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A History Lesson, by Robert Strong

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Importance of History, J. Gresham Machen, Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Church in the U.S. [PCUS], Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Presbyterian Journal, Robert Dick Wilson, Westminster Theological Seminary on 29/07/2013 at 09:28

I often come across the most interesting and useful things while searching out a patron’s request for some article or other material. For context, this article was written in the midst of those years leading up to the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. Strong’s audience would have been those men who were considering leaving the old Southern Presbyterian denomination in order to form a new, faithful Church.

A History Lesson
by ROBERT STRONG [1908-1980, and pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL, 1959-1973]

[The Presbyterian Journal, 27.42 (12 February 1969): 9-11.]

The struggle for the faith in the Presbyterian Church USA has been protracted. I grew up in that church and was ordained in it years ago when it was called the “Northern Presbyterian Church.” Thus I knew at first hand the issues as well as some of the people involved in the conflict.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, the strife deepened in intensity in the twentieth century and came to a climax in the 1920’s. Awareness of the rising tide of unbelief, and resistance to it, occurred in a spectacular way:

In 1923 the General Assembly endorsed adherence to five cardinal points of doctrine: the verbal inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, His mighty miracles, His substitutionary atonement and His bodily resurrection.

In reaction came the Auburn Affirmation, so-called because men of Auburn Seminary were its authors and from Auburn, New York it was distributed to gain additional signatures. In time, these amounted to 1100 names.

Cause and Effect

The Auburn Affirmation was in two parts: The first was an attack upon the right of the General Assembly to single out certain doctrines when the Northern Presbyterian Church was already committed to a system of doctrine as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was specious logic. This was illogic! This was evasive action. Read the rest of this entry »

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God will overrule it all to His glory!

In Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on 20/09/2012 at 12:17

Located yesterday among the correspondence in the Robert Dick Wilson Manuscript Collection, there is this letter from Dr. H. G. C. Hallock which caught my attention.

Henry Galloway Comingo Hallock, was born on 31 March 1870, and prepared for ministry at the Princeton Theological Seminary, 1893-1896. Upon graduation he immediately took a post as a PCUSA missionary to China. In 1905 he withdrew to independent ministry and teaching, serving later as Professor of Homiletics in the department of theology at the University of China, Chenju, Shanghai, 1925-1927.  For a time he had also been connected with the National Tract Society for China. Among some Princeton alumni information, there is indication that he remained in China up until at least June of 1942. Later returning to the United States, he died on 16 January 1951.

The letter that follows is a powerful testimony from the field of conflict. It is a revealing letter, telling the truth about evil, and a hopeful letter, speaking the truth about our Lord who sovereignly prevails over evil, purifying His Church, raising up a strong testimony to His grace and glory. Today, Rev. Hallock’s “prophecy” of China’s future rings true.

C.P.O.Box No. 1234, Shanghai, China, March 22, 1927.

Dear Friend,

I have written several times about our Bible School and of our work among its students and about our students’ work among the chil­dren and with the people in the country villages, I hope you are inter­ested and that your heart has prompted you to help. There has not been time for a reply from you, as it takes a month each way for letters to go and come; but let me write again and tell you more. We are having very serious troubles in China. Fighting and unrest are all about us. I hear cannon booming and see many houses burning in Shanghai now as I write. Tho’ our Bible School is in the danger zone yet we have not been molested in the least. The militarists have closed a secular school of 600 pupils near us, as the generals feared the students were cutting the telegraph wires, R.R. tracks, and doing other mischief; but our Bible School goes on without interference. We are very glad and thankful to our Heavenly Father. We are grateful also that you have been praying for us.

Pray much also for China. An idea is abroad that a spirit of nationalism is among the people. This is largely a mistake. I do wish there were a spirit of real nationalism abroad, the leaders seeking the real good of their country and people; but I am sorry it is not so. The people are driven about in fear—like a flock of sheep pursued by mad— dogs or wolves—by men in the pay of Bolshevists. Lest these beasts of men be moved by pity for their own people the Bolshevists enlist perfect strangers from a distance to carry on propaganda, terrorize people, stir up strikes and shoot those too poor to strike, initiating a reign of ter­ror, making the workers afraid to work—lest they be killed for working or their wives and children be killed while they work. As soon as ample protection is provided the people are very glad to flock back to work. The so-called Nationalists, led by the Bolshevists, say they are seeking the good of the people; but wherever they go they rob and kill the people and smash up schools, hospitals, churches and Chinese temples. You friends in good old America don’t want them and can largely keep the Bolshevists out; but the Chinese are not able to do so, so these fiends carry on with a high hand. There seems to be no limit to their deviltries. They cry, “Down with imperialists! Give the people freedom!” but they themselves are tyranic imperialists, and crush freedom. They are domineering over­lords making a comparatively free people slaves. Freedom is impossible where they come. Like fierce, wild animals they are over-running the country, and the people, poor and rich alike, are fleeing for their lives.

