.
There can be
little doubt that the whites gently but firmly forced the Negroes out.
When a group of Missouri Negroes, who had had nothing to do with the
Convention which requested separation, asked, in 1875, if they might be
permitted representation in the white General Assembly, they were answer3
ed in no uncertain terms that they might not.
When the Synod of Cen-
tral Illinois in 1885, memorialized the General Assembly to "take such
action as will open the way for the restoration of the people of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Colored, to our Church on an equitable
basis," the reply was that, "Since they were the movers for the organization of an independent Church, we think it not equitable, while they
are as free as you are to move in such a matter, for your General Assem4
bly to move first."
McDonnold, op. cit., pp. 434, 435.
Ibid.. p. 436.
General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1873, p. 31.
Ibid.. 1883, p. 26.
A few not very enthusiastic gestures were made toward helping the Negro church get established, but no serious effort has been
put forth to work out a consistent program of assistance. In 1895 the
General Assembly adopted a recommendation containing the following instruction to the Board of Missions:
That the Board be and is hereby directed to thoroughly investigate the openings for mission work among the colored people of our
own country, and the Board is further directed to begin such a work
should the openings and funds at their disposal justify, and whether
such a work shall have been inaugurated or not the Board is hereby
requested to lay the full results of its investigations before the
next General Assembly.!
This was a hopeful sign, but apparently nothing came of it. The Negro
church had a difficult time providing education for its ministerial candidates. Its one little college failed, and there seemed no hope of
beginning another. This prompted the white Synod of Illinois to make
a proposal to the General Assembly in 1896, which was answered by the
Assembly in the adoption of the following:
Your committee have had referred to us a memorial from the
Synod of Illinois, asking that thi6 Assembly request the Faculty of
our Theological Seminary to offer instruction to the young men preparing for the ministry in the Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
in our doctrines and polity, till such time as that church shall be
able to provide said instruction in their own institutions, and that
our Board of Education ask financial aid from the church to assist these
young men in securing proper training for the ministry.
We recommend that the request in said memorial should not be
complied with.2
When the question of union with the Presbyterian Church, U.
S. A., was being debated prior to 1906, the race issue occupied a
prominent place. Those opposed to the union stressed the fact that
it would be necessary to associate with colored membership in the
Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., and those who favored the union pointed
out that a plan had been agreed upon which would allow for the forma1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1893, p. 26.
2. Ibid.. 1896, p7tfb6*
3. See Six Books in One Volume, op. cit.., p. 39.
tion of separate presbyteries for the Negro race wherever such were
The white General Assembly which met at the call of the "loyalists" in 1907 immediately selected and dispatched fraternal delegates
to the convening General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
This was not customary, and the purpose seems to have been
to enlist the sympathies of the Negro church on the side of the "loyalists". This purpose was brought out even more plainly in 1913 when
the white General Assembly promised its "fostering care" to the Negro
denomination if it would not go Into a union to be known as the Afro3
American Presbyterian Church.
Apparently this fostering care never
amounted to more than a poorly kept promise to aid in the establishment
of a Negro school at Milan, Tennessee.
Years passed with only an
occasional exchange of greetings between the Negro and white General
Finally, in 1937 the latter passed the following resolu-
In view of the fact that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
(Colored) bears our own name, uses our own Confession of Faith, our
Sunday school literature and other publications, and has the same origin as our own denomination, and
In view of the fact that this church is now in serious need
of help in the form of personal direction in the solution of their problems, and
In view of the fact that this church earnestly desires our
own denomination to direct them in their work, therefore
Be it resolved, that the Board of Missions and Church Erection be ordered to create within their board a committee whose duty it
shall be to have oversight of this phase of our work in the following
1. To study the conditions and needs of this church both from
their records and by attendance at their Assemblies.
2. To offer assistance to the leaders of this denomination
as it may be needed in their church courts and in the programs of their
See Reasons Why, op. cit., p. 30.
General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1907, p. 24.
Ibid., 1915, p. 201.
Ibid., 1915, p. 108.
5. To recommend to the Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church such action as many be advised regarding the relations
between these two denominations.
It is understood that this action on our part will not be
taken to mean that we will assume the financial obligations of the
Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church or guarantee to them financial
assistance in their work. While financial assistance may be given
where the committee sees that it is needed and where we are able to
give it, our greatest contribution is expected to be in the way of
personal advice and counsel.^
The special committee created by this resolution did the work
assigned to it, and reported to the Assembly the next year, recommending continuation of the committee, interest on the part of each presbytery in the Negroes in its bounds, that the Board of Christian Education
sponsor training schools and young people's encampments for Negroes, and
that young ministers of the Negro church have the privilege of taking
correspondence courses from Bethel College. The Assembly approved this
recommendation, but the Minutes of 1939 carry no record of what has been
done since.
That race prejudice is still a basic element in the relationship of the denomination with its Negro brethren was indicated by a thing
which occurred during the 1939 Assembly, program.
The Board of Missions
and Church Erection, in a public hour devoted to its work, had Negroes,
Indians, Chinese and whites on its program. Many persons thought one
of the Negroes made the best speech of the hour. Later, however, a
self-appointed group of persons called upon the Board and requested that
in the future Negroes be not used on such programs. Such an attitude
seems to be gradually weakening, but it still exists. Its existence
is further indicated by a recent article in a small mimeographed publication issued by Bethel College. The article, written by liberal students
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1937, p. 156.
2. Ibid.. 1938, p. 50.
and addressed to the student body, deals with the reactions to a
speech made in the college by a representative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and is as follows:
"Nigger" or Negro. What are we going to accept? Is a
man of the black race to be refused his rights because of his color
or is every man born free and equal? Every person will answer this
question in a different manner because prejudice rules the minds
of the people. Various comments were made on the talk concerning
"Racial Problems"* Some even agreed wholeheartedly with Mr. Robinson
in his fight for the Negro race. Others felt that he was absolutely
wrong and resented every word he said. Could this be because we are
narrow-minded and selfish? One person stated that he could have been
born a Negro as well as a white and as Mr. Robinson said, "The black
won't rub off."
The favorite expression "I think he's got something there"
was made, but what are we going to do about it? The general attitude
toward the speaker was that he was right to a certain extent and that
we should give the Negro his rights but to keep him in his place.
If - and I think we do believe - that, a Negro Negro has a soul, then
why not accept him as we do the natives of other foreign lands such
as South America, China and other countries of the world? We believe
it our Christian duty to save a man's soul, no matter what color he
may be, but how can we save his soul for God if we feel ourselves
too good to try, to educate and christianize our brother of another
Even as the saying "I can forgive but I can't forget" is
meaningless, so is the attitude that I can understand a fellowship
among various races, but I cannot accept it. We say we believe in
one God, one Bible, and one faith, but do we?
We say, "Who are we to judge?" and accept Jur. Robinson's
talk for what it was worth and then forget about it.
Let us think seriously about the problem raised and be
unprejudiced in our opinion, and if ever the Golden Rule entered
into our hearts and minds, let it hold sway herein general, then, it may be said that the foregoing summary
indicates that the attitude of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church toward Negroes has been not essentially different from that prevailing
in the whole social order in the southern states. There is little
reason for assuming that the church has taken any lead in ameliorating
race prejudice. Although a tendency toward liberalism is apparent at
present, it is not strong enough to be credited with being in advance
1. Ray Dobbins and Lola Chesnut, "Reactions Toward Reverend
Robinson," The Bethel Beacon. January 19, 1940, p. 2.
of changes in the prevailing attitude of the institution's social
Negro slavery.
Slavery was in existence in the nation when
the denomination originated.
The attitude toward it was affected by
the fact that the denomination was located primarily in southern states.
Finis Ewing, one of the three church founders, was a slave owner, but
he later freed his slaves and preached against slavery.
Other indiv-
iduals occasionally expressed their opinions against slave-holding,
but the general attitude of the denomination was one of acceptance and
toleration of the practice. McDonnold, writing in 1888, said:
Though the church had its origin in a slave state, and though
its greatest strength has always Been in the South, yet the author of
this book never knew an extreme pro-slavery man among its members.
There were doubtless some before the war who believed that slavery was
justifiable; but most of these looked upon it as a means of educating
the Negro and preparing him for ultimate freedom, and all held that
it was a solemn duty to labor for the spiritual salvation of the slaves.
Much the larger number believed slavery to be an evil and a curse which
had been at first thrust upon the people without their consent, and
against their protest, and then, handed down from father to son. But
they denied their responsibility for the deeds of a past generation.
They believed in restoring the Negro to his rights, but they held that
the whole case, with all its surrounding facts, should be considered, and
that method of restoration selected which promised the least mischief and
the largest advantages to both races. Many advocated the gradual colonization of the slaves in Liberia, or elsewhere. Nearly all admitted
that there were under the existing laws, cases in which humanity and
religion both made it necessary to hold men in bondage, and that in such
cases, if the slaves were properly treated, there was no sin involved.
But a majority of our people, South as well as North, would have rejoiced to see all the Negroes peacefully emancipated.^
When the abolition sentiment was growing strong in the North,
certain Northern elements of the church forced the General Assembly
to make declarations on the subject.
In 1848 the following report of
the Committee on the Minutes of Pennsylvania Synod was concurred in:
1. Cossitt, op. cit., p. 275.
2. McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 410.
Your Committee believe that this General Assembly would disapprobate any attempt made by the Judicatories of our Church to agitate the exciting subject of Slavery, and regret to learn from the
Minutes of this Synod, that a resolution passed at the preceding session,
declaring the relation existing between Synod and American Slavery, to
be such as required her to take no action thereon, was rescinded, upon
the petition of Athens Presbytery, notwithstanding said resolution had
been before the Assembly and approved. We also find upon the Minutes,
the following resolution on the same subject.
"Resolved, That the system of Slavery, in the United States,
is contrary to the principles of the Gospel, hinders the progress thereof, and ought to be abolished." The tendency of such resolutions, if
persisted in, we believe is to gender strife, produce distraction in
the Church, and thereby hinder the progress of the Gospel.^
At the General Assembly in 1851 "the Moderator announced the
reception of some six memorials from persons residing in Ohio and Pennsylvania, numbering, in the aggregate, about one hundred and fifty, upon
the subject of slavery."
These were referred to the Committee on Over-
tures, the following report of which the Assembly adopted:
The Church of God is a spiritual body, whose jurisdiction extends only to matters of faith and morals. She has no power to legislate upon subjects on which Christ, and his apostles, did not legislate;
nor establish terms of communion, where they have given no express warrant. Your committee,therefore, believe that the question on which you
are asked, by the memorialists, to take action, is one which belongs
rather to civil than ecclesiastical legislation; and we are fully persuaded that legislation, on that subject, in any of the judicatories
of the Church, instead of mitigating the evils connected with Slavery, ^
will only have a tendency to alienate feeling between brethren; to engender strifes and animosities in your churches; and tend, ultimately,
to a separation between brethren, who hold a common faith: an event
leading to the most disastrous results, and one which, we believe, ought
to be deprecated by every true patriot, and Christian.
But your Committee believe, that members of the Church, holding slaves, should regard them as rational and accountable beings, and
treat them as such; affording them, as far as possible, the means of
Finally, your Committee would recommend the adoption of the
following resolutions:
Resolved. That, inasmuch as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
was originally organized, and has ever since existed and prospered,
under the conceded principle that Slavery was not, and should not, be
regarded as a bar to communion, we, therefore, believe that it should
not now be so regarded.
Resolved, That, having entire confidence in the honor and sincerity of the memorialists; and cherishing the tenderest regard for their
feelings and opinions, it is the conviction of this General Assembly,
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1848, pp. 12, 15.
that the agitation of this question, which has already torn in sunder
other branches of the Church, can be productive of no real benefit to
master or slave; we would, therefore, in the fear of God, and with
the most earnest solicitude for the peace and welfare of all the Churches
under our care, advise a spirit of mutual forbearance and brotherly
love; and instead of censure and proscription, that we endeavor to cultivate a fraternal feeling one towards another.-1These two pronouncements must be viewed in the light of the
fact that of the 97 presbyteries in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
69 were in the slave states.
They reveal that the denomination was so
bound to the status quo that it could not take a creative role in the
face of so serious a social problem as slavery.
Its attention was oc-
cupied with the struggle between groups in its constituency who persisted in promoting theattitudes which were characteristic of their
sections of the country.
The result was an attempt to disavow respon-
sbility on the question of slavery, and a concentration of effort upon
institutional self-preservation.
This was further illustrated by that
which occujjed after the Civil War began.
The General Assembly which met in 1861 was composed of 50
out of a possible 520 representatives. Of these 29 were from Southern
presbyteries and 21 from Northern.
It unanimously adopted the follow-
ing resolution*
Sense of the Assembly
(in View of the Terrible Crisis — Our Line of Duty as Christians —
Dependence on the Grace of God — Day of Fasting and Prayer.)
Considering the controversy of God with the Church and Nation,
that under his sore rebukes and heavy judgments, the Church is demoralized, and the country is maddened by passion; ruptured and sinking
under fratricidal war, the most terrible of all calamities; the overthrow of good government law, and producing a reign of terror, before
which that of the French revolution pales; Therefore,
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1851, pp. 16, 56, 57.
2. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 580.
5. Ibid.. p. 580.
Resolved. That we recognize the good providence and rich
grace of Almighty God in bringing our General Assembly together in the4
present fearful crisis, in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of
peace; and in giving us to experience "How good and how pleasant it
is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
Resolved. That while we regret the circumstances which have
prevented the attendance of Commissioners from some of the Presbyteries; we do now and hereby record our sincere thanks to our Heavenly
Father that brethren have met from North and South, East and West, and
that brotherly kindness and love have continued from the opening to the
close of our present meeting — nothing occurring to disturb, in the
least, the warm and brotherly spirit of unity and peace.
Resolved, That, the grace of God assisting us, we will always
endeavor to cherish the true principles and pure spirit of Christianity; that, with this enthroned in our hearts, we can and will walk
in love and live in peace; that thus we may walk and live in the bonds
of unbroken brotherhood, we do hereby recommend that unceasing prayer
be made throughout the whole Church, for the guidance and blessing of
Almighty God through these times of great peril and trouble.
Resolved. That the General Assembly do now and hereby recommend
to every person, family, and congregation composing our Church, the observance of the 22nd day of June as a day of humiliation, fasting, and
prayer, before, and unto that God who has said, "Be still, and know
that I am God," for the deliverance of his Church of her fiery trials,
and for a righteous and peaceful solution of the troubles and fratricidal war that now curse our common country.^
This resolution further indicates that the denomination was incapable
•.of taking a definite stand upon the issues involved —
that it did not
have enough "light" to take a directive role in the affair; rather, its
efforts were directed inward upon the subject of its own preservation.
From 1862 through 1865 it was not possible for any of the
Southern delegates to reach the General Assembly.
Consequently, the
tone of the pronouncements soon began to change.
In 1862 these were
the conciliatory words:
Resolved, That in this time of confused passion, we will,
so far as in us lies, endeavor to allay and not exasperate the feelings of those who differ from us, and we most earnestly and affectionately advise our ministers and ministers to cultivate forbearance and
conciliation; to avoid partizanship and sectionalism in Church and
State, and to evidence their loyalty to Caesar by their loyalty to
Christ in following his example and teaching, and thus continue in
brotherly love, and stand before the world a united brotherhood, walking in the comfort of love and in the fellowship of the Spirit.3
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1861, pp. 21-22.
2. McDonnold, op. cit., p. 582.
5. General Assembly Minutes ( C . P . ) . 1862, p . 46.
The following was adopted in 1865:
On the subject of American slavery, your Committee submit that
we should not view it as if it were about to be introduced, but as already
in existence. We do not hesitate to declare that the introduction of
slavery was an enormous crime, surpassed by few drimes that have disgraced
the history of the world; and that there are at present great evils connected with it, and that we believe will more or less be connected with
it while it exists. As to the remedy for these, the greatest and best
minds of our country and the world haye greatly differed and been much
perplexed. Therefore we would recommend to those who, in the providence
of God, have been placed in connection with this institution, to continue
prayerfully to study the Word"of God, to determine their duty in regard
to their slaves and slavery; and to those who are not thus situated, that
they exercise forbearance toward their brethren who are connected with
slavery, as the agitation of this subject at the present time in that
part of the Church where slavery does not exist, cannot result in any
good either to master or slave.
Touching the subject of American slavery, as set forth in the
memorial before us, your Committee are not prepared to make the simple
holding of slaves a test of membership, as they understand the memorialists before them to propose.
Resolved, That we disavow any connection with, or sympathy
for, the extreme measures of ultra-abolitionists, whose efforts, as we
believe, have been and are now aimed at the destruction of our civil
government, in order to abolish slavery.
The Committee would say, in conclusion, that the report herein submitted, is agreed upon as a compromise measure, to unite the whole
energies of the Church, and harmonize all our .interests in the future,
and to bind the entire membership of your Church, if possible, in closer
bonds of Christian unity and fellowship.
In 1864 a sterner note was struck, as follows:
Resolved, That we regard the holding of human beings in involuntary slavery, as practiced in some of the States of the American
Union, as contrary to the precepts of our holy religion, and as being
the fruitful source of many evils and vices in the social system; therefore,
Resolved, That it be recommended to Cumberland Presbyterians, .
both North and South, to give countenance and support to all constitu2
tional efforts of our government to rid the country of that enormous evil.
This was the last direct reference to the question of slavery, although
there were a few later references to problems related to the war.
The Civil War.
The question of the Civil War itself was met
with a little more firmness by the denomination than was that of slavery,
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1865, pp. 88-90.
2* Ibid., 1864, p. 142.
although there was only one important deliverance concerning it before it began.
This deliverance was given in 1850, and was as' follows:
Whereas, In the opinion of this Assembly the preservation
of the union of the States is essential to the civil and religious
liberty of the people. And it is regarded as proper and commendable in
the Church, and more particularly in the branch which we represent,
(it having had its origin as a denomination within the limits of the
United States of American, and that soon after the blood of our revolutionary fathers had ceased to flow in that unequal contest through '
which they were successfully conducted by the strong arm of Jehovah,)
to express its devotion, on all suitable occasions, to the government
of their choice: Therefore,
Resolved, That this General Assembly look with concern and
disapprobation upon attempts from any quarter to dissolve the Union,
and would regard the success of any such movement as exceedingly hazardous to the cause of religion as well as civil liberty. And this
General Assembly would strongly recommend to all christians to make
it a subject of prayer to Almighty God to avert from our beloved country a catastrophe so direful and disastrous.
In 1761, on the brink of the war, the Board of Missions expressed an attitude which seems to have been acceptable to the Assembly:
The Board would urge upon ministers the necessity of keeping the missionary spirit alive, although war and devastation may come.
