An aside, though there was some discussion of honorary degrees recently among Presbyterians on the Internet.

THE ORIGIN OF LITERARY DEGREES.

The practice of conferring honors of literary institutions on individuals of distinguished erudition, commenced in the twelfth century, when the Emperor Lothaire, having found in Italy a copy of the Roman law, ordained that it should be publicly expounded in the schools; and that he might give encouragement to the study, he further ordered that the public professors of this law should be dignified with the title of Doctors. The first person created a doctor, after this ordinance of the Emperor, was Bulgarius Hugolinus, who was greatly distinguished for his learning and literary labors. Not long afterwards, the practice of creating doctors was borrowed from the lawyers by divines also, who in their schools publicly taught divinity, and conferred degrees upon those who had made great proficiency in science. The plan of conferring degrees in divinity, was first adopted in the Universities of Bologna, Oxford, and Paris. (See Mather’s Magnalia, Christi Americana, B, IV, p. 134.)

It is remarkable that the celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson, when he had become eminent in literature, could not obtain the degree of Master of Arts, from Trinity College, Dublin, though powerful interests were made in his behalf for this purpose, by Mr. Pope, Lord Gower, and others.—Instances of the failure of similar applications, made in favor of characters still more distinguished than Johnson then was, are also on record. So cautious and reserved were literary institutions, a little more than half a century ago, in bestowing their honors.

Miller’s Life of John Rodgers.

[excerpted from The Christian Observer, vol. xxix, no. 3 (19 January 1850): page 1, column 4.]

Words to Live By:
Looking back, the nineteenth-century seems awash in honorary degrees. Much less so now, though not entirely unheard of.
It is one thing to be recognized by others, but we seek not our own honor; rather, in all things we seek to praise and glorify our Lord.

 

Testimony of
Excerpted from Annals of the Disruption, by Thomas Brown (Edinburgh: MacNiven & Wallace, 1884), p. 55:–

The remark of another country minister, the Rev. R. Inglis, of Edzell, attracted notice at that time: “Some of my brethren have a difficulty in pledging themselves to go out, because of their numerous families; I merely wish to say that that is one of my reasons for resolving to make the sacrifice. I am the father of a young family; I shall have little to leave them, more especially if we are forced to give up our livings. But I want, at least, to leave them a good name–I wish all my children, when I am gone, to be able to say that they are the children of an honest man.

Rev. Inglis died on this day, January 19th, in , 1876, and his co-presbyter, Mr. Nixon, of Montrose, after mentioning the difficulties which Mr. Inglis had in the education of his family, in consequence of the Disruption, adds:

“It says much for the nobleness with which difficulties can be overcome, and the blessing that rests on the right rearing of children, that the parents of the children in the Free Manse of Edzell so reared theirs, that nine sons have gone out into the world, some to the most distant regions, and are not only making for themselves good outward positions, but as regards the bulk, if not the whole of them, are remembering and exemplifying the lessons taught them under the parental roof.”–Free Church Monthly Record, 1st March 1876.

Include “Leaving the Manse” engraving, as shown facing page 257 of Annals of the Disruption.

Eulogy for Dr. J. Gresham Machen

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

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

“The Rev. J. Gresham Machen, D.D., who died out in North Dakota on New Year’s Day, got, on the whole, a bad press while he lived, and even his obituaries did much less than justice to him. To newspaper reporters, as to other antinomians (those not binding themselves by any moral law), a combat between Christians over a matter of Dogma (or doctrine) is essentially a comic affair, and in consequence Dr. Machen’s heroic struggles to save Calvinism in the Republic were usually depicted in ribald, or, at all events, in somewhat skeptical terms . . . But he was actually a man of great learning and what is more, of sharp intelligence . . . He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the modernist manner would be its complete abandonment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives.

“Thus he fell out with the reformers who have been trying, in late years, to convert the Presbyterian Church into a kind of literary and social club, devoted vaguely to good works . . . His one and only purpose was to hold it resolutely to what he conceived to be the true faith. When that enterprise met with opposition he fought vigorously, and though he lost in the end and was forced out of Princeton it must be manifest that he marched off to Philadelphia with all the honors of war.

“My interest in Dr. Machen while he lived, though it was large, was not personal, for I never had the honor of meeting him . . . Though I could not yield to his reasoning I could at least admire, and did greatly admire, his remarkable clarity and cogency as an apologist, allowing him his primary assumptions.

“These assumptions were also made, at least in theory, by his opponents, and thereby he had them by the ear. Claiming to be Christians as he was, and of Calvinish persuasion, they endeavored fatuously to get rid of all the inescapable implications of their position. On the one hand they sought to retain membership in the fellowship of the faithful, but on the other hand they presumed to repeal and re-enact with amendments the body of doctrine on which the fellowship rested. In particular, they essayed to overhaul the scriptural authority which lay at the bottom of the whole matter, retaining what coincided with their private notions and rejecting whatever upset them.

