Mass Evangelism Crusades of an Astonishing Type
by Rev. David T. Myers

Some years ago we considered the life and pastoral ministry of J. Wilbur Chapman, who was ordained on April 13, 1881 (here).  Following his pastorate in five churches, two of which were Presbyterian, we look now at his appointment by the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the position of General Secretary of Evangelism on December 12, 1902.  Immediately upon his appointment, he was placed as an overseer of 51 evangelists in 470 cities across the nation. But as important as this post was, it was the mass evangelism techniques that he authored that became astonishing instruments which drew thousands to hear the Gospel, and we can only pray these occasions were used of the Holy Spirit to win the lost to Christ.

Chapman would go into a city like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia in Pennsylvania for a three to four-week evangelistic campaign. He would then break down the cities into zones, with evangelists and song teams over each one of the zones. Then there would be simultaneous meetings every night with those teams in the zones of the cities. Pittsburgh in 1904 was divided into nine zones. Philadelphia had forty-two sections divided into it. The conversions numbered in the thousands. At one of them in North Carolina, the Rev. David Otis Fuller was converted.

Chapman, in seeing the approaching liberalism of his own denomination, set the bar high with respect to belief in the Bible. He let go any of his evangelists who did not believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

The Presbyterian evangelist took this technique “on the road” as he ministered to eight cities in Australia, six cities in China, Korea, and Japan. By 1910, the evangelistic technique began to lose favor with the masses, and it was laid aside.

J. Wilbur Chapman became the moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1918. He died in that same year, but we remember him by his great hymn of “One Day” and “Jesus, What a Friend For Sinners” today in our churches.

Words to live by:  In the early days of our twentieth century, it appears there was much spiritual fruit from the evangelistic efforts of J. Wilbur Chapman. It is a shame that we have forgotten his name and his efforts to bring souls to Christ. We need evangelists today who will reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ to lost men and women everywhere in our cities. Who will join me in praying that God will send a great revival of our church members in Presbyterian churches across this land? Who will join with me that God’s Spirit will bring another great spiritual awakening of the lost, driving them to embrace Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel?

A Sermon Preached on a National Observance
by Rev. David T. Myers

The Congress of the nation had appointed this day in 1783 as a Day of Thanksgiving, because Peace has been restored, Independence had been established, with rights and Privileges Enjoyed. One of the ministers who took the opportunity to preach a sermon was George Duffield, the pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.

Pastor Duffield was quite a minister. Graduating from the College of New Jersey, later Princeton, Rev. Duffield began his ministry in Big Spring, Carlisle, and Monaghan, Pennsylvania. During those years, he had cause to lead his members against the local Indian tribes who were causing disturbance among his members and their families. Moving his ministry to Philadelphia and the Third Presbyterian congregation of that denomination, his pastorate there began in great controversy. A decided member of New Light Presbyterians, discussed elsewhere on these posts, a portion of the congregation locked the doors on his first Sunday. He crawled in through a window and held worship anyhow. When a British magistrate appeared and ordered the congregation dispersal, the magistrate was physically ejected for disturbing worship. Rev Duffield and some of his supporters were then jailed for causing a riot! Talk about a first day in the pulpit!

When the American Revolution began, Duffield joined the fight for independence both in word and deed. He was a chaplain of the Congress. He was also marked by the British with a price put on him. So it must have been a sweet worship time when on December 11, 1783, he celebrated the restoration of peace and a new country.

The sermon, which is too long to include here, is filled with the mention of the Great Author of Liberty as the One who brought about this new country named America. Consider one of his paragraphs at the close of his sermon. He said,

“Who can recollect the critical night of retreat from Long Island; the scene of retiring from New York; the day of Brandy-wine; or the endangered situation of the arms of America, on Trenton’s ever memorable night; and not be constrained to say, ‘if it had not been the Lord, who was on our side, our enemy would have swallowed us up.’ But blessed be His name, our help was found in Him, who made the heavens and the earth. It was God, who blasted the secret design of enemies and traitors against us. And by an admirable interposition, brought forth into light, the dark and deep-stained villainy of an (Benedict) Arnold, cursed and detested of God and men. And converted our repeated misfortunes and even mistakes, into singular mercies, and peculiar advantage, that, not more manifest was his voice on Sinai; or his hand, in his affairs of his Israel of old; than we have seen the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of our God; than we have seen the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of our God, displayed through the whole of our arduous contest, from its earliest period down: And may, with emphatic propriety, say, it is he the Almighty God, has accomplished the whole, in every part; and by his kind care, and omnipotent arm, has wrought out our deliverance; cast forth our enemy, bestowed upon us a wide extended, fruitful country; and blessed us with a safe and honorable peace.” (p. 15)

Words to Live By:
The Presbyterian pastor was not afraid to bestow upon the God of the Bible the singular description of the Author of Liberty. He does bring national liberty, for which we praise His name. But our gratitude is more specifically given in providing spiritual liberty from sin and Satan. Far better to possess that, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone.

