The Failure of our Forefathers

If you don’t know the history, you are doomed to repeat it. So you might as well know at least part of the story of how Christianity shifted from the dominant religion of the United States, into a Roman Mystery Cult, fleeing the costly work of changing reality into easy and cost-free (for some, highly profitable!) love of fantasy.

The short version is: the pastors and the laymen wanted that mystery escapist cult as its God who would finally Just Shut Up… allowing the voice of (certain) men to speak in God’s place.

In contrast, pastors and laymen (and seminaries, which led the way) loathed the God of Moses and His Commandments. And if you hate Moses, you will hate even more the one greater than Moses.

But details matter: the conservatives were in commanding positions once upon a time, and the exact manner how they turned over their institutions they ruled over to the self-conscious snakeheads1 is worth understanding. Purpose comes before action – see the second paragraph – but a man’s actions are of real importance.

Act as well as Thought are weighed in the Divine Balance.

From Woodrow Wilson’s Spiritual Heirs at Princeton Publicly Reject His Legacy. This Was Long Overdue. By Gary North

—<Quote begins>—

WILSON AT PRINCETON

Wilson was one of the early Ph.D.’s produced by the first American university to grant the Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University. He came to Princeton as a fair-haired boy. He soon gained a reputation as being an excellent lecturer. In fact, he was such a good lecturer that he was often away from the campus, giving lectures for large fees. The president of the university, Francis Patton, let him do it. Patton made a big mistake.

In 1888, Patton had become the president of the College of New Jersey, as Princeton was called in those days. It was under Patton in 1896 that Princeton got its name.

By the end of his career, he had become known as “the grand old man of Presbyterianism.” He was an Old School Presbyterian. That was the minority faction of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, meaning the northern Presbyterian Church. This faction was strongly committed to Calvinism.

Princeton was a Presbyterian college, but it was not Old School. Harvard began going Unitarian in 1805. Under Charles Elliott in the 1870’s, it went modernist and then humanist. Yale soon followed. Princeton was a holdout. Patton was the representative figure of this holdout.

Wilson was a theological modernist. He was a Presbyterian elder, but he was a representative of the liberal wing of the denomination theologically. His uncle, James Woodrow, was by far the most liberal professor in the southern Presbyterian Church, and the nephew was self-consciously a follower of his uncle’s liberal theology. In contrast, Wilson’s father had been the stated clerk of the southern Presbyterian Church for over two decades after the Civil War. He was a representative of Old School Presbyterianism. The split between the modernist wing and the Calvinist wing of American Presbyterianism was in the Wilson family. In between, as always in institutions, was the silent majority: men who did not want to choose sides, who just wanted to hold onto their jobs until retirement.

Patton had done nothing as president to stop the growth of modernism and humanism on the Princeton campus, let alone reverse it. He taught theology and ethics. Under his leadership, Princeton’s academic reputation had lagged far behind Harvard, Yale, and other major universities, at least in the opinion of the Princeton faculty. Any remaining traces of Calvinism were understood by the academic community in general and on campus as inhibiting the academic reputation of the campus.

Patton did not go fast enough. So, the liberals on the Board of Trustees engineered a revolt against him in 1902. The faculty wanted a graduate school. He wanted a Christian college; the vocal members of the faculty wanted nonsectarianism, i.e., secular education.

He was forced out by a faction of trustees. They had persuaded — it had not taken much persuading — Wilson to draw up plans for a new system of rule by executive committee. Wilson had referred in a private meeting with two trustees to discuss what he had called “the sinister influence” at Princeton. Against Wilson’s advice, Patton was then named by the Trustees as a member of the new Executive Committee, with former U.S. President Grover Cleveland (who lived in the town of Princeton) named as chairman. This did not slow down the coup.

The assumption in 1902 was that there had been three rivals to Wilson for the presidency, but one, the best-selling literary figure and liberal Presbyterian clergyman Henry van Dyke, always insisted that he had no desire for the position. Patton’s support of Wilson made the difference.

Patton not only refused to fight this coup, he actually named his successor as president of the university: Wilson. Two positive factors motivated him to leave: first, $31,500 in severance pay, a huge sum in 1902; second, he was completely deceived by Wilson regarding Wilson’s supposed commitment to conservative theology. He did not know of Wilson’s commitment to his uncle’s liberal theology.

As the new president, Wilson suspended Bible instruction from 1902 to 1905. This was a direct assault on Patton, who had used the money from a legacy to the college to endow a chair in English Bible for his own son.

