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Spirit of Revival

In Reformation Today on 25/06/2011 at 21:19

Spirit of Revival

by Mariano Di Gangi
[Reformation Today (Montreal, Canada), 2.5 (March 1953): 10.]

From the warnings and exhortations of Holy Scripture, we learn that the Church is in peril of falling asleep. From what we see of the visible Church, we may conclude that the Church has actually fallen asleep. That is why the Church needs revival–re-awakening. The revival of the Church is most necessary, because unless the Church is revived the gospel cannot be preached. And unless the gospel is preached, Christ will be robbed of His glory in the salvation of sinners.

A Church that does not evangelize stands in need of revival. Christians who are not “fishers of men” ought to consider seriously if they are following Christ aright. If we are not witnessing to Christ, we cannot claim to be faithful disciples of the Lord.

But how shall the Church be revived? Shall it be by the use of “consecrated vaudeville”? Shall it be by the application of the pressure of the preacher? Shall it be by the introduction of music more appropriate for the dance-hall than the meeting place of God’s people? Shall it be by the abandonment of our glorious heritage as sons of the Reformation? The Word of God is clear : “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts  . . . Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. (Zech. 4:6; Eph. 5:14).

When the Church hears what the Spirit has to say, when the Church hears the Word of God, when the message of God’s judgment on sin and God’s mercy to sinners gets through to the Church, we shall see revival. It will be a revival marked by a sincere love for the reading and the teaching and the preaching of the Word of God. It will be a revival marked by renewed consecration to Jesus Christ for the doing of His sovereign will. It will be marked by renewed dedication to the Lord of the covenant of grace.

Unto the Church, God has given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Unto the Church has God committed the ministry of the Word and the work of reconciliation. Only as the Church is revived shall the gospel be proclaimed and sinners be reclaimed. As we are in living fellowship with our Saviour, we shall seek to persuade others and win them for the family of God. As we are in real obedience to Christ, we shall strive to bring others into captivity to the Lord. Constrained by the love of Christ, concerned for the salvation of sinners in a lost world, zealous for the glory of Christ, let us go forth as His witnesses.

M. di G.


Was Calvin a Presbyterian?

In Reformation Today, Wm. Stanford Reid on 25/06/2011 at 08:57

Having mentioned William Stanford Reid in the previous post, it seemed appropriate to post an article by him. This too is from Reid’s little magazine, REFORMATION TODAYBack before “Calvin against the Calvinists,” I guess people were asking this question:

Was Calvin a Presbyterian?
by William Stanford Reid
Reformation Today (Montreal, Canada), 1.10 (July-August 1952): 11-12.]

Calvin a Presbyterian? Why of course, many will say, he was the founder of the Presbyterian Church. Therefore, when you quote Calvin, you are quoting, not a Protestant theologian, you are quoting a denominational apologist. We have even had this said to us concerning quotations in articles in this magazine. Consequently we feel that it is time that Calvin was somewhat better understood.

In order that we do this properly, it must be remembered that Calvin was, first and foremost, a Biblical expositor. His chief interest was in bringing men back to a proper understanding and application of the Word of God. He wrote commentaries on all but two of the books of the Bible. At the same time, he realized that only as men understood the teachings of the Word of God as a whole, could they be thoroughly furnished. He therefore, was the first of the Christian writers to set forth systematically what the Word of God had to say concerning God and man’s relation to Him. He did this in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Since Calvin’s day, his views have been accepted most completely by the Reformed and Presbyterian churches throughout the world. But they have done this, not because Calvin was Frenchman, nor because he wrote well, nor because he built up a strong church in Geneva. They have done this because they believed that his views were the most thoroughly Biblical of any so far set forth. Calvin was not a Presbyterian, but real Presbyterians are fundamentally Calvinists.