“Upon this contumacy Dr. Machen fell with loud shouts of alarm. He denied absolutely that anyone had a right to revise and sophisticate Holy Writ. Either it was the Word of God or it was not the Word of God, and if it was, then it was equally authoritative in all its details, and had to be accepted or rejected as a whole. Anyone was free to reject it, but no one was free to mutilate it or to read things into it that were not there. Thus the issue with the Modernists was clearly joined, and Dr. Machen argued them quite out of court, and sent them scurrying back to their literary and sociological ‘Kaffee-klatsche’ (Coffee-and-chatter gatherings) . . .

“It is my belief, as a friendly neutral in all such high and ghostly matters, that the body of doctrine known as Modernism is completely incompatible, not only with anything rationally describable as Christianity, but also with anything deserving to pass as religion in general. Religion, if it is to retain any genuine significance, can never be reduced to a series of sweet attitudes, possible to anyone not actually in jail for felony. It is, on the contrary, a corpus of powerful and profound convictions, many of them not open to logical analysis. Its inherent improbabilities are not sources of weakness to it, but of strength. It is potent in a man in proportion as he is willing to reject all overt evidences, and accept its fundamental postulates, however improvable they may be by secular means, as massive and incontrovertible facts.

These postulates, at least in the Western world, have been challenged in recent years on many grounds, and in consequence there has been a considerable decline in religious belief. There was a time, two or three centuries ago, when the overwhelming majority of educated men were believers, but that is apparently true no longer. Indeed, it is my impression that at least two-thirds of them are now frank skeptics. But it is one thing to reject religion altogether, and quite another thing to try to save it by pumping out of it all its essential substance, leaving it in the equivocal position of a sort of pseudo-science, comparable to graphology, ‘education,’ or osteopathy.

“That, it seems to me, is what the Modernists have done, no doubt with the best intentions in the world. They have tried to get rid of all the logical difficulties of religion, and yet preserve a generally pious cast of mind. It is a vain enterprise. What they have left, once they have achieved their imprudent scavenging, is hardly more than a row of hollow platitudes, as empty of psychological force and effect as so many nursery rhymes. They may be good people, and they may even be contented and happy, but they are no more religious than Dr. Einstein. Religion is something else again — in Henrik Ibsen’s phrase, something far more deep-down-diving and mud-upbringing. Dr. Machen tried to impress that obvious fact upon his fellow adherents of the Geneva Mohammed. He failed — but he was undoubtedly right.”

Words to Live By:
Live your life as unto the Lord. Be much in prayer before the throne of grace. Stay true to the Scriptures, daily relying upon the Holy Spirit to enable you. Be much in prayer before the throne of grace. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Rom. 12:18). And then let the opinions of the world fall where they may.

First Book of Discipline Approved by the General Assembly in Scotland
by Rev. David T. Myers

They had already proven their worth to the Scottish church. The infant Church of Scotland had a Confession of Faith summing up biblical doctrine, which had been authored by the famous “Six Johns” in Scotland.  Now these same “six Johns” of Presbyterianism had been called upon to undertake a new and scarcely less important task, namely, that of drawing up a book with a complete system of ecclesiastical government. Their names, for the record, were John Winram, John Spotswood, John Willock, John Douglas, John Row, and last, but not least, John Knox. Of these six, our readers should certainly recognize the last name, but the former are hardly household names to present-day Presbyterians.

In working out the necessity to do everything decently and in order, these six men clearly did not take their example from any Kirk (church) in the world, not even from John Calvin in Switzerland, but rather from the sacred Scriptures.  Arranging their subject of church government under nine different heads, they divided these among the six men, who studied them individually and then jointly as a solemn committee.  Much time in reading and meditation was done by them. Earnest prayers were offered up for Divine direction.  Finally their work was completed on May 20, 1560 and then approved by the General Assembly of Scotland on January 17, 1561.

While the whole First Book of Discipline can be found on line here, we can sum up some of its parts for your information.  The permanent office bearers of the visible church were of four kinds: the minister or pastor, to whom the ministry of the Word and Gospel were given, along with the administration of the Sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper; the Teacher, whose province included the interpretation of Scripture in churches and schools; the ruling elder who assisted the minister in governing the church, and last; the deacon, who had special charge of the monies of the church in assistance to the poor.

Now anyone who knows anything about the officers of your Presbyterian church will see in this establishment of officers a portrait of your church government. You might not think that church government is especially spiritual in name, but the pastors, teachers, ruling elders, and deacons beg to differ with you. To them, it was and is both biblical and practice in governing the visible church so that it can be a witness to the world at large.

In these beginning days of the Kirk in Scotland, two temporary office bearers were raised up in the position of Superintendents and Exhorters/Readers. They were what we would call “lay-preachers” who went through all the nation, reading, proclaiming, and planting churches. Regular meetings were held weekly, monthly, and yearly, depending on whether it was the local, regional, or national church.

The important matter of church discipline was included to purify the church and reclaim the repentant back to the fold.  In fact, there is a key phrase in this document which says that the Church was to “correct the faults which either the civil sword does neglect or may not punish.” They recognized that there may be times when the civil government is corrupt at the local, state, or national levels, but this does not excuse the church from exercising their God-given authority to suppress vice and immorality in the members which compose the local churches.

