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Christian Modernism - Timeline Movement

Time Period

1870 - 1930

Description

In the mid-19th century, the United States underwent massive intellectual changes. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) challenged literal interpretations of the Bible and various developing academic disciplines (e.g., biblical studies and history) introduced more relativistic interpretations of truth.

In response, many Christians adopted modernism, or liberalism, as a solution to reconcile Christianity to the modern social world. Highlighted by the works of Horace Bushnell, Christian modernists emphasized feelings and the experience of God over strict obedience to biblical law. Moreover, they welcomed doctrinal revisions based on developments in science and biblical understandings. By the early 20th century, modernists became prevalent in many mainstream Protestant denominations, particularly Presbyterianism.

The liberal and relative worldviews of modernists outraged many orthodox believers, who later became associated with the fundamentalist movement. Tensions with fundamentalists, along with the disenchantment of human progress following World War I and the Great Depression, ultimately weakened the movement by the 1930s.

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Biographies

Fosdick, Harry Emerson

Events

Auburn Affirmation
Christianity and Liberalism Published
Northern Baptist Convention
Publication of Shailer Mathews's The Faith of Modernism
Trial of Charles Augustus Briggs
Harry Emerson Fosdick Preaches "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?"

Related Dictionary Terms

Christianity, Christians, Denomination, Doctrine

Photographs

Religion and Evolution advertisement from Crisis Magazine- Wikimedia Commons- Jabez Thomas Sunderland (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Religion and Evolution advertisement from Crisis Magazine- Wikimedia Commons- Jabez Thomas Sunderland (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Horace Bushnell portrait- Internet Archive- from My Four Religious Teachers by H. Clay Trumbull
Horace Bushnell portrait- Internet Archive- from My Four Religious Teachers by H. Clay Trumbull

Walter Rauschenbusch sitting- Wikimedia Commons
Walter Rauschenbusch sitting- Wikimedia Commons

God's Two Books, title page- Internet Archive
God's Two Books, title page- Internet Archive

Book/Journal Source(s)

Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America Downers Grove, IL.

Web Page Contributor

Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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