In the same way Evangelical Anglicans, if they adhere to their Thirty-Nine Articles, are also basically Calvinists. A study of the history of the formulation of the Articles will show quite clearly that Calvin’s was the dominant influence in the statement of doctrine prepared for the Elizabethan church. One man has made the comment that Calvin’s Institutes was the best known theological work in England during the last half of the sixteenth century. What is more, if one follows the history of Evangelical Anglicanism down through the succeeding years, he will find that Calvinism was its very motive power: George Whitefield, Hannah More, the Earl of Shaftesbury and many others were all strong Calvinists. It would seem that real Anglicans are also fundamentally Calvinists.

The same might be said of the Baptists. Some ten years after the formulation of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the present confession of the Presbyterian Church, the Baptists in the Savoy articles accepted the Calvinistic position, by adopting the Confession, although rejecting the doctrine of infant baptism and Presbyterian government. So down through the years Calvinistic Baptists have been numerous and a power for God in their communion: John Bunyan and Charles Haddon Spurgeon are but two who might be mentioned.

The same could be said of the Congregationalists, who were at variance with Calvin only on the point of church organization. But what about people like Methodists who hated a great number of his teachings? Even they, whether they realized it or not, were heavily indebted to Calvin. The stress upon the doctrine of Justification by Faith, upon the sovereign righteousness of God and upon similar doctrines was largely owing to the work and teaching of Calvin. Even their individualism, high-lightng the doctrine of man’s individual relationship to God could really be based only upon Calvin’s doctrine of covenant-election. Their one difficulty was that they allowed their reason at times to sit in judgment on God’s Word.

Now, we would not have it thought that Calvin was always right, but we do believe that basically he was closest to the Word of God, of any thinker who has written since the days of the Apostle Paul. He had his failings, he made his mistakes as any other man, net blessed with prophetic or apostolic power, might do. Yet he stands so far above all others who have written since the days of the inspired writers that we feel no shame in quoting and referring to him. For we believe that God raised him up at a special time, endowing him as he has few other men since apostolic days, with insight into the meaning of His Divine Revelation. Let none of us, therefore, forget the rock from which we were hewn.


Woolley on Ministerial Training

In Westminster Theological Seminary, Wm. Stanford Reid on 24/06/2011 at 15:41

I’m starting to read CONFIDENT OF BETTER THINGS, and the opening chapter concerns Paul Woolley, professor of church history at Westminster Seminary for some forty years. John Muether spends several pages in that article discussing Woolley as an author. In all his years at the institution, Woolley never wrote a full-length article for the WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL, thought he did author some ninety-five book reviews for the JOURNAL, and over fifty articles for the PRESBYTERIAN GUARDIAN. A few of his articles landed in unusual places. An overview of American Presbyterian history was serialized in the REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN ADVOCATE. And I’ve just come across another article, this one on ministerial training, that appeared in a small publication edited by William Stanford Reid in the early 1950’s. The PCA Historical Center was blessed a few years ago to receive the donation of a nearly complete run of Reid’s magazine REFORMATION TODAY, and this article by Woolley is drawn from that publication.
[If you don’t know of Stanford Reid, I strongly encourage you to locate and read a copy of A. Donald MacLeod’s biography, W. STANFORD REID: AN EVANGELICAL CALVINIST IN THE ACADEMY.


by Paul Woolley
[Reformation Today (Montreal, Quebec) 1.10 (July-August 1952): 3-5]

When Bill Smith first goes to kindergarten, his father and mother take the existing school as they find it. But it interests them, and they think about what is happening to Bill there. As a result, education becomes a very lively topic. Both in Canada and the United States the relation of state support of schools to religious instruction is constantly being discussed. If it is not the policy of the government of Ontario, it is the speech on the subject of President Conant of Harvard that is the subject for comment.

The principles which should guide education at the university level, undergraduate and graduate, have not been as widely considered as those concerned with Bill Smith’s kindergarten. But these principles, too, especially as they affect theological education, are of particular importance to Christians and the Church.

His Arts course
The theological student studies the liberal arts before he turns his attention specifically to theology. This is to acquaint him with the world in which he lives so that he may learn how to think and have materials, facts, with which to think. There is no use in trying to apply theology to an unknown world and to unintelligible people.

