Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

First Commencement: Westminster Seminary

In Clarence E. Macartney, Princeton Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary on 22/05/2011 at 14:44

Protestantism’s Tomorrow
By Clarence Edward Macartney, D.D.
Christianity Today 1.1 (May 1930): 8-10.]

[Below appears the complete text of the address delivered at the First commencement of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, in Witherspoon Hall, on the evening of May sixth. Dr. Macartney is an ex-Moderator of the General Assembly, Minister of the First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, and member of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees.  An account of the commencement exercises is recorded here.]

WERE I to consult my own preference, I should avail myself of this opportunity to speak some words of counsel, warning, and encouragement to the young men who are going out from this Seminary to preach the Gospel. But I am aware, as you are, that this is no ordinary occasion, and that the exercises of this evening have back of them a deeper significance than the sending out of these young men into the work of the ministry. Tonight we fling out to every wind that blows a new banner, to be displayed not because of any new discovery, or any new faith, but because of the Everlasting Gospel. With this commencement, and the going out of these young men into the ministry, the real history of Westminster Seminary begins.

One hundred and fifty-four years ago, the Continental Congress, assembled in the old State House on Chestnut Street, declared to the world the independence of the United States. It was fitting that the Declaration should commence with the now familiar words: “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation.”

A decent respect to the opinions of Presbyterians, and evangelical Christians in the United States and throughout the world, requires that we should declare the causes which impelled us to separate from Princeton Theological Seminary. A statement of these causes must, of necessity, embrace a brief survey of the present condition of the Protestant Church. On an August day one summer, I was sitting on a bench in the park at Geneva. In front of me, and built against the ancient ramparts of the city, rose the great stone wall of the International Monument of the Reformation. In the center, cut out of the rock, stood the figures of the four Reformers who had to do with Geneva — Calvin, Farell, Beza, and Knox. Along the wall to the left stood the great Elector Frederick, William the Silent, and Admiral Coligny. On the right, Roger Williams and Cromwell. between the different figures, were sculptured scenes representing memorable incidents of Reformation and post-Reformation times : Henry the IV, signing the Edict of Nantes; John Knox, preaching before Mary Stuart; the Elector Frederick receiving the French refugees, and the signing of the compact in the cabin of the Mayflower. Over all, cut in great letters was the familiar motto of the Reformation, “Post Tenebras Lux.” Read the rest of this entry »


Chalmers (1949) – #5 : Northern Aggression

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Chalmers W. Alexander, J. Gresham Machen, Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Southern Presbyterian Journal on 21/05/2011 at 15:03

This continues our series on the Auburn Affirmation and its after-effects, as told by Chalmers W. Alexander, a lawyer and ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS.  These next several parts of the series specifically concern Dr. J. Gresham Machen.

What The Northern Presbyterian Church Did To Dr. J. Gresham Machen
(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander, Jackson, MS
[excerpted from The Southern Presbyterian Journal 8.10 (15 September 1949): 6-10.]

In 1936 Dr. J. Gresham Machen (pronounced “may chin”) was kicked out of the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church.

On January 1, 1937 Dr. Machen died of lobar pneumonia, after an illness of only four days, in Bismark, North Dakota, while on a preaching tour for the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time of his death he was no longer a minister in, or a member of, the Northern Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Machen was fifty-five years old, and at the height of his intellectual powers, when he died. He had never married, and he left an estate estimated at $175,000.00.

What H. L. Mencken Said

Dr. Machen’s sudden death evoked comments by newspaper and church paper commentators all over America, and from Christians and non-Christians alike.

What Dr. Machen had fought for, and what his opponents had been doing in recent years in the Northern Presbyterian Church which had aroused his opposition, were very clearly summarized, strange to say, by H. L. Mencken. H. L. Mencken has never professed to be a Christian, and no one has ever accused him of being very reverent in matters of religion. But no one can deny that he has a keen, incisive mind, and that he is one of America’s best known critics. Writing in the January 18, 1937 issue of the Baltimore Evening Sun, of which he himself was at one time the Editor, he remarked (the emphasis in the quotation is added): Read the rest of this entry »

“The Saving Christ,” by B.B. Warfield

In Benjamin B. Warfield, Christianity Today, Princeton Theological Seminary, Samuel G. Craig on 19/05/2011 at 13:15

The Saving Christ : A Sermon
by the late Benjamin B. Warfield, D.D., LL.D.
[Christianity Today 1.1 (May 1930): 11-12, 19.]

B. B. Warfield at the time of his death was the leading Calvinistic theologian in the English speaking world, ranking in this respect with the great Dutch theologians/ Abraham Kuyper and Hermann Bavinck. In him a mind of rare power, extraordinary erudition and a remarkable facility for accurate and concise expression was united with a deeply Christian heart and an earnest evangelical zeal. . . . Dr. Warfield’s sermons have been spoken of as “models of the better sort of University preaching” and it seems fitting that the first sermon printed in “Christianity Today” should be from one who for so many years was a standing illustration of the fact that the most searching critical and historical investigation strengthens rather than weakens belief in the Bible as the Word of God and in Christ as the alone and all-sufficient Saviour. 

Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”—I Tim. i. I5. (R. V.)

IN these words we have the first of a short series of five “faithful sayings,” or current Christian commonplaces, incidentally adduced by the apostle Paul in what we commonly call his Pastoral Epistles. They are a remarkable series and their appearance on the face of these New Testament writings is almost as remarkable as their contents.