But amid the deep gloom there appears a bright cloud still. God will overrule it all to His glory—is doing so. The church is being tried as by fire. The true Christians will remain true—will become more “loyal and true—and the dross will be removed. The “rice Christians” and all who are not true will desert and so the church will be refined. The church needs purging and it is being purged “with a vengeance.” And then, too, the scattered loyal Christians, as in the times of the Acts of the Apostles, are preaching the Gospel wherever they flee. The Bolshevists try to beat out the fire; but they only scatter the sparks. The flames spring up in numbers of unthinkable places. The missionaries have had to leave their stations; but it casts their Chinese Christians wholly into the loving arms of the dear Lord where they renew their strength, running and not weary, walking and not faint. Now is the time to bear the Christ­ians up in the arms of prayer as you have never done before. Pray much, too, for the native preachers and Bible women, and also for the young men in our Bible School. They are staying firm in the school tho’ dangers are all around. — Shanghai just captured. Many Chinese killed. I can’t well flee. God guards. P.O. is closed. If this arrives you’ll know all’s well.

Yours in Christ’s glad service,

(Rev.) H. G. C. Hallock.

[emphasis added]

“Why Doesn’t God DO SOMETHING About this War?”

In Harold Samuel Laird on 12/09/2012 at 14:17

It has been interesting to notice, over the past number of years, how a certain few men are spoken of in the highest terms, in almost hushed tones (that’s putting it too strongly, but it makes the point). The Rev. Harold Samuel Laird was one such man, greatly regarded by those who knew him. It is our loss that he is now largely forgotten by current generations.

The following is a sermon preached by the Rev. Laird at some point over the summer of 1942, about a year after the United States had entered World War II. He had the previous Sunday preached a sermon titled “What Should the Christian’s Attitude Be Toward This War?” The second sermon in this short series, reproduced here below, takes Matthew 24 as its text.

Harold Samuel Laird [1891-1987]

Why Doesn’t God
DO SOMETHING
About this War?

Matthew 24

There are two questions touching the present war with which by this time most of us are quite familiar, for they have been repeatedly asked. They are: first, What should the Christian’s attitude be toward this war? and second, Why doesn’t God do something about this war?

While the first of these two questions arises for the most part in the minds of Christians, many of whom honestly desire to know and do the will of God in the present emergency, the second comes not so much from Christians, who are more or less acquainted with the revelation which God has given of Himself in the Holy Scriptures, but rather from those who are wholly ignorant of that revelation.

In the light of this fact, it is not the least bit strange that we hear the question of our theme so often in these days. Though the Bible is now, as it ever has been, the best seller among all the books in the world, never in its history have the great masses of the people who possess it been more ignorant of its contents than they are in this very day. This is no doubt due very largely to the fact that the Church itself has failed miserably in its God-given mission to make known to the world the message of the Word of Cod. Instead, it has been giving another message—the message of human philosophy, or the “wisdom of this world,” which, according to the greatest philosopher the world has ever seen, is “foolishness with God.”

Therefore, when one puts to me this question, earnestly and honestly, I am absolutely persuaded that I have the answer that will perfectly satisfy his soul, provided he is willing to accept the testimony of this Book, as a supernatural revelation from God concerning Himself and His immutable purposes for this, His sin-cursed creation.

You ask me, “Why doesn’t God do something about this war?” 1 answer by means of three positive statements: first, God has already done something about this war, second, God is now doing something about this war; and third, God will yet do something about all wars.

I.—God HAS ALREADY DONE Something About This War.