In order to be effective the arts course must consider the world and the points of view in it as broadly and as understanding^ as possible. One can never learn anything about communism and how to oppose it, for example, if one never sees the positive things which it has accomplished and by means of which it attracts people to support it. At the same time, there has to be a standard of judgment. For the Christian that basic standard ought to be the Bible.

Question of right and wrong
The greater knowledge of the Bible the arts student has, the greater wisdom he will show in thinking about the world in general. He needs to know as much about the Bible as possible when he enters the university and he ought to be constantly using the Bible as a touchstone. In the liberal arts course, however, the student will find that many of his studies concern subjects about which there is not an absolute right or wrong for all times and all places. To talk technically for a moment, they belong to the realm of the adiaphora. For example, no one form of government is always best everywhere on earth.

In Canada and the United States democracy is best, but it would be foolish to introduce full democracy overnight into Afghanistan. It requires preparation. So if the Canadian student became Emir of Afghanistan next Monday, he would not be sinning if he failed to introduce full democracy on Tuesday morning. If, however, he became Premier of the government of Canada on Monday and tried to introduce the governmental methods of Afghanistan on Tuesday, he would be sinning for the short period that the attempt would last.

Bible and theological training
As soon as the liberal arts student has finished that course and begins to study theology, he faces quite a different situation. Now he is studying the Bible itself or, at least, he should be. For the study of protestant theology should always be basically the study of the Bible. When one studies the Bible, one is always studying something about which there is a basic right and a basic wrong. The Bible is God’s Word and one understands it aright or else fails to understand it. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus as Social Reformer?

In Christianity Today, Samuel G. Craig on 24/06/2011 at 13:01

The Social Significance
of Jesus Christ

by Samuel G. Craig
Christianity Today 2.5 (Mid-September 1931): 1-2.]

IT would be misleading to speak of Jesus Christ as a social reformer. It is well within the truth, however, to say that He has been the most effective of social reformers. A comparison between the social conditions that prevailed before His advent and those that prevail in Christendom today, supplemented by a comparison between social conditions in Christian and non-Christian lands, evidence His unique effectiveness as a social reformer. Bad as are existing social conditions throughout Christendom, they would be infinitely worse were it not for the leaven He cast into the meal of humanity. Moreover if Christianity should cease to function in this world, there is every reason to believe not only that no further progress would be made along these lines but that what has been gained would be lost. The thought we have in mind has perhaps received its most eloquent expression in the oft-quoted words of James Russell Lowell

“When the microscopic search of scepticism which has hunted the heavens and sounded the seas to disprove the existence of a Creator has turned its attention to human society, and found a place on this planet, ten miles square, where a decent man can live in decency, comfort and security, supporting and educating his children, unspoiled and unpolluted; a place where” age is reverenced, infancy protected, manhood respected, womanhood honored, and human life held in due regard—when sceptics can find such a place, ten miles square on this globe, where the gospel of Christ has not gone and cleared the way, and laid the foundations, and made decency and security possible, it will be in order for the sceptical literati to move thither and ventilate their views. But as long as these very men are dependent upon the very religion which they discard for every privilege which they enjoy, they may well hesitate a little before they seek to rob the Christian of his hope, and humanity of its faith in that Saviour who alone has given to man that hope of life eternal which makes life tolerable and society possible, and robs death of its terrors and the grave of its gloom.”