It can be done, and, dear brethren, it must be done* The Kingdom of
Jesus Christ is a Kingdom of Peace. The Gospel is the only panacea
for a ruined world. And if war with all its train of evils must come,
(which God forbid,) the Church will not be released from the obligations
imposed upon her by the Great King and Head of Zion to convert the
The Christian warrior may be forced to buckle on the sword
by his side, and go forth to the field of blood and carnage; but amid
the roar of cannon and the groans of the dying, the great commission
will ever ring in his ear, rising even above the din of battle: "Go
ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature!' And if
the nations of the earth were fully imbued with the Spirit of Christ,
wars would cease — the swords would be turned into ploughshares,
and the spears into pruning hooks.*
This was an attitude of resignation to the fact of war.
Southern delegates were not present, because it was impossible for
them to cross the war lines, at the next four General Assemblies, this
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1850, p. 15.
2. Ibid*. 1861, p. 17.
tone gradually crystallized into a championing of the cause of the
Union against those who were guilty of the "sin of rebellion".
following .excerpts from the Minutes show how this took place:
Whereas, The General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church in the United States of America, cannot conceal from itself the
lamentable truth that the very existence of our Church and Nation is
endangered by a gigantic rebellion against the rightful authority of
the General Government of the United States, which rebellion has plunged
the nation into the most dreadful civil war; and,
Whereas, The Church is the light of the world, and cannot withhold her testimony upon great moral and religious questions, and upon
measures so deeply affecting the great interests of Christian civilization, without being justly chargeablewith the sin of hiding her light
under a bushel; therefore,
Resolved, That loyalty and obedience to the general government, in the exercise of its legitimate authority, is the imperative
Christian duty of every citizen; and that treason and rebellion are not
mere political offenses of one section against another, but heinous
sins against God and his authority.
Resolved, That the interests'of our common Christianity, and
the cause of Christian civilization and national freedom throughout the
world, impel us to hope and pray God (in whom is our trust) that this
unnatural rebellion may be put down, and the rightful authority of the
General Government established and maintained. 12
We regard the preservation of the integrity of the Church as
of great importance, and we hope that all will be done that can be done
to preserve its unity, without conniving at sin and sacrificing the
principles of truth and justice; but to these we must adhere. The great
Master said, "I am come not to send peace, but a sword; for I am come
to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against
the mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a
man's foes shall be they of his own household." Not that such as the
design of his coming, but that such was the effect, in the conflict which
must go on between truth and falsehood — holiness and sin. In this conflict we must stand for our Master, though it requires us to sever the
dearest ties of time, and as thi3 General Assembly has twice declared,
that obedience to the civil magistrate is a Christian duty, therefore,
we must regard those who are, or have been, voluntarily, in rebellion
against the Government of the United States, as not only guilty of great
sin against God, and with such, without repentance and humiliation before
God and the Church, we cannot desire fellowship. But to all such as have
stood true to God and the Government of the United States, and have proved
their loyalty by their works, we extend the cordial hand of a brother's
greeting and a brother's welcome....3
1. It should be remembered that only 28 out of 97 presbyteries
were located in the North.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1863, p. 88.
3. Ibid.. 1864, p. 143.
These resolutions made serving God and being on the Union
side of the war one and the same thing.
Since the two causes were
identical, God was, naturally, fighting on the Union side.
Although the above were the majority sentiments of these
Northern General Assemblies, there was a strong minority which opposed
such deliverances, on the grounds that they could do nothing more than
disrupt the church. Meanwhile, the Southern presbyteries were quite
disorganized, and only with great difficulty began holding annual "Conventions" in 1865. These met at the same time the General Assembly was
meeting in the North. McDonnold says that the records of these meetings were not preserved, but that the first Convention passed a resolution steadfastly to resist any movement which looked toward the division
of the church.
This attitude was maintained, although one presbytery
and many members quit the denomination because the Convention still
held to its "union with the enemy".
In 1866 there were again at the General Assembly, for the first
time since the beginning of the war, delegates from the Southern presbyteries. There was some question as to whether, in the light of the Assembly' s 1864 deliverance, they would be allowed seats, but the stated
clerk enrolled their names and they immediately became a majority in
the body.
In the next three years the positive resolutions of the war
period Assemblies were effectively set aside by such as the following,
which was adopted in 1866:
Whereas, According to the plain teaching of our Confession of
Faith, Synods and Councils are to handle and conclude nothing except
that which is ecclesiastical, and are not to interfere vdth the affairs
of the Commonwealth, etc.; and,
1. McDonnold. op. cit., p. 583.
Whereas, Our Civil Constitution wisely separates Church
and State; and,
Whereas, It is of momentous interest to the Church to recognize, practically as well as in theory, the great truth taught by the
Savior, viz.: that his kingdom is not of this world; therefore,
Resolved, 1. That this General Assembly is opposed to every
movement, coming from any quarter, that looks to a union of Church and
Resolved, 2. That we are opposed to the prostitution of the
pulpit, the religious press, or our ecclesiastical courts, to the accomplishment of political and sectional purposes.
Resolved, 3. That expression of political sentiment, made
by any judicatory of our Church, North, South, East or West, is unnecessary, and no part of the legitimate business of an ecclesiastic
McDonnold, in 1888, stated that he did not know of a single
Cumberland Presbyterian anywhere who was not "heartily glad that the
Negro is free." He also pointed vdth pride, as has become traditional
in the denomination, to the fact that the church did not split over the
slavery and Civil War issues.
In concluding this treatment of the subject of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church's relationship to the Negro, slavery, and the Civil
War, it can be said that the denomination either became a tool to sectionalism ("pressure groups") or was impotent to take any positive action whatever on the issues. As an institution its main concern was that
of self-preservation, and it tended to accept the status quo rather than
attempt to remake it. It accepted slavery, it accepted war, and it accepted the free Negro. All this it seemed to attempt to justify on the
basis that its mission was to care for spiritual rather than temporal needs.
3. Woman Suffrage and the Status of Women
The question of woman suffrage has been settled in the United
States during the denomination's history, and although the denomination
evinced little interest in the subject, per se, the manner in which it
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1866, pp. 48-49.
2. McDonnold, op. cit.. p. 418.
defined the status of women within itself throws much light upon the
inter-relationship of the institution with its environment.
The following brief summary of the history of the woman suffrage movement in the United States will serve as a background upon wiiich
to view the behavior of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church:
In the United States the question of the franchise for women,
when considered at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, was referred
to the individual colonies.... The organized feminist movement, which
was an outgrowth of women's'activity in anti-slavery agitation, had its
inception in 1848 at the Women's Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls,
New York.... The campaign for women's suffrage was laid aside for the
struggle for abolition of slavery and for the support of the North in
the Civil War, from the outcome of which it was expected that women's
suffrage would emerge along with Negro suffrage. But the end of the
war found these hopes unfulfilled. The National Labor Union organized
in 1867 under the leadership of Sylvis went on record for full political rights for women and for equal pay for equal work. In 1869 an
amendment to the federal constitution specifically conferring suffrage
on women was defeated in the House of Representatives, as were similar
bills in succeeding decades.... Agitation gained in strength and militancy at the turn of the century....
Although women had previously been very active in pacifist
agitation, during the World War women's organizations with few exceptions promoted the war work of their respective countries. As a means
of securing support of the women for the program of the.... government
....President Wilson,.... an antisuffragist, in Spetember, 1918, recommended the passage of the national suffrage amendment to the federal constitution as a measure "vital to the winning of the war"; by
the summer of 1920 it had been ratified by the states as the Nineteenth Amendment.-1It was not until the woman suffrage movement had gained considerable momentum that it produced its first open repercussion in the
This occurred in 1889 when Nolin Presbytery, of Ken-
tucky Synod, ordained Mrs. L. M. Woosley "to the full work of the Gospel
The history of whattook place after that is outlined in
the following chronological summary:
1. Stern, Bernard J., "Woman, Position in
pedia of the Social Sciences. Vol. VIII, p. 447.
2. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1894,
3. The page references in parentheses are
Assembly Minutes of the particular year. They are
ate extensive footnotes.
Society," Encyclop. 22.
to the General
so given to elimin-
1 8 9 0 — Kentucky Synod declared that Nolin Presbytery had
no authority to ordain Mrs. Woosley, since there was no authority,
"either in the Confession of Faith, or the Holy Scriptures, for the
ordination of a woman to the work of the Gospel ministry."1
1891 (p. 11) — In response to a memorial from the Presbytery of Oxford, the General Assembly declared that "in accordance with
the Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
a woman
may not be ordained and installed to the office of ruling elder."2
1892 (p. 24) —
The General assembly reversed its position
and declared that women might be ordained as ruling elders "where it
shall appear needful."
1895 — Nolin Presbytery elected Mrs. Woosley as a ministerial commissioner to the General Assembly to meet in 1894. Kentucky
Synod declared Mrs. Woosley's election null and void and instructed
Nolin Presbytery to retire her name from its list of ordained ministers.5
Mrs. P. L. Claggett was seated by the General Assembly as a
ruling elder commissioner from Nolin Presbytery, (p. 14)
Because there had been so much clamor about the "woman eldership" question the General Assembly voted to submit two sets of proposed
amendments to the Constitution to the presbyteries. It was hoped to get
an expression from the presbyteries which would settle the matter of
whether or not women could be made ruling elders or deacons. One set
of amendments proposed that the word "persons" be substituted for the
word "men" in the Constitution; the other proposed that the word "men"
be struck out and the words "males only" be inserted instead. Congregations were requested "not to ordain other female ruling elders until
final action on these amendments be taken." (p. 54)
1894 — Nolin Presbytery did not obey Kentucky Synod, but
sent Mrs. Woosley to the General Assembly, along with an appeal from
the Synod's ruling. The Assembly denied the appeal and refused Mrs.
Woosley a seat, saying, "The action of Nolin Presbytery in ordaining
Mrs. L. M. Woosley to the work of the Gospel ministry was without authority of the Holy Scriptures, and without authority of the Constitution,
Rules of Discipline, and Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and such ordination was and is null and void." (p. 25)
The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly reported that both
the amendments to the Constitution proposed by the' previous Assembly
relative to the election of women as ruling elders and deacons had been,
according to reports from the presbyteries, lost, "the vote standing
as follows: For the first amendment, 15; for the second amendmant,
35; against any change, 56. Presbyteries not voting, 22." (p. 56)
The General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that
"the Trustees of Cumberland University be requested to open all its departments to young women on equal terms with young men, making the institution in all respects co-educational." (p . 59)
1895 (p. 77) — Jflolin Presbytery, which had refused to dismiss Mrs. Woosley from the ranks of its ordained ministers, sent a memorial to the General Assembly asking that the case be reopened. The
Assembly refused to grant this memorial.
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1894, p. 22.
2. With reference to ruling elders, the Constitution says,
"Those who fill this office ought to be blameless in life and soundin faith; they should be men of wisdom and discretion...." Confession
of Faith, op. cit., pp. 91,92.
3. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1894, p. 22.
1896 — The General Assembly's committee appointed to examine
the minutes of Indiana Synod called attention to the fact that the Synod
had seated a woman ruling elder as the representative from one of its
congregations. The Assembly took no action on the matter,(other than
to say that this was a violation of the Constitution, (p. 63)
Mrs. Mary Hunter Bixler had a communication before the General Assembly stating that she had finished the regular classical course
in the Theological School of Cumberland University, but that, because
she was a woman, it had not been thought proper that she should receive
the degree conferred upon others who had taken the same course of study.
She asked the Assembly to make a deliverance which would apply to this
and similar cases. The Assembly appointed a committee to study the matter
and bring in a recommendation. The committee disagreed, bringing in
majority and minority reports. The Assembly adopted the minority report, which recommended that the Trustees of Cumberland University comply vdth the Assembly's order of 1894,but which explained that this did
not mean approval of the ordination of women to the ministry. The majority report merely recommended that Mrs. Bixler's case be left in the
hands of the Board of Trustees and the faculty of the school, (pp.59-40)
1897 -(p. 68) — Concerning Kansas Synod's having allowed a
Mrs. Squires a seat in the synod as a ruling elder representing a congregation, the General Assembly ruled that since she had been ordained
as an elder by her own local congregation, there was "no method provided
in our Constitution by which either this body or the Kansas Synod can
undov the work of the Church Session in her case." It declared, therefore, that the synod had committed no error in allowing her a seat.
1898 (pp. 54-55) —
The Judiciary Committee, "to whom was
referred the protest of Red Oak Presbytery, requesting a review of the
action of the General Assembly of 1897, wherein said Assembly sustained
the action of Kansas Synod in seating Mrs. Squires as a member of that
Synod," could not agree. Majority and minority reports were submitted,
the majority proposing an amendment to the Constitution explicitly declaring women, eligible to the eldership, and the minority opposing such
an amendment. After much debate, the Assembly laid both reports on
the table.
1899 (p. 21) — Through the General Assembly's Stated Clerkr
Mrs. Woosley informed the body that she was "called" to preach and that
she would not be daunted by that body's stand concerning her ordination.
1900 (p. 88) —
The report of the General Assembly's Committee to Examine the Minutes of Kentucky Synod pointed out that Kentucky Synod was still active in its effort to keep Mrs. Woosley from
being recognized as an ordinaed minister.
1905 (pp. 50, 58) — Walla Walla Presbytery sent a memorial
to the General Assembly dealing with the subject of the ordination of
women. Again the Assembly refused to change its stand on the issue.
1907 (p. 39) — The General Assembly, which had been called
by the "loyalists" to meet at Dickson, Tennessee, endorsed Mrs. Woosley
as a "Lay Evangelist".
1908 (p. 83 ) — Lebanon and Mt. Vernon Presbyteries sent
memorials asking the General Assembly to give a deliverance on the
subject of ordaining women to the ministry. The Assembly refused to
take any action.
1915 (p. 362) — Mrs. L. M. Woosley's name appeared in the
General Assembly's roll of ordained ministers, as a member of Leitchfield Presbytery. (It continued to appear thereafter.)
228 •
1919 (p. 107) — The General Assembly adopted the following
recommendations made by its Judiciary Committee:
"1. That Sections 9-16 inclusive of the Constitution, under
the title, 'Ministers of the Word,' be so amended that where the word
'he' appears as to read "he or she'.
"2. That Section 18, under the title, 'Ruling Elders' be so
amended as to read, 'men or women' where the word .'men' appears.
"3. That Section 20, under the title 'Deacons' be so amended
as to read, 'men or women' where the word 'men' appears.
"We further recommend that these proposed amendments be transmitted to the Presbyteries by the Stated Clerk as provided in Section
60 of the Constitution for approval or disapproval."
1920 — The General Assembly received several memorials from
presbyteries asking that the Constitution be not amended but that the
Assembly simply interpret it so as to clarify the issue vdth respect
to the ordination of women, (pp. 37, 58)
The General Assembly appointed a committee to prepare "an
amendment to our Constitution on the question of woman ordination for
submission to and action by the next General Assembly that will bring
our Constitution into harmony with our present practices." (p. 115)
1921 (p. 200)- — The amendment prepared by the committee
appointed in 1920 was referred to the Judiciary Committee, the following report of which the General Assembly adopted:
"Having carefully considered the danger of constitutional
amendments, we hesitate to open the doorway for a flood of changes in
our organic law.... the proposed amendment contains nothing new but
it s wording.
"We most respectfully submit that the word 'man' vdth reference to a human being is a generic term, and as used in the Holy
Scriptures, our Constitution and the other confessional statements
of our Church has no reference to sex, but should be construed to, and
does, in fact, include the human being whether male or female.
"We therefore most respectfully recommend the rejection of
the proposed amendment to the Constitution and recommend that your
reverend body construe the word (man}, as used in our Constitution, to
include both male and female."
Since 1921 women have had the same privileges of ordination
as men. In 1939 there were 27 women listed on the General Assembly's
roll of ordained ministers.
In addition, six women were listed as
licentiates and seven as candidates for the ministry.
Although women have been given officially the same status as
men in the denomination, they have not assumed that status actually.
A woman has not yet been permitted to serve as moderator of the General Assembly, and only one of the 48 presbyteries reporting in this study
had a woman for its moderator at the time of making the report. Out
of 40 candidates for the ministry received in 1938-1939 by these 48
presbyteries, only three were women. Not more than five or six of the
27 ordained women of the denomination are serving as regular pastors,
and these are connected with very small congregations.
Replies from 412 congregations to questions concerning their
boards of deacons, included in the questionnaire sent out in this study,
show that only approximately one congregation out of four has installed
women as deacons. This is recorded in Table XXIV.
Table XXIV
Women Deacons in 412 Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
Number of Congregations
Having None
Having One or More
Small City
Replies from 418 congregations indicate that women have been
ordained as ruling elders in only approximately one-eighth of them.
The number and distribution of these congregations is shown in Table
Table XXV
Women Ruling Elders in 418 Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations
Number of Congregations
Having None Having One or More
Small City
The facts presented in Tables XXIV and XXV Indicate that
women have not readily been granted status as church officials in
a great majority of Cumberland Presbyterian congregations. That one
of the main reasons for this is the belief that women should not occupy these positions was indicated by reactions of the 100 persons
who marked the attitude scale at the General Assembly In 1959. Only
approximately 50 per cent of these persons, as is shown by Table
XXVI, positively disagreed with statements to the effect that women
should not be ordained as ruling elders or as ministers. While only
18 per cent positively opposed such ordinations, there were many persons who expressed varying degrees of uncertainty.
Which is to say
that although the denomination officially declares that women may
have equal status with men, the constituency is by no means completely
willing to allow them to assume this status*
There is, therefore, a vast difference between the legal and
the functional equality which the institution has granted women, despite
the fact that of 585 congregations replying to the questionnaire, 65
said women constituted more than 75 per cent of their membership, and
226 said women constituted more than 60 per cent of their membership,
while in only three were women less than 40 per cent of the membership.
Table XXVI
Attitudes of 100 Persons at the General Assembly
in 1939 Toward the Ordination of Women
80. Women should not be ordained to the ministry....
81. Women should not be ordained as ruling elders...
To summarize, it may be said that until the woman suffrage movement became strong enough to affect the structure of the institution the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church took no official cognizance of it. When
the movement invaded the institution, there was at first rigid opposition to the elevation of women to any higher status than they had previously occupied.
It was declared without qualification that both the
Constitution of the denomination and the Holy Scriptures forbade the ordination of women as ministers or ruling elders. The term "man" in these
sacred documents, it was affirmed, meant only persons of the male sex.
As, however, the general woman suffrage movement gained strength in the
outside environment, the denomination began to waver in its stand.
ments to the Constitution were repeatedly proposed and seriously debated.
