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Van Horn’s study on Pride

In Devotionals, Reformed Theological Seminary on 30/05/2011 at 15:42

In processing a collection recently at the PCA Historical Center, I came across the following devotional by the Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn. He was instrumental in the organization of Reformed Theological Seminary and he was later one of the founding fathers of the PCA. The following was formatted as a bulletin insert; we have a set of his similarly formatted work on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, but this series was one I had not seen before.

To God’s Glory: A Devotional Study of the Reformed Faith for Theological Students

The Subject : Pride.
The Bible Verses to Read : Isa. 42.8; 48:11; Jer. 9:23-24; Mark 7:21; Matt. 18:4; I Cor. 4:10; I Tim. 6:20-21.

Through the years I have learned I will be used by God to the extent I make I Cor. 4:10 operative in my life : “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised.”  Paul knew the secret of the combination of humility and love and was mightily used by God.

The sin of pride is especially prevalent among young ministers. It is so easy to see oneself standing in the pulpit in the unique status the ministry occupies in the eyes of those present. The position could lead to self-importance, arrogance and deceit.

What is pride? In essence, pride amounts to a declaration of independence of God. It rests upon a false assumption, that of believing I can be something and do something apart from God. It is a fearful thing for it seeks to contend with God.

As a young minister I found myself constantly fighting this temptation. I do not mean to infer I never have to fight it now! But it was a great problem at that time. A person would praise me for a sermon. I would bring forth a thought in the midst of the verbal interchange in which ministers are constantly engaged and I would be praised for it. The glow of pride would well up within me.

It is the Lord Himself who needs to be exalted, no one else. Any excellence should be His and should be desired by no one else. The objectives of popularity, acceptance, and wisdom need to be replaced by service to God’s glory.

How can this sin be combated? There are many ways to mention two will help. (1) Remember the warning declared by God: “For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; . . .and the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isa. 2:12, 17). A minister called by God dare not submit himself to the awesome judgment of God through the sin of pride. It is a sure road to falling and thus hurting the testimony of God before an evil world.

(2) Remember the responsibilities of mortification. The Christian life is to begin with the recognition of the total inability of man to save himself and of the knowledge that salvation is merited. All the believer has is from God and it is the duty of the believer to put to death all aspects of pride as it makes itself known in his life. Read the rest of this entry »

The Prominent Place of Catechesis

In Catechesis, Christian Life, Columbia Theological Seminary, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Wm. Childs Robinson on 29/05/2011 at 20:03


by Prof. Wm. C. Robinson

[excerpted from The Christian Observer 121.38 (20 September 1933): 7.]

Recent research is giving an increasingly prominent place in the establishment of early Christianity to catechizing. The Greek verb, “katecheo,” occurs seven times in the New Testament. In five of these instances it is used in our technical sense of elementary religious instruction. Luke wrote the third Gospel to confirm Theophilus in the irrefragable certainty of the topics, “logoi,” in which he had been catechized (Luke 1:4). Mark labored as a catechist under Peter. His Gospel may be described as Peter’s catechism “concerning the things Jesus began to do.” Indeed, the fact of this early Christian catechizing is so well recognized that it has become one of the basic presuppositions of the new investigation in the origins of the Gospels known as “Formegeschichte.”

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians: “Stand fast and hold the traditions which ye were taught whether by word or by epistle of ours” (II Thessalonians 2:13). He reminds the Romans of that “pattern of doctrine which had been delivered unto them” by teachers other than himself (Romans 6:17). A fragment of the original formula or belief is preserved in I Corinthians 15:3f. This confessional formula “was made known to Paul already at the time of his baptism” (Cf. I Corinthians 15:3f. with Romans 6:3f.).