Words to Live By: Reader, pray much for the spiritual leaders in your local, regional, and national churches. If they are Reformed and Presbyterian in conviction and conduct, they often deal with hard matters of faith and conduct among the congregations under their spiritual care. Hold them up in prayer and encouragement. Submit to their biblical oversight, for one day they must make a report about you to the Chief Shepherd (Hebrews 13:17). They wish to do this in joy, not in grief. Be faithful to your covenant promises to support the church to the best of your ability. May your continual prayer be to revive Christ’s church and . . . begin that revival in you.

Located 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. Returning to the United States, he died almost a decade later, 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 is yet 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 as we read reports of the situation there now.

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]

COMPROMISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE

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

[An address delivered at the Ninth Annual Convention of the League of Evangelical Students, meeting 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.

          Let us say that you are bathing in the surf at Atlantic City. Imagine President Roosevelt in bathing near you. I do not suppose that he swims in public places, but let us assume for the sake of argument that he is there. He gets caught in the undertow and is being carried away. You notice his perilous plight, run for a life-saver and throw it out to him, all the while, of course, holding the attached rope in your hands, Now what do you say to Mr. Roosevelt? Do you address him thus: “My dear Mr. President, I observe that you find yourself in a sorry plight indeed; you are in imminent peril of finding a watery grave. Now your lowly servant has determined to put forth a concerted effort to prevent so great a calamity. May he not humbly beseech your honor to condescend to lay hold on the circular object which he is casting in your direction, in order that he may have the unusual honor of rescuing your esteemed person”? Or will you simply shout at him: “Hey there, grab that life-saver”? Of course you will do the latter. And I assure you that the President will not resent your language.

            Listen! If the President of the greatest republic on the face of the globe will not think of objecting if you, an ordinary citizen, issue orders to him in an effort to save him from drowning, would it not be the height of folly, folly beyond compare, if you and I, puny human beings that we are, should refuse to recognize the authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords, with whom all the nations of earth are as a drop of a bucket or the small dust of the balance, yea less than nothing and vanity, when he commands us what we are to do in order that we may be saved from everlasting perdition?

But, as I have said, very few men, if any, who would be known as Christians deny the authority of the Bible outright today. Many there are, however, who compromise it. Compromise looks so much less wicked and also less perilous than denial. As a matter of fact it is fraught with even greater danger.

            There are at least two ways of destroying a house. One method is to carry several sticks of dynamite into the basement and to blow up the whole thing in a moment. That is a quick and effective way. Another way is to break the house down, one brick or one board at a time, or if one should begin at the roof, for a long time just one shingle a day. This is a far slower method, but in the end it proves equally effective. And it undeniably has one great advantage over the other method. It is much less shocking to the sensibilities of the occupants of the house, and for that reason one has a much better chance of getting away with it. If I should catch a man carrying dynamite into my home, I should lose no lime calling the police. If I should see a man breaking an occasional shingle from the roof, I should wonder and I might object, but I should hardly think it worth while to fly into a frenzy.

            The great deceiver is clever. He does not try to smash the Bible at one blow with an axe; he prefers to cut it up little by little with a penknife. This is so much less shocking to those who love the book, and therefore the danger of interference is so much smaller and the likelihood of success so much greater. I shall call attention to several ways in which men, evidently under the influence of the deceiver, are compromising the authority of the Bible.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

            I. Men compromise the authority of the Bible by setting up another authority alongside it; in other words, by denying the sole authority of the Bible.

            The Roman Catholic Church has been doing this for centuries already. It speaks of two infallibles: the Bible and the Church. It claims to have not only an infallible Bible, but also an infallible interpretation of the Bible by the Church.

Now if Rome went no farther than to assert that it has an infallible interpretation of the Bible, we Protestants would surely have to differ because we know of no ground for this belief, but a few of us might regard this view somewhat sympathetically. Who of us in moments of indolence has not wished for an infallible interpretation of Scripture? How much arduous exegetical labor would be spared us students and ministers if we had within easy reach an infallible interpretation of God’s Word! Again, how much theological strife this would obviate!   And debating is hard work.

            However, Rome does not stop at this claim. It proceeds to add to the Bible many traditions. Even thus the worst has not been said. Several of these traditions contradict the teaching of Scripture. Belief in the immaculate conception of Mary, for instance, can hardly be reconciled with the biblical doctrine of the universality of sin. And the invention of purgatory simply does not square with the scriptural teaching that the soul on departing from the body goes at once to its eternal destination.   So tradition is actually placed above the Bible. The mystics of the Christian Church, too, have set up another authority alongside the Bible. In their case it is not the Church, but what is designated by that fine-sounding phrase, the Christian consciousness.

            Nor have the mystics been satisfied to place the Christian consciousness on a par with the Bible. Fact is that many of them have exalted it above the inscripturated Word. They think more of the inner light than of objective revelation.

