Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Shearer Bowman

Abstract

Beginning with the fundamentalist controversy of the 1920’s, the Southern Presbyterian Church (PCUS) was consistently divided by numerous disagreements over reunion with the Northern Presbyterian Church, racial policies, changing theological views, and resolutions on current social controversies. Led by groups such as the Southern Presbyterian Journal, Concerned Presbyterians, Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Presbyterian Churchmen United, conservatives attempted to redirect the direction of the PCUS; however, their efforts failed. Disgruntled by a liberal-moderate coalition that held power, many conservatives withdrew and created the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 1973, the first major division of a Southern denomination. The PCA was not solely founded because of racial disagreements or any single cultural debate; rather decades’ long theological disagreements regarding the church’s role in society fueled separation along with several sharp social controversies. This departure also expedited reunion (1983) between the Northern and Southern Presbyterian denominations that formed the present Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PC(USA)). Like many other historic Protestant denominations, the PC(USA) has seen a decline in membership, but the PCA and other small Presbyterian denominations have been growing numerically thereby guaranteeing the continued presence of Presbyterianism in America.

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