Worship and War Described our Featured Presbyterian Today
by Rev. David T. Myers

Patriotism and Presbyterianism went together in the early days of our country. Mix in Scottish stock and Irish heritage, the stage was set for liberty and justice for all. And so, George Davidson, like so many others around the early to mid seventeen hundreds, left Scotland and Ulster to travel via ship to the new shores of America, and specifically Pennsylvania, around Lancaster County. In this new land, William Davidson, George’s son and the focus of this post, was born in 1746. The family, after a while, was urged to migrate to the frontier so as to provide a buffer against the French and Indian tribes. Traveling down the Great Wagon Road, they arrived in North Carolina, and set up a tavern, near this colonial “highway.” Along with others of the same faith, Centre Presbyterian Church was established for their worship. For young William Davidson, the Bible and Calvinism was his home religion.

School for the young boy likely took place by classical education located at Sagaw Creek Presbyterian Church. The pastor of that historic church was none other than Alexander Craighead, whose earlier ministry has been dealt with in these pages.

Young Willliam at age 13 lost his father in death in 1759 or 1760, to be reared by a forty year old friend John Brevard, among others. This author mentions his name, due to future references of his place in William’s life.

In his late teens, William escorted the governor of North Carolina into Cherokee country to settle a land dispute. They were successful in doing so, and William returned a veteran to his home.

On December 10, 1767, twenty-one year old William was given permission to marry Mary Brevard, daughter of John Brevard, his former guardian. Coming from French Huguenot stock, she proved to be the perfect bride for this young future American General in the Continental Army. Later. Despite his growing family, William joined the Revolutionary forces in North Carolina. He would serve there and up north, fighting in Germantown, Pennsylvania and later experiencing the hardships of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. A full list of his battles are not possible in this short post, but they were many, and his rise in rank, until he became a General.

It was at Cowan’s Ford in North Carolina that he was killed in battle on February 1, 1781. His wife was left alone to care of their six children. She remarried after a time and settled in Tennessee. William is remembered by a town and a county and a Presbyterian college, namely Davidson College which is named after this American hero.

Words to Live By:
Scripture reminds us that it is appointed for each of us to die. Certainly, it was in God’s wise and holy providence to take away this Christian Presbyterian Revolutionary officer to Himself at a young age of 35. Let us Christian Presbyterians alive now serve Him with all of our strength in whatever calling He has led us into this life, and leave the time of our departure from this earth to Him. Our God doesn’t make mistakes.

We continue to “catch up” on some of the posts by Dr. Van Horn which were missed over the last many months. Appreciative of these contributions by the late Dr. Van Horn, nonetheless in the new year we will be moving on to other material for our Sunday catechism lessons. More about that in a future post. 

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

Q. 96 What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal or carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

Scripture References: Matthew 26:26-27; Luke 22: 19-20; I Corinthians 11:26; I Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 5:25-27.

Questions: 
1. When did our Lord institute this sacrament?
A. He instituted it in the same night in which He was betrayed. (I Cor. 11:23).

2. What are the outward elements of the Lord’s supper and what do they signify?
A. The outward elements are the bread which signifies the body of Christ, and wine which signifies the blood of Christ.

3. Who should administer this sacrament?
A. Even as Christ first administered it, so should it be administered now by ministers who have been called to that holy office.

4. When Christ said, “This is my body” in the institution of this sacrament, did He mean his real body?
A. No. He did not mean for us to take His words literally any more than we take the words “That rock was Christ” literally. In addition, note that Paul states it is the bread we eat (I Cor. 11:26), not the body of Christ.

5. How do the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ?
A. There is a representation in that even as the food itself would nourish and strengthen the body so spiritually speaking we have our souls nourished and strengthened by partaking in obedience.

6. What are the three main views regarding the Lord’s supper?
A. The Roman Catholic view (transubstantiation) states that there is a change of the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ. The Lutheran view (consubstantiation) conceives of the presence of Christ in a physical sense though the elements continue to look and taste like bread and wine. The Reformed view is the spiritual presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. It is a seal and pledge of what God does for believers.

A CHILD OF THE COVENANT

The term used in our title is a neglected heritage. Today, in Presbyterian churches, one hardly hears the term. The very fact that it is not emphasized surely is indicative of the terrible charge to be laid at the feet of believing parents, that of being unfaithful to their promises to God!

In days gone by there was an emphasis on the doctrine of the covenant and especially as it referred to children of believers. The Bible teaches that God promises to believing parents His grace will be active on the part of their children. However, this grace is dependent on the parents faithfully performing their baptismal vows. The Bible teaches the child of the covenant has an inheritance to receive. What a wonderful and glorious prospect!

It is true that there is a grave danger in the misuse of this doctrine. In the past there have been those who wrongly taught that the inheritance involved was that of salvation. Such a teaching is contrary to the Word of God for one never inherits salvation. The children of the covenant simply inherit the promises of God. It is not an automatic but a conditional promise. God will keep His promises if the believing parent (or parents) will keep his (or their) promises.

The child of the covenant inherits the assurance that God’s favor is directed toward him because he is a child of a believing parent (or parents). The child of the covenant inherits the privilege of the church and is a recipient of the means of grace. The child of the covenant is a privileged child and is surely a child God desires to save.

The difficulty in this area is that so many children of the covenant are motivated by unfaithful parents to desire the privileges without fulfilling the responsibilities. The true child of the covenant is one who is brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, who comes to saving faith and who gives proof of that saving faith with fruits of the Spirit in his life.

Are you a child of the covenant? If so, may God help you to seek Him with all your heart and soul and mind!

Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Vol. 6, No. 12 (December 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, editor.