            The mystic is a good deal like a man receiving a telegram, glancing at it, and casting it aside with the remark, “I have a radio set of my own.” It does not seem to occur to him that the telegram may contain a message which does not come over the radio at all.   As a matter of fact, does not the Bible tell us many things of which the Christian consciousness apart from the Bible knows nothing? What knowledge has the Christian consciousness by itself of the origin of the universe and the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection? Precisely none, of course. For our knowledge of those and the other historical events which constitute the very foundation of Christianity we arc dependent altogether on the Bible. In the case of both the Roman Catholic and the mystic it is extremely interesting to compare their conclusion with their premise. Both start out by placing; another authority alongside the Bible. Both end up by exalting the other authority above the Bible.

            The explanation is obvious.

            It lies, on the one hand, in the irresistible force of sound logic. Is it not self-evident that one cannot possibly honor two authorities as supreme? The expression two supreme* is a contradiction in terms. Every attempt to set up two ultimate authorities is bound to fail. It must of necessity result either in the deposition of both or in the deposition of one by its subjection to the other. You will recall that the ancient Greeks and Romans in their mythologies ascribed limitations and imperfections to the gods. Give them credit for their logic. This peculiar theology was the inevitable consequence of their polytheism. By all the rules of logic there can be but one absolute, but one infinite, but one supreme.

            So the force of logic accounts for it that the Roman Catholic and the mystic have found it impossible to maintain two supreme authorities. It must be added that the corrupt nature of man will go a long way toward accounting for the fact that, when they had to subject one to the other, both made the wrong choice. Instead of subjecting the Church and the Christian consciousness to the Bible they did the opposite.

            Will you pardon a rather trite illustration and a story?

            The Word of God teaches clearly and emphatically that the husband is the head of his wife. But nowadays there is a strong tendency to place the two on a par. Brides are no longer as willing as they used to be to promise obedience to bridegrooms. It is often said that the mother has as much right to be the head of the family as has the father. Let me assure you that when you hear married couples speak in this vein there is something wrong. If each is the head of the family, neither is. or, what is much more likely, the wrong one is.

            A couple were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. They were known as an exceptionally happy couple. It was reported that they had never once had words in a quarter century of wedded life. One of the guests made bold to inquire of the male celebrant as to the secret of such unwonted peace. Came the reply: “It is very simple. When we entered upon wedlock we agreed that in all important matters that might arise in our married life I was to have my way, and in all minor matters my better half was to have her way. Now it so happens that in the course of the past twenty-five years not one important matter has come up.’’

            To place another authority alongside the Bible constitutes a denial of the Bible’s supreme authority and is pretty sure to issue in the subjection of the Bible to this other authority.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

            II. Men compromise the authority of the Bible by ascribing authority to certain parts of it only; in other words, by denying the inclusive authority of the Bible.

            It obviously makes a world of difference whether one grants that the Word of God is in the Bible or holds that the Bible is the Word of God.   A man has a piece of metallic substance in his hand- Whether it has gold in it or is gold may make a difference of several hundreds of dollars. In the former case as little as one percentage of it may be gold, in the latter it is a gold nugget. So to say that the Word of God is in the Bible may mean next to nothing. It goes without saying that due allowance must be made for textual criticism. But if, this done, it be maintained that not everything in the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, the question arises what is?

            There are those who insist that only the New Testament, not the Old, is the Word of God. They find not a fuller revelation of the one true God in the New Testament, but a God who differs radically from the Jehovah of the Old. But the absurdity of this view is self-evident. As Bishop Wordsworth has pointed out in his valuable work on the Canon, the New Testament canonizes the Old. Does not the New Testament say, for instance, with reference to the Old that “the Scripture cannot be broken”?

            Others tell us that only the words of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament constitute the Word of God. This view quite ignores the promise given by Christ to the disciples that the Holy Spirit would load them into the truth. It also suggests the question—call it naive if you will—how we may know that the words of the Lord Jesus are correctly recorded in the gospel according to John, let us say, if John did not write infallibly. If only Jesus was infallible, do we have his words? Surely, if we are not sure of having Jesus’ infallible words, their infallibility boots us little.

            May I remark here that personally I do not like the idea of certain publishers of the Bible to print the Savior’s words in red. This device is apt to leave a wrong impression with the reader. There is danger, t take it, that he will regard Jesus’ words as the Word of God in a fuller and more real sense than the words of the apostles and prophets, which is not the case if the whole Bible is the Word of God.

            Not long ago a modernist preacher told me in conversation that to his mind the teaching of Jesus was just about right. His only objection was that Jesus took bell a little too seriously. Apart from that minor criticism he was prepared to put the stamp of his approval on the words of the great teacher.

            Was it not the liberal Harnack who after much study came to the conclusion that the part of Jesus’ teaching which is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount constitutes the Word of God?

            Not even Karl Barth, the stalwart German opponent of liberal theology, will grant unqualifiedly that the Bible is the Word of God. He teaches in effect that it is the source of the Word of God and that it actually is the Word of God for me only when God speaks to my heart through it.

