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Auburn Affirmation first published – Dec. 26, 1923

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This week marks the anniversary of when the Auburn Affirmation, a statement signed by hundreds of clergy of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, was first issued.

The affirmation came in response to a decision at the 1923 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. to require clergy candidates to adhere to the inerrancy of Scripture.

“There is no assertion in the Scriptures that their writers were kept ‘from error.’ The Confession of Faith does not make this assertion; and it is significant that this assertion is not to be found in the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed or in any of the great Reformation confessions,” claimed the affirmation.

“The doctrine of inerrancy, intended to enhance the authority of the Scriptures, in fact impairs their supreme authority for faith and life, and weakens the testimony of the church to the power of God unto salvation through Jesus Christ.”

Critics included Butler University Professor Gordon H. Clark, who in a 1935 speech called the affirmation “heresy” and “strange” that the affirmation “states that to believe the Bible is true impairs its authority and weakens the testimony of the Church.”

“Do they perchance reply that they agree with the Confession that the Scriptures are the Word of God, and that they deny only that the Scriptures are inerrant? God forbid that they make that reply,” stated Clark.

“Either they have openly repudiated the Confession or else they have called God a liar. In either case they have no rightful place in the Presbyterian ministry.”

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