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“Nothing Ever Changes”

In Allan A. MacRae, J. Gresham Machen on 08/12/2012 at 16:40

First, I’d like to point you to a very interesting article by James W. Scott, managing editor of New Horizons, the denominational magazine of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In this article, “Machen’s Lost Work on the Presbyterian Conflict,” Mr. Scott explores the possibility that J. Gresham Machen had been at work over the summer of 1936 writing a book on the Presbyterian conflict. Among Machen’s papers, the working notes and manuscript for that book were never found, and Mr. Scott builds his case for the theory that the work was removed from Machen’s estate after his decease by Edwin H. Rian and later used as the core of the book later published by Rian, titled The Presbyterian Conflict.

Westminster Theological Seminary has now published the first part of Mr. Scott’s article in the latest issue of The Westminster Theological Journal, and has graciously posted this article to the Seminary web site, here. I think you will enjoy reading the article.

In response to my reading the article, I’m putting in a few extra hours in the PCA Historical Center on Saturday, looking through the Allan A. MacRae Manuscript Collection, to see if there might be anything relevant to the Scott article. MacRae’s correspondence with Machen, with Everett DeVelde and with Edwin H. Rian yielded nothing. Now I’m looking through MacRae’s correspondence with his family. He was very attentive to his mother and wrote home virtually every day, often relating interesting bits of news about the Seminary and the Church.

Just now, I came across the following note, in a letter to his mother dated 8 November 1936, on the federal election for president. Looking back from our vantage point, what does this say about how the political landscape changes—or doesn’t?

rooseveltFD“What a landslide the election was! The people got what they wanted. But it is surely disgusting to think that this is what they wanted. On the whole it was undoubtedly a victory of the unintelligent and the shiftless over the intelligent and the industrious. Of course this does not mean that such a characteristic should be applied to every Roosevelt supporter. Far from it! But it was the great body of votes of this type that swayed the election. The Literary Digest poll showed clearly that the overwhelming majority of the intelligent classes were against him. After all, I suppose a slush fund of ten billion dollars is altogether too much to overcome by argument. Now that he has a blank check from the people, I wonder what he will do with it. He certainly was careful to keep his election speeches in the realm of vague generality, giving no idea at all of his actual intentions.”

Allan MacRae went on in his letter home to state :

Human nature is surely a queer thing. If only people could look to God more and put less faith in their own ideas. How our petty scheming and planning must appear ridiculous in His sight! Surely it is true that we can put our faith in no human being. He wants us more and more to feel our utter dependencies on Him alone.

“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 »

A Note on Millennial Views in the Early Days at Westminster

In Allan A. MacRae, Westminster Theological Seminary on 23/07/2012 at 16:59

Making some bibliographical entries from the Westminster Theological Journal today, and I came across this tucked in the very back of one issue. Many might have missed it, hidden behind the “reviews of books”:

COMMUNICATION

[Editor’s Note: Vol. 53, no. 2 (Fall 1992) carried an article on J. Gresham Machen that included the following statement regarding the early faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary:

“Allan A. MacRae, professor of Old Testament, was a dispensationalist, while Paul Woolley, professor of church history, was a ‘historic premillennialist’ ” (p. 213, n. 9).

What follows is part of a communication from Dr. MacRae, dated January 21, 1992.]

 

This misrepresentation shocked me greatly. I am certain that it would not have been made by any of my colleagues of those days, all of whom, to my great sorrow, have already passed on. I was a member of the Westminster faculty for eight years but until I read this article I never heard anyone say, or even suggest, that there was any difference between Mr. Woolley’s beliefs and my own, either during that time or later . . .

Like Paul Woolley, I agree entirely with the teachings of the Westminster standards. One of those attending the Westminster Assembly said that many of its members, including some of the most honored, were “expressed chiliasts”. . .