            Modernist and mediating ministers like to say nowadays that the Bible comes to us with supreme authority in spiritual matters only, and that its references to history and science may be, and in certain cases likely are, quite faulty. That position is taken, for instance, by the well known Pearl Buck, until recently a missionary of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. She is said to have made the hold declaration that, even if it should be proved that Jesus never existed as a historical character, this would have little, if any, bearing on the continuance of Christianity, since the spirit of Christ would go marching on just the same. Has it occurred to you how flatly she contradicted the chief of the apostles? Wrote Paul in First Corinthians fifteen: “If Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain; your faith also is vain; ye are yet in your sins; they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” Evidently it was Paul’s firm conviction that Christianity is a religion of fact, that the structure of Christianity rests upon historical events, and if this foundation were destroyed, that the whole edifice would topple into ruins like a house of cards. If Paul was right—and we Christians are convinced that he was—then to deny the authority of the Bible in matters of history is to deny its authority altogether.

            That brings us to our last remark under this head. I have already indicated that to compromise the authority of the Bible by setting up another authority alongside it leads to the denial of biblical authority. Now I must add that to compromise the authority of the Bible by ascribing authority to certain portions of it only, leads inevitably to the same conclusion.

            How obvious! If it be assumed that not everything in the Bible is the Word of God, who is going to decide which parts of the Bible are the Word of God and which are not? But one answer is possible. Man will have to do the choosing. Every individual, I suppose, will have to decide for himself. But thus man is elevated to the position of arbiter. He now stands in judgment over the Bible. And that is another way of saying that the Bible is no longer his authoritative judge.

            There is a good story of an army in flight, with the enemy in hot pursuit. The foe never ceased firing, and one man after another in the defeated army was shot down. Finally, however, a safe retreat was reached. Only, when the fleeing army arrived at this retreat not a single soldier remained. Much the same thing will happen to the Bible of him who permits the enemies of God to deprive him of one page today on the ground that it is not God’s Word and of another tomorrow on the same ground. When, after a while, he thinks that finally he has come down to the very Word of God in the Bible, he will make the disconcerting discovery that his Bible consists of nothing but two covers and a back.

            To say that not the whole Bible is the Word of God is to deny that the Bible is God’s Word.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

            III. Men compromise the authority of the Bible by modifying the nature of its authority; in other words, by denying its sovereign authority.

            The orthodox Christian asserts that the Bible is the very Word of the living God and therefore comes to men with divine, sovereign, authority. But many there are today who assure us that the Bible has the authority of an expert only. The ancient Greeks were expert in art and literature. The old Romans were expert in war and law. So, we are told, the Hebrews were expert in religion.

For some reason or other, perhaps because of their exceptional mental acumen, the Hebrews, it is said, had a remarkably deep insight into the things of the spirit and an amazingly advanced conception of the supreme being. For example, it dawned on them sooner than on any other people that God is one. Monotheism is their great contribution to the progress of the human race. Some of the most religious of these religious Hebrews recorded their thoughts and experiences in writing.   These writings were collected in the book known as the Old Testament. It was Schleiermacher who said that the New Testament is the record of the religious experiences of the early Christians, and he added that the experiences of one of them did not necessarily harmonize with those of another.

            With reference to the Bible there is no more basic question confronting us than this one: Is it the record of man’s groping for God and, as many like to say, of man’s discovery of God; or is it the record of God’s revelation of himself to man ? In the former case it is the word of man to man about God; in the latter case it is the Word of God about himself to man. If the latter is true, the Bible comes with sovereign authority; if the former is true, it has at best the authority of an expert.

            The essential difference between Christianity and other religions can pointedly be stated thus: In all other religions man is feeling after God; in Christianity alone God comes to man, speaks to man, tells man who he, God, is.

            Every once in a while one reads the statement that the Bible is not a book but a library. How misleading! A library is a collection of books by different authors, as a rule. A book is most often the work of one author. The Bible has many human authors, to be sure; but it has only one primary author, God the Holy Spirit. The Bible is emphatically a book. It is the only book in all the world with perfect unity.

            Let us seek to discover to what conclusion the tenet leads that the Bible has the authority of an expert only.

            We shall assume that I am involved in serious problems of a financial or economic nature. As I am planning my trip from Philadelphia to Boston, where I am to attend this convention of the League of Evangelical Students, it occurs to me that the train will take me through Hartford, Connecticut, the city of that great authority on economics, Irving Fisher. I decide to stop over for an hour of consultation with him about my difficulties. Well and good. The prospect of receiving expert advice eases my mind.  I am feeling fine.

            Having purchased a magazine at the station, I board my train. I nestle down in my seat and begin to read. My attention is drawn to an article on that perennial subject, the depression. Something is said about the fact that few of our leading economists saw the collapse approaching. A statement is made to the effect that even Irving Fisher of Yale a comparatively short time before the crash of 1929 predicted continued prosperity. I am shocked. My worries return. So not even the opinions of Irving Fisher, the famous expert, are fool-proof. What reason have I to suppose that his advice to me will prove sound? One thing is certain, it will not be infallible.

