Resources On Mainline (Liberal) Christianity In North America

The expression “mainline church” is drawn from an old-money neighborhood in Philadelphia known as “the main line.” The mainline churches were what are sometimes called the “tall steeple” church along the mainline. Scholars of American Christianity sometimes speak of the “Seven Sisters of the Mainline” referring to the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC), the United Church of Christ (UCC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the American Baptist Churches (ABC), the Disciples of Christ (DoC), and the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). Adjunct to the seven sisters would be the Reformed Church in America (RCA). There is another group that we might call the “borderline” churches, e.g., the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), and the Evangelical Covenant Order (ECO). These denominations are populated largely by congregations that left the mainline PCUSA over issues such as same-sex marriage. We might add to the borderline group the Christian Reformed Church in North America, which seems to be gradually moving toward the RCA. The “sideline” Presbyterian and Reformed churches are mostly those found in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) including the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Korean Presbyterian Church in America (KPCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and Korean-American Presbyterian Church (KAPC), the United Reformed Churches in North America, and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), among others. See the NAPARC site for more information.

  1. Mainline, Sideline, or Borderline?
  2. On Leaving The Mainline: Some Friendly Advice To The Alliance Of Reformed Churches
  3. Silencing Dissent In The “Liberal” Mainline
  4. Resources On Machen, Christianity, And Liberalism
  5. RCA Prof Predicts Demise of the RCA (and the CRC)
  6. RCA Adopts the “Belhar Confession”
  7. CRC and RCA: No Reason to Remain Separate?
  8. Office Hours: From Mainline to Sideline
  9. Is Efficiency A Virtue In The Church?
  10. The Confession Must Not Be A Lost Language For Reformed Pastors
  11. More Thoughts About The PCA: Liberal v Conservative Is The Wrong Paradigm
  12. Office Hours: Godfrey on the Myth of Influence
  13. The Irony Of The Myth Of Influence
  14. Machen’s Enemies Then And Now And The Myth Of Influence
  15. Resources On Machen, Christianity, And Liberalism
  16. Do Mainlines Renew?
  17. From “Insofar As” To “Good Faith:” The Slope To The Mainline
  18. Laura Smit On The Foolishness Of Romantic Dreams About The Mainline
  19. EPC Moves Toward the Mainline and the Mainline Moves Toward the Drain
  20. More Bad News For The Mainline
  21. Mainline Presbyterians (PCUSA) Continue Decline
  22. Two-Way Traffic on the Presbyterian Mainline
  23. Machen’s Memo to Christians in the Mainline
  24. Mainline Escapades: Union Seminary VA Hosts the You-Know-What Monologues
  25. The Incredible Shrinking Mainline
  26. The PCUSA Continues Its Slide Into Oblivion
  27. The PCUSA: Proudly Dying Since 1936
  28. Pervasive Unbelief In The PCUSA
  29. How Corrupt Is The Mainline?
  30. Whither The PCA?
  31. From “Insofar As” To “Good Faith:” The Slope To The Mainline
  32. Kevin DeYoung, “Lessons From Mainline Decline” | May 2, 2022
  33. Resources On Machen, Christianity, And Liberalism
  34. Resources On The PCA
  35. When the Borderline and Sideline Converge: Sunday Evenings
  36. Moves in the Borderline Toward Confessionalism or Away?
  37. What Is Your Line In The Sand? (Updated)
  38. The New York Times, Sioux Center, And Calvinism
  39. Recovering the Reformed Confession (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008).
  40. Kelley, Dean M. Why Conservative Churches Are Growing: A Study in Sociology of Religion. [1St ed.]ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
  41. Longfield, Bradley J. The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates. Religion in America Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  42. Finke, Roger, and Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992.
  43. Hart, D. G. The Lost Soul of American Protestantism. American Intellectual Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
  44. Marsden, George M. The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief. New York: Basic Books, 2014.
  45. Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.


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