After a time it was tacitly recognized that women might be made ruling
elders, but it took more than 50 years of active agitation to gain them
equal status with men in all offices of the denomination.
Finally, in
the very year that the woman suffrage amendment was being added to the
federal constitution, it was decided that the word "man" as used in the
Bible and the creed was a generic term which ought to be interpreted as
meaning persons of both sexes. That is to say, social change caused
the denomination to do a complete about-face on the issue. When the
fight for woman's rights was reaching a victorious climax, the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church reluctantly acquiesced.
The fact that this denomination yielded to the pressure exerted by social change, permitting the ordination of women, whereas many
other denominations in the same environmental setting did not so yield,
raises an Interesting problem.
What was the reason the Cumberland Pres-
byterian Church yielded so readily?
Was it because its Institutional
structure was not so rigid as that of others?
or was it because the
rights of women were more nearly implicit in its theological emphases?
What, too, are the reasons for the great difference between the legal
and functional status of women in the institution at present?
4. Temperance and National Prohibition
Temperance and prohibition have held a prominent place In the
history of the United States. During the colonial period, in conformity with English law and custom, places of sale of Intoxicants were
generally licensed and public drunkenness was penalized by fines, imprisonment or other forms of punishment. During the first half of the
nineteenth century public opinion gradually came to favor more stringent regulations, with the result that a well organized temperance
movement made its appearance. Temperance societies first began to be
formed about 1812 or 1815. The first ones directed their efforts against
"the intemperate use of intoxicating liquors". Not until 1826, when
the American Temperance Society was organized, was the principle of
total abstinence emphasized.
The trend toward legal prohibition grew
out of the failure of the appeal for personal temperance. One of the
earliest restrictive laws was in effect in Massachusetts between 1858
and 1840; following it there was a wave of first local option and then
state wide prohibitory laws In the northern states between 1846 and
The prohibition movement, however, became absorbed in the anti-
slavery campaign, and these first laws were all repealed by 1875. Following the Civil War, the National Prohibition Party was organized in
1869 and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1874. These organizations caused the legislatures of nearly half the states to pass
statutory prohibitory laws or submit prohibitory constitutional amend-
ments to the people during the decade between 1880 and 1890. Popular
vote, however, rejected prohibition in all except five of the states.
The Anti-Saloon League, which was formed in 1895, represented
a radical change which had taken place In the organization of the temperance forces. The attack was now placed upon the basis that "the
drunkard was the product of the drunkard maker" and that the only way
to solve the problem was to eliminate the saloon. By 1906 local option
laws had been adopted In 50 stated. Local prohibition had driven the
legal saloon out of a large part of the nation but it had not succeeded
in coping with the alcohol problem.
tion then ensued.
A wave of state prohibitory legisla-
Even this was not satisfactory, however, because of
the difficulty of enforcing laws in dry states which were bordered by
wet ones.
In 1913 there began a campaign for the submission to the people
by Congress of a prohibitory amendment to the Constitution of the United
In December, 1917, such a resolution received the necessary two-
thirds congressional vote. In 1919, about 14 months later, three-fourths
of the states had approved, enacting it as the Eighteenth Amendment. There
followed immediate organized opposition. The difficulty of enforcing the
law and the relaxation of the efforts of prohibition forces resulted
the exemption of 5.2 per cent beer in March, 1955, and complete repeal
of the amendment on December 5, 1955.
The subject of temperance apparently first came prominently
before the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1827, two years before the
General Assembly was organized.
Cumberland Synod was then the main body
of the denomination, and in that year Reverend Henry Delaney tried to
1. This summary of the history of prohibition is adapted from
The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. VI, pp. 499-510. See also
°rr, op. cit., p. 68.
get it to adopt a set of resolutions on the subject of temperance. The
Synod refused, on the grounds that the resolutions were a blow aimed
at freedom. The following year, however, it changed its attitude and
adopted this resolution:
Resolved, That the preachers belonging to the Cumberland
Presbyterian church, both ordained and licensed, and likewise the differenaa members, be requested to unite in discountenancing the unnecessary use of ardent spirits in their several congregations and families,
and wherever else their influence may extend.*
Since that time the attitude of insistence upon temperance
has been consistently maintained by the denomination, although the manner
. of its expression has been affected by the status of the subject in the
outside social environment.
In 1856 the General Assembly adopted the following interesting resolution, which apparently antedates the Anti-Saloon League by
a number of years:
Resolved, unanimously. That this General Assembly do most
earnestly recommend that no minister of the Gospel, or ruling elder,
or member of the Church shall engage in retailing ardent spirits or
disposing of them in any other way.^
In 1851, about the time the first strong wave of state-wide
prohibitory laws was sweeping the country, the General Assembly took an
even stronger stand, declaring that to make, buy, sell, or use intoxicating liquors was an immorality, as is shown in the following resolution:
Resolved. That It is the sense of this General Assembly, that
to make, buy, sell, or use as a beverage, any spirituous or intoxicating
liquors, is an immorality; that it is not only unauthorized, but forbidden by the Word of God. We do, therefore, request the several churches
under our care, to abstain wholly from their use.4
1. Beard, Richard, "The Cumberland Presbyterian Church During
the Last Half Century," The Theological Medium, October, 1870, pp.491-492.
2. Donnell, Robert, Thoughts on Various Subjects, p. 245. As
quoted by Orr, op. cit., p. 70.
3. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1856, MSS. Quoted in Stephens,
op. cit.. p. 550.
4. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1851, p. 15.
Two years later the General Assembly officially recognized
the temperance movement and gave strong endorsement to the cause of
legal prohibition:
....It is the duty of the Christian to use every reasonable
effort within his power to advance the glorious cause of Temperance....
We regard the efforts now being made in the temperance cause,
as requiring the co-operation of the Church; that the Great Head of the
Church is employing it as one of the means of reforming and of finally
converting the world; and the failure of the church members thus to cooperate, amounts to a sin against light and knowledge...•
The efforts which Christians should use for the furtherance
of this work, consist not alone in abstaining from the use of ardent
spirits and being 7/ashingtonians, or Sons of Temperance.
The true and
devoted advocate of temperance will labor for the enactment of such
laws as will prohibit the making, vending or use of intoxicating liquors.
, 2
3. Christians not only have duties to discharge to the Church
and the world as Christians, but also to their government and society
as citizens.
4. In discharging the latter duty, they should be governed by
the broad principles of Christian philanthropy, advocating the extermination of alcohol, except for mechanical or medical purposes, from the
country, by the enactment of prohibitory laws for that purpose, with
such penalties as will cause those laws to be respected and enforced.
Prior to this time the emphasis had been upon abstinence; here it shifts
with the temperance movement toward complete prohibition.
In 1855 the General
Assembly refused to grant a memorial re-
questing that any person guilty of drinking liquor be automatically ex2
communicated from the church, but in 1875 it came quite near to taking
that position, as indicated in the following:
Resolved, That it is the sense of this General Assembly that
it is a sin to make, boy sell, or give, or in any way use as a beverage,
intoxicating drinks of any description.
Resolved, That in cases where church members persist in the
violation of the principles herein stated, the church Sessions be urged
to deal with such offenders, and free the Church from the guilt and scandal of such unchristian conduct.
Resolved, That inasmuch as these evils of such Immense magnitude can be successfully resisted only by associated effort, our ministers and members are advised to encourage temperance organizations wherever
it is practicable.
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 18165, ppj*5>46.
2- Ibid.. 18B5, p* 54*
Resolved, That we heartily approve the temperance legislation which has been had in several of the States recently, and we earnestly recommend our people to aid by all prudent means, the enforcement of temperance laws where they exist.
Several times in the next few years the General Assembly reaffirmed the position it had taken in these foregoing deliverances.
In 1894, one year after the Anti-Saloon League began its powerful campaign, an even more definite and belligerent note was sounded in a resolution containing the following:
That you declare as the solemn conviction of this General
Assembly that no man nor party which refuses or fails to assume an attitude of open and uncompromising hostility toward the liquor traffic
should expect or receive the vote of any Christian citizen of this
Since 1906 practically all of the "loyalist" General Assemblies have appointed committees to bring in reports of the progress of
the battle against liquor.
In the adoption of these reports the Gen-
eral Assembly has taken Its stand on the Issues involved.
The manner
in which the denomination has shifted its emphasis as thestatus of the
problem has been re-defined in the wider social environment is indicated in the change In the title of the committee which the Assembly has
annually appointed.
From 1907 through 1921 the title was, "Committee
on Temperance;" In 1922 it was changed to "Committee on Prohibition and
Temperance;* from 1923 through 1927 it was the "Committee on Prohibition;" and since 1928, when it began to be apparent that prohibition
was being suffocated by lack of law enforcement, the title has been
"Committee on Prohibition and Law Enforcement."
The position of the denomination toward the problem, and its
reaction to changes in the national status of the problem may be best
described through a chronological summary of the adopted reports of
these annual committees. Following is such a summary, giving page ref1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1875, p. 19.
2. Ibid.. 1894, p. 52.
erences to each year's General Assembly Minutes:
1907 (pp. 86-87) — Called attention to the fact that the
U. S. was aroused as never before "against the whiskey traffic...
We join in battle array against this the greatest curse known to man....
We as a body approve of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and
all other Temperance organizations whose mission is to drive the foe
from our land."
1908 (p. 92) — "We view the use of intoxicating liquors and
the traffic in the same to be subversive of good government, a withering blight of high and holy things.... The use of intoxicating liquors
should be viewed with alarm by Church and State; and the traffic in
the same should be caused to dease; and its pernicious influences
should be driven from our land.... We view with much pleasure the onward and upward march of the Cause of Prohibition in our land."
1909 (p.89) — Recommended that the denomination support
prohibition, and not vote for candidates not wholly opposing the liquor
1910 (pp. 52-55) — "Our denomination should exclude from its
communion every man who rents his property to saloon-keepers, distilleries
breweries.... We demand national legislation that shall stop the manufacture of intoxicating liquors of any form in the bounds of the United
States and to forever prohibit its importation from foreign countries."
1911 (p. 55) — "There is no temperance taught in the Bible
as regards the use of strong drink, but the Bible does teach absolute
Prohibition." Recommended cooperation with all temperance and prohibition agencies.
1912 (p. 156) — Strong statement favoring complete prohibition, "uncompromisingly opposed to the license system."
1915 (p. 198) — "We greatly rejoice over the passage of the
Webb Bill..., Fight this accursed stuff everywhere, every legitimate
way and all the time until It is put out of this Christian nation."
Deplored the "prevailing soft drink habit and also the tendency to
resort to opiates."
1914 (p. 169) — Requested "every voter in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to vote for the man who stands for prohibition, regardless of politics." Endorsed "nation wide question of prohition and earnestly request the United States Congress to submit to the States this
1915 (p. 119) —
Praised the Anti-Saloon League and W.C.T.U.
Offered praise to God "that the National Prohibition Amendment was
called up on the floor of our Congress," although it was not passed.
Recommended continued opposition to the traffic.
1916 (p. 119) — Rejoiced in signs of victory; declared Itself uncompromisingly in favor of nothing short of complete prohibition.
1917 (No resolutions or committee.)
1918 (Had a report from a permanent committee, beggingu^ for
Strong action. But the Assembly took no action.)
1919 (p. 107) — "We place ourselves upon record, again, as
not only favoring national prohibition, but that we will cooperate
with all temperance movements in any place and form."
1920 (No committee on the subject.)
1921 (p. 189) — The permanent committee reported, rejoicing
in the triumph of the Volstead Law, praising the W.C.T.U. and the AntiSaloon League, and condemning boot-legging and drugstore prescription
sales. (The Assembly, however, did not appoint a committee} took no
1922 (p. 165) — Deplored lack of enforcement of the law;
urged ministers and people to stay alert to the cause until liquor forces
completely surrendered.
1925 (p. 176) — Condemned "bootlegger" and "moonshiner^ and
urged enforcement of the prohibition laws, and the maximum penalties
for violations.
1924 (p. 154) — Same as 1925, plus opposition to licensing
physicians to prescribe liquor.
1925 (p. Ill) — Deplored laxness in enforcement of the law;
declared pereon who buys and drinks is as great a criminal morally as
the one who sells; ordered Cumberland Presbyterian preachers to preach
at least one sermon a year on "Prohibition".
1926 (p. 22) — A resolution was adopted regarding the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act, appealing to the President and the
Congress of the United States for strict enforcement of said laws. Copies of the resolution were sent to President Coolidge and eight senators.
1927 (p. 150) — Reiterated former stands; added: "We recommend that careful attention be given to candidates seeking office, and
regardless of political.affiliation, our people support those who unqualifiedly favor the enforcement of the eighteenth amendment.11
1928 (p. 159) - Went on record again as favoring the Eighteenth Amendment and "strict and rigid enforcement of all prohibition laws."
Also stated, "We go on recordas being bitterly opposed to the nomination and election of any man to any office who is not uncompromisingly
'dry'." Also expressed contempt for any political part wanting to
place at the head of the government any person not willing to defend and
uphold the Constitution of the U. S.
1929 (p. 115) —
Reiterated stand on prohibition, but placed
greatest amount of emphasis upon law enforcement and law observance.
"Law enforcement Is a far more comprehensive term than prohibition....
Law observance is a more fundamental idea than law enforcement."
1950 (p. 124) — "We emphatically place ourselves on record
again as being strictly in favor of temperance, prohibition and law enforcement to the letter.... We accept the challenge of the foes of temperance and pledge ourselves as opposed to the repeal or modification
of the 18th amendment or any kindred laws enacted for its enforcement."
1951 (p. 118) — Again declared against repeal; ordered ministers to preach a sermon on "Law Enforcement".
1952 (pp. 106-107) — A long refutation of arguments against
prohibition. Again urged that Cumberland Presbyterians support the 18th
1955 (p. 120) — "Today we are facing a crisis the destinies
of which affect one hundred and twenty-one1 million American citizens and
the generations yet unborn. That issue is to repeal, or not repeal, the
Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of these United States'. Declared "in no uncertain terms, its solemn protest against the proposed
repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment."
1954 (p. 106) — "The Eighteenth Amendment of the Federal
Constitution, much as we regret it, has been repealed.... Prohibition is
not dead....; prohibition will never die... We regret that our government has fallen Into the hands of a leadership which are very wet..*.;
(«) stand as ever four square for prohibition.... We will aid in every
way possible in the education of our children and youth that they
may know of the awful evil effects of strong drink....
"We disapprove of our Government.... becoming a party to
the liquor business the making of drunkards, by legalizing and licensing the sale of the destructive element."
1955 (p. 103) — Recited history of the amendment; then
called attention of "Cumberland Presbyterians everywhere to the weighty
responsibilities that fall upon them to take, and declare, an attitude
to the liquor question consistent with the mission of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church in the world."
1956 (p. 113) — Went on record as pledging solemn support
for the return of state and national prohibition, and urged presbyteries to
require their ministers to preach at least once a year on prohibition
and law enforcement.
1957 (p. 166) — Deplored the stand of the Federal Government
and the Chief Executive. Recommended continued active support of all
agencies of prohibition.
1958 (p. 157) — Appointed a "Permanent Committee on Prohibition and Public Morals," setting aside $100.00 from the denominational budget for its expenses. Purpose of the committee being to
gather and publicize facts about prohibition, the "results of repeal"
and to organize the fight for prohibition, cooperating with other temperance forces.
1959 (p. 154) — Urged Permanent Committee to continue diligently, approved agencies refusing liquor advertisements, urged support
of all "constructive movements".
As this summary reveals, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
has consistently maintained an attitude of opposition to liquor, but its
expression of opposition has shifted in keeping with the prevailing tendencies of the general anti-liquor movement. It is significant that
the General Assembly appointed no committees to report on the subject
during the years of 1917, 1918, 1920 and 1921. Thus it appears that the
denomination, like temperance forces in general, considered the victory
The General Assembly's appointment of a permanent committee and
provision of funds for its operation in the last two years, signifjrcthat
the denomination is far from accepting defeat on the issue.
Of the 155 Cumberland Presbyterians who marked the attitude
scales used In this study, 88*4 per cent Indicated that they surely
agreed with the statement that "A Christian should not drink liquor,
even moderately."
Apparently, therefore, the denomination is prac-
tically a unit on the question.
The reason for this definite and persistent opposition
to liquor constitutes a subject for interesting speculation, especially in view of the fact that on questions pertaining to slavery
and Sabbath observance the denomination did not maintain nearly so
much consistency*
A clue seems to be Indicated In a statement made
by the General Assembly in 1855 that "the Great Head of the Church
Is employing it (the temperance movement) as one of the means of reforming and of finally converting the world."
In other words, the
denomination has viewed liquor as a definite impediment to the salvation of souls and the ultimate evangelization of the world, and therefore, as a definite challenge to the purpose and program to which
the denomination is dedicated.
It has probably been easier to keep
clear this definition of challenge In the case of liquor than In that
of slavery or of specific Sabbath behaviors.
5. Change in the Status of Marriage and Divorce
That there has been marked change in the status of marriage
and divorce in the United States is indicated by the statistics in
Table XXVII.
Whereas in the last four decades the ratio of marriages
to the Bize of the population has remained practically the same, there
has been more than a threefold increase in divorces.
On the subject of marriage and divorce the Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith has the following to says
89. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither
is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman
to have more than one husband, at the same time.
90. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband
and wife, and for the benefit of the human race.
91. Marriages ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the word of God, nor can such
marriages be justified by the human law.
92. The marriage relation should not be dissolved for any
cause not justified by the teachings of the word of God, and any
immorality in relation to its dissolution is cognizable by the Churchcourts. 1
Marriages and Divorces In the United
States During the Period from 1890
to 1955*
Per 1000
Per 1000
Per 100
Population Population
. 8.9
The following scriptural references are quoted as the only legitimate
basis for the dissolution of marriage:
Matt. i. 18-20. Matt. v. 51, 52: It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcements but I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife,
saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:
and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Matt. xix. 9. Rom. vii. 2,5: For the woman which hath a husband is
bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the
husband be dead, she is loosed from the 3aw of her husband. So then
if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she
shall be called an adulteress: but If her husband be dead, she is
free from that law; so that she Is no adulteress, though she be
married to another man. 1 Cor. vii. 15.
In the "Directory for Worship" which is included in the
Confession of Faith
is also the statement that
Marriage is not a sacrament, nor peculiar to the Church of
Christ. It is proper that every Commonwealth, for the good of society,
make laws to regulate marriage, which all citizens are bound to obey.*
1. Confession of Faith (C.P.). op. cit., p. 54.
2. Based on statistics in The World Almanac and Book of Facts,
p. 521.
