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Parting Regrets : Reflection on a Letter

In J. Gresham Machen, J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. on 31/05/2012 at 16:41

In our previous post, we provided some background for an article currently posted at the OPC web site. The article was written by the Rev. Charles Dennision, who was at that time serving as the OPC historian.  The article is titled “Cornelius Van Til and the Identity of the OPC“. Our last post provided the text of the letter by J. Oliver Buswell, writing late in 1936 to Dr. J. Gresham Machen. Dennison also mentions a fragment of a letter, a working draft that Machen intended in reply to Buswell, but Machen died while on a speaking engagement in North Dakota and the reply was never finished. I presume that draft fragment is preserved among the papers of Dr. Machen, in the archives at the Westminster Theological Seminary.

What we do have is the other side of the conversation, found among the papers of Dr. Buswell, and in addition to the previously posted letter, there is another interesting letter that sheds further light on the situation, and which also contains an interesting admission by Dr. Buswell.   In both of these letters, I think there is much that can be gleaned as to how Christians can and ought to conduct themselves in debate and disagreement.

In this letter, Dr. Buswell is writing to the Rev. Harold Samuel Laird, a highly-regarded pastor in Wilmington, Delaware.

January
thirty
1937

Rev. Harold S. Laird
R. D. #3
Wilmington, Delaware
My dear Dr. Laird,

I told you in conversation the other day of my conference with the West-

minster faculty Monday evening, January twenty-fifth.  I feel that you
as a trustee of Westminster and as one who has sacrificed so much for the
cause we all love, should be informed, and therefore I am writing down
certain conclusions which I think were reached.

(1)  The faculty stand by Professor Murray’s attitude towards alcoholic
liquor.  They defend him not only in theory but in his practice.  Pro-
fessor Murray drinks liquor and insists upon the principle of personal
liberty in doing so.  The faculty insist that he is right.  This none
of them will dispute, I am sure.

We did not exactly agree on definitions of terms in regards to the emphasis

Read the rest of this entry »

Parting Words : Buswell’s Last Letter to Machen

In J. Gresham Machen, J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. on 31/05/2012 at 16:10

Over at the OPC web site, there has been the recent posting of a 1996 article by Charles Dennison, the late historian for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
The article is entitled “Cornelius Van Til and the Identity of the OPC”, and in the opening paragraph, Rev. Dennison made reference to the last letter that Dr. J. Oliver Buswell wrote to Dr. J. Gresham Machen.

I thought our readers might like to see that letter, for added context and background to the Dennison article. A second letter by Dr. Buswell—written late in January of 1937 and bearing a significant comment on this first letter—will follow in our next post.

December
four
1936

Dr. J. Gresham Machen
206 South Thirteenth Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dear Dr. Machen

Since reading the last issue of the Guardian, I have been confirmed
in feeling that I ought to write you with reference to certain
points which I have not had time to discuss with you adequately.
(1) The first of these is the method to be used in correcting
dispensational error.  You are a far more experienced and more
capable Christian leader than I, but I have had certain experiences
with devout people misguided by dispensationalism, which I think
you have not had.  I have found that such people will generally
listen to specific arguments with definite references but they are
not convinced, and I think could not be expected to be convinced,
by general phrases such as “the dispensationalism of the Scofield
Bible.”  Professor Murray’s article last May and Dr. Allis’ two
articles in recent issues of the Evangelical Quarterly were more
definitely characterized by careful handling of detail.  The last
issue of the Guardian contained a very effective appeal on page
seventy-one, column two-b, but it is all in the realm of generalities
and hence in the realm most likely to cause irritation rather than
to bring conviction.  This is especially true since the doctrine
of a literal millennium is seen to be a particular within the
general phrase which Dr. Kuiper used. Read the rest of this entry »

Compromising the Authority of the Bible, by R. B. Kuiper (1935)

In Apologetics, Bible, Modernism, The Evangelical Student on 30/05/2012 at 15:56

COMPROMISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE

K. B. KUIPER, M.A., B.D.

[An address delivered at the Ninth Annual Convention of the League at Boston, Massachusetts, late in 1934.]
(and as published in The Evangelical Student, January 1935)

            Few men who lay claim to Christianity deny outright the authority of the Bible. Even the so-called advanced modernist hardly does that.