Professor R. Seeberg says that “the primitive Christian ‘traditions’ (I Corinthians 11:2; cf. ‘first principles,’ Hebrews 6:2) offered more or less fixed formulas and traditions of the faith and moral life.” “Thus over against the freely working spirit principle, the individualization of inspiration and enthusiasm there stood from the beginning a structure of fixed representations, doctrines, regulations, morals, usages, historical authorities. The interworking of these two features made possible an ordered historical development. The form did not remain an empty form, but the personal experience gave it content; on the other hand, the experience did not become a formless enthusiasm but inclosed itself in the forms of the primitive knowledge of Christ.

The contents of “The Catechism of Primitive Christianity” have been carefully collated by A. Seeberg, R. Seeberg, and A.D. Heffern. It included:

(1) The Formula of Belief. In the case of Jewish converts this was chiefly “the things concerning Jesus” (Luke 24:19), the “elucidation and defense of the Gospel facts.” In the case of the Gentiles it certainly included the Jewish catechesis concerning monotheism (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 3:30). R. Seeberg offers ample New Testament evidence to show “that to this belonged also the triadic formula,” which “trinitarian belief in God” rests on the revelation which Christ made during the forty days.” “The words of faith,” I Timothy 4:6, gradually crystallized into the Roman symbol, the primitive form of the Apostles’ Creed. This “pattern of sound words” was taught the neophyte just before baptism, and was confessed by him at that sacrament. Read the rest of this entry »

A Westminster Social Gathering

In Fellowship, J. Gresham Machen, Westminster Theological Seminary on 28/05/2011 at 20:41

It’s an old joke, but one of the real pleasures of the archivist’s job is reading other people’s mail.  Here transcribed is a letter that Allan A. MacRae, one of Westminster’s founding faculty, wrote to his parents in 1933.  It tells mainly of a social gathering of the early Westminster Seminary faculty and their friends and on that level alone, it is a wonderful glimpse into the lives of some dear saints. We see here bits of both their humanity and their love of the Lord.
But the letter also serves as an object lesson that each of us should take to heart, as it displays the value of preserving something of the story of how the Lord has been at work in our own lives, even noting perhaps something of the otherwise small and insignificant moments, for the reality of Christ in our lives shines there too. 

Allan A. MacRae writing to his parents,

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct.22, 1933.

Dear Folks,

Another week has passed by, and how it has flown. It was quite a busy week. There was the regular school work, there were the first classes of the year in the University and there were two special things. These latter were the tea at the Allises last Wednesday afternoon and the party at the Wallaces on Friday evening. Both these events were particularly pleasant. The Allises gave a tea in honor of the Kuipers. They invited over a hundred people. They asked me, and the others of our faculty to stay most of the time from four to six to help entertain the visitors. It was a very friendly reception. Everyone was so cordial and harmonious. Most of those who came knew most of the others.

On Friday evening the Misses Wallace, two maiden ladies who have been friends of the Seminary and have been present at most of our functions right from the start, entertained the faculty of the Seminary at their apartment in one of the suburbs. They asked Dr.Machen to speak on mountain climbing. He gave a very interesting talk indeed. Then Jimmie Blackstone, who was also invited, sang several numbers for us, and one of the Misses Wallace read some poems she had written. Dr.Kuiper was asked for a few remarks. After that we had a spelling bee. Most of those on the side on which I happened to be chosen were spelled down rather soon, and for a long time I was the lone survivor on our side, while the opposing team still had three standing. These three were Dr. Machen, Paul Woolley and John Murray. Then I put one ‘m’ too few in the word persimmon, and left the three of them alone. So their side was victorious in the contest. After that ice cream was served. When we all came to leave, some one happened to look at a watch, and we could hardly believe it was actually past midnight, the evening had been so pleasant. The only people invited who were not members of our faculty, beside Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone, were Mr. and Mrs.Freeman, whom I mentioned to you recently. They took John Murray and me with them in their car, which was pleasant and also a great convenience for us. Read the rest of this entry »

“Ye shall be My witnesses”

In David S. Kennedy, The Presbyterian on 26/05/2011 at 21:16

Another editorial by the Rev. David S. Kennedy, during the pitch of the modernist controversy.