3. Confession of Faith (C.P.). op. cit*. p. 156.
Only two references bearing upon the subject of marriage and
divorce have been found In the General Assembly Minutes.
In 1922
Missouri Synod sent the following memorial to the General Assembly:
The Synod of Missouri, in session with Macedonia congregation, Platte Presbytery, this the sixth day of October, 1921, would
respectfully memorialize your reverend body to instruct the ministers
of our denomination to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for
divorced people, only In cases where divorces have been granted on
Biblical grounds.1
This memorial was referred to the Committee on Overtures; the committee
brought in the following report, which was adopted by the Assembly:
In reference to the memorial from the Synod of Missouri regarding marriage performed by ministers, in which it Is sought to have
this body instruct the ministers of our denomination to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for divorced people, only In cases where
divorces have been granted on biblical grounds, your committee would
recommend that the church go on record as favoring divorces only when
granted upon biblical grounds,fretyour committee is of the opinion that
it would be unwise, at this time, when so many of the states by their laws
permit divorce upon other than biblical grounds, to definitely instruct
its ministers to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for divorced people only In cases where the divorces have been granted on these grounds.
We recommend that this General Assembly urge the ministers of this denomination to carefully examine into the facts given as the grounds for
the divorce of persons presenting themselves for marriage, and that they
use their best judgment, and follow the dictates of their conscience relative to marrying such persons, until public sentiment shall compel the
legislatures of the states to enact laws prohibiting divorce only on
biblical grounds.2
In 1957 the retiring moderator of the General Assembly recommended to the body:
That a commission be appointed to study the problems in regard to divorce, re-marriage, and pre-marital training; and submit a report to the next General Assembly.*
This recommendation was submitted to the Committee on Overtures, which
recommended that it be granted. The General Assembly adopted the report of this committee, but apparently did nothing toward appointing the
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1922, p. 42.
2. General A sse mbly Minutes (C.P.). 1922. pp. 164-165.
5. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1957, p. 140.
suggested commission. There has not, to date, been any further mention of the subject.
The last revision of the Confession of Faith was in 1883, before the change In the status of divorce had begun to be so marked.
The denomination has not, therefore, made a clear and positive statement on the problem since the beginning of the present period of accentuation. It might be assumed that the statement in the Confession
of Faith
constituted a completely satisfying definition and that no
necessity for elaboration upon it had been felt by the denomination,
if the General Assembly had taken no cognizance whatever of the problem.
However, the fact that in 1922, just at the time when the divorce
rate was climaxing its period of most rapid increase, the General Assembly, when called upon to take a positive stand on the issue, was unwilling to do so suggests that silence may have been due to other reasons
than perfect adjustment on the question. At least, the denomination in
1922 again showed itself incapable of functioning positively and creatively In the face of a social crisis. It sought escape from the challenging reality by dodging behind the cloak of ancient biblical teachings
and by shifting the burden of responsibility to "legislatures,""public
sentiment" and the individual conscience.
That there is not perfect adjustment in the denomination on
the subject is indicated by the attitude of the 155 persons who marked
the attitude scale. Table XXVIII shows that there is only 65.8 per cent
positive agreement with the biblical conception of divorce, while only
42i6 per cent of the persons were sure they agreed that Cumberland Presbyterian ministers should refuse to perform marriages for divorced persons.
Attitudes of 155 Cumberland Presbyterians Toward
Statements Related to the Problem of Marriage
and Divorce
Reactions, in Per Cent
58. The marriage relation should
not be dissolved for any cause
save that of adultery
59. Cumberland Presbyterian ministers should refuse to perform
marriages for divorced persons 1.3
60. Persons who have been divorced
and remarried should be turned
out of the church
42.6 10.5
27.1 12.9
6. The World War
Consistent with the policy shown earlier with respect to the
Civil War, there is no record that prior to 1914 the Cumberland Presbyterian Church had made any positive anti-war deliverances, which were
intended as an expression of its general sentiments on the subject.
Consequently, when the World War began in Europe the attitude of the
denomination toward it was already predetermined by no specific policy
other than that in general the conception was held that war should be
looked upon as an evil.
By declaring the church and the state separ-
ate, and by looking upon war as a civil issue the denomination apparently felt itself not called upon to take a definite public stand concerning the war problem. During and following the Civil War challenging reality was shunned by the institution through an attempt to place
the burden of responsibility upon the civil government, and this attitude apparently had not changed materially when the 1914 crisis began
The General Assembly which met in May 1914, neither did nor
said anything which showed that it had any intimation of an impending
international crisis.
The only reference made to the international situation by the
General Assembly In 1915 was In a resolution which expressed a peace
sentiment but which implied that Germany, and not the other warring
nations, was being blamed for the breach of peace. The resolution was
an unqualified approval of a note sent to Germany by the President of
the United States. It was worded as follows:
Resolved. That we, the General Assembly of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, representing a membership of one hundred thousand,
marching under the banner of peace, hereby express our approval of the
sentiment of peace expressed so admirably In the note sent by the President of the United States to Germany, setting forth in moderation and
accuracy in a dignified manner the position of the American government
in this time of international strife and bloodshed and express our sympathy and approval of the President's effort to preserve and maintain
the neutrality and peaceful relations of our government with all nations
in an honorable and dignified manner.•*•
It Is significant that there is in this resolution no intimation of any expression other than that of perfect accord with the policy
of the national government. The denomination was not attempting to
make its own evaluation of the International situation.
In 1916 the General Assembly appointed a special committee to
consider the declarations and resolutions of the American Council of
the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship Through the
Churches. Upon the recommendation of this committee, the Assembly "endorsed the movement" and pledged cooperation to it. The Council's important declarations and resolutions with which the Assembly agreed were:
We believe it is time for the Christian Church to speak and
to act in the strength and assurance of a deep and full loyalty to Jesus
We rejoice in all the efforts which are being made by men of
^pod intent to substitute judicial process for war and to effect world
1, General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1915, p. 35.
We urge the people of the churches to cooperate heartily in
these brave attempts to take the final and decisive step in the evolution of government. But we know that all these efforts are foredoomed to failure unless they rest upon a spirit of good-will and
brotherhood and evoke a passionate devotion stronger than all limited
and local loyalties.
In a time of disillusion and strife, when men's hearts faint
and doubt, let Christian men believe, and try to make all men believe,
that the gospel of love and faith and hope is practical, the only
practical way of life for men and for nations, and that loyalty to
the Kingdom of God is supreme above all other loyalties.
Resolved: That since permanent peace must be ultimately
based on religious sanctions, and back of all international organizations must be good-will, the American Council call a representative
Congress of the churches of the world to meet at the close of this
war, when and where the terms of peace sha.11 be discussed, or in such
other European centre as may be deemed expedient to consider how the
churches of the world may help to establish a new international order
and above all to insist that the nations of the world act toward each
other in accordance with those principles of mutual justice and fairness which regulate the relations of good men everywhere, and that the
carrying out of this plan be referred to the Executive Committee.
Resolved: That we call upon the churches of America to make
sacrificial efforts to contribute for the relief of the suffering peoples
In Europe and Asia without regard to race, religion or nationality, thus
giving powerful proof of Christian good-will.....
Resolved: That the Council urge upon the churches:
(a) Careful study both of the oriental problem itself and also
of the proposals for a fundamental solution which have been offered, including comprehensive immigration legislation free from race discrimination.
(b) Such action as may seem wise for embodying in local and
national legislation and in our international relations, the Christian
ideal of universal brotherhood guaranteeing to all peoples, small and
great, east and west, the enjoyment of just and equal treatment.^
There Is no way of knowing what the General Assembly's action
toward the international situation might have been if this platform of
the Council had not been presented.
At least, however, In this it en-
dorsed the ideal of "securing permanent peace to the nations of the
This amounted to neither a positive condemnation of war nor
a strong platform for keeping America out of war. The only other reference made by the General Assembly at this meeting which' might be construed as bearing upon the war situation intimated that an antagonistic
l". General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1916, pp. 104-105.
attitude toward Germany was developing In the denomination.
It con-
sisted of the following brief and indirect statement contained in the
report of the Committee on Temperance:
Yes, it (the cause of temperance) has reached the beerloving Germany. The Kaiser says the country whose army drank the
least alcohol would win. Drunken officers or drunken men cannot win
in war.l
The General Assembly in 1917 did not directly discuss the
subjects of war and peace, but its sanction of the United States' participation in the war was implied in the adoption of the following resolution:
BE IT RESOLVED, That it is the sense of this General Assembly,
representing the membership of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the
United States of America.
That as a church of loyal citizens we are entitled to representation in appointments of Chaplains in the Army and Navy of the
United States now called into the service in the war against the Imperial Government of Germany;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That as a body we commend for appointment Rev. Thos. Dyer, of Nashville, Tennessee, as Chaplin in the Navy
and Rev. A. C. Stribling of Loudon, Tennessee, and Rev. W. B. Morgan,
of Clinton, Alabama, chaplain in the army.2
This resolution shows that the primary concern of the institution in the face of this major social crisis was for the protection of
its own status. Apparently all efforts toward evaluating the issues involved in the war had been abandoned, if there had ever been any such
The only other references In 1917 to the war were indirect
ones. The committee appointed the previous year to cooperate with the
American Council of the World Alliance for Promoting International
Friendship Through the Churches reported no work done, but was granted
permission to continue its existence for another year.
The following
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1916, p. 119.
2. Ibid.. 1917, p. 27.
3. Ibid., p. 118.
item in the report of the Committee on Missions was adopted:
Your committee has had under consideration the matter of
mission work in the foreign fields. We feel that when the present
social and political upheaval of the eastern hemisphere, that is
carrying death and destruction in its wake as was never before experienced and as we pray God will never again be, has spent its force,
new fields will be opened for the gospel message never before so
greatly needed, so inviting and so fraught with great possibilities.
Therefore, we would recommend that you instruct your Board of Missions
and Church Erection to at once appeal for offerings that a fund may
be created with which to enter these particular fields as soon as the
way is opened, the fund to be known as the Special Foreign Mission
Complete support of the United States' participation In the
war was manifested by the General Assembly in 1918. A special War Work
Committee was appointed and, upon its recommendation, a War Work Commission was created to function for the duration of the war, placing
army and navy chaplains and furnishing them with tracts, literature and
other equipment needed in their "religious activities and gospel minis2
Two significant resolutions were also adopted by the body*
The first one, in the form of a petition from a congregation, committed
the Assembly to pray that God would be on the side of the United States.
It also Implied that those who fought or suffered were doing so for
both God and country.
The resolution was worded as follows:
Believing firmly in the efficiency of concerted prayer and in
God's promises to graciously hear his people when they call unto him,
and feeling that neither Church nor State has ever confronted more need
for prayer than at the present time, we therefore petition your reverend body to order and set apart Thursday, May 30, 1918, in accordance
with President Wilson's proclamation, as a day of fasting and prayer:
1. That prayers be made for the President and his cabinet,
for the House of Congress, for all heads of departments, and for all
our leaders at home and abroad.
2. That prayers be made for the soldiers and sailors in the
camps, in the trenches, on land or sea, or In the air, that they may
be true to their country and to their God.
3. That prayers be made for those mothers and wives who have
already made the great: sacrifice; that God may give them the further
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.), 1917, p. 134.
2. Ibid.. 1918, p. 108.
grace of heart full of a helpful, Christian courage.
4. That prayers be offered for those wives and mothers who
shall still be called upon to yield up their loved ones to the death;
for the men and boys who must carry through life either maimed body
or blinded vision caused by the wounds received on the battlefield;
and for the thousands of orphans made bitterly so by the cruel war.
5. And that prayers be made for the Church, that, when our
boys have left a world-peace "over there" and come back to us over
here, they shall know as never before the peace which passeth understanding. 1
The second resolution was a specific endorsement of the war and a pledge
of full cooperation In Its prosecution. It was stated as follows:
Be it resolved by the Eighty-Eighth General Assembly of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in session at Dallas, Tex., May 16-22,
1918, That we heartily endorse the action of President Woodrow Wilson
in the stand he has taken in our nation's relations to this world war.
That we pledge to him our support in his efforts to raise and equip a
great army and an efficient navy. That we endorse and encourage the
buying of Liberty Bonds, Thrift Stamps, and War Savings Stamps, and that
we heartily endorse the conservation of food and clothing as recommended by our national leaders. That we pledge our support to the American
Red Cross Society, the Y.M.C.A., and the Y.W.C.A. in their war activities. That we will do all we can to help our government win thi3 war
for a world peace. That we will pray that out of it all may come those
things that glorify God and uplift the human race.*
The General Assembly in 1919 made no reference to the war,
except that it received a report from its War Work Commission stating
that the war was over and that one of the Cumberland Presbyterian army
chaplains had been killed In France. The Commission was commended and
The mission which the denomination established in South^America a few years after the war was named for the chaplain who died in
the army, and the General Assembly, although discharging the special
commission, appointed a permanent Committee on Army and Navy Work.
The next reference to war was made by the General Assembly In
In that year a strongly anti-war resolution was presented to the
General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1918, p. 19.
Ibid., p. 115.
Ibid.. 1919, p. 85.
Ibid.. p. 101.
body. The General Assembly deleted that section of the resolution
which expressed disapproval of military training in public schools,
but adopted the remainder, which was as follows:
Whereas, war is murder — a crime against God and civilization — and is usually fomented and brought about by a few unscrupulous, Godless and greedy men whose purpose Is to make the few who
are rich still richer, and at the expense of the blood and death of
the innocent, the destruction of home and happiness and the untold
miseries of all; and since war is a crime — wholesale murder and
ruthless destruction — no Christian government can afford to do less
than abhor it, avoid it, and do all within its power to outlaw it;
Whereas, much of the spiritual decay and godlessness of this,
America's dark hour; the unprecedented waves of crime, immorality and
disregard for law; the mighty and innumerable hands of those who are
seeking to destroy organized society; the fertile soil and tremendous
harvests of communism; the sweeping from our statutes many of our
moral and restraining laws; unrest, insanity, endless breadlines, suicide, orphan children, widowed wives and broken homes are, as to their
causes, traceable either directly or indirectly to the World War,
which instead of making the world safe for democracy as it promised to
do, has made the world certain for anarchy and dictatorship; and,
Whereas, the program of our Lord Jesus Christ, outlined in
the New Testament Scriptures, offers the only right and successful way
to live and deal with our human brother, to settle all of our difficulties whether such be individual, national or international; and such
program will, if accepted and applied, fit itself into the ethical,
moral, economic, spiritual and every other need of the nations of
this world.
Therefore, be it resolved, that this Assembly declare itself
opposed to all war unless it be in actual national defense, and that
only when all other efforts for an honorable and peaceful settlement
shall have failed, whatever the dispute, grievance or issue may be*-1.
The General Assembly in 1957 changed the permanent Committee
on Army and Navy Work to the Commission on Army and Navy Chaplains.
This was done as the result of the retiring moderator's recommending
that the Committee on Army and Navy Work be abolished "on the grounds
that this gesture on our part is more of an endorsement of the war
system than we feel jsstified in giving.11
In summarizing, it may be said that the institution when
the war first began deprecated it and expressed an interest in the
cause of peace, but that it followed the trend of popular opinion and
1. General Assembly Minutes (C.P.). 1954, p. 115.
2. Ibid.. 1937, pp. 140, 159.
gave complete endorsement and support as the United States became
involved in the conflict. When the war was over and the problems
and evils growing out of it brought disillusionment, the attitude
of the institution shifted toward complete denunciation of war and
a severance of relationships which might be construed as approval
of the war system.
The institution showed no evidences of freedom from the
biases and passions which characterized its social milieu. Its role
was more that of a victim than of a savior in the crisis.
It acted consistently, however, in that it "obeyed" the
civil "magistrates" whom it considers to be "ordained of God" and
in that it attempted to capitalize upon the war as a means of promoting the Institution's evangelical purpose.
7. The Present International Situation
The General Assembly of the denomination has not met since
Great Britain, France and Germany declared war in September, 1959.
Consequently, there has been no official denominational utterance toward either this or the Russo-Finnish war. However, the three denominational publications were checked to see what attitude they were expressing toward the international situation. These publications were:
The Cumberland Presbyterian, the official weekly church organ; The Cumberland Crusader, a monthly young people's magazine; and The Missionary
Messenger,a monthly missionary magazine edited by women for women of
the church.
The most significant discovery in this analysis of these
publications was that they gave very little space or attention to the
international situation.
During the six months of hostilities The
1. Confession of Faith (C.P.). OE* .cit., pp. 52-53.
Cumberland Presbyterian has had only three editorials directly bearing upon the subject or the issues involved.
The Missionary Messenger
has been carrying pro-Chinese articles since Japan began hostilities
in China, largely because the latter country is the oldest mission field
of the denomination, but has had only one or two articles which have
dealt directly with the g eneral International scene or the war in
Western Europe. The May 1939 issue of The Cumberland Crusader carried
editorials with a bearing upon the international scene, but little of
significance has been said since that time. In general, the church press
Is given to denominational news, devotional and worship materials, and
items of strictly "religious" import. Little attention is given to
international affairs.
Following are the editorials which appeared in The Cumberland
War,with all its grim realities, is upon the world again!
Whatever has been your general attitude toward the situations leading
to war among the European people, that attitude is changed now. Despite
your efforts to be a fair, peace-loving citizen of your own country,
you have already begun to be prejudiced citizens of the world. Any
plea to your common sense will avail but little despite the fact that
you have been noted for such in the past. There is a great war on
and you naturally take sides.
Your own country is making the greatest effort possible to
keep you out of war. Whether it can succeed in doing so no one knows.
Those of you who listened to the President of the United States speak
Sunday evening, heard his avowed determination to keep us neutral.
Some people will rejoice over that declaration; others will be unduly
critical of it. It is perhaps difficult for those of us who experienced
the other war to keep from wishing we could do something to aid our old
allies. We can see many reasons for wanting to do so, principal of
which we term a mad aggressor who will let no nation of people be safe
If he can get power to attack it. But who knows all the facts in the
case? We have heard what nations have wanted us to hear. It may be
entirely true; it may be high-pressure propaganda.
The onetilingwe do know is that there will be all kinds of
propaganda brought to bear upon us in the next few months. Both fighting sideB will go to air and to the press to try to influence us favorably towards their nations and unfavorably toward their enemy. Already
the air is full of such. One does not know what to believe. Some people
will line up on both sides. We have no trouble knowing where the sympathy of the majority will be.
Our firm hope is that our readers will not be swept away
by all that they read and hear. Also it is our hope that our readers
will be entirely loyal to their own government in its attempts to
lead us in these war-charged times. Despite your political and economical beliefs, it is a time for you to forget them and listen to the
voice of your leaders. Nor is this deifying our leaders of today.