Consider what the phenomenon is that is brought before us in these “faithful sayings.” Here is the apostle writing to his assistants in the proclamation of? the gospel, little more than a third of a century, say, after the crucifixion of his Lord — scarcely thirty-three years after he had himself entered upon the great ministry that had been committed to him of preaching to the Gentiles the words of this life. Yet he is already able to remind them of the blessed contents of the gospel message in words that are the product of Christian experience in the hearts of the community. For just what these “faithful sayings” are, is a body of utterances in which the essence of the gospel as been crystallized by those who have tasted and seen its preciousness. Read the rest of this entry »

“The Present Situation in the Presbyterian Church,” by J. Gresham Machen (1930)

In J. Gresham Machen, Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Samuel G. Craig, The Presbyterian on 17/05/2011 at 21:38

Yet another article by Dr. J. Gresham Machen which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been made widely available on the web. Here Machen remains farsighted at least and nearly prophetic in his insight.  

The Present Situation in the Presbyterian Church
By the Rev. J. G. Machen, D.D., Litt.D.,
Professor of New Testament in Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
[Christianity Today 1.1 (May, 1930): 5-7.]

THE present situation in the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. is only one phase of a situation that prevails in the Protestant churches throughout the world. Everywhere—in the countries of Europe and in mission lands—Christianity finds itself in a mighty conflict with an alien type of religious belief and life. This alien type of religious belief and life appears in many different forms, and expresses itself in many different ways; but at bottom it is everywhere the same. Disparagement of doctrine, decrying of controversy, sinking of doctrinal differences in a program of peace and work, the craze for organizational unions, the “interpretation” of the Bible and of the great Christian creeds to make them mean almost their exact opposite, the substitution of vague swelling words for a clear-cut proclamation of the Cross of Christ, exaltation of experience” at the expense of God’s written Word—these are everywhere the marks of one great and deadly enemy to the Christian faith.

The enemy is made the more dangerous because it is found within, rather than without, the Church. Definite opponents of the Christian religion could have been more easily met; but now as in ancient times Satan has preferred to labor for the most part in the dark. The change has come very quietly and very gradually. There have been few open breaks; there have been comparatively few open denials; good men, in their ignorance, have often become emissaries of unbelief. The Gospel has not been openly contradicted, but it has been quietly pushed aside. Read the rest of this entry »

Chalmers (1949) – #4. Popular Attitudes

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S. [PCUS], Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Presbyterian on 16/05/2011 at 11:56

Some Popular Attitudes Toward The Auburn Affirmation Today

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander

Jackson, MS Read the rest of this entry »

He Got Himself In Also

In The Presbyterian on 15/05/2011 at 20:46

[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 95.10 (5 March 1925): 2.]

The following incident was told by Gipsy Smith in one of his sermons during his meetings in Nashville, Tenn.  “One night the eloquent minister, Dr. Charles Beery, sat in his study with his slippers on.  Everybody had gone to be in the house.  It was after two o’clock, and he was reading and thinking.  He was a great student.  The bell rang, and he went to the door.  It was in his first church, I should tell you, after he left college.  He went to the door, and there stood a typical Lancashire girl with a shawl over her head and a pair of wooden shoes, which they call clogs in my country, on her feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Revival Values, by George W. Ridout (1925)

In The Presbyterian, Uncategorized on 15/05/2011 at 20:20

Revival Values
By George W. Ridout

[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN (19 February 1925): 8-9. Read the rest of this entry »

Lest We Lose Our First Love, by J.W.R.

In The Presbyterian on 15/05/2011 at 20:18

Lest We Lose Our First Love
By J. W. R.

WHEN a child is born into the home, it is a great time, especially if it is the first born. The mother and father are brought through severe trials. From far and near come friends and curious ones to present their compliments and to see. But after awhile, this so great event slips into the commonplace, and the child takes its place just as one of the family. So soon this soul-stirring and sanctifying experience is forgotten. Read the rest of this entry »

The Crisis Then (1925)

In David S. Kennedy, Modernism, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Presbyterian on 14/05/2011 at 18:08

Some eighty-six years ago, the Rev. David S. Kennedy, editor of THE PRESBYTERIAN wrote this assessment of the battle already then underway for the heart and soul of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 

The Crisis in the Presbyterian Church
Rev. David S. Kennedy, Editor
[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 95.9 (26 February 1925): 4-5.]

THE individual, the family, the state and the church pass through crisis hours. These crises determine the whole course of human history. There is locked up within them the unseen of the future. The whole church of God is now facing one of the most intense crises in its history. We do not now attempt to present all the elements of this crisis of the church general, but restrict what we have to say to that crisis as it appears in the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. Let us consider some of the elements involved. Read the rest of this entry »

Standing at the Cross Roads

In Clarence E. Macartney, Modernism, The Presbyterian on 14/05/2011 at 17:28

Eighty-six years later, it is remarkable how pertinent these articles remain.

The Presbyterian Church at the Cross Roads

Address Delivered at the Meeting of Princeton Theological Seminary Alumni, in New York City.
By Rev. Clarence Edward Macartney, D.D.

[Excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 95.8 (19 February 1925): 6-7]

BOTH the historic polity and the blood-bought doctrines of the Presbyterian Church are in danger. Christianity is never in danger, for it is the will of God for the world’s redemption, and our faith standeth not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. But churches are always subject to error and declension from the truth of the gospel. It is that danger which now confronts the Presbyterian Church. Read the rest of this entry »