            If the Bible has the authority of an expert only, it is not infallible. It may well err on many points.   Its authority is far from ultimate.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

            We have considered three ways in which men compromise the authority of the Bible, and in each instance we have seen that compromise is in principle denial. The question is not whether we shall perhaps after a little have to be satisfied with half a Bible, but whether we shall have any Bible at all. The question is not whether we may possibly have to sacrifice part of our patrimony, but whether we shall be reduced to direst poverty. The question is not whether we may have to lose our baggage in a storm at sea, hut whether we shall have to go down, passengers and crew, into a watery grave. The question is not whether our sun may suffer a partial eclipse, but whether we shall be plunged into Stygian darkness forever.

            Compromise is denial.

            Therefore we must choose.

            Which will we do: honor the Bible unqualifiedly as the Word of God or reject it?

Which will we have: Christianity or paganism?

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 47. —What is forbidden in the first commandment?

A. — The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying, the true God, as God, and our God; and the giving the worship and glory to any other, which is due to Him alone.

Scripture References: Ps. 14:1; Rom. 1:20-21; Ps. 81:11; Rom. 1:25.

Questions:

1. What are the two sins forbidden in the first commandment?

The two sins forbidden are atheism and idolatry.

2. What is atheism?

In its strictest definition, atheism means the denial of the existence of any god of any kind. Paul uses it in Ephesians 2:12 to refer to people who are without God before their conversion.

3. Is there such a person as a true atheist?

It is difficult to come to a conclusion regarding this. It would seem difficult to believe that such exists as one wonders how any man could consistently and persistently throughout his life never have the least fear of God or doubt that there is no God.

4. Is it possible for a Christian to practice atheism?

It is not possible for a Christian to practice atheism in its strictest definition but there is a practical type that a Christian is guilty of practical atheism when he slights or neglects God, even when he knows God through Christ.

5. What is idolatry?

Idolatry in its strictest sense is the religious worship of idols. that is images or pictures. In its wider sense, it is all religious worship other than that offered to the true God.

6. How many ways can a person be guilty of idolatry?

A person can be guilty of idolatry by (1) Having and worshipping other gods beside the one true God in an outward way such as when he worships heathen gods, or angels or saints, or when he seeks to worship God through visible representations. (2) Giving honor and respect to anything in the world that is only due God in an inward way. This would be heart idolatry and would be in opposition to Matt. 16:24-“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.”

DENY HIMSELF AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS

Whenever we consider the first commandment as born again Christians we should immediately recognize the connection between keeping the first commandment and the teaching of our Lord in Matt. 16:24-“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” There is an important connection between the commandment and this command of our Lord. It is important for us to have before us at all times the New Testament teaching of the cross of Christ for the Christian. It is strange and hard to understand how we can stand in our churches and sing:

“Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.”

and not understand that we are singing it as Christians and that it has a message for us. When Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ” he was not simply stating a cliche that would win popularity among the Christians. He was stating a very vital principle, one that will keep us from breaking the first commandment and enable us to live a life of victory. He was trying to tell us in that passage, and many other passages likened to it, that there is a doctrine of the Christian’s identification with the Cross of Christ. The sixth chapter of Romans is filled with this doctrine and yet we seem to bypass it time and time again. Some bypass it because they don’t want to be labeled as those involved with the “deeper life” movement. Some bypass it because they have never noticed it. More bypass it because they know it will interfere with what they want to do, when. they want to do it!

Barnhouse put it so well, “We have seen that God looks upon us as having died with Christ, and this fact makes possible the triumph of the Christian life.” Again, “The real crucifixion of our old man can be done to us only by the Lord Himself, and He will do it if we submit to Him.” The matter of denying ourselves and taking up our cross (submitting to Him in all areas of our life) is an important aspect of claiming the Victory already won for us on the Cross of Calvary. However, many of God’s children never realize the victory was won nor how to claim it nor that they can claim it. And then they fall prey to breaking the first commandment by putting self on the throne and giving to other things the esteem and affection that God alone ought to possess. (Luke 14:26). May God help us, all to His glory, to be willing to be crucified with Christ, that self may be dethroned in our lives moment by moment.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 45 (September 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

Resolute in the Face of Obstacle and Opposition.

cornish_samuelThe nation’s first Presbyterian church, organized specifically for African Americans, was located in Philadelphia and it was organized in 1807. But it was on this day, January 13th, in 1822, that what was sometimes labled the First Colored Presbyterian Church of New York City, or officially the New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church, was organized, with an initial congregation of twenty four members. The Rev. Samuel E. Cornish served as the organizing pastor, though despite his earnest efforts, the congregation’s early years were fraught with setbacks. First they lost their building, that had been built at a cost of $14,000, and then they lost their pastor in 1828, due to his declining health.