They have made many mistakes as we see things, perhaps. Nevertheless,
they are leaders, and our leaders. They have information, Important
Information, which you and I can never get. They get accurate information; we get propaganda. They act upon that information; we wish
they would act upon the propaganda we hear. For matters well known
to all, information that necessarily comes Into the hands of the leaders of all governments cannot be released to the general public. There
fore, we urge you to be loyal to your own leaders through these times.
Further, we urge you, as nearly as it is humanly possible,
to hold your head, keep your Christian spirit, and not to make a fool
of yourself in general by prejudice and propaganda. We recall too
well how neighbors who had been neighbors for years, fell out with
eadh other permanently over times and questions like these, in the
beginning of the World War. We do not say that you can keep all
prejudice out of your lives now, bur we do urge you to remember the
principles laid down by Christ and to hold on to your Christian ideals
tenaciously. Whatever you offer as a solution to the present problem
Is bound to affect your feeling toward some people, people who are
also made in the image of God and worship the same God you do.
There can be nothing won by any war. It costs the whole
world at the time and for centuries after it is over. It never
settles anything. Nevertheless, there Is a war on and some of the
leading nations of the world are engaged in it. Undoubtedly the
U.S.A., will have much Influence upon how this war goes. Our plea
Is that people who make up this powerful land continue to be Christian. Because there is war is no reason for your being less Christian, but reason why you should be more Christian than ever before
to help to bring the world back to its senses and to a permanent peace
upon earth and good will toward man. — (September 7, 1959, p. 1.)
The history of the world records the rise and fall of nations whose rulers boasted that their kingdom would have no end, but
they did end. History is repeating itself. Small nations have had
to succumb to the lust for power of large nations. Hitler's arrogant
boasting and threats of a world "blood bath" if other governments do
not accept his own peace terms are like some madmen rulers who have
preceded him. If history repeats itself his government will have a
smashing fall. If Christ's kingdom stands, then kingdoms established
upon strife and blood and violence and brute force cannot stand; and
God's eternal book says there shall be no end to Christ's kingdom
(Luke 1*52, 35).
Christ reigns today In a vast realm of spiritual reality
but the King is coming again to reign in His kingdom. Skeptics may
deny such a possibility, modernists may scoff at it, many Christians
may doubt it, but once in almost every twenty-five verses of the Hew
Testamamt there glistens the promise of the return of the King to His
kingdom. A statement has been made that not over fifty per cent of
church members believe In the second coming of Christ. I do not know
how near correct that is, but if true, how far will it miss the
number who believed that He was coming the first time? The leaders
of the church did not accept Him when He was here, and it may be
some will not accept Him when He returns. Jesus gave us one sign
of His near return that iniquity shall abound and the love of many
shall wax cold (Matt. 24:12).
It is possible that the present chaotic condition of the
world is the dark hour before the Light cometh. How much more bloodshed before the kingdoms of force are overthrown, we do not know;
but that the King is coming and perhaps soon, in some form to set
up in some way a kingdom of righteousness and peace, is the hopeful promise held out to faithful believers in a harassed world.
"The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,
and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15).
— (November 2, 1959, p. 4 ) .
The daily press tells about a couple of Naziis in this
country who have been tried for violating the laws of the government,
proved guilty, and sentenced to prison terms. Also that several Communists have been arrested by Federal agents and charged with banding together for the purpose of overthrowing the government by force.
If found guilty, they will be given prison terms. That means that the
govBrnment will have to feed them, and loyal citizens pay taxes to
supply the food to feed traitors to the government. It looks like it
would be better to bundle up all who want Stalin and Hitler rule and
send them where they can personally experience it.
Reports coming from Russia and Germany show that those governments do not recognize the rights of individuals; the individual
has no right to own anything; all property belongs to the government;
the individual must work for the government at the price set by the
government, must live where the government says live, eat what the
government says eat, say what the government wants said, or face a
firing squad without trial. The government owns property and people;
the people are slaves of the state.
The best way to cure these trouble makers is to send them
where they will have to live under the kind of government they advocate. We have tolerated these enemies of God and country and civilization too long. Imprisonment and food is not what they need. Send
them where they will have to experience Stalinism and Hitlerism. —
(February 8, 1940, p. 4 ) .
In addition to these editorials there have been six miscellaneous articles in The Cumberland Presbyterian
which had some bearing upon
the international crisis. Two of these were reprints from other pub1
lications. They were entitled, "Be of Good Cheer" and "Religion's
Responsibility for World Peace."
Another was a sermon emphasizing:
1. August 24, 1959, p. 1.
2. Ibid.
"Have Faith, then in the hand of God in this storm. He maketh the
wrath of man to praise Him. God sltteth on the flood."
was an article contributed by a minister of the denomination, in which
he said, "What is the cost for world peace?
One week of fasting and
prayer by all the Churches of the world will bring world peace. No2
thing else will bring world peace." The Rover, a popular columnist
of the publication, devoted one of his columns to an advocacy of Amer5
lea's observing an isolationist policy and fighting for defense only.
The moderator of the General Assembly, in what is entitled "The Moderator' s Corner," has twice mentioned the conflict, but one of hiB articles merely illustrated the horrors of war through the relating of some
tragic experiences which he had witnessed in the World War. His other
article was as follows:
One thing is sure, one cannot escape the war that is raging
in the minds of some with whom he must converse in the marts and lanes.
One cannot close one's ears to all that is said, nor, his eyes to all
that is written concerning the war being raged abroad. But, one can
surely pray God to keep him in peace. God has promised, and His Word
is true, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on
thee; because he trusteth in thee."
Perhaps the highest contribution the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church can make in these days is sincerely to claim God's promise of
peace. Our Church, like the whole of Christendom, is going to be sorely tried. Americans are going to be tried, as others, nationally.
Christians are going to be tried spiritually. And, the whole world is
going to be tried morally and economically. Would it not be well for
us to add to our daily reading of God's Word, such literature as will
be calculated to give strength to our faith in God?4
The editorials in the May 1959 issue of The Cumberland Crusader,
although antedating the actual declaration of the present European war,
indicate the editorial emphasis given by this publication. The following are excerpts from the two editorials:
October 26, 1959, p. 5.
September 14, 1939, p. 9.
September 21, 1959, p. 9.
October 5, 1939, p. 9.
The Increasing Toll of War
The increasing terrors of war should cause thinking people
to think twice before consenting to any test which would tend toward
sending the youth of our land to defend any "first lines of defense"
which may be imagined to exist on European soil.
Christianity and the Totalitarian State
The theory of totalitarianism is especially antagonistic to
the Christian religion. Totalitarianism says, "The state is first in
everything." Christianity says, "We ought to obey God rather than
man." Totalitarianism knows no way of converting others to its viewpoint except force or the threat of force. Christianity, to quote the
words of its Founder, says, "Love your enemies, do good to them which
hate you, bless them which curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you."....
Totalitarianism cannot gain headway as long as there is any
large proportion of the people who are unswerving in their loyalty and
devotion to God.
The following editorial, the only significant article dealing with the European situation which has appeared in The Missionary
Messenger since war was declared in September, was printed in the first
issue after the declaration of war*
Since the last Messenger went to press world events have been
moving with unpredictable speed. What some believed could never happen
again has happened. Europe Is at war! These words are on all lips,
all hearts are distressed, and minds are confused as to the effect it
will have on our own stability and security in America. Of this we
may be sure, America has a responsibility to all people, and we as
Christians now face the tragedy of selfish aggrandizement at war with
those principles for which our fathers fought and died.
What does the Lord require of us at this time? This searching question cannot be avoided, it will ring in our ears and should
stir our hearts and souls to the depths.
Surely our first reaction is repentance for our part, the
church's part in Its failure to be truly Christian. But we must go
further than repentance. We must now be Christian and give Christ
a chance as we have never done before.
There is nothing uplifting about war. If this generation is
to have anything worth while preserved it will be brought about through
a spiritual conquest.
Who more than missionary workers should lead out In such a
conquest? The prayer of our hearts for all members of the missionary
society and for all Christians at this time is that we may not fail to
keep ourselves humble and dependent on God and that our faith may link
His power to our lives and prepare us and fit us for the spiritual conquest.! which is surely upon us at this time.l
1. The Missionary Messenger. October, 1959, p. 5.
The results of this analysis of the treatment of the present
international situation by the press of the denomination may be summarized as follows:
First, it is evident that, judging from the press, the denomination is primarily concerned with its own "spiritual" and institutional program, and that it gives only brief secondary attention to international affairs.
Second, there are in the utterances of the press, expressed
and implied, an anti-German sentiment and a sympathetic leaning toward
Great Britain and France.
Third, the war has stimulated increasing emphasis upon prayer
and the seeking of the "peace" and comforts of the spiritual life of
the inner man. This emphasis upon spiritual withdrawal and also the
Inclination toward anticipation of the second coming of Christ indicate
the avenues which are being used for escape from unpleasant reality.
Fourth, ihere is little' in these publications to indicate
that in dealing with this crisis the denomination has or will follow
any definite and positive course based on clearly conceived ethical 1deals or spiritual revelations. On the contrary, there is evidence that
although the denomination disapproves war it would probably again give,
unhesitatingly, complete support to the federal government if the United
States became involved In the conflict.
Contiguity Between Institutional Conditions
and External Social Conditions
In addition to the institution's relations to the foregoing
social issues, it should be pointed out that there have been significant
contiguities between its internal conditions and other important external social conditions. The accompanying diagrams vividly illustrate
the extent to which this is true in several respects.
Diagram 4, on which Is shown a comparison of the curves of the
per -capita national income
and the total expenditures of the denomin-
ation from 1909 through 1959, reveals that the curve of denomination expenditures suffers more minor fluctuations than that of the national income but that the general contour is very similar. Denominational expenditures also increased and decreased less rapidly than national income. Both reached their highest peak in 1928, and both began a sharp
decline in the following year.
Denominational expenditures did not de-
cline quite so rapidly or to the same extent, however, as did the national income. Whereas the national income reached its lowest point in 1952,
the denominational expenditures reached their "depression" low, which
was proportionately considerably higher than that of the national income,
in 1954. The national income began a more rapid recovery, however. On
the other end of the curve it is to be observed that denominational expenditures sharply rose in 1914, in which year the World War began in
Europe, but that they also sharply receded as the United States became.!
involved in the war, in contrast to the fact that the national income
received a slight set-back in 1914 but sharply increased with the United
States' participation in the war. This seems to indicate that both the
national Income and the income and expenditures of the denomination are
sensitive to and directly affected by major social crises, but that the
manner and degree of reaction as a result of this sensitivity depend
upon the factors involved in the crises.
1. The statistical data upon which these diagrams are based
may be found in tables In the appendix. Their inclusion in the body
of the text is not necessary to the development of the thesis.
2. Data on national income taken from King, Willford Isbell,
The National Income and Its Purchasing Power, p. 87; and U. S. Department of Commerce, Statistical Abstract of U. S.. 1958, p. 302.
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The diagram also clearly Illustrates Institutional lag. Although national income began to rise in 1915, denominational expenditures did not start a similar rise until 1920, and they stayed four or
five years behind until 1928, when both reached their peak. During
the two years following the "crash" denominational expenditures decreased at about the same rate as the national incomes but then institutional resistance apparently began to slow them up, so that they
reached their "depression*1 low point in 1934, two years after that of
the national income. Furthermore, the low point of expenditures in the
depression was proportionately much higher than that of the national
In 1935, however, the rate of recovery of the national in-
come began to exceed that of denominational expenditures, which again
began to lag considerably behind.
Diagram 5 makes a similar comparison of the curves of pastors1
salaries in the denomination and of the national Income. Pastors* salaries seemed to have a slightly wider range of variation than the total
expenditures of the denomination, although a careful comparison of the
two diagrams will show that the pastors' salaries tend to be greatly
favored over the other denominational expenditures. They rose more
quickly in response to increased national income, stayed high longer,
and tended to less extreme decrease than did other expenditures. Their
highest peak was reached in 1926 on the crest of a wave of increase,the
rate of which surpassed that of the national income in 1920. This high
peak was practically maintained until 1951, three years after the national income and total denominational expenditures had precipituously declined.
Apparently, therefore, perhaps because of the personal factor
and because the ministry represents a powerful vested interest group
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in the institution, when financial conditions of the denomination are
affected by social crises, expenditures on benevolences, buildings,
repairs and the like are last raised and first cut, whereas salaries to
ministers are first to be raised and last to be lowered.
These two diagrams are made more meaningful when viewed in
the light of data collected by the Federal Census of Religious Bodies.
Table XXIX gives a comparison of the per cents of Increase of expenditures
of all United States churches, of expenditures of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and of the national income, during the decade between
1916 and 1926. It shows that during the period the rate of increase
of expenditures of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was approximately
25 per cent greater than that of the national income but almost 27 per
cent less than that of all churches. One reason why the denomination
makes so good a showing in this comparison is that its expenditures were,
for some reason,at an almost record low in 1916.
Table XXIX
Increase in Church Expenditures as Compared with National Income, 1916 to 1926
Per Cent of Increase
Expenditures of all U. S. Churches...
Expenditures of the C.P. Church
Katlohal Income
Diagram 5 compares the curves of wholesale commodity prices
and total expenditures per member in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
1, See Fry, op. cit.. p. 90.
2. Data on commodity prices taken from Statistical Abstract
of U. S.. 1957, p. 300.
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from 1895 through 1939. It will be observed that the curve of expenditures per member is quite similar to that of total church expenditures
in Diagram 4.
It is apparent that there is a considerable tendency for
the curve of church expenditures per member to fluctuate Inversely to
that of wholesale commodity prices. This suggests that when commodity
prices are high, increasing the cost of living, offerings to the church
are curtailed.
Church expenditures per.member were greatest in the two
periods when commodity prices were the most stable. These periods were
from 1895 to the beginning of the World War and from 1921 to 1929. Denominational expenditures were curtailed in the latter part of the first
period, most likely because of the disorganization which followed the
merger attempt In 1906. The highest peak of per capita expenditure of
the church was in the boom year of 1928, but there was the beginning of
a marked descent from this peak in the following year.
These expendi-
tures did not reach their lowest point of the "economic depression,"
however, until 1954, whereas commodity prices reached their low in 1932.
This Indicates a certain amount of institutional resistance.
It is sig-
nificant, too, that despite the fact ^commodity prices were low during
the "depression," church expenditures also were decreased markedly.
this case the "depression's" introduction of the factors of social disturbance and the decreased number of dollars seems to have deprived the
church of its normal benefit from the increase in the dollar* s purchasing power.
Diagram 6 charts the curves of conversions and membership additions in the denomination and repeats that of wholesale commodity prices
for the period from 1908 to 1959. The curve showing conversions begins
in 1922 because of the fact that this was the year in which the denomination first began keeping a record of conversions.
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The tendency shown by this diagram is for the curves of additions and conversions to be more directly Inverse to that of commodity
prices than was the curve of per capita church expenditures, shown in
Diagram 5.
If conversions and additions be taken as an index to success-
ful functioning of the institution with regard to its goals, or as an
Indication of its spiritual condition, it appears that the social factors which cause commodity prices to be extremely high thwart the purposes of the denomination and reduce it to a spiritual low tide, whereas
the spiritual success of the denomination is increased when social conditions are such as to depress commodity prices.
A consideration of the curves of conversions and additions,
aside from that of commodity prices, reveals that the two tend to closely parallel one another, but that there are usually considerably more
conversions than additions. They also show that the social upheaval
which characterized the World War period resulted in the sharpest and
most extreme decrease in church additions, that additions and conversions
reached their highest peak when conditions became more normal Immediately following the war period (1921), and that the stock market "crash11
had a sharply adverse effect upon the spiritual life of the denomination as measured by these standards. The economic "depression" increased
the success of the denomination in making converts and gaining members,
while the "recession" which followed the "depression" had the opposite
Since 1958, conversions and additions have decidedly Increased.
By way of summary, It should be pointed out that whatever
other explanations there may be for the phenomena indicated on all four
of these diagrams there is a most significant indication that this institution is sensitive to changes in its social environment. It haei not
been a spiritual institution pursuing its goals with relentless persistence and success, regardless of social conditions.
Quite obvious-
ly Its behavior and functioning could not be understood apart from an
understanding of its milieu. The denomination is a social institution,
dependent upon social conditions for its success, and obligated and responsible to the social order, whether or not it conceives of itself
as such.
In this chapter the institution's relations with its changing social environment have been considered in the light of social issues
with which the institution has been involved.
It has been the purpose
of the chapter to show the manner in which institutional behavior has
been affected by changes in the environment.
considered were: 1. Sabbath Observance,
Civil War,
2. The Negro, Slavery and the
5. Woman Suffrage and the Status of Women, 4. Temperance and
National Prohibition,
Specific social issues
The World War, and
5. Change in the Status of Marriage and Divorce,
7. The Present International Situation. These
were issues with which the Institution had overt dealings. In addition
to facts concerning the institution's relationships with them, the contiguity of its behavior and functional conditions with important circumstances In Its social environment in the last four decades was pointed
One of the most significant findings of the chapter is that
the institution is greatly affected by and highly sensitive to changes
in its social environment.
It ha3 been shown that the denomination has given most attention to those social issues which were so closely related to personal
behavior as to possibly affect the individual's religious experience
or interfere with his soul's salvation.
Such issues were the problems
of liquor drinking and Sabbath observance. These were problems which
had a direct bearing upon the evangelical purpose of the denomination,
constituting a direct challenge to the institution's success in the
prosecution of its primary purpose.
Greatest concern, therefore, was
manifested in these problems because they were the most direct threats
to the institution's status.
In the case of slavery, woman suffrage, divorce, the Civil
War, and the World War the threat to institutional status was not recognized as being so direct; consequently, the institution showed less
continuous concern over these issues, was less consistent in maintaining
an attitude toward them, and excused itself from primary responsibility
in dealing with them.
The Civil War came nearest being recognized as
a threat to the institution, and as has been pointed out, the serious
institutional disturbance which this produced caused the institution to
react to the war almost entirely in terms of preserving itself. That
is to say, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has reacted to the social
issues here considered not so much in the light of their bearing upon
eternal verities as of their bearing upon the welfare and status of the
When, as In the case of slavery and the Civil War, it best
suited the interests of the institution, the declaratldn was made that
church courts are "to handle and conclude nothing except that which
is ecclesiastical, and are not to Interfere with the affairs of the
Commonwealth," but when, as In the cases of prohibition and the World
War, the interests and objectives of the institution were better served
by interference and participation, there was unhesitating entrance
upon "affairs of the Commonwealth."
