Though Bryan was considered the clear frontrunner early on, he lost the election by a narrow margin, signaling the church's unease with Bryan's strident opposition to evolutionary thought. Indeed, the Assembly later defeated a hotly contested motion to oppose the teaching of biological evolution in Presbyterian schools and adopted a much milder resolution that instructed church judicatories to "withhold their official approval from such academies, colleges, and training schools where any teaching or instruction is given which seeks to establish a materialistic evolutionary philosophy of life or which disregards or attempts to discredit the Christian faith."35 Most Presbyterians, even many theologically conservative Presbyterians like Machen, were willing to accept biological evolution to some degree.
The Committee on Bills and Overtures, which handled the Fosdick controversy, recommended no action pending the results of the investigation of the New York Presbytery. But militant conservatives were in no mood to leave Fosdick's fate in the hands of the liberal New York Presbytery. After long and acrimonious debate, the Assembly reaffirmed the five fundamentals of the faith first declared in 1910 and instructed the Presbytery of New York to bring the preaching of First Presbyterian Church, New York, into conformity with the Westminster Confession.36
Hard upon this decision, however, liberals mobilized a public counteroffensive to this conservative victory. Henry Sloane Coffin, for example, a prominent liberal and pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, issued a statement claiming that he agreed completely with Fosdick and if Fosdick were disciplined he should be also.37 Liberals like Coffin were convinced that if Christianity was going to appeal to thinking men and women and transform the world into God's Kingdom then it had to present a united front based on doctrinal liberty. As proponents of the Social Gospel, liberals believed that true evangelism had to bring all of life -- industry, education, and government -- under the gospel in order to "make the world the kingdom of God."38 The liberal battle against fundamentalism was, therefore, not simply a fight for the tolerance of liberal theology but also a crusade to advance the Kingdom of God on earth.39