            Eventually the logic of the modernist’s position must drive him to the rejection of all external authority. Present-day liberalism is deeply indebted to Hegel. It is hardly an exaggeration to call him its philosophical father. But Hegelianism is thoroughly pantheistic. Did not Hegel style the human will a Wirkungsform of the divine will and boldly declare, “What I do, God does”? Modernism too is pantheistic. It reduces the difference between Christ’s Divinity and man’s to one of degree only. It gloats over the divinity of man. Recently a liberal minister preached on The Other Me, who turned out to be none other than God. But, obviously, thoroughgoing pantheism leaves no room for external authority. If I am God, I will majestically decline to take orders from another. If I am God, I am my own authority.

            If, on the other hand, I am merely a finite human being, it behooves me to give heed to the voice of the Infinite. And if I am not merely finite but also sinful, so sinful in fact, that I cannot possibly save myself from sin and its consequences, it emphatically behooves me to obey the orders which God gives me in the Bible for my salvation.

          Read the rest of this entry »

The Examination Rule

In Book of Church Order on 30/05/2012 at 15:44

The PCA’s Book of Church Order, in the first paragraph of the chapter treating of the ordination and installation of ministers, states in part that

Ordinarily a candidate or licentiate may not be granted permission by the Presbytery to move on to the field to which he has been called, prior to his examination for licensure or ordination. Likewise an ordained minister from another Presbyterian Church in America Presbytery or another denomination, ordinarily shall not move on to the field to which he has been called until examined and received by Presbytery.

Where does that requirement come from? Why is it important? Well, history is what we do here, so a bit of background seemed important as I came across it today.
As the PCA’s Book of Church Order is based directly on the polity of prior denominations, this history is also directly relevant.

The setting of this story is the meeting of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (aka, Southern). It is the third day of their General Assembly, and the report comes that an entire Presbytery wants to join the denomination. There is testimony that these men are entirely orthodox. But they would rather not suffer the pain of a theological examination by the receiving body. At which point the Rev. E. Thompson Baird rose to address the issue:

Rev. Dr. Baird sketched the history of the origin of the rule requiring the examination of ministers passing from Presbytery to Presbytery. Dr. Lyman Beecher came to a Presbytery in New York from some Congregational Association, and was admitted without examination, and immediately took a letter of dismission to an Ohio Presbytery, and was received, and subsequently stated that he had never signified his adoption of the Confession of Faith. The late Dr. Alexander therefore advocated the adoption of the examination rule, for without it a single Presbytery might deluge the church with heretical ministers. The rule was not directed especially against the New School Church, for at the time of its adoption that church had no existence. Nor had it been suspended in the case of the United Synod.—They had examined the Old School and the Old School had examined them, and it was not until they were thoroughly satisfied as to one another’s soundness that they came together. Nor could it be reasonably objected to. He was not ashamed to proclaim anywhere what he believed as to the great doctrines of religion, and he was not willing to alter our whole system to open the door to a few who were not willing to come in the same way that others had been received. The importance of it is increased at this time—it is more necessary than ever in these days of fanaticism that we should have such a rule. Even in the case of old ministers he thought it a good thing to talk over our views occasionally. When a venerable father in the church comes to be examined, if we cannot find any heresy in him, we can at least learn a great deal from him about the great doctrines of grace. The speaker continued that if the rule is absolute, nobody’s feelings can be hurt by it. He therefore saw no necessity for its repeal.

And apparently he made his case well, for when the report was adopted, the Assembly refused to repeal the rule requiring the examination of all ministers entering a Presbytery. So our Book to this day still expects and requires a Presbytery to examine and receive a minister before he can be allowed onto the field of ministry within that Presbytery.

New Content Online : Contact [1970-1973]

In Uncategorized on 10/05/2012 at 12:11

Recently posted content at the web site of the PCA Historical Center includes PDF image scans of Contact, the newsletter issued by
Presbyterian Churchmen United, between 1970-1973.

There were four main organizations that were formative of the Presbyterian Church in America :
1. Concerned Presbyterians, a layman’s group led by ruling elders;
2. Presbyterian Churchmen United, an organization for pastors;
3. The Presbyterian Journal, a magazine begun in 1942; and
4. The Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, a ministry focused on revival.

The publications issued by the first two of these groups can now be accessed online at the PCA Historical Center’s web site.