Continuing with our Saturday series by ruling elder Chalmers W. Alexander, as first published in 1949: 

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander

Jackson, Mississippi

The Influence Of The Auburn Affirmationists Today

This is the third in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation.” This is an informative new series of articles written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

The heretical Auburn Affirmation, bearing the names of almost 1,300 ordained ministers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, was published in 1924.

Since that time the Auburn Affirmation signers and their theological fellow-travelers have got hold of much of the machinery which controls the affairs of the Northern Presbyterian Church.

Now what have the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists been doing in that denomination in recent years? Have there been any recent evidences of their far-reaching influence?

You do not have to look very far to find the answer to those questions.

The “New Curriculum”

In 1948 the Northern Presbyterian Church inaugurated a new program of religious instruction to be used in the Sunday Schools of that denomination. This new educational program, known as the “New Curriculum,” is the result of the work of a committee appointed to undertake the task by that denomination’s Board of Christian Education (which has had among its members, from time to time, various signers of the Auburn Affirmation).

A clear and detailed analysis of the contents of the “New Curriculum” was given recently by one of America’s outstanding Old Testament scholars, Dr. Oswald T. Allis, Ph.D., who taught for some twenty years at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Allis, himself a member of the Northern Presbyterian Church, says, among other things:

“The New Curriculum clearly does not seek to impress on the minds of those who are to use it the fact that the Bible ‘being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages’ is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (see Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I, Sec. 8). On the contrary, the aim seems to be to convince the reader by both direct and indirect methods, that the doctrine of the plenary (verbal) inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is no longer tenable. Such is the view of the editor-in-chief, and it is apparently shared by his collaborators . . .

“If you have been using the International Uniform Lessons, continue to use them for the present and demand that they or any substitute for them, such as the New Curriculum aims to provide, be truly Bible-centered, and that the device of teaching modern Liberalism by the story-book method be definitely abandoned . . .

“It is pointed out in the prospectus to the New Curriculum that the subject for study during the entire second year will be ‘The Bible.’ This announcement would be most welcome, were it not for the fact that it at once raises the vital question. How will this great subject be presented? Will this ‘Bible’ be the Bible of Protestant Christendom, the Bible of the Presbyterian Church which, in its Confession of Faith, defines it as consisting of 66 books which make up the Canon of Holy Scripture and are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice? Or, will it be the Bible of the critics, the Bible of so-called Modern Scholarship?

“We believe that the answer to this question is given with sufficient clearness in the materials of the New Curriculum which are now available . . .The article on ‘Introduction to the Old Testament’ was supplied by Professor Rowley. The view presented is in general that of the so-called higher criticism . . .

“Such ‘straws’ as these seem to make it rather plain that there is little if any basis for the hope that the New Curriculum will gradually become conservative and advocate positions which are acceptable to the Conservatives who are expected, in loyalty to the Boards of their Church, to use it … But the indications seem clearly to be that unless a radical change is demanded and insisted upon by the Conservatives who we believe still constitute a majority in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the New Curriculum in its second year will be more decidedly and outspokenly modernistic and higher critical than in its first.”

In the May 1949 issue of Christianity Today, one of the sound church papers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, its Editor remarked: “A Presbyterian minister of our acquaintance wrote to the editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum expressing general agreement with the criticisms of it made by Dr. Allis in a ‘Critique,’ which was widely circulated throughout the Church last summer, and voicing the hope that the features objected to might be eliminated. He received a reply from which we quote the following: ‘I am sorry that I cannot promise any possibility that the curriculum will develop into closer accord with Dr. Allis’ viewpoint.’ This reply indicates how groundless is the hope of reform-from-within of the New Curriculum.”

(Dr. Allis’ detailed analysis of the “New Curriculum” first appeared in The Sunday School Times. It is now available in the form of a pamphlet entitled ‘A Critique of the New Curriculum.” It can be ordered from the Sunday School Times Publishing Co., 325 N. 13th Street, Philadelphia 5, Pa., or from The Southern Presbyterian Journal, and the cost is 15c per copy.)

The Westminster Study Edition Of The Holy Bible

In addition to their influence on the Sunday School literature which is to be taught to the children and adults in the Sunday Schools and the Bible classes of the Northern Presbyterian Church, the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists in that denomination have definitely had an influence on the new Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible.

This Westminster Study Edition, commonly called the “Presbyterian Bible,” was published in 1948 by the Westminster Press, a subsidiary of the Board of Christian Education of the Northern Presbyterian Church (which Board has had among its members, from time to time, various signers of the Auburn Affirmation).

The Editor of Christianity Today wrote in the May 1949 issue of that paper: “The full significance of this Study Edition, at least for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., will not be clear unless it is noted that one of its chief editors is Dr. James D. Smart, editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum, and that it has been announced that the subject for study in the New Curriculum during the entire second year will be ‘The Bible.’ It seems certain, therefore, that Sunday School scholars in said Church, insofar as it uses the New Curriculum, will be taught that the Bible is a faulty book that abounds in conflicting and even in flatly contradictory statements. It is equally important to note an this connection that its chief editors include three professors from Princeton Seminary, three from MoCormick Seminary, one from Louisville Seminary (Northern), and one from San Francisco Seminary—a fact that more than suggests that the view of the Bible taught in this Study Edition is being inculcated in the institutions training the great majority of the future ministers of said Church (the Northern Presbyterian Church)”.