It has been shown that the institution has tended to be a
conserver and defender of the status quo. In connection with these issues
it has manifested a protesting attitude toward social change, but has conformed to change when forced to in order to maintain status. This was
especially shown with respect to divorce, the status of women, and certain
Sabbath behaviors.
The institution has shown a marked tendency toward avoiding
rather than attempting to reshape unpleasant reality in its social milieu,
the exceptions being in those cases where it appeared less costly to undertake the reshaping of unpleasant reality than to allow this reality
to undermine institutional status.
The facts also suggest that the Institution has been more influenced by than an influence upon the social environment.
That, how-
ever, the institution usually has conformed to rather than stood out
against popular sentiment on most of the issues may be construed as its
having acted in the Interests of its status.
It should be remembered, however, that there has never been the
conception in the institution that its primary purpose was to reform the
social order. Its primary purpose has been and still is to save souls
and prepare individuals for Christ's second coming.
In order to carry
forward this primary purpose the institution naturally has been concerned
for the maintenance and increasing of its prestige and status. It is
with some degree of consistency, therefore, that its main concern with the
turbulent social order has been to insure therein the security of its
own position. The question which this inevitably raises is as to how
effective the institution can be in promoting genuine individual
salvation while neglecting to play a positive and effective role in
social reformation.
This has been an inquiry into the behavior of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, an American Protestant religious institution.
The data have been arranged with the purpose of presenting an
intimate sociological picture of the institution and of its behavior,
in the hope that such a picture would throw light upon the relation
between the institution and its social environment. The historical
method has been employed in the study, and the primary sources of
data have been the official records and documents of the denomination
and the results obtained from the use of questionnaires and attitude
Important limitations of the study inhere in the general unreliability of church statistics, in the fact that it has been concerned with only one institution and has represented little effort to
compare that institution with other religious or social institutions,
in the fact that the subject has been too large to handle in as careful detail as might have been profitable, and in the fact that the
investigator may not have been able always to free himself from subjectivity in interpretation.
The study has shown that:
First, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a "figure upon
a background" product. It originated in a setting of at least three-
fold composition. In the first place, It was organized among ScotchIrish people and became heir to many aspects of their culture and
traditions. In the second place, it was the recipient of an ecclesiastical and religious heritage particularly influenced by Protestantism, Presbyterianism and the English Dissenting Tradition. And in the
third place, It came Into being under the peculiar social conditions of
an isolated sector of the American frontier. The explanation of Its
origin lies in the fact that environmental conditions so accentuated
certain social and religious needs and certain dissenting elements
in the traditions of the people on the frontier that a greater adjustment was required of the old institutional form of Presbyterianism than
it was able to make.
Second, the institution was organized, beginning February 4,
1810, In the Cumberland Territory, around the revival purpose of "saving souls," and its major structural and behavior patterns have grown
out of the effort to institutionalize the techniques and emphases which
were characteristic of the Great Revival of 1800. The revival became
what Panunzio calls the "primary bond, essential to its (the institution's)
existence and functioning.*
Third, the institution's structure and organization demonstrate
the "four main type parts" which Chapin describes as combining to produce
all social institutions.
It has a whole system of Mcommon reciprocat-
ing attitudes of individuals and their conventionalized behavior patterns,1' including theological beliefs, attitudes toward social behavior,
worship forms and practices, definitions and differentiations of individual status within the Institution, and the like. It also includes
1. Panunzio, op. cit., p. 15.
2. See reference 8 In Chapter II.
"cultural objectB of symbolic value" to which behavior has been conditioned.
These include the Bible, the cross, the sacraments, replicas
of the log house In which the denomination was organized, the spot of
ground where the original log house stood, the mourners' bench, and the
Its "cultural objects possessing utilitarian value11 are primar-
ily in the form of money and property, such as endowments, church buildings and equipment, homes for pastors, publishing equipment, and other
items of less value.
Age and Institutionalization have produced In-
creasing emphasis upon the accumulation of property.
The "language sym-
bols that preserve the descriptions and specifications of the patterns
of inter-relationship among the other three parts3' have been formed into
a code or creedal statement known as The Confession of Faith.
Fourth, although questions of theology and educational requirements for ordination to the ministry were the points upon which were fo—
cussed the controversy resulting in the Institution's origin, the real
issue was a social one. The prolonged struggle for existence in a geographically isolated environment had produced such social distance that the people of the frontier had little In common with the larger body
of Institutional Presbyterianism.
Through all its history the factor
of cultural isolation has figured conspicuously in the behavior of the
Fifth, the institution showed its greatest virility and adjustment at the time when its "cause," the revival, was prospering.
social change, however, began to diminish the effectiveness of the revival, there was marked increase in institutional rigidity and maladjustment.
The Institution began taking defensive measures to preserve the
"cause," whereas previously it had been occupied with offensive measures
in promoting it. As the "cause" weakened, the status of the institution in the social order was challenged. This resulted In considerable
institutional maladjustment, which was greatly accentuated when practically all the distinctive elements of the "cause" either lost their
meaning and value or were adopted by rival institutions. Having now no
sense of distinctiveness, the institution is so beset with problems of
internal maladjustment that as a substitute for the "cause" it has come
to place major emphasis upon loyalty and institutional self-preservation.
Sixth, the institution has not played a positive or creative
role in social change.
To every social situation studied it reacted
in terms of the preservation or enhancement of Its own status, rather
than in the light of eternal verities or broadly conceived needs of
the social order. This position is rationalized In the attitude that
the institution's divinely appointed purpose is to effect the soul-salvation of individuals, rather than to reform the social order. It is
not surprising, therefore, that the tendency of the institution is to
shift its emphases and Interpretations on social issues continually to
conform with changes in its social milieu.
Seventh, the Institution has embraced and placed great emphasis upon many of the basic attitudes of English Dissent. This has
been, as already pointed out, because the tradition was a part of the
cultural heritage of the Scotch-Irish group who settled the Cumberland
Territory and because of the cultural isolation, resulting from both
social and geographic causes, of the people whom the institution has
served. The dissenting tradition originally took root and flourished
in cultural isolation, and since the factor of isolation was greatly
increased In the Cumberland Territory, it naturally found renewed #..•-•
expression there. Whereas Isolation had been primarily the result of
economic causes in England, It was the result of both economic and geographic causes on the American frontier.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has continued to serve a
culturally Isolated people. Its membership is primarily in rural areas
of states with predominantly rural populations.
The Individualism which was rooted in dissent and which was
conspicuous in both the environment and origin of the institution has
seriously hindered the process of institutionalization.
It has produced
a lack of cooperation of Institutional units, a lack of respect for institutional authority, a weak administrative organization, and consequently, a great amount of internal institutional maladjustment.
Frontier Isolation, accompanied by monotony, loneliness and
their psychological concomitants also resulted in exaggerated emphasis
on emotionalism in religious expression. This emphasis has been perpetuated in the institution. It has shown signs of weakening, however,
as improvement in transportation and communication facilities has broken
down Isolation.
Emotionalism now receives markedly less emphasis in ur-
ban congregations than in rural, the apparent explanation being that
isolation is decreased in an urban environment.
Eithth, age has brought increasing institutional rigidity
and inflexibility.
The accumulation of property and the development of
vested interest groups, such as office holders and ordained ministers,
have accentuated this tendency.
Ninth, the Institution has evaded unpleasant reality in the
social order by looking upon itself as an institution apart, not being
charged with responsibility for taking action on social issues with
regard to which specific instructions were not laid down in the Bible.
The exceptions being In those cases where the interests of the Institution' s status seemed better served by taking action than by not doing
The denomination has considered itself a divinely ordained insti-
tution, and has little realized that It is a social institution with
social obligations and responsibilities to maintain and discharge.
the words of Swift:
"Neither itB claim to divine authority nor its ten-
dency to exclusiveness can excuse the ignorance and ineptitude of its
social functioning.
There is no good reason why godliness should be
made an excuse for futility."
Tenth, the inter-relationship of the institution with itB environment has been shown by the fact that every available statistical
measurement of the denomination Indicates that the tide of its prosperity rises and falls in close contiguity with that of its social environment.
Economic fluctuations affect the income of the institution,
and conversions and additions, according to which the institution largely measures its success, increase or decrease in a strikingly similar
A -.-najor social crisis, such as the United States' entrance into
the World War, immediately registers an effect upon the behavior and func
tioning of the institution*
Even such a social issue as woman suffrage
has strong repercussions in the functioning of the Institution.
Eleventh, although higher education in the Institution has
been designed to further indoctrination and strengthen institutional
controls, Interestingly, students in the one denominational college believe the doctrines of the creed less than any other group of personB
studied. These students also showed themselves less affected than the
denomination's general membership by a number of other institutional
1. Swift, op. cit.. p. 4.
This suggests that higher education, even when carefully
restricted and channelized, tends to have a broadening and liberalizing effect which weakans narrow institutional controls. This is particularly true in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church because higher
education inevitably has become a means of, to some extent at least,
breaking down the cultural isolation in which many of the institutional forms and controls are rooted.
Twelfth, early patterns of behavior which arose spontaneously in the prosecution of the "cause" were gradually crystallized into
institutional forms and have been preserved even after having lost the
impetus of their original spontaneity.
Thirteenth, as the institution has grown older and suffered
experiences which have seriously challenged Its status It has sought
to increase its power of social control over its membership.
in the early days its control efforts were almost entirely directed
toward spiritual ends, letting Its own status be taken care of In the
successful pursuit of those ends, the focus has gradually and persistently been shifted toward control in the direction of ends bearing
more directly upon the question of institutional status.
Fourteenth, the institution is at present poorly organized
and shows signs of frustration and the lack of a clear definition of
purpose, which facts are related to the weakening of its primary bond.
It lacks an Integrating "cause" strong enough and distinctive enough
to give it a sense of mission, purpose and status*
Fifteenth, there is better adjustment in the institution on
theological matters than on questions related to social issues, suggesting that its institutional problems are to a considerable degree
related to the weakness of Its functioning with respect to the problems
1. In addition to the facts presented in Chapter VI, see comparisons of attitude scale results In appendix.
-of its whole social environment.
All in all, the study has revealed that need in the social
environment, the primary institutional bond, cultural isolation, social
change, and the struggle for status, have been of primary significance
in the behavior and functioning of this institution.
Appraisal of the Institution
An appraisal of the institution from the standpoint of the
science of sociology would include the following points:
First, the institution to a considerable extent has been a
pawn of social change and has not endeavored seriously enough to play a
creative role in that change.
Second, the primary bond of the institution is weakening.
this continues the institution increasingly approaches the danger of
Third, the institution may have emphasized "other-worldliness"
at the expense of individual and institutional adjustment in this world.
Fourth, the institution has greatly emphasized emotionalism in
religious expression. Hartshorne1s criteria of effective functioning imply
that a more balanced religious experience with greater practical bearing
upon adjustment in social living would produce more wholesome results on
individual character and personality development.
Fifth, the great emphasis upon loyalty to the institution results
in a form of social control which may have an unwholesome effect upon the
personality and character development of the members. Although such emphasis preserves the institution , it may tend to destroy creative functioning in persons. If loyalty is not merited on a voluntary basis, it might
be better for persons if it ceased to be maintained.
Sixth, although the institution largely is failing to function
effectively in terms of general social need, it is providing a form
of religious expression which is satisfying to the mass of its constituency living in comparative cultural Isolation, and In that sense,
it is for this constituency effectively meeting a very important social
Recommendations Concerning the Institution
The following recommendations concerning the institution have
evolved from the study:
First, that the institution place increased emphasis upon
a broadly conceived program of education designed to break down cultural Isolation and to supplement the emotional religious emphasis.
Second, that the institution recognize that social change has
considerably weakened the revival technique, and that It seek other
and more effective ways of accomplishing its purposes and of meeting
social need.
Third, that along with the emphasis upon individual salvation, the leaders of the institution more definitely emphasize its
assuming a positive and creative role in meeting the needs of the general social order.
Fouibh, that the institution seek a new *cause," or primary
bond, which will distinguish it from other similar institutions and
compensate for the loss of status and Integration which accompanied the
disappearance of its evangelical and theological distinctiveness. It
cannot have wholesome growth and functioning If Its primary institutional distinction embraces no more than unquestioning loyalty designed
to perpetuate the existence of the institution because of the glories
of its past. Perhaps this "cause" can be found in some form of a social
service program.
Sociological Implications of This Study
It is never scientific to make generalizations on the basis
of only one case selected from a large universe of data. Nevertheless,
this does not exonerate an investigator from the responsibility of
pointing out possible broader implications of his study.
The following
are not listed as conclusive generalizations, but merely as points which
the study has suggested might be of a general nature, particularly with
respect to institutions of the type studied:
First, new institutional forms are required to meet needs arising from social change, but as, with age, institutionalization proceeds,
rigidity and inflexibility increase, making it difficult for existing institutions to develop these recurrently demanded new forms. This results In maladjustment and cleavage which weaken and destroy old institutions and create new ones.
Second, an institution is essentially an element of a status
and It may not be expected to assume a creative role In produc-
ing any other form of status quo, although it will act vigorously to
preserve that of which it is a part.
Third, regardless of Its codes and theoretical standards, an
institution will tend to act in a given situation in the manner calculated best to preserve Its own status. It Is thus so related to Its
social environment that it is generally oblivious to radical inconsistencies in its historical behavior.
Fourth, protestant religious denominations are liable to institutional weakness because, as in democracy, for institutional authority they depend upon the public opinion of their constituency.
opinion is subject to vacillation, and is particularly affected by social
change. This explains, also, why It is difficult for them to maintain a
consistent attitude toward social issues or to assume a positive role
in social change.
Fifth, if the original distinct need which an institution arose
to meet disappears, the institution will tend to persist, transferring to
the problem of preserving itself the energies formerly devoted to the
need or "cause." That is to say, as Panunzio has pointed out, it tends
to outlive Its usefulness.
Sixth, an Institution is only as strong as its primary bond.
This bond is the factor which identifies and integrates it, or gives it
institutional "personality," and if, for any reason, it is weakened, the
institution begins to suffer maladjustment.
Seventh, an institution cannot long successfully pursue Its
goals In Isolation from other matters embraced in its social environment. Just as cooperative social functioning is important to the welfare of the individual, so Is it important to the welfare of an institution, no matter how much the institution may seek the authority for
its existence from other than social sources.
Eighth, one of the primary problems with which education must
cope if it is to Improve the social functioning of institutions is that
of breaking down the cultural Isolation which nourishes narrow forms
of institutional control.
Ninth, religious Institutions are more directly produced by
social need than by external divine authority, and they tend to exhibit
behavior in terms of the standards of the social environment rather
than in keeping with eternal verities.
Tenth, as an institution Increases in age and especially as it
begins to lose Its virility it tends to glorify its past. This represents a form of escape from reality, and an effort to effect social
control through symbolic appeal rather than through effective and creative functioning.
Eleventh, an Institution becomes a symbolic as well as a
concrete reality to its members. When they have accepted its "common
reciprocating attitudes11 and have fitted into its patterns of behavior,
Individuals tend to have an emotional fixation toward it. The degree
of this emotional fixation, or attachment, is in direct ratio to the cultural Isolation of the individual and the effectiveness with which the
institution is meeting his felt need.
Twelfth, an institution will mo3t readily make changes and
adjustments in those parts of its form and structure which are least
directly related to the maintenance of the "cause" or primary bond around
which the institution is organized.
Thirteenth, the effectiveness of institutional discipline is
affected by the cultural traditions ajnd environmental circumstances of
the institution's constituency.
Fourteenth, an institution, even though its origin may have
been in social revolution, tends to become a "vested interest" with
an attitude of opposition toward further change and revolution.
Recommendations for Further Study
This study has suggested several questions which might serve
as the bases for further investigations. Among the most important are
the following:
First, can an institution substitute a new primary bond for
one which has become so weakened as to have lost Its integrative value?
Second, has the effect of social change upon the culturally
isolated Cumberland Presbyterian Church been essentially different from
Its effect upon more urban and less Isolated denominations?
Third, how has the behavior of this Institution compared with
that of other Protestant religious denominations of American origin?
Fourth, how has the behavior of Protestant denominations of American origin compared with that of denominations transplanted from other
Fifth, what has been the behavior of non-religious institutions
in the period of change covered by this study?
Sixth, what, from the standpoint of mental hygiene, is the
effect upon individuals of the evangelical religious emphasis?
Seventh, can a religious institution, or any institution, play
a consistently creative role In social change over an extended period
of time?
Eighth, do institutions always tend to react to social issues
in terms of the preservation of their own status?
Ninth, what fundamental similarities and differences in institutional virility and general behavior exist between those Protestant
denominations which have adopted the most comprehensive "social" programs and those which have clung to the old "spiritual" emphases?
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versity of North Carolina Press, 1955.
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Scribner's Sons, 1950.
Barbee, Rev. J. T., "Moderator's Sermon," Centennial Sermons and Papers
Delivered at the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church before the Eightieth General
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Bethel Beacon, The, 1959-1940.
Blederwolf, William E., Evangelism.
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Board of Christian Education, "Our 10-Year Record in Leadership Education." (Leaflet distributed at the General Assembly in 1959.)
Braly, Rev. S. H., D.D., A Message to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
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Brandt, LeRoy C , Socio-Geographical Influences on the Techniques of
of Evangelism Amongst Protestants in the United States. Unpublished
manuscript, Ph.D. Thesis, New York University Library, 1957.
Campbell, Thomas H., In the Sunlight of God's Love. Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Unpublished B. D. Thesis, 1929.
Chapin, F. Stuart, Contemporary American Institutions. New York: Harper
and Brothers Publishers, 1955.
Cleveland, Catherine C , The Great Revival in the West. 1797-1805.
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Coe, George Albert, What Is Christian Education?
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Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, The. Nashville, Tenn. I Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1885.
Cossitt, Rev. F. R., D.D., The Life and Times of Reverend Finis Ewing.
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Cumberland Crusader. The. 1959, 1940.
Cumberland Presbyterian, The. 1959, 1940.
Dale, W. T., "Introduction," Six Books In One Volume. Privately printed,
Davidson, Robert, History of the Presbyterian Church In the State of
Kentucky. New York: Robert Carter, 1847.
Dictionary of American Biography. Volume XII. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955.
Douglass, H. Paul, and Brunner, Edmund deS, The Protestant Church As A
Social Institution. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1955.
Dowd, Jerome, Control In Human Societies. New York:
tury Company, 1956.