I cannot think of any valid ground for anyone to call me a “dispensationalist.” It is disturbing to have an imaginary difference between Paul Woolley and me stated as if it were a fact. I knew Dr. Machen very intimately, and served as a colleague with him and with Paul Woolley for eight years, without ever having the feeling that there was any important difference between them and me. Paul and I were known to be premillennialists, but I never heard that either of us was criticized on that account. We worked together in great harmony. It was only after Dr. Machen’s death that circumstances developed which made me decide to resign from the Westminster faculty.

[excerpted from The Westminster Theological Journal, 54.2 (Fall 1992): 404.]

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 »

Princeton Seminary, Class of 1919

In Benjamin B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Princeton Theological Seminary, Robert Dick Wilson, Roy T. Brumbaugh on 23/04/2012 at 12:49

The Princeton Theological Seminary is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. In addition to festivities at the Seminary itself, both Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the Western Reformed Seminary have also observed the occasion with special lectures. Today, Dr. David Calhoun returned from his speaking engagement at Western Reformed and brought with him a memento of the occasion, a reproduction of the Princeton class photo for 1919. Our thanks to Dr. Calhoun for his donation of this interesting photo:

[click on the image to view a larger version]

Among the students, only Roy T. Brumbaugh is identified, with his photo circled.  Then along the bottom row you see pictured the faculty of Princeton in that year, beginning on the viewer’s left with Robert Dick Wilson, Geerhardus Vos, William Greene, J. Gresham Machen, Caspar Wistar Hodge, J. Ross Stevenson, William Park Armstrong, Charles R. Erdman, B.B. Warfield, John D. Davis, Frederick W. Loetscher (not identified in the photo above), and O. T. Allis.

The full list of 44 regular students graduating with the class of 1919 is as follows (can you put any names with faces?) :
Beltman, Henry
Blakely, Hunter Bryson, Jr.
Bowman, John Wick
Brumbaugh, Roy Talmadge
Carey, Thomas Derby
Cost, Harry Fulton
Davidson, Dwight Brooker
Dillener, Leroy Young
Doran, Hubert Frank
Edmunds, Horatio Spencer
Eells, Hastings
Gehman, John Luke
Glick, Curtis Morgan
Grier, Joseph Lee
Hamilton, Floyd Eugene [father of the PCA’s Rev. David E. Hamilton]
Hathaway, Francis Ogden
Helsman, Franklin Benjamin
Henderson, Lloyd Putnam
Howenstein, John Calvin
Jenkins, Finley DuBois
Kleffman, Albert Henry
Logan, Robert Lee
Lohr, Herbert Martin
McColloch, Harry Van
McKnight, William Quay
Murray, Thomas
Neely, Harry Campbell
Nesbitt, Ralph Beryl
Ness, John Harrison
Orwig, Samuel Earl
Pitzer, Robert Claiborne
Riefsnyder, Thomas Bancroft
Rule, Andrew Kerr
Schweitzer, Frederick
Thompson, Yancy Samuel
Underwood, Charles Alfred
Van Eaton, J. Plumer
Walenta, Paul Herman
Welker, Herman Clare
Williams, Thomas Arthur
Wilson, J. Christy
Yeatts, Earl Raymond
Yeh, James Yunlung

This Still Preaches

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Bible Presbyterian Church, Modernism on 12/03/2012 at 08:29

Another of the many tracts found as a collection among the papers of PCA pastor “Bud” Moginot was one titled “The Crime of the ‘Auburn Affirmation’ (A Sermon)”. This tract was authored by the Rev. Ira Miller, and is dated 4 February 1942. Miller had been a minister in the Presbyterian Church,U.S.A., from around 1906 until 1942, at which point he was entered on their rolls as honorably retired. He attended the Fifth General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1942 and in November of that year, transferred his credentials to the BPC. He was active in the BPC Presbytery of the Midwest, and served as the moderator of Session when the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis was without a pastor, up until that church called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. Rev. Miller even participated in Schaeffer’s installation as pastor, with Miller giving the Charge to the Congregation. By 1948 he was no longer on the roll of Presbytery and we think he may have moved to California.