Wherein lies the secret of Christ’s unique effectiveness as a social reformer? Unquestionably it lies in His ability to deal with sin. Other social reformers, except as they have been His followers, have had much to say about imperfect legislation, unfavorable environment, and such like; but they have had little to say about sin, notwithstanding the fact that sin on the part of somebody is the great root-cause of social misery. “Take away from the history of humanity,” to cite the late James Orr, “all the evils which have come on man through his own folly, sin, and vice; through the follies and vices of society; through tyranny, misgovernment and oppression; through the cruelty and inhumanity of man to man; and how vast a portion of the problem of evil would already be solved! What myriads of lives have been sacrificed on the shrines of Bacchus and Lust; what untold misery has been inflicted on the race to gratify the unscrupulous ambitions of ruthless conquerors; what tears and groans have sprung from the institution of slavery; what Wretchedness is hourly inflicted on human hearts by domestic tyranny, private selfishness, the preying of the strong on the weak, the dishonesty and chicanery of society! . . . If all the suffering and sorrow which follows directly or indirectly from human sin could be abstracted, what a happy world after all this would be!” If Jesus had had as little to say about sin as have so many of our modern social reformers, His efforts along the line of social betterment would have been as ineffectual as theirs. His work has proven effective while that of others has proven ineffective because He alone is able to deal adequately with sin. It is this ability that puts Him in a class by Himself among social reformers; moreover it is because He possesses this ability that in Him alone is found any adequate warrant for supposing that a kingdom in which justice shall prevail, in which love shall be the law and happiness the universal condition, may yet prevail on the earth.

But while Christians, because of their faith in Jesus Christ, may expect a renewed earth wherein dwelleth righteousness we are not to suppose that as a class they are committed to any specific social scheme. Christianity as such does not take sides between the advocates of the present social order and that proposed, for instance, by the Socialists. Unquestionably there is much in the present social order, such as child labor, sweat shops, white slavery, alcoholism, unfair distribution of wealth, race hatred, militarism, that must be eliminated before anything like Christianity’s hope for this world will have been realized. Equally unquestionable it is that there is much about Socialism (as it is commonly advocated), such as its irreligion, its materialism, its class hatred, that must be eliminated before it can even pretend to be in harmony with a social order that could rightly be called Christian. Read the rest of this entry »

WCR : Another Word Against Cremation

In Uncategorized on 23/06/2011 at 15:55

Your Bodies Are Temples Of The Holy Ghost:
Another Word Against Cremation

by Wm. Childs Robinson
[The Southern Presbyterian Journal 11.13 (30 July 1952): 4-5.]

In the six weeks since the former article commenting on cremation was written three times the matter has come into the writer’s purview. A very old father left instruction for his body to be cremated, and according to reports, the only son sorrowfully carried out the instructions. A middle-ages doctor passed with such instructions, but his widow disregarded them and the writer buried the body of the deceased. A phone call came to the Shenandoah Church asking that the supply pastor officiate at a funeral. The able secretary asked what was the deceased’s church connection. The reply was that the deceased had little, but some Roman Catholic attachment. Then it was added that this evidently was not strong as he wanted cremation which they did not do. The secretary replied : “Well, I don’t think Dr. Robbie will officiate for that, either.” He did not. Where this practice is developing, perhaps a wise pastor ought to arrange with such undertakers as do not cremate to give a funeral at a minimum charge to the needy, or else have a Church Burial Fund to help such.

After showing that the early Christians adopted the customs of the country when these did not clash with their own views, Lietzmann adds : “On the other hand, Christians unanimously repudiated cremation which was customary in the time of the early Empire in Rome.” Schaff writes : “The primitive Christians always showed a tender care for the dead ; under a vivid impression of the unbroken communion of saints and the future resurrection of the body in glory. For Christianity redeems the body as well as the soul and consecrates it a temple of the Holy Spirit. Hence the Greek and Roman custom of burning the corpse (crematio) was repugnant to Christian feeling and the sacredness of the body.”

When the pestilence raged in Carthage at the time of the persecution under Gallus, the heathen threw out their dead for fear of the contagion, and cursed the Christians as the supposed authors of the plague. But Cyprian assembled his congregation, and exhorted them to love their enemies. Whereupon all went to work, the rich with their money, the poor with their hands, and rested not until the dead were buried, the sick cared for, and the city saved from desolation.

Following the Jewish custom, the Christian washed the bodies of the dead, wrapped them in linen cloths, sometimes embalmed them, and then, in the presence of ministers, relatives and friends, with prayer and the singing of psalms, committed their deceased bodies as seeds of the Resurrection bodies to the bosom of the earth. Generally these burials were in sepulchral chambers with square-cornered recesses (loculi) in the walls as burial places. The corpses were wound in wrappings, without coffin, and the openings were closed with tiles of brick or marble. The Christian catacombs, as visible witnesses to the hope of the Resurrection, carried their weight with the Roman people. Indeed, even Julian the Apostate traced the rapid spread and power of Christianity to three causes : benevolence, care of the dead, and honesty.

