The Christian Admiral is the name of a hotel. It was originally named the Hotel Cape May. And when it opened in 1908, with its 333 rooms, it was the largest hotel in the world. During World War I, it served as a naval hospital and then as a naval convalescent home, and then its name changed to the Admiral Hotel.
In 1962 the property was purchased by Carl McIntire, who renamed it the Christian Admiral and turned it into a Christian conference center. Next to it, he built a three-thousand-seat auditorium that would serve as a meeting space.
Who was Carl McIntire? He was born in 1906, while his future hotel was under construction. When he died in 2002, the Washington Post obituary declared him to be a “fiery radio preacher with unswerving right-wing views.” He was born in Michigan, but grew up in Oklahoma. In 1928, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary. He was elected president of that entering class. His colleagues knew that he had leadership qualities.
This was a time of great controversy at Princeton. It was right at this time that J. Gresham Machen left Princeton and founded Westminster Seminary. Carl McIntire went with him. McIntire graduated from Westminster in 1931. He and Machen were also together when they were ousted from their church over the controversy regarding the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Mission.
Machen died in 1937. One year later, there was a split. McIntire held to dispensational premillennialism; others in the new denomination did not. And so the Orthodox Presbyterian Church went one way, and Carl McIntire and the Bible Presbyterian Church went another. McIntire had been a pastor in Collingswood, New Jersey, at Collingswood Presbyterian Church. The denomination kept that property. So, near it, McIntire built a large wooden structure he called The Tabernacle of Testimony.
It was there that the Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood met. McIntire founded a number of other institutions and organizations. In 1938, he founded Faith Theological Seminary. Its most famous graduate would be Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer started at Westminster Theological Seminary but moved over to McIntire Seminary, from which he graduated. Schaeffer then entered into the Bible Presbyterian Church, serving as a pastor, before he and Edith moved to Switzerland and open L’Abri.
In 1941, McIntire founded the American Council of Churches and, later, the International Council of Christian Churches. These were very confessional, very fundamentalist institutions, diametrically opposed to their counterparts, the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, which were very ecumenical.
McIntire also founded the Christian Beacon, a weekly newspaper that first appeared in 1936 and would run until the 1990s. McIntire was tireless in his efforts, and he was a compelling speaker. In 1955, he began his radio program The Twentieth Century Reformation Hour. In the 1960s, his program could be heard across six hundred radio stations and had an estimated twenty million listeners. It was at this time that McIntire purchased The Admiral, dubbed it the Christian Admiral, and started his conference center there in Cape May, New Jersey.
In the 1960s, he also took on Shelton College. McIntire often railed against Communism during this Cold War era and even worked alongside Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led the House Un-American Affairs Committee. McIntire remained active, though in his later years he was dogged by controversy and conflict. He lost the Christian Admiral. He lost Shelton College. In 1999, he had an acrimonious departure from the pulpit of the Collingswood Church. He was ninety-two years old. He continued, however, to preach, holding services in his living room.
Reverend Dr. Carl McIntire died in 2002 at ninety-five years old. He was a very colorful figure in the twentieth-century American Presbyterian Church.