Samuel Eli Cornish [1795-1858], (pictured above), labored as a Presbyterian pastor, was an ardent opponent of slavery, and in 1827 became one of the two editors of Freedom’s Journal, the nation’s first newspaper owned and operated by African Americans. He also served as a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society (established in 1833), and held important positions within the American Bible Society and the American Missionary Association.

wrightTS_1797-1847The next man called by the congregation in 1829 was the Rev. Theodore S. Wright (pictured at right), trained in part at Princeton Seminary and licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Albany. Under his leadership the congregation was able to obtain the former German Lutheran church at Frankfort and William Streets and from that time forward, until Rev. Wright’s death in 1847, the congregation prospered.

Together with Samuel Cornish, Rev. Wright was in 1833 one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and served on its executive committee until 1840. Leaving that post, he next worked with fellow abolitionists to begin the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, and also served to chair the New York Vigilance Committee which worked to prevent the kidnapping of free blacks who were then being sold into slavery. In conjunction with these efforts, he opened his home as a station on the Underground Railroad.

Of the Rev. Wright, one of his closest friends said of him,

“This devout man of God, ever in the service of his Divine Master, the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of humble yet unyielding faith, full of the Holy Ghost, both as a preacher and a doer of the word, always interested, in season and out of season, in the religious state of his friends and parishioners, whose kindly voice would break in upon, no matter what discussion, with the inquiry, ‘Brother, do you enjoy religion?’ ‘Do you love Jesus Christ?’ An abolitionist of the purest water and most devoted zeal, this worthy minister cherished a warm interest in the necessity for educating to the fullest extent capable colored youth as a means of elevating his people.”

Words To Live By:
Time does not permit us here to tell at length their full stories, and I hope you will search out the matter further and read more about Rev. Cornish and Rev. Wright. There is much that we can learn from their ministries, and I don’t pretend that we have done them justice with the above brief account, other than to make you aware of them.
Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there a more important question? It is only when we are drawn to Christ and find forgiveness of our own sin that we can then offer hope and resolution to a sin-sick world. But lest those words become glib, remember that the Christian life is a sacrificial life, meant to be expended on behalf of others as we point a dying world to the only true Savior. The cost is real, but so is the Life.

“There are periods in the history of man, when corruption and depravity have so long debased the human character, that man sinks under the weight of the oppressor’s hand—becomes his servile, his abject slave; he licks the hand that smites him; he bows in passive obedience to the mandates of the despot; and, in this state of servility, he receives his fetters of perpetual bondage.”

Located while browsing through an old 19th century newspaper (one of the perks of my job!)

PROSECUTION FOR PREACHING.

Patrick Henry vs. Intolerance.

Soon after Patrick Henry’s noted case of “Tobacco and the Preserves” as it was called, he heard of a case of oppression for conscience sake. The English church having been established by law in Virginia became as all such establishments are wont to do, exceedingly intolerant toward other sects. In prosecution of this system of conversion, three Baptist clergymen had been indicted at Fredericksburg for preaching the gospel of the Son of God contrary to the statute. Henry, hearing of this, rode some fifty miles to volunteer his services in defense of the oppressed. He entered the court, being unknown to all present save the bench and the bar, while the indictment was being read by the clerk. He sat within the bar, until the reading was finished, and the king’s attorney had concluded some remarks in defense of the prosecution, when he arose, reached out his hand for the paper, and without more ceremony, proceeded with the following speech:

“May it please your worship, I think I heard by the prosecutor, as I entered this house, the paper I now hold in my hand. If I have rightly understood, the king’s attorney of the colony has framed an indictment for the purpose of arraigning and punishing by imprisonment, three inoffensive persons before the bar of this court, for  a crime of great magnitude—as disturbers of the peace. May it please the court, what did I hear read? Did I hear it distinctly, or was it a mistake of my own?–Did I hear an expression, as if a crime, that these men, whom your worships are about to try for misdemeanor, are charged with—what?” and, continuing in a low, solemn, heavy tone, “preaching the gospel of the Son of God?” Pausing amidst the most profound silence and breathless astonishment, he slowly waved the paper three times around his head, when, lifting his hands and eyes to heaven, with peculiar and impressive energy, he exclaimed, “Great God!” The exclamation—the burst of feeling from the audience—were all over-powering. Mr. Henry resumed :

“May it please your worships: in a day like this—when truth is about to be aroused to claim its natural and inalienable rights—when the yoke of oppression, that has reached the wilderness of America, and the unnatural alliance of ecclesiastical and civil power, are about to be dissevered—at such a period, when liberty—liberty of conscience—is about to wake from her slumberings, and inquire into the reason of such charges as I find exhibited here to-day in this indictment!” Another fearful pause, while the speaker alternately cast his sharp, piercing eyes on the court and the prisoners, and resumed : “If I am not deceived, according to the contents of the paper I now hold in my hand, these men are accused of preaching the gospel of the Son of God! Great God!” Another long pause, while he again waved the indictment around his head—while a deeper impression was made on the auditory. Resuming his speech:

“May it please your worships:  There are periods in the history of man, when corruption and depravity have so long debased the human character, that man sinks under the weight of the oppressor’s hand—becomes his servile, his abject slave; he licks the hand that smites him; he bows in passive obedience to the mandates of the despot; and, in this state of servility, he receives his fetters of perpetual bondage.  But, may it please your worships, such a day has passed away! From that period, when our fathers left the land of their nativity for settlement in these American wilds—for liberty of conscience to worship their Creator according to their own conceptions of Heaven’s revealed will—from the moment they placed their feet upon the American continent, and, in the deeply imbedded forest, sought an asylum from persecution and tyranny,—from that moment, despotism was crushed—the fetters of darkness were broken, and Heaven decreed that men should be free—free to worship God according to the Bible. Were it not for this, in vain were all the sufferings and bloodshed to subjugate this New World, if we, their offspring, must still be oppressed and persecuted.