The Christian custom was sustained by several texts from First and Second Corinthians. In opposing fornication, the Apostle wrote : “Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you, which ye have from God? And ye are not your own ; for yet were bought with a price : glorify God therefore in your body.” In opposing inter-marriage with unbelievers he reminds the Christians : “What agreement hath a temple of god with idols? For ye are a temple of the living God.” In warning against dividing the congregation, he says : “Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroy the temple of God, him shall God destroy ; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.” In the great Resurrection chapter he finds an analogy between our sowing seed and having the seed sprout into a living body and our burying the dead body and looking for its resurrection in incorruption—glory—power—a SPIRITUAL body.

Brethren, weigh these several texts, before you exchange the Christian custom of burying or entombing the bodies that are temples of the Holy Ghost for a custom which primitive Christianity universally rejected. The graves of the saints are sanctified by Christ’s rest in the tomb; and the bodies of believers still united to Christ do rest in their graves until the resurrection.


The Grave Is Sanctified By Christ’s Rest In The Tomb

In Uncategorized on 23/06/2011 at 14:48

Noting some discussion of this topic elsewhere on a favorite Listserve discussion group, I thought I would post this brief article by Dr. William Childs Robinson.
Dr. Robinson was a long-time professor at the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, and as a solidly evangelical and Reformed Christian, he played a huge role in the lives of many seminary students there who went on to become some of the founding fathers of the PCA.

Cremation Is Not Of Christian Origin
By William Childs Robinson
[excerpted from The Southern Presbyterian Journal 11.10 (9 July 1952): 6-7.]

This is not written to upset loved ones who may have inadvertently acted unwisely in this matter, nor to disturb soldiers who have seen the bodies of buddies destroyed in the horrors of war. Nor is it intended to put limits on the power of God. Certainly, the martyrs who were burned for the faith, are to be resurrected. But it is written to urge our people to conform to the faith and the practice of the Christian Church. An analogy to our position here may be found in that of baptism. God can save a believer without baptism as he saved the penitent thief; but that does not mean a believer is free to neglect or to substitute something else for the sacrament of God.

The forms, provided for burial in The Book of Church Order and in The Book of Common Worship, state that the graves of the saints are sanctified by Christ’s rest in the tomb. This thought is a fair summary of the teaching of the New Testament. Each of the Gospels tells of the burial of Jesus and that constitutes the background of Peter’s words in Acts 2:23-32. Some deny that Paul refers to the tomb of Christ, but a careful reading of the Greek in I Cor. 15:3-4, Romans 6:4 shows that the Apostle does have before him the entombment of the Saviour. Moreover, his thought is that we are entombed with Him. Christ is the head of the elect, our substitute and representative. What occurred to Him is to be, at least in part, parallelled by what occurs to us. Christ and His people belong together in death, entombment, and resurrection.

While the Apostles’ Creed never speaks of the immortality of the soul it twice mentions the resurrection. And in the earliest commentary on the Creed, Rufinus insists that our resurrection will be after the manner of Christ’s Whose Resurrection opened the gates of life. The Gospels and Acts represent Jesus as eating and drinking with the disciples after His Resurrection. Luke records His command to them to handle Him; Matthew tells how the women took hold of His feet; John gives Jesus’ word to Mary .20:17) which many of the best scholars are now translating “Release Me,” “Cease clinging to Me.” First John says that our hands handled the Word of Life, apparently refer-
ring to Christ’s appearances as recorded in the Fourth Gospel. In speaking of the Spiritual body. Paul means not a ghost, but a real body controlled by the Spirit
—even as “a natural body” is in the Greek a psychical or psychologically controlled body.