I refer, of course, to that which God did two thousand years ago, when He saw the wickedness of man, that it was great in the earth. Once before, approximately three thousand years prior to that, Moses tells us in the Book of Genesis, the book of beginnings, that God saw the same sight, “and that every imagination of the thoughts of his (man’s) heart was only evil continually.” Moses adds that “it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, 1 will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth’’ (Gen. 6:5-7). And we have it both from the record of Sacred History and from the traditional history of practically every heathen race, that in due course of time God did what He said He would do, and, save for one man and his family, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord, the whole sinful human race was destroyed by the flood. Read the rest of this entry »

Minced Oaths

In Bible Presbyterian Church, George H. Seville on 26/07/2012 at 10:36

The Rev. George H. Seville wrote this little tract, found among the Papers of the Rev. Albert F. (“Bud”) Moginot, Jr.

Born, 19 March 1876, near Bellevue, PA, he later graduated from the Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh, from Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA, and from Allegheny Seminary (UPCNA), Pittsburgh. He served as a high school teacher for a brief time before taking additional studies at the Moody Bible Institute, in preparation for ministry in China, beginning in 1902, serving under the auspices of the China Inland Mission. While stationed there, he met and later married a fellow missionary, the former Jessie Maud Merritt Greene, in 1905. [Mrs. Seville, born 15 Oct. 1874, died on 2 Jan. 1960 in Wilmington, Delaware.]

The couple had four children, all born in China. Three daughters, Janet (Mrs. Ralph M. Bragdon), Elsa (Mrs. Roger B. VanBuskirk) and Edith (Mrs. Francis A. Schaeffer), and a son, John, who died in infancy.

The Seville family returned from China in 1919, whereupon Rev. Seville studied at Gordon College and then served as pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian church, Newburgh, NY, from 1923-1930. From 1931-1935, Rev. Seville served in the publishing department of the China Inland Mission, based initially in Toronto, Ontario and later in Philadelphia, PA. It was during this period that his alma mater Westminster College awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree, in 1932. He was next one of the founding professors at the Faith Theological Seminary, teaching Greek and Practical Theology. Retiring from that service in 1955, this was also about the same time that Francis and Edith Schaeffer founded the L’Abri ministry, and Dr. Seville served as treasurer for the ministry from 1955-1967.  Dr. Seville lived to be 101 years of age, and died on 21 March 1977.

Minced Oaths

Rev. George H. Seville, D.D.

A visiting minister was asked to lead in prayer in Sunday school, and when he had finished, a teacher heard one of her girls whisper, “Gosh, what a prayer!” Such an exclamation seems incongruous in expressing one’s appreciation of a prayer, but a little thought will lead anyone to the conclusion that “gosh” is not an appropriate word for a Christian to use on any occasion whatsoever. When we look into the original meaning of such interjections, we may be surprised that even some Christian people are habitual users of expressions which the dictionary terms “minced oaths.” Read the rest of this entry »

Academic Freedom, by G. Aiken Taylor (1963)

In G. Aiken Taylor on 17/01/2012 at 16:46

Working through some pamphlets and other materials donated by Dr. Will Barker, I came across this little tract, which may be of interest. It is a reprint of an article that first appeared in THE PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL, on 30 January 1963.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM
Examining the idea that teachers are above the rules
ordinary mortals go by—

by G. Aiken Taylor, Ph.D.

The issue of “academic freedom” is rapidly becoming a major one. In some denominations there is no greater. A poll of 30 Baptist editors—for instance—placed the dismissal of Dr. Ralph Elliott from Midwestern Baptist Seminary, and the appointment of a special committee by the 1962 Southern Baptist Convention to re-study its statement of faith, as the two top news stories of 1962. Both stories had to do with the issue of academic freedom.

Dr. Elliott was dismissed from the seminary on account of his book, The Message of Genesis, which allegedly treats Biblical history lightly. His dismissal was hailed as a victory by conservative forces in the never-ending struggle between liberal and conservative elements which is going on in all Churches today.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the incident is not yet clear. Although the action against Dr. Elliott was supported by most state conventions we heard from, the liberals—mostly the academic community in this case—have shown no intention of letting it go at that. While the conservatives rest on their oars, confident in victory, the campaign to discredit them gradually increases in vigor and will probably win out in the end.

Conservatives are notoriously like the hare in the fable of the tortoise and the hare. They get excited but tend to relax again just as easily. The liberals, on the other hand, patiently keep up their subtle pressures until the resistance is overcome.