In 1910, Wilson was elected Governor of New Jersey. In 1912, he was elected President of the United States. In 1919, he went to the Versailles peace conference as its supposed conscience. The terms of the Versailles Treaty led to World War II two decades later. Wilson had also been instrumental in the creation of the League of Nations, which became the model for the United Nations. If Patton had fought Wilson’s nomination, throwing his support to one of Wilson’s rivals, Wilson would probably have lost. The world would be a very different place. As Old School minister Clarence Macartney put it over five decades later, “Thus do great issues turn on the hinges of apparently small events.”

Wilson was self-conscious in his humanism. The only trace of conservatism was his racism. He was a friend of Thomas Dixon, author of the trilogy of novels defending the original Ku Klux Klan. Dixon called on him in 1915 to elicit his support in promoting Birth of a Nation, the D. W. Griffith movie based on The Clansman, the first book of Dixon’s trilogy. Wilson gave him the support he needed. He actually had a showing of the movie at the White House.

THE PATTERN

There was a pattern here. It was a pattern that governed the spread of theological liberalism in the 19th century, the 20th century, and today. These men were political Progressives. They were also promoters of a religion deeply opposed to Christianity. Their goal was simple: to capture an institution that belonged to their enemies.

It is not difficult to understand their motives. They were men who coveted the ecclesiastical robes of authority, but who did not have the capital to construct their own ecclesiastical empire. Their goal was to steal the institutional Church without suffering a revolt by the donors. They wanted the robes of ecclesiastical authority, just as they wanted the robes of academic authority (tenured professorships) and the robes of judicial authority. They wanted access to other people’s money — people who did not believe what they believed. This has been the goal of liberalism, political and theological: to build a new world order with old world money. The implementation of this plan at Princeton was pioneered by Wilson, who did it first with Princeton’s capital, then with the U.S. government’s, and suffered a stroke while he was campaigning to do it with the world’s.

Patton was the visible representative of the losers in this process. In 1902, he walked across the street and became president of Princeton Theological Seminary, which was not connected to the college. There he presided in an undistinguished way until 1913. His replacement, J. Ross Stevenson, whom he did not fight, was a theological moderate who was ready to accept the leadership of liberals in the denomination if they ever got a majority. He helped them get it. They gained control in 1926. Princeton Seminary fell to theological liberals in 1929.

Here is the pattern: theological conservatives surrender to bureaucratic academic compromisers, and the compromisers then sell them out.

I wrote about all this a quarter of a century ago in my book, Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church. You can download it here. The book provides the footnotes for the summary you have just read.

CONCLUSION

It was under Wilson’s administration that Princeton moved in the leftward direction that its trustees now display. He delivered the educational and economic capital of Princeton to the liberals from 1902 until 1910. In good liberal fashion, the trustees have publicly turned on him. This could not have happened to a more deserving man.

—<Quote ends>—

I like the money shots here:

In between, as always in institutions, was the silent majority: men who did not want to choose sides, who just wanted to hold onto their jobs until retirement.

As always.

We need smaller institutions, with smaller budgets… as in, not enough to afford pensions. Lots of small institutions with lots of limited jurisdictions is not the worst formula for liberty… but it’s structural solution, when enduring liberty only comes from changes of heart that grows and spreads across the generations.

Christians have been slack on this, while Secularists have been busy building up the irresponsible, short-sighted, fearful generations, forever dependant on an Elite to govern.

Christians must change their families, and change their future.

Patton had done nothing as president to stop the growth of modernism and humanism on the Princeton campus, let alone reverse it. He taught theology and ethics. Under his leadership, Princeton’s academic reputation had lagged far behind Harvard, Yale, and other major universities, at least in the opinion of the Princeton faculty.

God’s people were comfortable and complacent.

Satan’s people were not.

God’s people looked up to The Right Sort for affirmation and kudos. Not to the Law and the Commandments.

Satan’s people were busy shifting our focus from the Commandments to the Right Sort.

Patton not only refused to fight this coup, he actually named his successor as president of the university: Wilson. Two positive factors motivated him to leave: first, $31,500 in severance pay, a huge sum in 1902; second, he was completely deceived by Wilson regarding Wilson’s supposed commitment to conservative theology. He did not know of Wilson’s commitment to his uncle’s liberal theology.

Perhaps Patton was as trusting as North says he is. It’s quite possible: God’s people love peace and compromise and not making a fuss, while Satan’s people avoid clashes until they have already prepared the ground, and are sure to win the fight.

Satan’s people also understand how to shut the mouths of their targets with gold: see Money Makes People Weak for details.