In the second century, the Church held to this faith in the resurrection of the body against every effort of Gnosticism and Platonism to decode the faith into a mere survival of the soul. Ignatius records how Jesus came to those who were with Peter saying, “Lay hold, handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal phantom.” Irenaeus insisted that God created earth as well as heaven, that the Word took a human body as well as a human reasonable soul, that Christ suffered in the flesh and rose in the body, and that there shall be a new earth as well as a new heaven.

Accordingly, the early Church followed the Jewish custom of burying the dead and rejected the pagan practice of cremation. The Bible gives no encouragement to cremation. The bodies of Saul and of his sons were outwardly burned to purify them from the defilement caused by days of hanging yet their bones were not destroyed but buried and re-interred later—I Sam. 31:11-13; I Chron. 10: 11-12; II Sam. 21:12-14. When the plague became so severe as to make burning necessary, the people were forbidden to make mention of the Name of the Lord, Amos 6:10.

The Roman persecutors tried to ridicule the Christian faith in the resurrection by burning the martyrs. In reply, John presents the souls of the martyrs living and reigning with Christ for a thousand years, Rev. 20:4. The martyrs who gave their bodies to be burned, thereby witnessed to their faith in Christ. When we die natural deaths, let us commend our bodies to loved ones to be placed in the grave in the posture of sleep, that they may witness to our blessed hope of rising to meet Christ Coming in His Glory. The bodies of believers, “being still united to Christ” and resting “in their graves till the Resurrection” bear testimony to Christ, to His Resurrection and to His Return.

We put no limits on the power of God. He is most free, most absolute, all-sufficient. But let us follow the faith and the custom He has given us in His Word and in the life and practice of the primitive Christian community.


[Three weeks later, Dr. Robinson’s wrote another brief article on this same topic, titled “Your Bodies Are Temples Of The Holy Ghost:
Another Word Against Cremation”

CT Vol. 2 (minus Dec.)

In Christianity Today, J. Gresham Machen, John Murray, Wm. Childs Robinson on 22/06/2011 at 22:50

In our project to digitize the old original series of Christianity Today, I have earlier today posted to the PCA Historical Center’s web site Volume Two of the magazine. Volume Two covers May 1931 through April 1932. The one lack in this posting is the December 1931 issue, vol. 2, no. 8.  The Historical Center presently lacks a copy of that issue. A link for a cumulative download of the entire volume (again, minus the December issue, for now) will be posted tomorrow, Lord willing.

The Table of Contents page for Volume One [1930-1931], with links for downloading each issue, is here.

And for your reference, the main index page for this project is here. That page then has links to a table of contents page for each volume in the series run of Christianity Today. The magazine ran from 1930-1949, though only sporadically from 1941-1949.

Highlights from Volume Two include:

Machen’s Notes on Galatians (continued)

“Is the Pulpit Forgetting God?” by Wm. Childs Robinson

“The Ministry of Reconciliation” by Rev. Frank R. Elder [a tribute to Robert Dick Wilson]

“The Social Significance of Jesus Christ,” by Samuel G. Craig

“The Truth About the Presbyterian Church,” by J. Gresham Machen

“The Confessional Statement of the United Presbyterian Church,” by John Murray

“Is Atheism Scientific?” by Rev. George P. Pierson

and much more.

Process :
Some have asked about the process involved in preparing these PDF files. Christianity Today was published as a larger format magazine, measuring 10″ x 12″. Since we don’t have a large format scanner, each issue has to be photocopied at an 8% reduction, such that the resulting photocopies measure 8.5″ x 11″ and can be run through our scanner. These copies are then scanned at 300 dpi and Optical Character Recognition is applied in Adobe Acrobat 9.0 to produce searchable PDF files. 

The only expense in preparing each PDF file, besides staff time and labor, is in making the photocopies, since we also don’t have our own copier (there never really was much need, and the Seminary Library has one just outside our door).  It costs about $30.00 to photocopy an entire volume of the magazine. Staff salary is paid from funds raised by the Administrative Committee of the PCA (the Stated Clerk’s Office), but the daily operations budget of the Historical Center depends entirely on voluntary contributions. 