The Main Function of the Church
[The Presbyterian 95.26 (25 June 1925): 3-4.]

THE church of Jesus Christ has many functions. Among these functions, however, there is one that takes precedence of all others. This function was given initial and summary expression by the supreme Head of the church himself immediately after his ascension and his resumption of that glory which he had had with the Father before the world was — in what were therefore the final instructions he gave to his church — in person rather than through the instrumentality of his apostles — in the words that are recorded in the eighth verse of the first chapter of the Book of Acts, “Ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”

The primary function of the church is to bear witness, to make known its message of truth. The campaign launched by the apostles, at the command of Christ himself, was a campaign of witnessing. It was by the “foolishness of preaching” that they began the task, not only of bringing the thoughts and activities of individuals into captivity to their Lord, but of transforming the kingdoms of this world into his kingdom. It is not strange that it seemed foolishness to the then-living wise of this world that the apostles should expect to achieve any significant results by the use of such a method. One might think that the history of the last nineteen hundred years had abundantly justified the wisdom of their method; and yet there are still many, even within the Christian church, to whom the method seems foolish to such a degree that they have largely subordinated it to other methods. For the “foolishness of preaching” they substitute organization, mass movements, programmes, and such like, so that instead of being primarily “men with a message,” they are rather “men with a programme.” Plans and programmes and organizations have an important part to play in the great task of Christianizing the world, but in view of the method commended by Christ himself and followed by the apostles, it is clear that our chief dependence should be on the purity and sincerity of our testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.

From the very beginning the campaign of witnessing carried on by the apostles included two elements — both of which were kept constantly in the foreground. In the first place, they made known what had taken place, the great historical events that lie at the basis of the Christian religion. In the second place, they expounded the meaning and significance of those facts or events. Read the rest of this entry »

Recent News at the PCA Historical Center

In PCA Historical Center on 26/05/2011 at 17:49

An update on recent progress at the PCA Historical Center:

Dr. George P. Hutchinson has made the donation of another accrual to his Papers, this donation totaling nineteen boxes of materials.  Noteworthy among the items is a set of thirteen volumes published by the  Alliance of the Reformed Churches Holding the Presbyterian System, and covering the proceedings of that ecumenical organization, 1884-1937, 1959, and 1970.

An accrual of two boxes [2.0 cu. ft.] to the Papers of the Rev. Donald J. MacNair.

Rev. Tom Jones has donated materials from his days as part of the infamous singing duo of Dameron & Jones.  Items include a copy of the cassette tape produced by the duo, transcriptions of their songs and some photos. — [“We’ve been OP, BP, and EPC, and RPCES; And what we’ll be this time next year is anybody’s guess.”]  Tom has also just today donated a set of CD’s containing his interview with the Rev. Bud Moginot.

and lastly, Chaplain David P. Peterson has made the donation of his Papers, 0.5 cu. ft.
All of these materials remain unprocessed at this time.

Recent researchers in the Center have included Dr. Doug Herman, history professor at the Big Sandy Community Technical College, Prestonsburg, Kentucky, researching in the Buswell and MacRae collections; and Ms. Jinja Kim, a doctoral student from the University of Hokkaido, Japan, conducting research for her dissertation in our Japan missions collections.

Some of the recent accessions to the Center’s research library include:

Baker, Daniel, Daniel Baker’s Talks to Little Children. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856.

McKay, Ellen Cotton, A History of The Rye Presbyterian Church. Rye, NY: The Church, 1957.  Hb, xix, 260 p.; indexed; 23.5 cm.

Morton, Herbert Donald, Origins of the Twentieth Century Reformation Movement. Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1967; Th.M. Thesis; 157 p.; 28 cm.

Phillips, A.L., The Call of the Home Land: A Study in Home Missions. Richmond, VA: The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1910.  Hb, 197 p.; 20 cm.

Prize Essays on the Temporal Advantages of the Sabbath. Considered in relation to the Working Classes. Containing Heaven’s Antidote, The Torch of Time, and The Pearl of Days. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, undated.