Dr. Allis’ Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

And Dr. Allis, in commenting on the tenor of the editorial comments and explanations contained in this edition of the Holy Bible, has remarked: “. . . the viewpoint of the Westminster Study Edition is definitely ‘critical.’ It is an attempt to present in popular form and for the average reader the more or less radical conclusions of the higher critics. Those who are at all familiar with the critical theories which have been advanced with ever increasing confidence and dogmatism, first in Germany, then in England, and finally in this country, during the last half century and more, will probably find little that is new or startling in this volume. But for those who are not so well-informed, a few examples will suffice to establish this obvious fact and to indicate its vast significance for the student and teacher of the Bible.

“The critics have been insisting with ever increasing dogmatism for nearly a century, that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is composed of at least four major documents (J, E, D, P), that the earliest of these documents dates from about the time of Elijah, and that the composite work was not completed until about 400 B.C.

This view is definitely accepted by the editors, despite the fact that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to regard any part of the Pentateuch as really dependable history . . .

“According to the editors ‘it is questionable whether the story of Adam and Eve was ever intended to be simply a literal and factual account of what two people said and did at a particular time in history . . .

“In the New Testament we observe the same critical attitude on the part of the editors as in the Old. The genuineness of four of the books is more or less emphatically denied: of I and II Timothy and Titus, all of which claim to be by Paul, and of II Peter, which claims to be by Peter. The generally accepted view that James was written by the Brother of the Lord is rejected and it is regarded as possible that ‘late in the first century some unknown Jewish Christian composed this book of exhortation in the style of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament’ . . .

Dr. Allis’ Conclusion

“The aim of this examination of the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible has been to make clear to the reader the vitally important difference between the Biblical and the Critical attitudes toward the Bible, and to establish the fact that the Study Edition is definitely critical, at times even radically so. A number of examples have been given. The number might easily be increased. But the important point in estimating the value of the Study Edition is not the question as to how much of the Bible the editors believe and how much they reject, how much they take in its clear and obvious sense and how much they interpret to mean something quite different from what it definitely states.

“The most important point is that they adopt an attitude to the Bible which cannot fail to undermine or destroy its authority and trustworthiness. An intelligent reader does not need to be told very many times that he is not to believe what the Bible plainly states, in order to get the impression that, if the editors are right, there is little or nothing in the Bible that he can be absolutely sure of.

“The editors are greatly concerned because of the widely prevalent ignorance of the Bible. Do they really believe that the way to get people interested in studying the Bible is to tell them again and again that they must not believe what it says? Do they really expect intelligent people to believe that an ancient Book which must be drastically edited, expurgated, and reconstructed in order to make it acceptable to its modern critics really speaks or can speak with the authority of God? It is hard to see how they can believe this. But apparently they do . . .

“Nine of the eleven editors of the Study Edition are ministers in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (the Northern Presbyterian Church). One of the nine is editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum . . .

“The question Presbyterians everywhere must face is whether they themselves believe that by any stretch of the imagination a teaching which does not hesitate to contradict the Bible and to empty precious passages of their most precious meaning can be called loyal to the Bible and to the Standards of our beloved Church; and whether they are willing to accept and use materials which do this. The issue is clear-cut. The Board of Christian Education and the Committee on the New Curriculum are clearly determined to make the higher critical interpretation of the Bible official in our Church. Shall we permit this? Shall we not rather insist that all the materials for Bible study published by or with the authority of the Boards and Agencies of our Church be, not critical of the Bible, but strictly and wholeheartedly Biblical?”

Dr. William Childs Robinson’s Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

Dr. Allis is not the only able scholar who raises serious questions about this new Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible. Dr. William Childs Robinson, Th.D., of our Columbia Theological Seminary, whom I consider to be the greatest theologian and the ablest defender of the Faith in our entire denomination, has remarked of this Westminster Study Edition that its editors seem hesitant to call Christ God, and that these editors’ whole doctrine of the Deity of Christ is weak.

Dr. Robinson has stated further: “The Westminster Study Bible offers to give the Church ‘some share in the gains that the new knowledge and the new methods have made available.’ It is advertised to give to ‘the modern reader’ ‘the discoveries of modern research in history and archeology.’ From such statements one might infer that the editors had access to new information which had not been available or had not been used by those who have coma to conclusions other than those presented in the Westminster Bible . . .

“What we fear is that the reader may infer that the higher critical positions taken in this study Bible are also ‘the explanation of what the Church believes about the Bible,’ and that they are based on new information which was not at the disposal of the trusted Presbyterian scholars who have opposed these conclusions of higher criticism. Have the editors of the Westminster Bible information that men like Warfield of Princeton, George L. Robinson of McCormick, Henrickson of Calvin, Allis of Philadelphia, Mack of Richmond., McPheeters of Columbia and Gribble of Austin either did not have or did not use? . . .

“As a matter of fact there are some discoveries that militate against the higher critical view which have been made since these views were enunciated over a century ago. It used to be said that Moses could not have written, or stood sponsor for the writing of the Pentateuch because writing was not known in his age. The Westminster edition admits that writing was done in Moses’ day — in view of the Code of Hammurabi, it might have admitted that it was done in Abraham’s day. The Westminster Notes, however, continue to speak of oral tradition in a way that shows their authors have not fully integrated the fact of writing throughout Israel’s history into their conclusions . . .