If you don’t want these buzzing flies around, be sure to disperse money and power into many hands. A nation where power is centred on the state county and town, and not in some Imperial or State Capital somewhere, means fewer and less-motivated bloodsuckers and more healthy and effective/efficient civilization-builders and dominion workers.

As the new president, Wilson suspended Bible instruction from 1902 to 1905. This was a direct assault on Patton, who had used the money from a legacy to the college to endow a chair in English Bible for his own son.

As any snakehead knows: when you’re ready, go for the jugular. Even if you don’t rip it out permanently, you can cut it off temporarily, which weakens it nicely.

It’s 2022: I wonder what’s the state of Bible Instruction at Princeton today…

But as for cutting jugulars in the here and now (for there are always more ways to Satan to kill and enslave, and he’s interested in investigating every last one of them):

–>Point to the drastic deduction of liberty across the West,
thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, censorship, passports, vaccine mandates, etc.<–

When Christians despise the Law and the Commandments, they turn society over to the snakeheads. In the name of freedom from God, they place whips for their own backs, in the hands of His enemies.

Wilson was self-conscious in his humanism. The only trace of conservatism was his racism. He was a friend of Thomas Dixon, author of the trilogy of novels defending the original Ku Klux Klan. Dixon called on him in 1915 to elicit his support in promoting Birth of a Nation, the D. W. Griffith movie based on The Clansman, the first book of Dixon’s trilogy. Wilson gave him the support he needed. He actually had a showing of the movie at the White House.

A nice bite there, in the second sentence.

Don’t forget: when Jesus was calling the religious leaders of His time vipers, He was focusing His fire on the conservative Pharisee.

There was a pattern here. It was a pattern that governed the spread of theological liberalism in the 19th century, the 20th century, and today. These men were political Progressives. They were also promoters of a religion deeply opposed to Christianity. Their goal was simple: to capture an institution that belonged to their enemies.

The enemies of God are murderers, thieves, and liars. But the scaly ones will be around until the Second Coming, and a praying, godly people would be wary of handsome, smooth-talking thieves will all the right certifications.

But the conservatives didn’t really want to fight, and really liked money and Establishment approval. So they lost – willingly – and the snakeheads won – willingly.

So much for conservatives, the Right Wing of the Enlightenment, now a total irrelevancy in today’s world. Just bringing up the rear, as usual, after the Left Wing lays down the terms of discussion and defines the rules of the game.

When Christians decide to return to the Law and the Testimony — instead of trying to hold on to some dying past — then they will make a difference, once again.

Not before.

[Patton’s] replacement, J. Ross Stevenson, whom he did not fight, was a theological moderate who was ready to accept the leadership of liberals in the denomination if they ever got a majority. He helped them get it. They gained control in 1926. Princeton Seminary fell to theological liberals in 1929.

[…]

Here is the pattern: theological conservatives surrender to bureaucratic academic compromisers, and the compromisers then sell them out.

Compromisers invariably sell out the weaker to the stronger.

Most Christians simply don’t like the Law-Word of God, so they prefer to play weak, as long as the pay-off is good.

Being weak without God and His Law – but properly paid off – is preferred to being strong with God and His Law. After all, Godly victories are tied to carrying the cross, and bearing that yoke… and many Christians feel themselves to be superior to their supposed Master.

And admittedly, sometimes the payoff is good for a few years. Even a generation.

And then comes the heel smashing through your teeth, and the laughter of Your Betters.

Summary

Our forefathers failed the moment the placed the approval of men above the Word of God.

If we want to succeed and not fail, we must not follow their footsteps.

Princeton will never be a Christian institution again, for the same reason why busted wineskins are tossed away by God, and not repaired. They are far more likely to go Woke from top to bottom.

It’s time for Christians to learn the lesson: the academic/university formula is by its nature elitist, information-controlling, guild-protecting, and (Greek-style) antiChristian. A different way to spread education, knowledge, and truth – both spiritual and technical – throughout the Body of Christ is needed.

Hmmm… I wonder what this Internet is for…

Toss in hands-on apprenticeships, and you’ve got something to work with.


1Note that when I use the word ‘snakehead’, I DON’T mean unbeliever, pagan, atheist, Muslim, or any of those groups.

I specifically and only mean those men who pretend to be Christians, but know full well that they are not. Especially those in positions of power.

And how do I know these people?

“By their fruits ye shall know them.”

We can’t see people’s thoughts and motivations… but we can see their actions, and the pattern of their work.

That’s the tip-off Jesus told us to look for.

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