Latest development in the Elliott case is a paper signed by 37 religious professors in eight Southern Baptist colleges, condemning the seminary for “sacrificing” its “integrity in Biblical scholarship” and “denying” the “seminary’s freedom to interpret Scripture under the authority of Christ in Scripture” (which usually means, “the right to teach students to mistrust people who take the Bible to mean what it says.”)

We can predict the outcome of this controversy with a fair degree of assurance. Dr. Elliott will be reinstated—or elevated to something better—the book will be brought out by another publisher and will become an approved text in schools and colleges. The whole Baptist denomination, which supported his dismissal, but which ran out of steam as soon as he had left the seminary, will stand by helplessly wringing its collective hands.

A   SECULAR   EXAMPLE

Down in Florida another example of controversy over academic freedom has been unfolding, this time in the world of secular education. The whole state has been in an uproar over something which developed at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, where the atmosphere in some classes was alleged to have attained almost incredible depths of depravity and irreverence. One professor was dismissed. A legislative investigation of the whole state university system was held, resulting in some new statements of policy by the Board of Control. But after the dust had settled the professor was reinstated and business has continued pretty much as usual in Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

Machen Trivia, & An Announcement

In J. Gresham Machen, League of Evangelical Students, The Evangelical Student on 12/10/2011 at 11:06

Now available online:
THE EVANGELICAL STUDENT
[1926-1939]


The other day I posted this question on some of the Presbyterian discussion Lists:

Machen Trivia:  Name at least five organizations that Machen helped to found, four of which continue to this day.

Not to leave you in suspense, here are the answers, in reverse order: Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons of the Past

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Presbyterian on 16/09/2011 at 16:26

Who Were the Old School Presbyterians?

By Rev. Charles E. Edwards, D.D.

[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 6-8.]

IF America forgets the lessons of history, especially church history, she will cease to be the America that we love. The Presbyterian family of denominations have made great contributions to the kingdom of God for centuries. But if they forget the lessons of the past, they will cease to be Presbyterians, and will be like reprobate silver. Even religious controversies have their lessons. Sweet are the uses of adversity. For various reasons it is advisable that the noble services of the Old School Presbyterians should be better known.

First of all, it is well to recall that the separation of Presbyterians in America into the two denominations, Old and New School, was not a sudden event, with no previous warnings. When the enemies of the Eighteenth Amendment raise the question whether it was adopted too hastily, those loyal to the Constitution have overwhelming proofs of the long period of which it was the culmination. And the Presbyterian Assembly of 1837 did not originate the discord which had grown in intensity from 1801 to 1837. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Is Risen Indeed!

In Apologetics on 21/08/2011 at 18:44

A friend asked a question recently about the Rev. Arthur J. Diffenbacher, a Grove City College and Dallas Seminary graduate who spent six years on the mission field in China and another two in Manchuria before WWII drove him from the field. After a time back in the States engaged in ministry, he entered the service as an Army chaplain in the summer of 1943. His approach to the chaplaincy was to be always with the troops in everything they endured. So it was perhaps not surprising when he became one of the early casualties of D-Day, dying on the battlefields of Normandy on July 5, 1944.

As I’ve recently been compiling an author-title index for THE INDEPENDENT BOARD BULLETIN, I came across an obituary for Rev. Dieffenbacher, published in the October 1944 issue of the BULLETIN. But I also noticed that just a few months earlier, in the April issue, there was published this short article by Rev. Dieffenbacher—

DID JESUS RISE?
Chaplain Arthur J. Dieffenbacher

“Now is Christ risen from the dead.” — I Cor. 15:20.

What but such a miracle could cause pious Jews, with fifteen centuries of tradition and the command of God Himself, to cease observing the seventh day of the week, and suddenly begin to worship on the first day?

What but such a manifestation of power could transform the disheartened, fearful apostles into courageous, powerful protagonists of One Who had but a few days before died a shameful death on a cross ; and what else could produce similar transformations in heart-broken, wrecked lives for the last 1900 years?

What but such a victory over death could prevent that cross from being more than the final failure of another self-styled messiah, and produce a faith in millions, that through His death there is forgiveness of sins?

What but the actual event can keep Christ Himself, who offered only His resurrection as a sign and proof, from being a fake, or His apostles from being liars, who based their preaching on the fact that, contrary to their expectations and hope, they had seen Him after death, and talked with Him, and touched His nail-pierced, spear-riven body? What but the fact itself can prevent Christianity from being a colossal hoax?