D. Appleton-Cen-
Durbin, Wavonna Taylor, A Comparison of the Rural, Town and City Congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Denomination. Unpublished
B. D. Thesis, 1956. (Bethel College Library)
Encyclopedia Brltannlca, 11th Edition, Volume 15. Cambridge, England:
The University Press, 1911.
Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Volume VI. New York: The MacMillan
Company, 1957.
Evans, H. B., A History of Education in the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church. Unpublished Ph. D. Thesis, Peabody College, Nashville,
Tennessee, 1957.
Ewing, Finis, A Series of Lectures on the Most Important Subjects in
Divinity. Fayettville, Tennessee: Cumberland Presbyterian Synod,
Fry, C. Luther, The United States Looks at Her Churches. New York:
New York Institute of Social and Religious Research, 1950.
Hall, Thomas Cuming, The Religious Background of American Culture.
Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1950.
Hamilton, William H., "Institution," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,
Volume VIII. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1952.
Hartshorne, Hugh, Character In Human Relations. New York:
Scribner's Sons, 1957.
House, Floyd N., The Range of Social Theory. New York: Henry Holt and
Company, 1929.
Howerth, Professor H. W., "Why Young Men Leave Our Church," The Cumberland Presbyterian, November 12, 1896.
Hudgins, Rev. J. L., °A Christ on the Plain," Six Books in One Volume.
Privately printed, 1907.
King, Willford Isbell, The National Income And Its Purchasing Power.
New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, Incorporated, 1950.
Kirkes, L. C., Facts in Outline (1906). Pamphlet in Cumberland Presbyterian Historical Collection, McKenzie,Tennessee.
Knight, Edgar W., Education in the United States. New Editi6n. New York:
Ginn and Company, 1954.
Malinowski, Bronislaw, "Culture," Ennyclopedla of the Social Sciences,
Volume IV. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1951.
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McKamy, Rev. John A., The Development of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church. Nashville, Tenn.* Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing
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Oldham, J. H., and Visser't Hooft, W. A., The Church and Its Function
in Society. New York: Willett, Clark and Company, 1957.
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the author, 1959)
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Millan Company, 1959.
The Mac-
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Payne, E. George, Readings in Educational Sociology. Volume I. New York:
Prentice-Hall, Incorporated, 1956.
Peyton, Hughston, Background and General Survey of the Attempted Merger
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Historical Collection, McKenzie, Tennessee.
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Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1958.
Reasons Why the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian
Church in the United States of America Should Be United. The
Voluntary Committee on Union Information, Bulletin, Number 1, 1906.
Roberts, Rev. William Henry* D. D., "Revision and the Basis of Union,"
(pamphlet reprinted from) The Westminster. November 19, 1904.
Smith, James, History of the Cumberland Presbyterians. Nashville,
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Swift, Arthur L., New Frontiers of Religion. Hew York:
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The MacMillan
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American Book Company, 1959.
Revised Edition. New York:
The following i s a mimeographed questionnaire v/hioh
you a r e f i l l out and r e t u r n with your other r e p o r t s . I t w i l l take only a few minutes; the questions
are simple. This i s a special request made by one of our
young m i n i s t e r s who i s now in school. This information
i s required by him t h a t he may be able to complete'-his
t h e s i s . f o r h i s Ph. D degree. L e t ' u s help him that in the
future he may help us to be a bigger and b e t t e r ohurch.
P . S, None of the information you give w i l l be used in
connection with your name, or t h a t pf your churoha
1. Y/here i s your ohuroh
located? (v'oheok which)
the country a
a v i l l a g e of l e s s than 500 population.
a tov/n of 500 to 2500 population.
a tovm of 2500 to 5000 p o p u l a t i o n
a o i t y of more than 5000 population.
2 . Approximately v<hat percent of your church members are
a. males?
b . under 26 years of age?
c . over 50 years of age?.
5 . a . Does your Board of Deacons hold regular o f f i c i a l meetings a p a r t from the
Board of ElderaT (yes or n o ) .
-_ba How many of the Deacons a r e women?
c. On v/hat day of the week does the Church Session m e e t ? . . . . .
How often does i t meet,?,
d. How many of the Elders have not attended the ohuroh s e r v i c e s or a
Session meeting in a year or more?
e . How many of the Elders are wanen?.
f. trive the number of Elders engaged in the following occupations:
tenant farmer,
independent small merchant.
land-owning farmer.
executive of a big concern.
s m a l l - s a l a r i e d employee.
r e t i r e d business man.
h i g h - s a l a r i e d employee.
:independently wealthy,
poor and unemployed.
Other occupations:
4a a . How often are Communion Services held in your ohuroh?.
b . How many r e v i v a l s were conducted in your ohuroh during the p a s t year?
By your p a s t o r or an outside m i n i s t e r ?
c . How many conversions were there during these r e v i v a l s ?
d. Does your congregation operate on a planned yearly budget to v/hioh
members make d e f i n i t e pledges? (yes or no)
e. Approximately v/hat i s your average a c t u a l attendance per Sunday in
^JuHd&y-^n Sunday School?.
f, Uhat is the t o t a l number of organizations (Sunday school, s o c i e t i e s ,
olubs, e t c . ) in your ohuroh?
g . Does the congregation vote v/hen members are received?
5. IF YOURS IS A PARl'^MME OHUROH, how many other part-time G. P. ohurohes
are there within f i f t e e n miles of yourB?.
a . Has your ohuroh joined v/ith any of these to hire a r e s i d e n t , f u l l time p a s t o r for the group? (yes o r no) «•«
b . If n o t , v/hat a r e the reasons preventing such cooperation?
6. Check («/) among the follov/ing those s p e c i a l services and occasions which
have been observed in your ohiroh during the p a s t y e a n
Bethel College Day.
Mother's Day Missionary Service.
V/a B. M. Day.
A Local Ohurch I n s t i t u t e .
South American Day.
A v/eek of e v a n g e l i s t i c s e r v i c e s ,
Young People*a Day.
beginning Sept. 1 8 , 1938.
Egg Day . ( E a s t e r ) .
I n t e r n a t i o n a l Week of Prayer.
World Bible Sunday.
A leadership Training Class.
Denominational V/eek.
7 . Ansv/er these i f your church i s RURAL or in a VILLAGE (up to 500 population*
a . How many other churches (of any denomination) are there v/ithin three
miles of y o u r s ? . . . .
b . Approximately how many Sundays did your ohuroh f a i l to have Sunday
school during the p a s t year?
o. Approximately hov/ many miles does your p a s t o r l i v e from your church?
8. Answer these i f your ohurch i s in a SMALL TOWI* (500 to 5000 pop.)s
a . What is the t o t a l number of churches in your town?
b . According to sizes of membership, how does your ohuroh rank among the
o t h e r s ? ( F i r s t , seoond, t h i r d , or v/hat?)
c. Hov/ many of the town's ohurohes have full-time p a s t o r s ? . .
9. Ansv/er these i f your ohuroh i s i n a CITY (more than 5000 p o p , ) :
a . Approximately what i s the population of your c i t y ?
b . How many ohurohes are there v/ithin ten blooks of yours?.._
a. Where i s your ohuroh located? (yoheok v/hioh)
in the downtown business d i s t r i c t .
in a factory or other i n d u s t r i a l a r e a .
in a c l o s e - i n r e s i d e n t i a l a r e a .
in a slum a r e a .
in a suburban a r e a .
d. What type of building do you have? ( / c h e c k v/hioh)
only a basement.
a converted store or residencca
inadequate space for present
10. Hov/ long have you had your present pastor?.....
a. Hov/ long did the pastor before him serve the ohuroh?
b. Check (•) in the follov/ing list those reasons v/hioh you think have
figured most in changes of pastors you remember:
Pastor was called to a better church.
JJhuroh got behind v/ith s a l a r y .
^Congregation wanted a younger man.
^Congregation wanted an older nana
"Congregation v/anted a man v/ith more education.
Pastor resigned because of a q u a r r e l or misunderstanding
i n the congregation.
L i s t other r e a s o n s :
1 1 . Among the following, check ( ) those your church has:
A L a d i e s ' Aid Society.
A paid c h o i r .
A Men's Olub.
A pipe organ.
_A Soout Troop.
A r t - g l a s s windows.
_A Y.'orkers' Council.
A Vacation Bible School.
Jlid-week prayer s e r v i c e s .
A. paid a s s i s t a n t pastora
_A Missionary Sooiety.
A paid ohurch s e c r e t a r y .
12a Among the following, oheok ( ) the a c t i v i t i e s c a r r i e d on during the past
year by the ohuroh or any of i t s o r g a n i z a t i o n s :
Joined i n tuiion s e r v i c e s v/ith other denominations.
Held s p e c i a l pre-Easter s e r v i c e s .
Gave to the poor a t Christmas, Thanksgiving, e t o .
Consistently oared for poor f a m i l i e s .
Promoted a oivio or community reform.
Raised a Community Chest or Red Cross offering.
Raised a s p e c i a l offering for Chinese, Spanish, Jewish, or other
foreign r e l i e f .
Had a bazaar, q u i l t i n g , supper, rummage s a l e , or the l i k e , to r a i s e
^Sponsored magazine s a l e s , e t o . , for a percent of p r o f i t s .
_Held church and community s o c i a l s .
_Sponsored, or entered teams i n , a t h l e t i o c o n t e s t s .
Sponsored eduoational l e c t u r e s .
13. Hov/ many members were received i n t o the church during the year
a. upon profession of f a i t h ? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , . . . _
b . by t r a n s f e r from other C. P. churches?
o. by t r a n s f e r from other d e n o m i n a t i o n s ? . . . . . ^
14. During your worship s e r v i c e s ,
(answer yes or no)
Does the choir wear robes?
Does the minister wear a pulpit gown?....
Are hymns selected after the servioe begins?
Are persons in the audience asked to lead prayer?
Does the choir sing anthems?.....,.
Does the choir sing "Amens" to prayers?.
Does the congregation join in responsive reading?
Are candles ever burned on the altar?.........
Do you have a mourners' bench?................a
The following is a mimeographed questionnaire whioh you
are asked to fill out and return to me with your reports.
This is a speoial request made by one of our young ministers
who is now in school. This information is required by him
. that he may be able to complete his thesis for his Ph. D.
degree. Let us help him that in the future he may help us
to be a bigger and better ohuroh.
D. W. Fooks, Stated Clerk
P. S. Please try to anav/er all the questions as correctly
as you can. Hone of the information you give v/ill
be used in oonneotlon v/ith your name or that of your
1. Hov/
many congregations in your presbytery would you say
a r e prospering?
are a t a s t a n d - s t i l l ?
a r e dying?
are dead?
have died during the p a s t twelve months?
are dead but show good prospects for reorganization?
2. a . Hov/ many new mission p o i n t s have been e s t a b l i s h e d in your presbytery
during the p a s t twelve months?
b . How many r e a l l y good o p p o r t u n i t i e s oan you think of for e s t a b l i s h i n g
new ohurohes in the p r e s b y t e r y ?
o. Has the presbytery taken any d e f i n i t e a c t i o n towards trying t o develop new mission p o i n t s ? (yes or no)
3 . During the p a s t twelve months
a . How many candidates for the ministry have been received under the
care of the presbytery? _____ Hov; many were women?
b . How many persons has the presbytery licensed to preach?
o. How many persons have been ordained by the presbytery?
d. How many of those ordained held college degrees?
How many did not have high sohool diplomas?
e . Hov/ many Cumberland Presbyterian m i n i s t e r s transferred t h e i r l e t t e r s
to the presbytery?
f. Hov/ many ordained m i n i s t e r s from other denominations were received i n to membership in the presbytery?
g. How many m i n i s t e r s received l e t t e r s of dismission and reoommenation
from the presbytery?
ha Hov/ many l e g a l oases, of any n a t u r e , have been r e f e r r e d from congregations to the presbytery for t r i a l ?
4. I s your p r e s e n t moderator of the presbytery a minister or a r u l i n g e l d e r ?
Man or v/oraan?
6. Hov/
many m i n i s t e r s in your presbytery
v/ere l i c e n s e d or ordained in other denominations?
have college degrees?
have not finished high school?
have attended Bethel College?
some other college?
do you estimate to be under t h i r t y - f i v e years of age?
have not attended p r e s b y t e r y , or asked to be exoused from i t s meetings in two years or mora?
are engaged in secular occupations in a d d i t i o n to p a s t o r a l work?
do no regular preaching, but support themselves e n t i r e l y by employment in secular work?
have never held a r e g u l a r p a s t o r a t e ? _____
are too old for a c t i v e p a s t o r a l v/ork?
are working i n congregations of other denominations?
a r e doing full-time v/ork in the ohuroh, though not as p a s t o r s ?
6. Hov; many ministers from other p r e s b y t e r i e s serve congregations in your
Hov/ many congregations in the presbytery are so served?
7. a. Hov/ many groups of part-time ohurohes in your presbytery have cooperated
to the extent of organizing a p a r i s h unit and h i r i n g a p a s t o r to l i v e
in the v i o i n i t y and give his f u l l time to the group?
b . How many such groups do you think could be organized i n the presbytery
i f the congregations were w i l l i n g ?
c . What would you say are the ohief reasons why such groups are not organized?
8. Hov/ many congregations had an elder r e p r e s e n t i n g them in a t l e a s t one meeting of presbytery during the p a s t twelve months?
9. VJhat peroent of p r e s b y t e r i a l r u l i n g s would you say are almost completely
ignored by the oongregation8 of the presbytery?
10. Upon approximately what percent of the t o t a l ohurch membership of the p r e s bytery a r e you unable to c o l l e c t p r e s b y t e r i a l dues?
11. a . Hov/ many congregations
a l l y i n s t a l l e d by the
b. Hov/ many congregations
tractual relationship
in the presbytery have had t h e i r pastorB o f f i c i presbytery?
have even asked presbytery to approve the cone x i s t i n g between them and t h e i r p a s t o r s ?
12. V/hat do you consider the b r i g h t e s t and most promising aspeot of the p r e s b y t e r y ' s v/ork?
13. V/hat do you oonsider to be the gravest problem confronting the presbytery?
14. Is there serious i n t e r n a l s t r i f e i n the presbytery? (yes or no)
This i s a schedule designed to discover the a t t i t u d e s and opinions of
Cumberland P r e s b y t e r i a n s on various questions regarding the church, theology,
C h r i s t i a n oonduot. and the s o c i a l order a Your co-operation i n marking i t
c a r e f u l l y v/ill be g r e a t l y a p p r e c i a t e d .
Personal Data:
1 . Your age ?
2. Male or female?
3. Y.'ere you reared in a Cumberland Presbyterian home?...
4. How long have you been a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian
5. Have you ever a t t e n d e d Bethel College? (yes or no)
I f s o , v/hen?
6. Check v/hioh of the follov/ing positions you now hold in the
Cumberland Presbyterian °huroh:
A member only
Direotions for marking:
To the left of eaoh of the following statements you v/ill find five
letters or symbols. They indicate possible attitudes v/hioh you may have
toward eaoh of the statements, as follows:
A - I surely agree,
a - I probably agree.
? - I am uncertain,
d - I probably disagree.
D - I surely disagree.
Please draw a oirole around the letter or symbol v/hioh most nearly indicates your sincere feeling with regard to the statement, a'or example,
A a ? d D 1. Christians should go to church.
A a ? d D 2. The ohurch should take part in political issues.
? d D
? d D
? dD
? d D
? dD
? d D
? d D
? d D
? d i>
? dD
? d D
? d D
? d D
? d D
1. There is a God.
2. Jesus sits at the right hand ofu od.
3a God is a fathera
4. Jesus is the only son of God.
5. Jesus is our Lord.
6. Jesus was oonoeived by the spirit of God.
7. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after burial.
8. God made heaven.
9. God made earth.
10. Jesus v/ill judge the living and the dead.
11. Jesus was persecuted and tried v/hen Pilate was governor.
12. Jesus died by crucifixion and was buried,
13. There is a Holy Ghost,
14. The mother of Jesus was a virgin.
15. Our bodies shall rise from the grave.
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
A a
Jesus v/ent up i n t o heaven.
God is all powerful.
Sins oan be forgiven.
Not a l l of God'B counsel i s given to us in the B i b l e .
God stands in need of man and derives e s s e n t i a l glory from him.
God the F a t h e r , Jesus the Son, and the Holy S p i r i t , a r e the same
i n s u b s t a n c e , and have equal pov/er,
? d D 2 2 . God o r e a t e d everything very gooda
? d D 2 3 . God i s f r e e , a t his p l e a s u r e , to o v e r - r u l e and s e t a s i d e n a t u r a l
? d D 24. Sin. and death entered a l l mankind through the e a t i n g of the f o r bidden f r u i t by Adam and Eve in the harden of •'Men.
? d D 25. When a person becomes a C h r i s t i a n he i s freed, in t h i s l i f e , from
the' operation and disturbance of h i s o r i g i n a l oorrupt n a t u r e .
? d D 2 6 . The s i n n e r i s subjeot to the wrath of liod and to endless torment.
? d D 2 7 . Infants of b e l i e v i n g p a r e n t s a r e included in the Covenant of
liraoe, and should r e c e i v e the seal of baptism.
? d •D 2 8 . Only i n f a n t s of b e l i e v i n g p a r e n t s should be b a p t i z e d .
? d u • i ? . Before even the world was made, C h r i s t was appointed to die for
men's s i n s .
? d D 3 0 . A Christian should not danoe.
? d D 3 1 . A Christian should not go to movies.
? d S • 3 2 . A Christian should not smoke.
? d D 3 3 . Mixed bathing'is sinful.
? d D 3 4 . A Christian should not drink liquor, even moderately.
? d D 3 5 . The world is oonstantly becoming more and more sinful.
? d D 3 6 . The youth of today are more sinful than those of former generations.
? d D 37. It is sin for a person to participate in any form of .oommeroialized recreation or amusement on Sunday.
? d D 36. It is sinful towork on Sunday.
? d D 39. Members who live unfaithful Christian lives should be turned
out of our ohurohes today 'just as many were turned out in the
? d D 40. Because Ho was without sin, Christ did not have man's full
41. The Holy Spirit overcomes all the enemies of the believer.
? d D 42. The sinner has a free will and is completely responsible
for his sinful condition.
? d D 43. No one oan be saved v/ithout the work of the Holy Spirit in
his heart.
? d D 44. One cannot be saved without oonsciously repenting of sin.
? d D 45. There is no merit in faith, yet it is the condition placed
upon salvation.
? d D 46. God exempts all who repent and have faith from all the consequences of their sins.
? d D 47. If those who have been justified continue to sin, God continues to forgive their sins.
? d D 4 8 . Once saved, a person oannot again become lost.
? d D' 4 9 . The true Christian is born from above.
