The year was 1926. The issue was Prohibition. J. Gresham Machen, assistant professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary, had just voted against a motion in his presbytery to support the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act, the federal legislation that made illegal the sale and distribution of alcohol between 1918 and 1933. Machen's denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. was vehemently supportive of Prohibition. And yet Machen voted against the motion, not because, as some alleged, his family money came from running bootleg gin. Instead he believed the church's support for this specific legislation violated the church's legitimate authority.
Darryl G. Hart is Director of Fellowship Programs at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (Wilmington, Delaware) and author of several books including, John Williamson Nevin: High Church Calvinist (P&R, 2005) and A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State (Ivan R. Dee, 2006).
Issue: "The Christian Voters Guide" Sept./Oct. 2004 Vol. 13 No. 5 Page number(s): 32-33
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