The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and Its Consequences to the Protestant Churches of France and Italy; containing Memoirs of some of the Sufferers in the Persecution attending that event. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1839.  Hb, [4], 215 p.; 16 cm. Read the rest of this entry »

Elders and Deacons in the Church of Scotland.

In Deacons, Elders on 26/05/2011 at 15:53

A timely review of some of the basics as we approach the time for General Assembly.

The First Institution of Elders and Deacons in the Church of Scotland, the Qualifications of these Office-bearers, and their Proper Functions, according to a Form of Church Policy submitted to the Convention of Edinburgh, 1560. From Spottiswood’s History, Edition of 1655. Published by the Evangelist.
[excerpted from
The Central Presbyterian 31.34 (19 February 1896): 2.]
Spelling has been modernized, for your convenience.

The eighth head concerning Elders and Deacons.

Men of best knowledge, of purest life, and most honest conversation that can be found in every Church, must be nominated for these offices, and their names publicly read unto the congregation, that from amongst those some may be chosen to serve as Elders and Deacons. If any be nominated, who is noted with public infamy, he must be repelled; for it is not seemly that the servant of corruption should have authority to judge in the Church of God: or if any man know others that are of better qualities within the Church, then those who are nominated, the same shall be joined to the others, that the Church may have the choice. If the Churches be few in number, so as Elders and Deacons cannot conveniently be had, the same Church may be joined to the next adjacent; for the plurality of Churches without Ministers and order doth rather hurt, than edify.

The election of Elders and Deacons ought to be made every year once, which we judge most convenient to be done the first of August yearly, lest men by long continuance in those Offices presume upon the liberty of the Church. And yet it hurts not, if a man be retained in office more years then one, so as he be appointed yearly thereto by common and free election: Providing always that the Deacons, and Treasurers of the Church be not compelled to receive again the same Office for the space of 2 years. How the suffrages shall be given and received, every several Church may take the order that seems best to them.

The Elders being elected must be admonished of their Office, which is to assist the Minister in all public affairs of the Church; to wit, in judging and discerning of cases, in giving admonition to licentious livers, and having an eye upon the manners and conversation of all men within their charge: for by the gravity of the Elders the loose and dissolute manners of other men ought to be restrained and corrected. The Elders ought also to take heed to the life, manners, diligence and study of their Ministers; And if he be worthy of admonition, they must admonish him; if of correction, they must correct him; and if he be worthy of deposition, they with the consent of the Church and Superintendent may depose him.

The Office of Deacons is to receive the rents, and gather the Alms of the Church, to keep and distribute the same as they shall be appointed by the Ministry and the Church; yet they may also assist in judgment the Minister and Elders, and be admitted to read in public Assemblies, if they be called, required and found able thereto. Read the rest of this entry »

A Faithful Watchman Gave Warning (1895)

In Modernism, Rationalism on 25/05/2011 at 19:42

The modernism of the 20th century did not arise overnight. Lest someone think the current battles are anything new, here is evidence that truly there is nothing new under the sun. The battles we face today have deep roots in literally centuries of unbelief and the rejection of Scripture’s truth. 

A New Faith and an Old Folly
By the Rev. J.A. Waddell, D.D.
[The Central Presbyterian 30.35 (20 March 1895): 2.]

President Eliot, of Harvard, has written very hopefully and confidently concerning the prospects of the American Union. Among other encouraging signs, he refers to a new type of Christianity, which he represents as rapidly progressing amongst us. This revolution, as he calls it, has been effected since the beginning of the present century. The characteristic of the liberal Christianity seems to consist in a new conception of God, and new views of human life. God is no longer, as in ages past, regarded as a Judge who will call the impenitent to account; and life is not a season of preparation for a happier sphere. “By the multitude of the unchurched, also, it is generally understood that there is no angry God to propitiate, and that the only way to take securities for the morrow, whether in life or in death, is to do well the duties of to-day.” Without explicit statement of belief, and by the light of these shadowy hints, it is easy to see that the revolution in which he rejoices is a complete rejection of what the Bible teaches concerning condemnation and atonement.