THE CRIME OF THE
“AUBURN AFFIRMATION”
(A SERMON)

But if any provideth not for his own, and
specially for his own household, he hath
denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”
(I Tim. 5:8, R.V.)

I

Let no one suppose that I am ignorant, or seeking to take advantage of your ignorance, in denying that Paul is here speaking of provision for the PHYSICAL and TEMPORAL needs, especially of a man’s parents, widow and children. He is exposing to well-deserved contempt the conduct of a man who would be indifferent to these while at the same time pretending to be devoted to the service of God. His faith, says Paul, is worse than NO faith ; his service worse than NO service ; his state worse than an unbeliever’s state. The condemnation is severe.

II

But let us suppose this same man, or the men of an entire Christian congregation, or the minister of that congregation, or the entire denomination to which that congregation belongs, is equally indifferent to proper provision for SOULS under their care? Is that not a greater fault? Consider that the soul, unlike the body, is not for a fleeting day, and then dissolves into dust. No, it is for ETERNITY, and must live eternally, or die eternally. Then consider that God has constituted each father a shepherd and provider for the souls of his household, each congregation for its people, each pastor for his flock. If they neglect this duty, would not the guilt be greater, seeing that eternal, and NOT temporal loss, would be the certain consequence? Then should not the condemnation be more severe even than this of Paul here? Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Bud Moginot

In Bible Presbyterian Church, Francis A. Schaeffer on 28/02/2012 at 09:29

I’ve spent the last three Saturdays retrieving the Papers of Albert F. Moginot, Jr., a PCA pastor known to all simply as “Bud”.  Rev. Moginot died this past December at the age of 88, and about a year after the death of his beloved wife Vivian. He was born in 1923, was educated at William Jennings Bryan College and Washington University, and then prepared for the ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, he was ordained in the Bible Presbyterian Church and installed as associate pastor to Francis Schaeffer in 1948, right about the time that the Schaeffer’s were preparing to move to Switzerland to begin a ministry of church planting and children’s ministry. Bud’s wife Vivian served as Dr. Schaeffer’s secretary. The picture on the cover of the funeral bulletin dates from about that time with the Schaeffers.

From 1948 to 1973, Rev. Moginot was the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alton, Illinois. He then stepped away from pulpit ministry to serve from 1974 to 1993 at Covenant Theological Seminary. In the latter years of that term, he also began to be active as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol. I think he was especially proud of that service, serving in that capacity right up until about a year before his death. But it was probably his term of service as Pastor of Visitation ministry at the Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church where Bud really hit his stride. He began that work in 1991, and continued faithfully until forced into retirement by a brain aneurism. Rev. Moginot led many to Christ and pointed everyone to his Savior.

Bud Moginot also served as the Stated Clerk for Missouri Presbytery from 1982 to 1995, and from what I can tell, the dear brother never threw anything away. The kind of guy archivists love! Regrettably, not everything has been found in the best shape. Some things were stored in the basement; some things were stored in the attic. Neither location is suited to preservation. But in all, some thirty boxes of documents have been retrieved from Bud’s house, and I’ve begun the work of an initial sorting of the papers. Much of the material concerns the Missouri Presbytery, as you would expect. But every once in a while there are some unexpected jewels. The next several posts will focus on some of those jewels that I’ve found among Bud’s papers.

God’s Unfailing Guidance

In Christian Life, Harold Samuel Laird on 25/09/2011 at 13:17

THE PROMISE OF
SUPERNATURAL GUIDANCE

Rev. Harold S. Laird, D.D.

[The Independent Board Bulletin 7.3 (March 1941): 3-4.]

1 will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: 1 will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8.)

The thirty-second Psalm describes two methods of supernatural guidance. Both methods, of course, are employed only on behalf of those who are ordained of God unto eternal life.

The first is that employed with those of His children who have a desire to know and to do His will. To them, and to them alone God speaks when He says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” The second method is that used with those who are self-willed, stubborn, and wayward. It is of this group that He speaks when He says, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” Thus God does guide many, in order that, in spite of their self-willed waywardness, they may at last be brought unto Himself. Read the rest of this entry »