“In the New Testament field the Westminster conclusion may also be compared with those offered by other competent scholars . . . Michaelis, Stauffer, Albright and E. K. Simpson hold and defend the view that John the Son of Zebedee wrote the Fourth Gospel. The Westminster Introduction does not. Michaelis also defends the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles and offers a chronology following a first Roman imprisonment into which they may be fitted. Bartlett in the Britannica defends them on the basis of a chronology ending with this imprisonment. Other scholars hold that Paul commissioned an amanuensis (one who is employed to write from dictation, or to copy manuscript) to draft these epistles in his name. This Westminster Bible concludes that they were likely not written by Paul.

“At least modern knowledge is not unanimous on the positions taken in the Westminster Study Bible and therefore these positions cannot be regarded as the united verdict of modern scholarship. Has the Church (the Northern Presbyterian Church) authorized the description of these views as ‘a thorough explanation of what the Church believes about the Bible’?”

The Opinion Of Time Magazine

In Time, issue of September 27, 1948, an article appeared which commented on this Westminster Study Edition of the Bible and made some comparisons between what it says and what a new Roman Catholic translation of Genesis says. Of the Roman Catholic translation Time stated: “But the new text is accompanied by very conservative Biblical criticism . . . Say the Catholic editors: ‘The Pentateuch … is substantially the work of Moses. It is a closely knit literary unit and was originally conceived as one work written for a single purpose’.”

This is the view which has always been held by the Bible-believing Conservatives.

With reference to the Westminster Study Edition, on the other hand, Time states that, though this edition sticks to the traditional King James wording, it “is far from conservative in commenting on it …. Say the Protestant editors: ‘The Pentateuch did not receive its final form until about 400 B.C. . . . The contents of Genesis preserve no hint as to the names of its authors and editors . . . Whoever the author of Genesis was, he must have had ancient sources at his disposal, for no man could have been witness to all the events described. This means that the present book is a composite work drawn from various sources.’ “

This is the view which has always been held by the Modernists and the so-called higher critics.

Not only do those now in control of the Northern Presbyterian Church intend to warp the minds of the children, and of the young people who attend Sunday School, by means of the Modernism and the destructive criticism contained in the “New Curriculum,” but they also intend to present as accepted truth to adults the destructive views of radical criticism which have been woven into the editorial comments contained in the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible.

Influence Of The Affirmationists And Other Modernists

Evidently the strong impetus given to Modernism in the Northern Presbyterian Church by the appearance of the Auburn Affirmation in 1924 has not diminished in the quarter of a century since that event.

The “New Curriculum” and the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible reveal clearly the fact that the influence of the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists in the Northern Presbyterian Church is still powerfully active in that denomination at the present time.

If the Southern Presbyterian Church unites with that denomination, Southern Presbyterians can rest assured that their children will be hand-fed in the Sunday School classes with the destructive Modernism which is found in the “New Curriculum.” And the adults who are weak in the Christian Faith will, in using the Westminster Study Edition of the Bible, find much in it that will make their faith still weaker.

What shall every Southern Presbyterian, as a Bible-believing Christian who repudiates completely the views contained in the Auburn Affirmation and who rejects completely the Modernism which it has helped promote in the Northern Presbyterian Church, say with regard to the proposed union with that heresy-tainted denomination?

Thou Shalt Say, No!

New Church Sends Communication to All Christian Churches

It was at the close of the First General Assembly of what was originally named the National Presbyterian Church (a year later, renamed the Presbyterian Church in America) that a message was sent to all churches of Jesus Christ throughout the world from this new denomination.  Adopted and then sent on December 7, 1973, the elders of this new Presbyterian Church wished everyone to know of their principles and convictions which occasioned this new Church.

Chief among them was the sole basis of the Bible being the Word of God written by inspired authors and carrying the authority of the divine Author.  They desired that all branches of the visible church would recognize their conviction that “the Bible is the very Word of God, so inspired in the whole and in all its parts, as in the original autographs, the inerrant Word of God.”  Further, it is the only infallible and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.”  (Message to all Churches, p. 1)

They also declared that they believed the system of doctrine found in God’s Word to be the system known as the Reformed Faith, as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. They wanted everyone to know that this Reformed Faith is an authentic and valid expression of Biblical Christianity.

A third conviction was expressed to renew and reaffirm their understanding of the nature and mission of the Church. To them, Christ is King and the only Law-giver, having established the Church as a spiritual reality.  It is composed of all the elect from all ages, manifested visibly upon the earth.

The chief end of man’s existence—our very reason for living—is to glorify God. That truth, reflected in the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism aim, also implies that we give top priority to the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ which speaks to going into all the world, preaching the gospel, and disciplining all nations, bringing them into the church.

Last, they sought a return to the historic Presbyterian view of Church government from the Session of the local church to the Assembly of all the local church representatives.

With a closing invitation to ecclesiastical fellowship with all who maintain their principles of faith and order, the address came to a close.

Words to live by:  Even though the name was changed from National Presbyterian Church to Presbyterian Church in America in the next year after the publication of this Address, the principles and convictions have remained the same in this now forty year old church.  If you are not in a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching Presbyterian and Reformed church, prayerfully consider the testimony and witness of the Presbyterian Church in America.

To read the entire “Message to All Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the World,” click here.