President Eliot is high authority. His statement is questionable only as to the extent of the apostasy which he recognises and welcomes. Advocates are naturally apt to exaggerate the success of the cause they represent. But there is no doubt of the fact, that New England thought, if not that of the whole North, is largely infected with radical disloyalty to Christianity, as it is written in the sacred oracles. I do not propose to discuss this obvious trend of opinion on religious subjects, except in a single aspect. It is a part of a vast aggregate of popular error, that has thoroughly mastered the mind of many of the devotees of light literature in that region. The literati of New England, as a distinct class from the great thinkers of the land, are, with few exceptions, under the false impression that no equal area in the world can compare with their section in wisdom. The assumption of superiority to foreigners, by the Chinese literary class, is not more pronounced. This complacency is manifested, consciously and unconsciously on all subjects, and religion does not escape. With few exceptions, they concur in regarding the divine authority of the Scriptures as an untenable dogma, and erect self-consciousness into a final criterion. Read the rest of this entry »

A Catechism in Rhyme

In Children's Catechisms on 25/05/2011 at 09:46

Yet another form of a children’s catechism. This version was published in THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY’S SHORTER CATECHISM, WITH SCRIPTURE PROOFS.  [Portland : Hyde, Lord and Duren. New-York City : Eli French. 1847.] 


1. Who made you, child, and bade you live?
God did my life and spirit give.

2. Who keeps you safely, can you tell?
God keeps me safe, and makes me well.

3. How has God shown the way of truth?
The Bible is the guide of youth.

4. How should you act to God above?
With fear and honour, praise and love.

5. Does God know all you do and say?
Yes, and my thoughts both night and day.

6. Have you and evil heart within?
Yes; I was even born in sin.

7. How does your heart its badness show?
By sinful words and actions too.

8. Is not God angry when we sin?
Yes. Oh how wicked I have been.

9. What do your sins deserve t’ obtain?
Present and everlasting pain.

10. And can you save yourself from wo?
I cannot save myself, I know.

11. Have you the power to change your heart?
No; it is prone from good to start.

12. Who, then, can peace and pardon give?
Jesus, who died that we might live.

13. What proves that Jesus Christ will save?
His life, his cross, his death, his grave.

14. Can none but Christ for sin atone?
The blood of Jesus Christ alone.

15. And how may you his grace receive?
In Jesus Christ I must believe.

16. Must you repent with humble heart?
Yes, and from every sin depart.

17. From God what blessings should you seek?
Lord, save my soul for Jesus’ sake.

18. Should you love Christ, who was so good?
Oh yes, with all my heart I should.

19. Did Christ become a little child?
Yes, holy, humble, meek and mild.

20. What did his early his’try shew?
Jesus in strength and wisdom grew.

21. What was foretold of Jesus’ grace?
The Lambs he’ll on his bosom place.

22. And were the young thus loved and blest?
Christ took and clasped them to his breast. Read the rest of this entry »

First Commencement: Covenant Seminary

In Covenant Theological Seminary, Theological Seminaries on 24/05/2011 at 09:54

This is an edited form of the address given by Mr. Bunzel during the First Annual Commencement Exercises of Covenant College* on June 1, 1956, held at Pasadena City Church, whose building housed the college prior to its permanent relocation in St. Louis. Pasadena City Church has also provided headquarters for Twentieth Century Evangelism since its beginning in 1954.
[*See the explanatory note at the end of this post.]

The Place Where Responsibility and Opportunity Meet

By Rev. Claude Bunzel, Director of Twentieth Century Evangelism, Minister of Pasadena City Church.