Following the organization of Concerned Presbyterians (good evidence that it was the ruling elders who were leading the movement for renewal in the Church!), an organization specifically for pastors was later formed under the title Presbyterian Churchmen United. Contact, the newsletter issued by this group, first appeared in May of 1970. Then, just prior to the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America (in December of 1973), the group accordingly published their closing issue in September, 1973.

Click the cover image below to view the contents and to access issues of Contact :

New Content Online : The Concerned Presbyterian [1965-1976]

In Uncategorized on 10/05/2012 at 12:09

Recently posted content at the web site of the PCA Historical Center includes PDF image scans of The Concerned Presbyterian, the bulletin issued by
Concerned Presbyterians, Inc., between 1965-1976.

There were four main organizations that were formative of the Presbyterian Church in America :
1. Concerned Presbyterians, a layman’s group led by ruling elders;
2. Presbyterian Churchmen United, an organization for pastors;
3. The Presbyterian Journal, a magazine begun in 1942; and
4. The Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, a ministry focused on revival.

The publications issued by the first two of these groups can now be accessed online at the PCA Historical Center’s web site.

The Concerned Presbyterian was the bulletin issued by Concerned Presbyterians, a layman’s renewal group led by ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (aka, Southern Presbyterian Church).
Kenneth S. Keyes, a Miami real estate developer, and W. Jack Williamson, a prominent Jackson, MS lawyer, were notable leaders of this group. Bulletin no. 1 was issued in March of 1965 and the final issue published by the group came out sometime in 1976.

Click on the cover image below to view and access issues of The Concerned Presbyterian.

Three New Books on Princeton Seminary, Part 3

In Archibald Alexander Hodge, Benjamin B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, Francis Landey Patton, J. Gresham Machen, Princeton Theological Seminary, Samuel Miller on 03/05/2012 at 11:22

The last of these three new books published in commemoration of the 200h anniversary of the founding of the Princeton Theological Seminary is also edited by Dr. James M. Garretson. It is titled Past0r-Teachers of old Princeton. That title by itself might be a little misleading, but the subtitle spells out more clearly the book’s content : Memorial Addresses for the Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-1921. Obviously that 1921 date takes the content up through the death of Dr. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, and even the title evokes Machen’s comment on the death of Warfield, that “old Princeton had died.”
Where some the content found in the first two volumes might be found elsewhere, these funeral addresses and obituaries provide rich biographical reading that hasn’t been readily available until now. On a more minor note, Pastor-Teachers of old Princeton appears to have gone to the printer first, before the other two volumes, judging from dates found in the prefaces. That would then explain why this volume lacks the birth and death dates as a feature in the table of contents. The addition of those dates is a nice feature which must have been a subsequent improvement.  I’ve added those dates for your reference, below.