The first General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church, as it was initially named, took place in Birmingham, Alabama, December 4-7, 1973. On their third day of business, the Assembly adopted the Book of Church Order as part of its constitution, adopted by-laws of incorporation, and set up a committee to deliberate on charismatic gifts. In their evening service of worship that day, the Rev. Don Patterson brought a message entitled At the Crossroads. Then, concluding the day’s business, the Assembly adopted a number of recommendations which established the denomination’s board of foreign missions, and finally, adopted a public declaration, to be issued on the final day of the Assembly. This public statement, “A Message to All Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the World, from the General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church,” was a declaration of the character and intent of the new denomination:

A MESSAGE TO ALL CHURCHES OF JESUS CHRIST THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, FROM THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE NATIONAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Greeting:  Grace, Mercy and Peace be multiplied upon you!

As the National Presbyterian Church takes her place among the family of Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, we take this opportunity to address all Churches by way of a testimony.We gather as a true branch of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We affirm our allegiance to Him as the sole Head of the Church and the sole Law-giver in Zion. We remember that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against His Church.

The constituency of this new denomination for the most part have separated themselves from the Presbyterian Church in the United 
States. The decision to separate has come only after long years of struggle and heartache on the part of many of us to return the Church to purity of faith and practice. Principle and conviction entered into that decision, reached only after much soul searching and earnest prayer. We have reluctantly accepted the necessity of separation, deeming loyalty to Christ to take precedence over relationship to any earthly institution, even to a visible branch of the Church of Christ.

In much prayer and with great sorrow and mourning we have concluded that to practice the principle of purity in the Church visible,
 we must pay the price of separation. We desire to elaborate upon those principles and convictions that have brought us to that decision.

We are convinced that our former denomination as a whole, and in its leadership, no longer holds those views regarding the nature and
 mission of the Church, which we accept as both true and essential. When we judged that there was no human remedy for this situation, and in the absence of evidence that God would intervene, we were compelled to raise a new banner bearing the historic, Scriptural faith of our forefathers.

First, we declare the basis of the authority for the Church. According to the Christian faith, the Bible is the Word of God written and carries the authority of its divine Author. We believe the Bible itself asserts that it has been given by inspiration, or, more literally, has been “God-breathed” (II Timothy 3:16). “No prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). We declare, therefore, that the Bible is the very Word of God, so inspired in the whole and in all its parts, as in the original autographs, to be the inerrant Word of God. It is, therefore, the only infallible and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.

This was the position of the founding fathers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. We affirm with them in their “Address to All Churches” the application of this principle to the Church and her mission:

Let it be distinctly borne in mind that the only rule of judgment is the written Word of God. The Church knows nothing of the intuitions of reason or the deductions of philosophy, except those reproduced in the Sacred Canon. She has a positive constitution in the Holy Scriptures, and has no right to utter a single syllable upon any subject except as the Lord puts words in her mouth. She is founded, in other words, upon express revelation.Her creed is an authoritative testimony of God, and not speculation, and what she proclaims she must proclaim with the infallible certitude of faith, and not with the hesitating assent of an opinion.
We have called ourselves “Continuing” Presbyterians because we seek to continue the faith of the founding fathers of that Church.
 Deviations in doctrine and practice from historic Presbyterian positions as evident in the Presbyterian Church in the United States, result from accepting other sources of authority, and from making them coordinate or superior to the divine Word. A diluted theology, a gospel tending towards humanism, an unbiblical view of marriage and divorce, the ordination of women, financing of abortion on socio-economic grounds, and numerous other non-Biblical positions are all traceable to a different view of Scripture from that we hold and that which was held by the Southern Presbyterian forefathers.Change in the Presbyterian Church in the United States came as a gradual thing, and its ascendancy in the denomination, over a long 
period of time. We confess that it should not have been permitted. Views and practices that undermine and supplant the system of doctrine or polity of a confessional Church ought never to be tolerated. A Church that will not exercise discipline will not long be able to maintain pure doctrine or godly practice.
When a denomination will not exercise discipline and its courts have become heterodox or disposed to tolerate error, the minority finds itself in the anomalous position of being submissive to a tolerant and erring majority. In order to proclaim the truth and to practice the discipline which they believe obedience to Christ requires, it then becomes necessary for them to separate. This is the exercise of discipline in reverse. It is how we view our separation.

Some of our brethren have felt that the present circumstances do not yet call for such a remedy. They remain in the Presbyterian Church in the United States. We trust they will continue to contend for the faith, though our departure makes their position more difficult. We express to them our hope that God will bless their efforts, and that there may come a genuine spiritual awakening in the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

We trust that our departure may cause those who control and direct the programs and policies of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to reexamine their own position in the light of the Word. Our prayer is that God may use this movement to promote spiritual awakening, not only in the new Church, but also in that from which we have separated. If in the providence of God, such were to occur, we would gladly acknowledge that the grounds for separation and division would have to be reassessed.

We declare also that we believe the system of doctrine found in God’s Word to be the system known as the Reformed Faith. We are 
committed without reservation to the Reformed Faith as set forth in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. It is our conviction that the Reformed faith is not sectarian, but an authentic and valid expression of Biblical Christianity. We believe it is our duty to seek fellowship and unity with all who profess this faith. We particularly wish to labor with other Christians committed to this theology

We further renew and reaffirm our understanding of the nature and mission of the Church. We have declared that Christ is King and only Law-giver in Zion. He has established the Church. His Church is a spiritual reality. As such it is made up of all the elect from all ages. This spiritual entity is manifested visibly upon the earth.