What but the assurance that His resurrection is a sample of that of all who die trusting Him could cause martyrs to go to death for their faith in Christ, steady and unafraid, as they did in the days of the early church, in the middle ages, and as they do even today under the Japanese rule? And what but this could give hope to a soldier who dies on the field of battle trusting in Christ?

What but such a conclusive triumph of right can, in the midst of injustice, give the assurance held out in the Scriptures that Christ will yet reign in righteousness and peace on the earth?

Missionary Tributes to Machen (1937)

In Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, J. Gresham Machen on 16/08/2011 at 20:15

Lately one of my projects is working to compile an index to the THE INDEPENDENT BOARD BULLETIN, the newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, intending at least to compile that index through the period of 1955-1956.  As I am now working through volume 3 (1937), I have come across the following, which provides a bit of material that many haven’t previously seen. The Independent Board, as most are aware, was founded in part by Dr. Machen as response to his own denomination’s willingness to send modernists into the mission field.

MISSIONARY TRIBUTES TO DR. MACHEN
[Independent Board Bulletin III.4 (April 1937): 10-11.]

These spontaneous tributes on the part of some our missionaries will be of great interest to friends of the Independent Board.

Mr. Hamilton, of Korea, writes :

“It seems impossible to realize that our dear friend, counsellor, teacher and guide has been called Home to Glory. What a loss to us all it will prove to be!

I can’t put into words all that the friendship and teaching of Dr. Machen has meant to me personally. In all our close and intimate friendship I have never heard him enter upon a tirade against any man who was opposed to him in the theological fight. He never went into personal attacks against his foes, but always attacked the principles and practices of those who in any way deviated from the teaching of the Word of God. Vituperation he left to his enemies, and I suppose there has been no man of our generation more unjustly maligned and misrepresented by those who were supposed to be orthodox than he.

Dr. Machen called forth a passionate loyalty on the part of his friends and pupils that few even of those most closely associated with him in the church at large realized. It was not so much personal loyalty, however, as it was a loyalty to the Christ whom he worshipped, and whom he constantly held before the minds of his pupils. Read the rest of this entry »

An Old Threat That Never Really Goes Away

In Apologetics, Modernism on 05/08/2011 at 10:53

And as promised — As you read this, think to see if this isn’t remarkably in line with what Dr. Peter Jones has been pointing out in recent years concerning the ongoing cultural battle between what he terms “one-ism” and “two-ism.” While there clearly are differences between Jones’ thesis and the concerns voiced here in Greenway’s article, still I think there is also a relation connecting their separate concerns. Unitarianism is at root just another part of that broad spectrum of “one-ism” that fails to maintain the Creator-creature distinction.

 

The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent

By Rev. Walter B. Greenway, D.D.

[THE PRESBYTERIAN (23 September 1926): 6-9.]

 

THE old Arabian story, variously told, is familiar to all. The camel plead with the Arabian nomad for permission to put his nose through the flap of the tent. Thinking this to ‘be harmless, the Arab consented. While the Arab slept, the camel pushed through his head, then his shoulders, finally his body, and when the Arab awakened from his sleep he found no room in the tent for himself, it being all but wholly occupied by the camel.

There was an evil camel’s nose that diligently sought admission into the Church’s tent at its beginning. It has been quietly but persistently working its body into the Church, until now it is head and shoulders within and it is high time we awakened, before our tent is wholly occupied. Modernism is the nose of the camel. The camel is Unitarianism. The nose, Modernism, is considered harmless by a large element in our Church to-day. This is because they fail to see the camel to which the nose belongs. The camel is that doctrine that robs the Son of God of his special divinity and brings him down to the level of man. The camel, Unitarianism, has always stood just outside the tent of the Trinitarian Church, seeking admission.

It appeared in the first century, when we find certain of the Jewish Church were attracted by the personality of Christ, and agreed to accept him as a leader, but would not recognize him as divine. In the second century there were those who were willing to recognize in Christ one superior to a man, a kind of a connecting link between God and man, but in no wise God. In the third century Ammonius Saccas and the philosophers of his day loudly proclaimed the beauty of his character, but declared him only a lovely man. In the fourth century, Arius of Alexandria went so far as to acknowledge the pre-existence of Christ, and even proclaimed that he would be the Judge at the end, but denied he was God. Read the rest of this entry »