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May 22, 2023

John Foster Dulles and the Virgin Birth of Christ

Did you know that Dulles Airport is named for a man who helped deny key claims of the Bible?  

My high school history class just finished reading J. Gresham Machen’s book, Christianity and Liberalism.  Even in 1921 there were men like Machen who saw what was happening in our churches.  He wrote against men like Harry Emerson Fosdick, who gave a famous sermon at that time at Old First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan (est. 1716) denying basic claims of the scripture and even questioning the virgin birth of Christ.

Students learn about our churches but also the history of the early 1900’s Progressive movement.  We don't always realize that Progressive political ideas are connected to theological liberalism. Fosdick was defended in his church heresy trial by somebody who has a lot of things in our town named after him, John Foster Dulles.  Dulles, I would say through no coincidence, later became Secretary of State and was almost nominated as U.S. Chief Justice.

Fosdick avoided church discipline by leaving his pulpit and moving to a Baptist church patronized by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  Rockefeller not only approved of this new pastor, but he funded the publishing of tens of thousands of copies of his famous liberal sermon. 

Machen wrote at a time when many Westerners foolishly began to believe that the good in man was sufficient without the supernatural work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Science and technology had recently greatly flourished.  Many believed that man had become so civilized that war was now a thing of the past.  Machen points to 1914 and World War I as evidence that man, apart from the Gospel, is not a new creature.  

Even without seeing the much greater decline of the church and without seeing the even greater bloodshed of the 20th century (World War II for example), Machen could see that much of the church was rejecting the only gospel that could save man and replacing it with something completely different, something that was not Christianity. 

We at Oak Hill see a need for and are committed to building a distinguished high school.  Come visit our high school.  Ask me and students about our other readings. 

--Robert Thoburn, B.A., J.D., Headmaster

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