Contents :
Preface
“Mark the Perfect Man,” by Charles Hodge [an obituary upon the death of a Princeton student, age 22].
Introduction, by Dr. James M. Garretson
ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER [1771-1851]
• “A Sermon on the Death of Dr. Archibald Alexander,” by the Rev. John Hall.
• “Archibald Alexander, D.D.,” Address by William M. Paxton.
• “The Life of Archibald Alexander,” A Review by Charles Hodge.
SAMUEL MILLER [1769-1850]
• “Funeral Sermon Occasioned by the Death of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller,” by Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander.
• “A Discourse Commemorative of the Life of the Late Rev. Samuel Miller, D.D. of Princeton, N.J.,” by the Rev. H.A. Boardman.
• “Brief Biographical Notice of Dr. Miller.”
• “A Discourse Commemorative of the Rev. Samuel Miller, D.D., Late Professor in the Theological Seminary at Princeton,” by William B. Sprague.
• “The Life of Samuel Miller; A Review.”
JAMES WADDELL ALEXANDER [1804-1859]
• “He Preached Christ,” A Sermon by the Rev. Charles Hodge.
• “Remember These Things” A Sermon by the Rev. John Hall.
• “James Waddell Alexander” An Address by Theodore L. Cuyler.
JOSEPH ADDISON ALEXANDER [1809-1860]
• “Obsequies of Dr. J. Addison Alexander” by the Rev. John Hall.
• “Joseph Addison Alexander, D.D.” Address by William C. Cattell.
• “The Life of Joseph Addison Alexander, D.D.,” A Review.
CHARLES HODGE [1797-1878]
• “Address” by William M. Paxton.
• “A Tribute” by Charles A. Aiken.
• “Memorial Discourse” by Henry A. Boardman.
• “Minute Adopted by the Board of Directors.”
• “A Discourse Commemorative of the Late Dr. Charles Hodge” by Lyman A. Atwater.
• “The Life of Charles Hodge,” A Review by Francis L. Patton.
HENRY AUGUSTUS BOARDMAN [1808-1880]
• “Funeral Address” by A. A. Hodge.
• “Commemorative Sermon” by John De Witt.
ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER HODGE [1823-1886]
• “Address Delivered at the Funeral of Archibald Alexander Hodge” by William M. Paxton.
• “A Discourse in Memory of Archibald Alexander Hodge” by Francis L. Patton.
ALEXANDER TAGGART M’GILL [1807-1889]
• “Address at the Funeral of Rev. Alexander Taggart M’Gill” by W. Henry Green.
JAMES CLEMENT MOFFAT [1811-1890]
• “In Memoriam”
• “A Memorial Address” by W. Henry Green.
• “Memorial Tablet to Dr. James C. Moffat, D.D.” by John De Witt.
CASPAR WISTAR HODGE [1830-1891]
• “A Memorial Address” by Francis L. Patton.
WILLIAM HENRY GREEN [1825-1900]
• “The Life and Work of William Henry Green: A Commemorative Address” by John D. Davies.
WILLIAM MILLER PAXTON [1824-1904]
• “Discourse at the Funeral Service of William M. Paxton” by John De Witt.
• “A Memorial Discourse” by Benjamin B. Warfield.
BENJAMIN BRECKINRIDGE WARFIELD [1851-1921]
• “Obituary,” Princeton Theological Review, April 1921.
• “A Memorial Address” by Francis L. Patton.
Index, pp. 553-565.

Three New Books on Princeton Seminary, Part 2

In Archibald Alexander Hodge, Benjamin B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, J. Gresham Machen, Princeton Theological Seminary on 03/05/2012 at 11:14

Volume 2 of the 2 volume set, Princeton and the Christian Ministry, selected and edited by Dr. James M. Garretson. Published by the Banner of Truth Trust, 2012, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Princeton Theological Seminary. The set is subtitled, A Collection of Addresses, Essays, and Articles by Faculty and Friends of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Contents :
ASHBEL GREEN [1762-1848]
• “Address to the Students.”
• “Christ Crucified the Characteristic of Apostolic Preaching.”
GARDINER SPRING [1785-1873]
• “An Address to the Students.”
J. W. ALEXANDER [1804-1859]
• “The Lord Jesus Christ the Example of the Minister.”
• “Considerations on Foreign Missions Addressed to Candidates for the Holy Ministry.”
• “The History of Catechising.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER [1802-1880]
• “The Scripture Doctrine of a Call to the Work of the Gospel Ministry.”
CHARLES HODGE [1797-1878]
• “The Character Traits of the Gospel Minister.”
• “On the Necessity of a Knowledge of the Original Languages of the Scriptures.”
• “Review of Sprague’s Lectures to Young People.”
• “The Nature of the Atonement.”
• “The Teaching Office of the Church.”
• “Are There Too Many Ministers?”
• “What Is Presbyterianism?”
• “Preaching the Gospel to the Poor.”
• “A Discourse Delivered at the Re-opening of the Chapel.”
• “Faith in Christ the Source of Life.”
• “Christianity without Christ.”
NICHOLAS MURRAY [1802-1889]
• “The Ministry We Need.”
ALEXANDER T. M’GILL [1807-1889]
• “Practical Theology.”
WILLIAM M. PAXTON [1824-1904]
• “The Ministry for this Age.”
• “The Church, the Preacher, the Pastor—the Instruments of God’s Salvation.”
• “The Call to the Ministry.”
A. A. HODGE [1823-1886]
• “Dogmatic Christianity, the Essential Ground of Practical Christianity.”
B. B. WARFIELD [1851-1921]
• “Our Seminary Curriculum.”
• “The Purpose of the Seminary.”
• “The Religious Life of Theological Students.”
• “Spiritual Culture in the Theological Seminary.”
• “The Significance of the Westminster Standards as a Creed.”
• “The Idea of Systematic Theology Considered as a Science.”
• “The Indispensableness of Systematic Theology to the Preacher.”
• “The Christ that Paul Preached.”
• “Authority, Intellect, Heart.”
• “What is Calvinism?”
J. GRESHAM MACHEN [18881-1937]
• “Christianity and Culture.”
• “Liberalism or Christianity.”
GEERHARDUS VOS [1862-1949]
• “The More Excellent Ministry.”
MAITLAND ALEXANDER [1867-1940]
• “The Charge.”
CASPAR WISTAR HODGE, JR. [1870-1937]
• “The Significance of the Reformed Theology Today.”

