A reader writes up a very informative summary of Gary North’s detailed account of how the Presbyterian Church was successfully converged over a period of 60 years.
Given how reliably organizations get captured by the left, there’s an amazing lack of curiosity about how it happens. I recently read Gary North’s 1996 book Crossed Fingers: How Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church, a rare case study of liberal takeover. North provides a detailed – at 1100 pages too detailed – case study of how the left took over the northern Presbyterian church between 1875 and 1936.
This books echoes many of the same themes of SJWs Always Lie. It’s uncanny how little things have changed, including the failures of conservatives. I’m attaching three docs: a one page summary, a writeup of lessons learned from the book, and a collection of substantial quotations from the book that pulls key points out of this monster. I thought you might be interested in other researchers who validate your SJW analysis, and am providing multiple length options depending on your interest level.
Crossed Fingers: How Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church
By Gary North / Institute for Christian Economics (September 1996)
1. The single most important cause of the liberal capture of the Presbyterian Church was the conservatives’ failure to kick out liberal heretics and impose negative sanctions while they had the chance.
2. Liberal strategies and characteristics that led to their victory:
- Willingness to lie (they had their “fingers crossed” when swearing that they held to the Westminster Confession): “SJWs always lie”
- Intense public calls for freedom of inquiry, tolerance, pluralism, unity while weak or assimilating power
- Deliberate focus on institutional capture, which included the property, money, and brand prestige.
- Long game perspective (the takeover took 60 years: 1875-1936)
- Far superior skills at bureaucratic maneuvering, including an analog of a “code of conduct”.
- Presence of amenable authorities (the WASP establishment, media) & outside money (esp. from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.)
- The liberals “took care of their wounded” – anyone who suffered in the fight got a cushy job somewhere else.
- Once they consolidated power they were willing to kick out conservative leaders like Machen.
3. Conservative strategies and characteristics that led to their failure:
- They also had “crossed fingers” and did not themselves fully support the Westminster Confession (e.g., they rejected six day creationism). This limited their ability to call out others for heresy.
- They were on the “wrong side of history” with slavery (i.e., took a stance of neutrality on what the Bible said about it), which weakened their moral authority, rather like modern political conservatives and the Civil Right Act.
- Initial inability to respond compellingly to key challenges to orthodoxy: Darwinism and Higher Criticism
- Strategy was purely defensive – nothing on offense (“surrender on the installment plan”)
- Focused on ideas, theology and church mission, not institutions and bureaucracy, and had a very weak understanding of bureaucratic warfare.
- Were incredibly polite, charitable, and moderate in their rhetoric – they rarely dared to directly confront heretics
4. Other lessons and implications
- The modernists were fighting to win the war; the conservatives didn’t even understand they were in one
- High standards people tend to lose out vs. low standards people. Key: conflict between orthodoxy and church growth mindset, stay pure but small or grow large but compromise on beliefs.
- The more bureaucratic and complex an organization, the more vulnerable to liberal takeover (Confessional documents and hierarchical structures were perceived as strengths but were – and are – really weaknesses)
- Confessional documents are irrelevant when faced with liars (cf: today’s US Constitutional law)
- Presbyterian takeover pre-dated Gramsci and could not have been inspired by him
- Presbyterian takeover pre-dated the modern political Conservative movement
- You can’t fight the tape – the tides of history were with the liberals
- Despite best efforts of smart but flawed conservatives, the liberals won: God preserved only a remnant and the Presbyterian church was lost
- The winners write history; noxious liberal causes like eugenics were memory holed.