Harry Emerson Fosdick Preaches "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?"
Harry Emerson Fosdick
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On May 21, 1922, Harry Emerson Fosdick fired a shot across the bow of fundamentalist Presbyterians with his sermon "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" delivered at First Presbyterian Church in New York City. Accusing fundamentalists of being "essentially illiberal and intolerant," Fosdick's minced no words in defending the new, modern theology and disputing traditional doctrines like the virgin birth of Christ, the inerrancy of the Bible, and Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross. The sermon is unusual in that regard; few Protestant pastors in the early 1920s openly stated modernist doctrines to their often more conservative parishioners. In response, Presbyterian fundamentalists forced Fosdick to resign his pastorate in order to escape a formal trial in 1924. The incident made Fosdick a martyr to the liberal faction of mainline Christianity, but he quickly found a new home at Park Avenue Baptist Church and a new friend in John D. Rockefeller Jr.
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Fosdick, Harry Emerson
'Shall the Fundamentalists Win'- Internet Archive
Harry Fosdick portrait- Library of Congress- Courtesy of the Special Collections Department University of Iowa Libraries
First Presbyterian Church, New York City- Internet Archive
Miller, Robert Moats, 1985. Harry Emerson Fosdick: Preacher, Pastor, Prophet. New York: Oxford University Press.
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The full text of Fosdick's sermon is available here.
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Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History