Donors :
Due to the expense of attending General Assembly this year, our funds have now run out and this will be the end of the CT digitization project until other funds comes in. Donors who would like to help with the project may contact me by email. [wsparkman AT   pcanet     DOT  com ]

John Calvin, the World Reconstructionist

In Calvin on 22/06/2011 at 12:31

Reproduced here on request from a descendant of the Rev. James M. Foster, the following article is from a later issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The following article, its title aside, forms a nice, succinct summary of the life and ministry of John Calvin. And as to “reconstruction,” I’ll admit to having never closely studied the whole matter of theonomy, but the title alone of this article raises questions as to the origin of, or rather, the theological application of the term “reconstruction”.  At what point was the word first used in a theological sense?

John Calvin, the World Reconstructionist

By the Late Rev. James Mitchell Foster, D.D.
(Revised and Edited by his Daughter)

[Christianity Today 6.8 (January 1936): 173-178.]

[Reverend James Mitchell Foster, D.D., was pastor of the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church of Boston, Massachusetts, for 37 years exactly, from his ordination, a Sabbath afternoon, November 11, 1891, to the day of his death, a Sabbath afternoon, November 11, 1928. He was killed almost instantly by an automobile soon after he had left his church, so that it was said of him at his funeral service, “He stepped from the pulpit into Heaven.”]

IN THESE days of Dictators with standing armies, greater navies, and air forces of increasing size, is it not timely to turn our thoughts to John Calvin, whose work in Geneva produced an efficient, orderly and prosperous civil polity ruled “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts”? The old aphorism of the historians that the history of the world cannot be understood apart from the government of the world is a tribute to Calvinism. History is God’s plan of governing the world in which He moves towards a perfect order as the goal of the human race.

John Calvin had a little city. Geneva had only 20,000 people. But he gave an object lesson for all the world. It was not the size but the kind of temple he built that counted—like a little leaven that leaveneth the whole. He ceased from his labors and fell asleep May 27, 1564, as Beza remarks, just as the sun was setting. But the sun will never set on Calvinism. The Huguenots kept Calvinism alive in France until it produced the Republic. William the Silent and the reformers established Calvinism in the Netherlands as the Dutch Republic. Knox established Calvinism in Scotland, Cromwell and William Prince of Orange made England by Calvinism. The Pilgrims and the Puritans of England, the Presbyterians of Ireland, the Covenanters of Scotland brought Calvinism to America.

Candid judges, like Mark Pathson, have written: “In the sixteenth century Calvinism saved Europe”; like Bancroft, “He that will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows little of the history of American liberty”; like John Morley, “To omit Calvin from the forces of Western evolution is to read history with one eye shut.” “Calvin shaped the mould in which the bronze of Puritanism was cast.” In a lecture by James Anthony Froude before the students of St. Andrew’s University on Calvinism, Dr. Froude accentuated the fact that Calvinism has produced some of the world’s greatest men. “It is enough to mention the names of William the Silent, of your own Knox and Andrew Melville, and the Regent Murray, of Coligny, of our English Cromwell, of Milton, of John Bunyan. Read the rest of this entry »

Recent Accessions : The OPC’s 75th Anniversary

In Uncategorized on 21/06/2011 at 20:45

Two good friends have this week blessed the PCA Historical Center’s collections with their donations of materials from the OPC’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

Mr. Andrew McGinnis, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and current Ph.D. candidate at Calvin Theological Seminary, has sent along several copies of the order of service bulletin from the Saturday evening 75th Anniversary Banquet and a few other items from the occasion. However, Andrew was not able to secure any copies of the Sunday morning worship service bulletin, since he was attending a friend’s church that morning.

And John Muether, who serves as Historian for the OPC and who would be my approximate counterpart in that denomination, has very graciously sent along three new volumes issued in conjunction with their 75th Anniversary. The first of these is Confident of Better Things: Essays Commemorating Seventy-Five Years of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, edited by John R. Muether and Danny E. Olinger. You can review the table of contents for this volume here.  I hope to write a review of this work in the coming months.