The Church visible is found wherever there are those who profess the true faith together with their children. As an assembly of those who do so profess this faith, we have established this denomination in the belief that it is a true branch of the Christian Church.

We believe the Church in its visible aspect is still essentially a spiritual organism. As such, its authority, motivation and power come
 from Christ, the Head, who is seated at the right hand of God. He has given us His rulebook for the Church, namely, the Word of God written. We understand the task of the Church to be primarily declarative and ministerial, not legislative or magisterial. It is our duty to set forth what He has given us in His Word and not to devise our own message or legislate our own laws.

We declare that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God. We believe this includes giving top priority to Christ’s Great Commission. We reaffirm the substance of the position taken by the founding fathers of our former Church regarding the mission of the Church:

“We desire distinctly and deliberately to inscribe on our Church’s banner, as she now unfurls it to the world, in immediate subservience
to the authority of our Lord as Head and King of the Church His last command: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

We regard this as the great end of our organization, and obedience to it, as the indispensable condition of our Lord’s promised presence. It is the one great comprehensive objective, a proper conception of whose grandeur and magnitude is the only thing which, under the constraining love of Christ, can ever sufficiently arouse our energies and develop our resources so as to cause us to carry on with that vigor and efficiency, which true loyalty to our Lord demands, those other agencies necessary to our internal growth and prosperity at home.”

As a Church, we consciously seek to return to the historic Presbyterian view of Church government. We reaffirm in the words of that
 earlier “Address to All Churches” the following:

“The only thing that will be at all peculiar to us is the manner in which we shall attempt to discharge our duty. In almost every department of labor, except the pastoral care of congregations, it has been usual for the Church to resort to societies more or less closely connected with itself, and yet logically and really distinct. It is our purpose to rely upon the regular organs of our government, and executive agencies directly and immediately responsible to them. We wish to make the Church, not merely a superintendent, but an agent. We wish to develop the idea that the congregation of believers, as visibly organized is the very society or corporation which is divinely called to do the work of the Lord. We shall, therefore, endeavor to do what has never been adequately done— bring out the energies of our Presbyterian system of government. From the session to the Assembly, we shall strive to enlist all our courts, as courts, in every department of Christian effort. We are not ashamed to confess that we are intensely Presbyterian. We embrace all other denominations in the arms of Christian fellowship and love, but our own scheme of government we humbly believe to be according to the pattern shown in the Mount, and, by God’s grace, we propose to put its efficiency to the test.”
As this new member of the family of Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ comes into being, we necessarily profess the Biblical doctrine
 of the unity of all who are in Christ. We know that what happens in one portion of His Church affects all of the Body of Christ. We covet the prayers of all Christians that we may witness and serve responsibly. We desire to pursue peace and charity with love towards fellow Christians throughout the world.To the Presbyterian Church in the United States, in particular, we express our continued love and concern. You are our spiritual mother, in your arms we were nurtured, under your ordinances we were baptized, in your courts we were ordained to serve our Lord and King, and to your visible organization we thought we had committed our lives. We sever these ties only with deepest regret and sorrow. We hope that our going may in some way recall you to that historic witness which we cherish as our common heritage.

We greet all believers in an affirmation of the bonds of Christian brotherhood. We invite into ecclesiastical fellowship all who maintain
our principles of faith and order.We now commend ourselves to God and the Word of His power. We devoutly pray that the Church catholic may be filled afresh with 
the Holy Spirit, and that she may speedily be stirred up to take no rest until the Lord accomplishes His Kingdom, making Zion a praise in the whole earth.

December 7, 1973

[Note: Again, this document was adopted on December 6th, but publicly issued on December 7th.]

Words to Live By:

The Latin phrase Semper Reformanda can be translated as “always reforming.” Yet some people take that to mean “always changing,” when in fact what the phrase implies is “always pulling back to what the Scriptures teach.” The Scriptures are our standard, both as to how we are to live as individual Christians, and for how we are to live as the Church—the Body of Christ. It seems so easy to forget that. But we must constantly be reminded of who we are as Christians, and what we are to be about, as the Church. And that’s where a document like the Message to All Churches can be a reminder of where we have come from, and where we want to go. More than anything else, we must always remember that our message is that of a risen Savior, God’s own Son, who redeems an elect people from their sins, that they might glorify and enjoy Him through all eternity.

The First General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church (i.e., the PCA)
by Rev. David T. Myers

As the newly formed denomination met that December in 1973, there was much to do and little time in which to accomplish it. The opening of the General Assembly had begun on the previous day, December 4th, at 7:30 PM with a time of worship and an opening address delivered by ruling elder W. Jack Williamson. That address was titled “To God Be the Glory”.

The first full day of work for the Assembly began the next day, on December 5th. Committees for the various church agencies began meeting at 8:30 AM and following lunch, another time of worship was set aside. The Rev. C. Darby Fulton preached from Philippians 3:7-14, on “The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ”. [his message begins on page 31 of the linked PDF.]

It was in the afternoon session of this second day of meeting that the new denomination selected their name, choosing “National Presbyterian Church.” (A year later, that name would be changed to “Presbyterian Church in America.”) The rest of that afternoon was spent in discussion and adoption of constitutional documents [the Westminster Standards and the Book of Church Order]. After dinner, the Assembly met yet again for worship, with the service under the direction of the Rev. Kennedy Smartt, then pastor of the Presbyterian church in Hopewell, Virginia. The Rev. Tim Fortner, of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, led in prayer. The Rev. Sidney Anderson of Swannanoa, North Carolina, read the Scripture, and Dr. O. Palmer Robertson, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, preached a sermon entitled “The National Presbyterian Church and the Faith Once Delivered,” taking Jude 3 as his text.

