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Auburn Affirmation

1924. Issued by a group of Presbyterian ministers meeting in Auburn, New York, this was “designed to safeguard the unity and liberty” of the Presbyterian Church. It asserted that the General Assembly had acted unconstitutionally when in 1923 it declared that all candidates for the ministry must affirm five “essential and necessary” doctrines prior to ordination. These were: (1) the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures; (2) the virgin birth of Christ; (3) “that Christ offered up himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice”; (4) that Jesus arose from the dead “with the same body in which he suffered”; (5) that Jesus worked “mighty miracles” which made “changes in the order of nature.” The Affirmation held that this was an attempt to commit the church to “certain theories concerning the inspiration of the Bible, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the Continuing Life and Supernatural Power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The signatories of the Affirmation claimed to “hold most earnestly to these great facts and doctrines,” yet believed that “these are not the only theories allowed by the Scriptures and our standards as explanations of these facts and doctrines.” The Auburn Affirmation was essentially a plea for toleration of theological diversity. Many conservative Presbyterians viewed the Affirmation as a shocking revelation of the growth of liberal influence within the denomination.

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