The second volume was written for this Anniversary by D.G. Hart, and it is titled Between the Times: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Transition, 1945-1990. The concept for this volume is a bit unusual–this is not a general history of the OPC; rather, it is a specific history, covering as it were the middle years of the denomination’s life thus far. For now and prior to my own reading, the book’s description from the OPC web site offers some better insight into what Hart seeks to accomplish with this work:

Hart’s Between the Times explores the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church between its founding and contemporary periods. It attempts to examine in greater detail than any existing account the representative events, decisions, and efforts of the OPC from the rise of neo-evangelicalism during the 1940s down to the debates over and repercussions from Joining and Receiving in the 1980s. The book is not comprehensive in the sense that it encyclopedically covers the OPC during these years. But a sense of the OPC’s development, mission, and character does clearly emerge from the activities, debates, and planning that absorbed the attention of commissioners to the Assembly and that writers for the Presbyterian Guardian and New Horizons communicated to those magazine’s readers.

Both of these volumes are smyth-sewn hardbacks and the OPC has taken obvious care in the production values for these two books, while at the same time keeping the cost quite low. While not identical in their binding, they are clearly complementary, both bound in dark blue cloth with gold titling and bearing the 75th Anniversary logo.

Lastly, the OPC has also taken this 75th Anniversary occasion to release an update of their Ministerial Register. The update covers the years 1936-2011 and builds from the prior compilation by James T. Dennison, Jr. that was issued in 2001. That earlier (fourth) edition was 261 pages in length and also included a register of OPC congregations, where this new (fifth) edition is limited to presenting ministerial data. The work of updating and revising the information for this new edition was carefully and meticulously accomplished by Linda Porter Foh. I can testify to her diligence in the work, as I was called upon to provide search out some details on a few men who had their credentials at one time or another with the PCA.

All of the above volumes can be found available for purchase over at Read the rest of this entry »

Back When School Was For Real

In Faith Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary on 21/06/2011 at 13:58

An old cartoon that I remember had the dad saying to his son, “In my day, we weren’t teleported to school; we had to ride in a rickety old bus!”

From among the Papers of Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., here is a page describing two exams at Faith Theological Seminary in 1954, plus, for added comparison, a church history exam from Westminster Seminary, dated 1972:

January, 1954


Time limit : two periods
Use no books, notes or helps

I. (about one third of your time)
Sketch a Christian system of Ontology and Epistemology.

II. (about two thirds of your time)
Discuss at least four (4) systems of apologetics (including something about Thomas) which we have studied this semester.

Time limit : 2-1/2 hours.
Use Bibles, Greek and Hebrew, but no other books, notes or helps.

I. List the chief topics discussed this semester.

II. Discuss in some detail at least three fourths of these topics.

The next semester, the exams were a bit more descriptive in content:


Time limit – 2 periods
Use Bibles, (Greek, Hebrew, English) but no other notes or helps. Answer all four questions. Divide your time according to your idea of relative importance.

I. Discuss the Decrees of God.
Bring out the relation of the decrees to the problems of evil, free will, the glory of God, etc.

II. Discuss the Doctrine of Creation.
Bring out related problems of metaphysics, etc.

III. Discuss the Nature of Man as Originally Created.

IV. Discuss Sin, – Original Sin, Particular Sins, Sin in Human Nature, Sin of Unbelief, etc.

Time limit – two periods. No books, notes or helps.

I. Discuss “the defense and confirmation of the gospel” or “a reason for the hope” showing what you have gained as an apologete and what kind of ammunition you can use in “contending for the faith.”

II. List as many of the students’ problem topics as you can remember and discuss two or three.

III. State briefly the main point of your own problem topic.

To be written in your own time with all library aids and handed in before the end of examination week.

Give your own important gleanings in the four great fields of syntax, cases, prepositions, tenses, moods.

Or to move into more recent decades, here’s the final exam for Reformation history at Westminster Seminary, December 1972: Read the rest of this entry »