Confession of 1967 - Historical Context

Historical Context

The Confession of 1967 was written and debated in a denomination that found itself in an era shaped by the social movements of the 1950s and 1960s. The Sexual Revolution, Woman's Liberation, the Civil Rights movement, and the anti-war effort seemed to clash with the traditional values of the institutionalized church. Spirituality was in vogue, and the popularity of Eastern religious practices grew. A vocal minority of young Americans rejected organized religion along with the military, government and capitalism as part of the "Establishment." Many adults retained the religious values of their youth, but a vocal minority of the Baby Boomers rejected them. The Counterculture was a powerful force in American culture and politics from the mid-1960s, when the oldest Boomers became old enough to vote and actively influence America's society in many other ways. However, the church in America was not completely eclipsed. In fact, the document was written in 1965 at a time of substantial growth for the predominantly mainline United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Financial offerings to the denomination grew 61% from 1946 to 1967. Nevertheless, the social environment of the decade greatly impacted the Church and its members. As the leaders of the Church had done throughout its history, they sought reform and revision to remain current and relevant in a period of social changes. Thus the committee referred to the debates before the revolutions of 1848 and quoted a German theologian, Peter Schaff, who claimed in 1844 that the nature of Christian faith is not against but above reason. In the UPCUSA, such a desire to address modern social issues intersected with the theological implications of neo-orthodoxy, which was "well-established as the working theological consensus in the Presbyterian Church" by the late 1950s as "an alternative both to liberalism and fundamentalism."

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