THE SUBJECT which I have chosen is The Place Where Responsibility and Opportunity Meet. I realize that these words, responsibility and opportunity, seem to contradict each other. Responsibility, as you know, carries with it the idea of obligation, something that we must do. In other words, a responsibility is a duty. But opportunity conveys an entirely different meaning. An opportunity is some “favorable chance,” to quote the dictionary, which leaves a person the freedom to undertake or decline.

I remember a cartoon which I saw one time. A young man was seated in an elegant home, holding a conversation with a woman who was obviously well-to-do. This young man had apparently been trying to get this woman to contribute to the cause he was representing. The caption below the cartoon, however, quoted the woman like this: “I was ready to make out a check for you until you started talking to me about my duty.”

Yes, that is the attitude most people take when the matter of responsibility is mentioned. Opportunities they will consider. But the majority of people seem to shy away from anything that so much as resembles responsibility. Yet there is a place where responsibility and opportunity meet. When Jesus was with His disciples for the last time prior to His ascension, His disciples asked Him: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). Jesus replied (vs. 7,8):

It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
In plain words, the answer which Jesus gave to His disciples was this. Their mission was not to be a temporal mission to reform society. It was to be a spiritual mission to tell the world about the One who had come to redeem sinners. This means that
evangelism is the place where responsibility and opportunity meet!


It is our responsibility to be witnesses unto Christ, because He said, “And ye shall be witnesses unto Me.” But what does it mean to be a witness unto Jesus Christ? Today, certainly, different people will give different answers to that question. I contend, therefore, that the only reliable answer is to be found in that portion of Scripture known as the Acts of the Apostles. This has to be so, for the simple reason that the Gospels and the Epistles were written to those who had already turned to Christ for His salvation. Read the rest of this entry »

First Commencement: Faith Seminary

In Faith Theological Seminary, Francis A. Schaeffer, Theological Seminaries on 23/05/2011 at 17:05

Second in our series on first commencement addresses —

“Soldiers and Servants of Christ”

Delivered by the Rev. James R. Graham, at the First Commencement of Faith Theological Seminary, in Wilmington, DE.
[The Christian Beacon 3.24 (21 July 1938): 3-4.]

2 Tim. 2: 3.—”Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

In the second chapter of Paul’s second letter to Timothy we have the seven characterizations of the Christian believer. In the first verse we find the initial relationship of sonship. In the third verse we find the soldier, and in the fifth the athlete. In the sixth we have the farmer, and in the fifteenth the skilled workman. In the twentieth verse we have the vessel, and in the twenty-fourth the servant.

It should be the purpose of the well-rounded believer to stand before his Saviour with a combination of the distinctive features found in these seven characterizations. None save Jesus of Nazareth, the only-begotten Son with the full-orbed perfections of His moral glory, ever attained fully to such a combination of virtues. It is a goal to be striven for, however — the intimate fellowship of sonship, the courageous devotion of the soldier, the strict training and rule-observance of the athlete, the unapplauded labor of the farmer, the dexterous use of our implement (the Word of God) as a skilled workman, the golden receptacle of divine truth unaffected by the acid canker of time, and finally the unobtrusive patience of the servant.

We are particularly concerned in this study with the second character, the soldier, in comparison and contrast with the seventh, the servant.

There, are clear distinctions between these two characters as regards their place of service, qualifications, responsibility, duration, and time.

It is necessary, first of all, for us to be born into the family of God by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit before we can possibly fulfill any character of service, but it is significant that the first character enjoined after the prerequisite initial step is that of the soldier and the last is that of the servant.

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The clear understanding with which any man enlists in an army is that he must be prepared to encounter any degree of danger, even to the extent of giving up his life for the glory of his master and captain, and for “the successful prosecution of the war.” It is inherent in the character of the soldier that he be an offensive as well as a defensive agent. Since it is his business to fight he can expect nothing more on occasion than to be attacked by the opponents of the cause with which he has allied himself. He serves in a place of perpetual danger. He is not only exposed to physical danger but must gladly share the criticism and opprobrium heaped upon his captain by the adversaries; and must endure the murmurings and defections of weak and fearful allies. Read the rest of this entry »