? d D 5 0 . The human heart has a natural love for God.
? d D 5 1 , Unbaptized infants of heathen unbelievers are, v/hen dying
in infancy, regenerated and saved.
? d D 5 2 . Cumberland Presbyterians believe in being sanctified.
? d D 5 3 . The Holy Spirit makes some know that they are the Children
of God; but it does not always give this comfortirgassuranoe to all who have faith.
d D 16.
d D 17.
d D IB.
d D 19.
d D 20.
d 1) 2 1 .
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
Aa ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ?d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a "? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
5 4 . God is Lord, or Ruler, of the individual's conscience.
5 5 . There are angels In heaven.
5 6 . Prayer is to be offered for the living, but not for those
who are dead.
57. Those who hold office in our oivll government are ordained
of God.
58. The marriage relation should not be dissolved for any cause
aave that of adultery.
59. Cumberland Presbyterian ministers should refuse to perform
marriages for divorced persons.
60. Persons who have been divorced and remarried should be
turned out of the churoh.
61. All Christians, regardless of denomination, are required to
live in fellowship with one another.
62. Walter baptism is merely a symbol of the baptism of the Holy
63* The spirits of the wicked are, after physical death, cast
into hell, where they are reserved until the day of Judgment.
64. At the resurrection the spirits and bodies of both the Just
and unjust shall be reunited forever.
65. ^'here is a definitely appointed judgment day, in which every
person shall be judged aooording to what he has done.
66. Believe ing parents are responsible to the church for the
faithful oversight of their children.
6 7 . There is a literal hell of fire and brimstone.
6 8 . Some persons v/ere "eleoted" to be saved before the foundation
of the v/orld.
6 9 . The Bible is the Y/ord of God.
7 0 . The Bible is infallible.
7 1 . The Bible was direotly dictated to men by God.
7 2 . The Confession of Faith and the Catechism of the C.P. Churoh
oontain and are completely in harmony v/ith the system of doctrines taught in the Bible.
73. A genuine Christian can name the time and place of his conversion.
74. The Cumberland Presbyterian Churoh should increase and standardize throughout the denomination its educational requirements for the ordination of ministers.
75. More formal liturgy and ritual should be used in Cumberland
Presbyterian v/orship services.
76. The bread and wine of the Communion aervloe beoome the actual
body and blood of Christ.
77. Sprinkling or pouring is the truly scriptural mode of baptism.
78. Persons who insist on being baptized by Immersion should not
be allowed to join the C* P. Churoh.
79. C. P. ministers Bhould immerse all persons who desire to be
so baptized.
80. Women should not be ordained to the ministry.
81. Women should not be ordained as ruling elders.
82. The government of the C* P. Church is v/orking at present in
an effective and satisfactory manner.
83. It is unfortunate and regrettable that all the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church did not go into the union in 1906.
84. The IT. 3. A. Church was dishonest and took unfair advantage
of the C. P. Churoh in 1906.
85. The U.S. A. Churoh is doing everything it can today to de-
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ?d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
A a ? d D
feat the Cumberland Presbyterian Churoh.
66. The C, P. Churoh should not consider ever again attempting a union with another denomination.
87. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church unquestionably haB a
divine mission and purpose to fulfil.
86. We should make definite efforts to get members of other
denominations to Join the Cumberland Presbyterian Churoh
because our doctrine is more scriptural.
89, Jews are lost and v/ill go to hell unlesB they are converted
and beoome Christians.
90. Roman Cat hollos are not truly regenerated Christians and
cannot expeot to be saved.
91. The Roman Catholic Churoh is an enemy to the cause of true
92. Only those who are followers of Jesus Christ v/ill be saved
and given homes in heaven.
93. Ordained ministers transferring to our ohurch from other
denominations should be required to serve a probationary
period of at least one year before having their credentials
aooepted and recognized.
94, The presbytery should striotly exercise all its legal authority over the looal congregation.
95. Cumberland Presbyterian ministers need to bring more about
current events and modern social problems into their preaching.
96. Cumberland Presbyterian ministers need to get back closer
to the Bible in their preaching.
97. The ohuroh should not be concerned with anything exoept converting sinners and saving souls.
98. The ohuroh should strive to care for the social and recreational as well as the spiritual needs of its people.
99. The churoh should take a stand on problems confronting our
economic order.
100. The ohuroh should take a definite stand against war.
101. There should be equality of all races in the united States.
102, The churoh should take a definite stand againsjb raoe prejudice •
103. The Cumberland Presbyterian Ohuroh should join v/ith the
"Fundamentalists" in opposing the "Modernists".
- Table XXX
Tabulated Reaotions of 100 Persons a t the General Assembly, 32 Students
i n Bethel College, and 23 Churoh Members Selected a t Random, to
Statements on the A t t i t u d e a c a l e .
Reactions in Per ^ent
1. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random G roup
97.0 2.0
93.5 3.9
3. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
4. General ^BBembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
5. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
100.0 —
87.5 !2.5
100.0 —
97.4 2.6
6. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random G ro up
98.0 1*0
7 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
99.0 1.0
93.8 6.3
98.0 1.9
8. General Assembly
, Bethel studenta
Random Group
96.9 3 . 1
98.7 0.6 0,6
96.9 3.1
100.0 —
98.0 1.9
94.0 1-0
71.9 9.4
89.7 2.6
95.7 4 . 3
94.2 3a2
Table "XXX ( c o n t ' d )
Reactions in Per ^ent
9 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
10. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
12.5 3*1 3.1
2.6 0.6 3.2
92.2 1.3
11. General -"-ssembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
12. General Assembly
Bethel ^tudents
Random Group
13. General Assembly
Bethel 5tudent8
Random Group
98.0 ~r-
14. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
84.4 9.4
96.8 1.9
1 5 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random u roup
1 6 . General assembly
Bethel Students
andom u roup
99.0 1.0
84.4 6.3
96.1 1.9
17. General Assembly
Bethel 'tudents
Random Group
99.0 1.0
99.3 0.6
18. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random ^oup
99.0 1.0
99.3 0.6
99.0 1.0
87.5 9.4
96.1 2.6
98.0 1.0
96.9 3.1
98.0 1.3
5.0 2.0 7.0
80.0 6.0
43.8 6.3 28.1 3.1 15.6
73.5 5.2 11.0 1.9 7.7
Table "XXX (cont'd)
Sta t e n a n t
Reaotions in Per Cent
93.0 2,0
78.1 12.5
96,1 3.9
1 9 . General Assembly
B e t h e l Students
Random G roup
59.0 6,0
68.8 15.6
52.2 13.0
60.0 9.0
2 0 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 1 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
96.0 1.0
65.6 18.8
82.6 4 . 3
87.7 5.2
ZZ. General Assembly
B e t h e l Students
Random Group
68.8 12.5
87.0 4.3
90.9 2.6
2 3 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 4 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random u roup
2 5 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 6 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 7 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 8 . General Assembly
B e t h e l Students
Random Group
a-l-a aw
Tab I T XXX ( c o n t ' d )
29. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
30. General Assembly
Bethel StudentB •
Random Group
31. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
32. General Assembly
Bethel Student8
Random Group
33. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
34. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
35. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
36. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
37. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random ^roup
36. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
Reaotions i n Per Cent
79.0 4.0 8.0
63.1 9.4 18.8
78,3 13.0 4 . 3
73.6 6.6 9.7
74.0 9.0 9.0 4.0
2 8 . 1 1 2 . 5 1 5 . 6 15.6
78.3 13.0 4 . 3
65.1 10.3 9.7 5.8
2 4 . 0 13.0 13.0 19.0
3 . 1 6.3 6.3 18.8
8 . 7 21.7 1 3 . 0 4 . 3
17.4 12.9 11.6 16.8
4 0 . 0 9 . 0 18.0 13.0
15.6 21.9 3.1 15.6
2 6 . 1 2 1 . 7 1 7 . 4 17.4
32.9 13.5 14.8 14.2
40.0 10.0
43.5 4.3
34.2 7.1
1 7 . 0 8.0
18.8 9.4
17.4 17.4
1 7 . 4 9.7
10.0 25.0 3.0
15.6 9.4 25.0
13.0 8.7 8.7
11.6 19.4 8.4
15.0 11.0 22.0 10.0
6.3 15.6
39.1 8.7 8.7
1 6 . 8 8 . 4 1 6 . 8 9.7
67.0 7 . 0 1 4 . 0 4 . 0
53.1 12.5 9 . 4 15.6
5 2 . 2 1 7 . 4 8.7 4 . 3
61.9 9 . 7 1 2 . 3 6 . 5
5 0 . 0 12.0 1 5 . 0 12.0
2 8 . 1 2 5 . 0 18.8 1 2 . 5
82.6 4.3
50.3 13.5 13.5 11.0
Table XXX ( o o n t ' d )
Reaotions in Per Cent
39. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
40. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random uroup
4 1 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
42. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
89.0 6.0
65.6 12.5 12.6 9.4
5.2 2.6
43. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
44. General ASSQmbly
Bethel StudentB
Random Group
4 5 . General •"•ssembly
Bethel Students
Random u roup
9.0 10.0 50.0
6.3 21.9 50.0
7.7 11.0 50.3
— — aaaaa^
4 6 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random ^roup
47. General Assembly
Bethel atudenta
Random Group
46. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
14.0 23.0.
12.5 31.3
13.0 4.3
13.5 21.9
7 . 0 3 . 0 24.0
5.3 12.5 15.6
13.0 4 . 3 8 . 7
7.7 5 . 2 20.0
7.0 22.0
12.5 31.3
8 . 7 - , — 30.4
3 . 2 7 . 1 25.2
_ — 12.5
8 . 7 21.7
5 . 8 11.0
3.0 3.0
6.3 12.5
3.9 4.5
Table' XXX (cont'd)
Sta tement
Identifio a t i on
Reactions in Per Cent
1.0 2 . 0
6 . 3 18.8
4 . 3 8.7
2.6 6.5
4 9 . General Assembly
B e t h e l Students
Random Group
5 0 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random ''roup
5 2 . 0 4 . 0 B.O
53.1 15.6 12.5
65.2 4 . 3 4 . 3
5 4 . 2 6.5
5 1 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
5 2 . General Assembly
Bethel ° t u d e n t s
Random ^roup
69.0 8.0 5 . 0
65.6 1 2 . 5 1 2 . 5
69a6 8 . 7 8.7
68.4 9.0 7.1
2 . 0 13.0
5 3 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
2 8 . 0 10.0 11.0
9.4 25.0 15.6
3 4 . 8 4 . 3 8.7
3 1 . 6 12.3 1 2 . 3
5 4 . General Assembly
B e t h e l Students
Random Group
5 6 . 0 S.O 6 . 0 3 . 0
1 5 . 6 18.8 1 5 . 6 1 2 . 5
49.7 9.7 7.1 5.6
5 5 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random GroupTotal
5 6 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
5 7 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
5 8 . General Assembly
B e t h e l StudentB
Random Group
5 . 0 13.0
9.4 12.5
5.2 12.3
9 5 . 0 1.0 1.0
62.6 15.6 1 5 . 6
89.0 3.9 3.9
5.0 26.0
8.7 1 7 . 4
4.5 23.2
4 . 0 12.0 6.0
9.4 12.5
8.7 8 . 7 1 3 . 0
3.9 11.0 6.4
59 l ,4
3 . 0 12.0 5 . 0
3 . 1 6.3 15.6
8.7 8 . 7
2.6 10.3 7.7
labia" XXX (cont'd)
59. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random uroup
60. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
61. General Assembly
\Bethel °tudents
Random Group
62. General assembly
Bethel Students
Random i-roup
63. General Assembly
Bethel StudentB
Random uroup
64. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
65. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
66. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random <*roup
67. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
66. General Assembly
Bethel. Students
Random Group
Reactions in Per Cent
50.0 9.0
37.5 9.4
17.4 17.4
42.6 10.3
6.0 4.0
6.3 —
8.7 4.3
6.5 3.2
16.0 4.0
15.6 21.9
39.1 13.0
20.6 9.0
1.0 1.0
3.1 3.1
1.9 1.3
97.0 2.0
96.9 3.1
95.7 4.3
96.8 2.6
7.0 ...
9.4 37.5
7.0 10.0 2.0 13.0
9.4 31.3 6.3 21.9
7.1 14.2 2.6 16.8
86.0 5.0
56.3 15.6
81.3 6.5
77.0 3.Q
28.1 15.6
73,9 4.3
66.4 5.6
8.0 2.0
5.8 1.9
3.0 1.0
6.5 0.6
3.1 18.8
11.6 5.2
8.7 13.0
4.5 8.4
Table XXX ( c o n t ' d )
Reactions in Per Cent
1.0 3.0
9.4 9.4
6 9 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
7 0 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
90.0 1.0
62.5 12,5
85.1 3.2
7 1 . G e n e r a l Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
6.0 4.0 14.0
9.4 12.5 59.4
4.3 4.3 13.0
6.5 5.6 23.2
7 2 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
86.0 4.0
71.9 15.6
83.2 5.8
5.0 1.0 2.0
6.3 3.1 ...
6.7 ...
5.8 1.3 1.3
7 3 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random liroup
6 4 . 0 12.0 1 0 . 0
12.5 15.6 9.4
4 3 . 5 8.7 1 7 . 4
5 0 . 3 1 2 . 3 11.0
9.4 53.2
8.7 2 1 . 7
5.8 20.0
7 4 . G e n e r a l Assembly
Bethel Students
Random liroup
75. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random *^roup
17.0 13.Q 15.0 12.0
53.2 15.6 3.1 9.4
43.5 4.3 13.0 8.7
28.4 12". 3 12.3 11.0
76. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
7 7 . General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
7 8 . G e n e r a l Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
— .
6 . 0 12.0
8.7 8.7
8.4 10.3
3.1 3.1 3.1
— ...
14.8 0.6 5.2
2.0 6.0
3.1 3.1
4.3 17.4
2.6 7.1
8.0 2.0 15.0 10.0
18.6 6.3 9.4 25.0
13.0 8.7
10.3 &. 6 13.5 12,9
Table XXX (oont'd)
79. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
80. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
81. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
82. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
63. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
84. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
85. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random uroup
86. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random ''roup*
87. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
88. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
Reaotions in Per Cent
5.0 12.0 10.0 51.0
9.4 6.3 56.3
8.7 21.7
' 155
9.0 21.0
6.3 12.5 40.6
21.7 4.3 17.4
12.9 9.0 24.6
11.3 12.0
3.1 12.5
30.4 4.3
12.3 11.0
155 .
21.0 11.0 30.0 15.0
12,5 12.5" 3,1 9.4
17.4 8,7 56.S 8.7
18.7 11.0 28.4 12.9
100 .
37.0 16.0
15.6 6.3
34.8 4.3
.32.3 12.3
5.0 4.0
4.3 4.3
9.7 4.5
18.0 4.0 17.0
12.5 6.3 40.6
21.7 8.7 ' 17.4
17.4 5.2 22.0
4.0 73.0
9.4 3.1 43.8
21.7 8.7 56.5
10.3 4.5 64.5
7.0 13.0
9.4 12.5 28.1
?6.1 13.0
5.6 25.5 9.0 14.8
9.4 3.1
— aa»a»
11.0 16.0 57.0
6.3 15.6 62.5
13.0 17.4 52.2
3.9 10.3 15.5 57.4
••3.1 3,1
18.0 5.0
15.6 9.4
21.7 15.0
16.1 7.1
— a -
Table XXX (cont'd)
Sta tement
89. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
90. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
91. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
92. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
93. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random trroup
94. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
95. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
96. General Assembly
Bethel *-tudent8
Random Group
97. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
98. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
Reaotions in Per ^ent
66.0 4.0
34.4 12,5
60.7 5.2
17.0 3..0 5.0
36.0 11.0 21.0
25.0 21.9 37.5
47.8 6.7 13.0
35.5 12.9 23.3
41.0 9.0
12.5 9.4
39.1 6.7
34.9 "S.O
23.0 3.0 19.0
12.5 15.6 40.6
34. S
22.6 5.2 22.6
82.0 4.0
62.5 9.4
79.3 4.5
63.0 13.0
59.4 9.4
60.9 4.3
62.0 11.0
73.0 10.0
78.1 9.4
91.3 4.3
76.8 9.0
. 6.5
9.4 16.8
6.0 4.0
6.3 12.5
4.3 4.3
5,8 5.8 '
18.0 10.0
31.3 25.0
13.0 4.3
20.0 12.3
64.0 5.0
50.0 15.6
87.0 4.3
77.4 7.1
10.0 10.0 43.0
12.5 78.1
12.0 17.4 34.8
8.<i 11.6 49.1
3. i
Tabla XXX (oont'd)
62,,0 13.0 22.0
40,.6 28.1 18.6
39 .1
47 .8
67,.0 9.0 11.0 3.0
71 .9 12.5
69,.6 17.4 8.7 — 68,.4 11.0 9.7 1.9
99. General Assembly
Bethel Students
*" Random Group
100. General Assembly
Bethel °tudents
Random Group
Reactions in Per Cent
7.0 18.0
9.4 12 a5
7.1 14.2
2.0 5.0
... 17.4
7.0 29.0
101.. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random uroup
" Total
102, General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random uroup
69.0 11.0 9.0 ... 4.0
84..4 6.3
39.1 21.7 21.7 4.3 8.7
67. 7 11.6 9.0 0.6 3.9
103. General Assembly
Bethel Students
Random Group
42. 0
... 3.1
.-— 47.8
4.5 26.4
17.0 6.0 13.0
18.8 6.3 25.0
13.0 13.0 13.0
16.8 7.1 15.5
The Number of Synods, Presbyteries, Candidates, Licentiates, and
Ordained Ministers in the Cumberland Presbyterian Churoh from
1895 through 1939.
19 J 5
. 61
- 60
. 74 .
• 83
Dumber of
Number of Ohurohes, Number of Full-Time Churches, Number of Churches
ITot Reporting to the General Assembly, Total Value of Churoh
P r o p e r t y , and Number of Churohea Paying Pastor $ 1 , 2 0 0 . 0 0
or More Par Tear, 1895 through 1939.
Value of
Proper t y
Paying P a s t o r
$ 1 , 2 0 0 . 0 0 or
More Per Year
Expenditures of the Cumberland Presbyterian Churoh,
1895 through 1939.
and Repairs
A l l Other
34,961 '
. _ . . . .
Per Member
Conversions, A d d i t i o n s , T o t a l Membership, Sunday School Enrollment,
and the Highest P a s t o r ' s Salary in the Cumberland Presbyterian
Churoh, 1895 through 1939.
— —
- — -
.-.- _
Additi one
4 , 353
s. S*
iinrollment .
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