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Outline for

A Brief Comparison of the Backgrounds, Theologies and Preaching
of Harry Emerson Fosdick and Clarence Edward Macartney

by Frederick W. Evans, Jr.


This paper will attempt to highlight certain remarkable similarities and notable contrasts between what may well have been the two most influential American preachers of the 1920 - 1950 period, with special emphasis given to the divergent doctrinal views which helped shape their respective preaching methods.

PART I - The Similarities in Background:

1. Born in succeeding years - 1878 [Fosdick], 1879 [Macartney]
2. Brought up in homes of culture;
3. Participated in oratorical and declamation contests;
4. Affected by changing theological climate during college years;
5. Began pastoral ministries almost simultaneously in New Jersey;
6. Introduced new approaches in their first churches.

PART II - The Divergences in Theology:

1. Reacted differently to early doctrinal influences;
2. Chose two distinct schools of theological training;
3. Developed sharply contrasting views of the Bible;
4. Convinced of the relevance of their respective theologies;
5. Sought faithfully to articulate their true convictions;
6. Confronted each other in the Modernist-Fundamentalist Controversy.

PART III - The Dissimilarities in Preaching:

1. Fosdick and 'the Project Method' -

a. Concerned initially with some specific life problem;
b. Brought light of Bible and other wisdom to bear on problem;
c. Led people in cooperative adventure of problem-solving.

2. Macartney and the Biographical Method -

a. Began with Bible character or incident related to life;
b. Drew out the Bible doctrine in terms of life's duties;
c. Closed with Bible exhortation to heart and life-action.


In their awareness of life-situations both Fosdick and Macartney were men of their times, as in their appeal to the well-springs of human action they were one with the effective preachers of all time. Their different concepts of Biblical authority and sufficiency, however, led them to employ contrasting homiletical methods.

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