Three New Books on Princeton Seminary

In Archibald Alexander Hodge, Princeton Theological Seminary, Samuel Miller on 02/05/2012 at 19:53

This being the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, the Banner of Truth Trust has just published three new books in commemoration of the occasion.

Thanks to a very kind donor in Pennsylvania, we are able to add these new titles to the research library at the PCA Historical Center. As we are only today accessioning the books, I haven’t had time to look them over, so won’t offer a review at this time. But I can provide a look at the table of contents for each book. Dr. James M. Garretson serves as compiler and editor of all three of these books, providing introductions and biographical sketches as well. The first two volumes form a set addressing the subject of Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry. The third volume, Pastor-Teachers of old Princeton, is a gathering of “memorial addresses for the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-1921.

Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry.
Contents of Volume 1

Foreword by Dr. David B. Calhoun
Preface and Introduction by Dr. James M. Garretson
I. REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
• “A Golden Jubilee: A Discourse Addressed to the Alumni of the Seminary,” by William Buell Sprague.
• “A Brief History of Princeton Theological Seminary,” by Samuel Miller.
II. INAUGURAL ADDRESSES AT THE OPENING OF THE SEMINARY
• “The Duty of the Church: The Sermon Delivered at the Inauguration of Rev. Archibald Alexander as Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology,” by Samuel Miller.
• “An Inaugural Discourse,” by Archibald Alexander.
• “A Charge to the Professor and Students of Divinity,” by Philip Milledoler.
III. ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER [1771-1851]
• “Preface to the Memoirs of Thomas Halyburton.”
• “On the Nature of Vital Piety: Introductory Essay to Advice to a Young Christian.”
• “Evidences of a New Heart.”
• “The Cure of Souls: Introduction to Pastoral Reminiscences.”
• “Pastoral Fidelity and Diligence: Review of Gildas Salvianus; or, The Reformed Pastor.”
• The Character of the Genuine Theologian.”
• “On the Importance of Aiming at Eminent Piety.”
• “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”
• “The Pastoral Office.”
• “Thoughts on the Education of Pious and Indigent Candidates for the Ministry.”
• “A Missionary Sermon.”
• “Christ in the Midst: Address at the Dedication of a New Church Building.”
• “Lectures on the Shorter Catechism: A Review.”
• “The Duty of Catechetical Instruction.”
• “Suggestions in Vindication of Sunday Schools.”
• “The Use and Abuse of Books.”
IV. SAMUEL MILLER [1769-1850]
• “The Force of Truth: Recommendatory Letter for The Force of Truth: An Authentic Narrative.”
• “The Life of M’Cheyne: An Introductory Letter to The Memoir and Remains of R.M. M’Cheyne.”
• “The Difficulties and Temptations which Amend the Preaching of the Gospel in Great Cities.”
• “A Sermon on the Work of Evangelists and Missionaries.”
• “A Sermon on the Public Worship of God.”
• “Christian Weapons Not Carnal But Spiritual.”
• “The Importance of the Gospel Ministry.”
• “The Importance of Mature Preparatory Study for the Ministry.”
• “Holding Fast the Faithful Word.”
• “A Plea for an Enlarged Ministry.”
• “Christ The Model of Gospel Ministers.”
• “The Sacred Office Magnified.”
• “Ecclesiastical Polity.”
• “The Duty, Benefits, and Proper Method of Religious Fasting.”
• “Revivals of Religion.” (Parts 1 & 2)
• “Christian Education.”

To keep our posts short, I’ll post the contents of the other two volumes in separate entries tomorrow. These look like great compilations of some very valuable material. Some of these sermons and addresses may be available in digital format on the Internet and elsewhere, but much of the content is otherwise unavailable. Besides, who doesn’t prefer the convenience and ready access of a good book?