Niagara Bible Conference
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James H. Brookes
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The Niagara Bible Conference, held annually between 1876 and 1900, influenced thousands of American preachers towards dispensational premillenialism. In 1878, the conference organizers wrote the Niagara Creed, one of the foundational documents in the development of American fundamentalism. The success of the conference spawned hundreds of imitation conferences around the country, including one founded by popular evangelist Dwight L. Moody in Northfield, Massachusetts.
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The Niagara Bible Conference started as the "Believers' Meeting for Bible Study" during the early 1870s with a handful of evangelicals who met informally each summer. These men--including Princeton theologian Charles Erdman, hymnwriter Philip Bliss, and publisher Fleming Revell--helped popularize the Bible conference movement in their respective fields. In 1876, the conference opened to the public and soon became a two week meeting each summer in various resort hotels around the country before finally settling in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Each year, the conference would focus on particular topic, with prophecy, missions, holiness, and the person of Christ making repeat appearances. The Niagara Bible Conference played a key role in spreading the theology of dispensational premillenialism (see the "Publication of the Scofield Reference Bible" for a fuller description) among prominent American theologians and preachers. In 1878 the conference organizers also wrote one of the foundational documents in the development of American fundamentalism. The Niagara Creed had fourteen points, listing traditional Protestant doctrines like the deity of Christ and the trinity along with premillenialism. The opening shot of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy came four decades later within the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, when theological conservatives attempted to drive out theological liberals. They looked to the Niagara Creed for guidance, condensing the document down to five points in the "Doctrinal Deliverance of 1910."

The success of the Niagara Bible Conference sparked a national bible conference movement as hundreds of preachers started their own regional conferences on the same template of multi-day meetings with an emphasis on dispensational premillenialism. The most successful of the imitators was founded by evangelist Dwight L. Moody, who after speaking at Niagara several times, founded the Northfield Conference in Massachusetts focused on training young people for foreign mission work.
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Independent Fundamentalist Family
Independent Fundamentalist Family: Other ARDA Links

Moody, Dwight L.
Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson

James Brookes portrait- Internet Archive- from James H. Brooks, A Memoir by David Riddle Williams

Niagara-on-the-Lake- Internet Archive- from Report on the Believers’ Meeting for Bible Study
Book/Journal Source(s)
Beale, David O., 1986. In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850. Greenville, SC: Unusual Publications.
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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