Old School-New School Explained

Previously, we have highlighted several books which endeavor to explain and differentiate the 1837-1838 Old / New School divide within mainline American Presbyterianism:

And now we have another resource to offer for study on this subject: Lewis Cheeseman (1803-1861), Differences Between Old and New School Presbyterians (1848)

Take time to look over these works and familiarize yourself with the issues and persons involved. The year 1837 was momentous in American Presbyterian church history (as was 1936, almost a century later). The authors above lived through this tumultuous time and, without claiming to be impartial, have left a record of the distinctions between these two schools which characterized the divide in American Presbyterianism. Add these volumes to your reading list, and learn what happened 180 years ago to split the old and new schools of American Presbyterianism. 


James Wood on the Theological Divide of the Old and New Schools

James Wood (1799-1867) was a 19th century American Presbyterian pastor (in Amsterdam, New York), seminary professor (at New Albany, Indiana), and college president (of Hanover College and Van Rensselaer Institute). Charles Hodge had this to say about Wood: "In common with all his brethren, I ever regarded him as one of our best, wisest, and most useful ministers. The important positions which he was called upon to fill are proofs of the high estimation in which he was held. His sound judgment, dignified manners, amiable temper, combined with his learning and energy, secured for him a wide and happy influence in the Church."

One of his most important works was Old and New Theology: Or an Exhibition of Those Differences with Regard to Scripture Doctrines, Which Have Recently Agitated and Now Divided the Presbyterian Church (first edition, 1838, second edition, 1845). In this book, Wood lays out what divided the Old School and the New School theologically: the imputation of Adam's sin, original sin, justification, human ability, regeneration, and more. Anyone interested in knowing more about why the Presbyterian Church in the United States split in 1837 should read this book.