But, may it please your worships, permit me to inquire once more, for what are these men about to be tried? This paper says for preaching the gospel of the Saviour to Adam’s fallen race.” And in tones of thunder, he exclaimed, “What law have they violated?” While the third time, in a low, dignified manner, he lifted his eyes to heaven, and waved the indictment around his head. The court and audience were now wrought up to the most intense pitch of excitement. The face of the prosecuting attorney was palid and ghastly, and he appeared unconscious that his whole frame was agitated with alarm; while the judge, in a tremulous voice, put an end to the scene, now becoming excessively painful, by the authoritative declaration, “Sheriff, discharge those men.”

[excerpted from The Christian Observer, XXIX, No. 2 (12 January 1850): 1, columns 2-3.; emphasis added]

 

A Long Ministry to the Glory of God, and Now a Centenarian!
by TE Bob Woodson and Wayne Sparkman

Harry G. Marshall is 100 years old today! He was born in Ilion, New York on January 11, 1918 to parents Floyd and Ruth (Goodale) Marshall. In 1937, at the age of 19, Harry first met Florence Weir when he began attending Columbia Bible College. Before Harry could finish his studies, the US Army drafted him in March, 1941.

Perhaps facing what might be ahead of him in war-time, Harry decided he could stand “the single estate” no longer, called Florence on the phone, asked the appropriate questions and got the desired “I do.” They were married April 26, 1942 just prior to Harry’s service as an assistant to a Division chaplain with the Fourth Infantry. That Division landed in France on D-Day, and saw some 20,000 casualties in almost continuous fighting up until V-E Day.

As an assistant to the Division Chaplain, he had numerous opportunities to witness for Christ. In later years, Harry liked to kid Florence during mission meetings. He would relate how the young and pretty French women welcomed him and all the G.I.s in the liberation of Paris, France, with kisses and bear-hugs. Florence would respond, “You never tire of telling that story, do you?,” and all their co-workers would laugh.

At war’s end, Harry returned to school at Columbia Bible College, graduating there with the B.A. degree in 1947 and the M.A. degree in 1948. He next prepared for the ministry at Faith Theological Seminary, earning the M.Div. degree in 1951.

He was ordained on May 25, 1952 and immediately entered the foreign mission field, working in Peru, initially under the auspices of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Later the Marshalls served with World Presbyterian Missions and finally with the PCA’s Mission to the World.

Harry and Florence served in Peru from 1953 to 1988. They had five children: Ruth, Lois, Colin, Verne and Nathan. Ruth later married Gerardo Gutierrez and they served under MTW in Chile and other areas of Latin America. Ruth passed away early in 2012. The Marshall’s son Verne is also serving with MTW, in Chile, and one of his daughters is also on the mission field in Latin America.

Harry was famous as a traveling evangelist in the mountains of Huanta and the jungle along the Apurimac River.

He was best known as an itinerant evangelist, often walking miles and miles and hours and hours to isolated villages. Yet he did much more than to share the Good News. He taught the believers to grow and helped them to organize into small groups which later became churches. He also taught in the summer camps and month-long Bible Institutes. He had the knack of keeping his teaching clear, direct, and true to the Scriptures, not weighed down with fancy terms and strange-sounding language.


During the meetings that they held, Florence played the pump organ and also taught the ladies and children how to sing the Quechua hymns and Spanish choruses. In addition, she used flannel graph materials to maintain the interest of her pupils and to drive home the lessons. Ladies were always welcomed to her home and she gave good answers to their many questions about life’s problems. She combined her many literacy lessons with how to cook simple and inexpensive meals.

In the years of their ministry in Peru, Harry led many to Christ and built them up in the faith. He was famous too for his jokes and taught as much at meal times as in formal teaching from the pulpit. In the courses offered at the Bible Institute, he taught sessions of one weekend, or one week or even as long as four weeks. He was beloved by the brethren. His co-worker, Bob Woodson says that he looked up to him for guidance and travelled some with him. Harry learned quite a bit of Quechua, but could not preach in it. He had a bookstore in his house to sell Bibles, hymnbooks, etc. and always sold some during his many trips.

Harry was honorably retired in 1985, and in the years after returning to the States, he served for a time as stated supply for the Manor Reformed Presbyterian Church, New Castle, Delaware. In 2012, Harry suffered not only the death of his daughter Ruth, in February, but Florence also passed away, in September of that year. He now resides in Wilmington, Delaware.

We praise God for those many years of ministry, and we thank the Lord for the blessing of this long life.

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