American Presbyterianism: Old Side – New Side

“The Hodge family had a history of pietist activity within the church. They remained active in Second Church through successive generations down to Charles’s elder brother Dr. Hugh Lenox Hodge, who served as ruling elder. Thus Hodge grew up an heir of evangelical piety, familiar with its religious enthusiasm and activism. Hodge, however, also recounted other practices reflecting that in addition to pietism, his family retained important elements of Old Side confessionalism, an alternative and somewhat antagonistic expression of religious experience from that of New Side evangelicalism. Confessionalist Presbyterians, like their counterparts in Lutheran and Episcopalian denominations, explained religious experience primarily in terms of doctrinal faithfulness to church confessions and participation in the sacraments and corporate worship over against revivalist-inspired piety that characterized the Great Awakening. They stressed catechetical instruction and participation in congregational life under careful oversight of the clergy, which stood in contrast to the privatism and individualism of revivalism. Charles Hodge’s theological perspective and deepest religious convictions as well as his teaching, publishing, and participation in denominational affairs mirrored his family’s background in the internecine quarrels of these two rival traditions that competed in forming the identity of American Presbyterianism from mid- to late eighteenth century” (W. Andrew Hoffecker, Charles Hodge, 31).