After the time of worship and before recessing for the evening, the Assembly continued its work on constitutional documents by adopting the first ten chapters of the Book of Church Order. The Assembly then recessed with prayer by the Rev. Todd Allen, pastor of the Eastern Heights Presbyterian church of Savannah, Georgia.

Words to live by:
That second day of business was full and busy for the Assembly, but note how not just once but twice they met for times of worship during the day. I am reminded of Martin Luther’s statement, “I have so much to do today that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.” There is more truth in that statement than most of us are willing to admit, and certainly more than most of us are willing to live up to. But that first General Assembly of the PCA recognized their priorities and their need to completely and utterly rely upon the Lord in all their deliberations.

If you haven’t been living according to this pattern, then I urge you, test the Lord—try Him and see—put Him first each morning with a time of prayer and devotional Scripture reading. It doesn’t have to be long, perhaps just five or ten minutes if you can’t spare a half-hour. But I have every confidence that you will begin to see a marked improvement, first in your relationship with the Lord, and then in your relationships with family, friends, and  work.

They Had No Manual, but a New Presbyterian Church was Born.

Gathering in Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, were teaching and ruling elders ready to begin a new Presbyterian denomination.  Their date of gathering, or organization, was December 4, 1973, as date consciously chosen with an eye to the past. They began this new Reformed church on the same day and month as the organization date for the mother church that they were leaving, the Presbyterian Church, U.S., commonly known in those years as the Southern Presbyterian Church. That denomination had begun on December 4, 1861 as the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. Later, that name was changed to the Presbyterian Church in the United States, after the War between the States.

In choosing to organize the new denomination on that anniversary date, the new denomination was making a statement, laying claim as the faithful continuing church, the remnant leaving behind the unfaithful or disobedient. In fact, the Continuing Presbyterian Church was the name that they first gathered under in the years and months leading up to their official organization. That they did not desire to continue as yet another regional church was evidenced by the name they chose for the new denomination, the National Presbyterian Church (though a year later, that name was changed to the Presbyterian Church in America).

Reformed men were obviously interested in reforming the church. And so ever since it was clearly discovered that the Presbyterian Church in the United States had apostatized with no hope to bring it back to its historic roots, men and women had been praying and working, and working and praying, for this historic occasion. Ruling Elder W. Jack Williamson was chosen as the first moderator, with Dr. Morton Smith elected as Stated Clerk.  Ministries then in planning and those already exercised in action, came together in rapid fashion: Mission to the World, Mission to the United States, Christian Education and Publications were organized by the delegates.  With godly and wise coordinators to lead them, the work began to raise up a church faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed Faith, and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

 Photo from the First General Assembly in 1973, with W. Jack Williamson at the podium, and Rev. Frank Barker seated, at the right.

Words to live by:  There is usually great excitement over a new birth in a family.  And so there was great excitement over the birth of a new denomination. Southern conservative Presbyterians had gone through many of the same struggles that Northern conservative Presbyterians endured just a few decades earlier. In both cases, the Church had been hijacked by the liberals. But godly men and women stood for the faith once delivered  unto the saints, and wouldn’t let historical attachments hold them captive to a decaying visible church. They voted with their feet and came out and were now separate. Praise God for their obedience to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

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“The first godly band”
by Rev. David T. Myers

A covenant can most easily be thought of as a contract between God and man. As Presbyterianism was gaining ground in Scotland, so too the understanding of covenants. So it is that those Scottish Presbyterians, who came to be known as Covenanters, sought to bind themselves under a series of covenants, seeking to uphold Presbyterian doctrine, worship and government as the only expression of religion in the land.

It was in response to the perception that Roman Catholicism was attempting to regain its position in Scotland, by way of royal marriage, that the first “band” or covenant was signed. A document of great importance in connection with the history of the Reformation in Scotland, what is today known as the First Covenant of Scotland bound its signatories to uphold and promote “the blessed work of God and his Congregation [i.e., the Protestants] against the Congregation of Satan” [i.e., the Roman Catholics]. Among those signing the covenant were the Earls of Argyll, Morton, Glencairn and John Erskine of Dun. The text of this First Covenant follows:

The First Covenant of Scotland. At Edinburgh, 1557.

WE perceiving how Satan in his members, the Antichrists of our time, cruelly do rage, seeking to overthrow and destroy the Gospel of Christ, and his Congregation, ought, according to our bounden duty, to strive in our Master’s Cause, even unto the death, being certain of the Victory in him: The which our duty being well considered, We do promise before the Majesty of God, and his Congregation, That we (by his grace) shall with all diligence continually apply our whole power, substance, and our very lives, to maintain, set forward, and establish the most blessed Word of God, and his Congregation: And shall labour according to our power, to have faithful Ministers, truly and purely to minister Christ’s Gospel and Sacraments to his people. We shall maintain them, nourish them, and defend them; the whole Congregation of Christ, and every Member thereof according to our whole powers, and waging of our lives, against Satan and all wicked power that doth intend Tyranny or trouble against the foresaid Congregation. Unto the which holy Word, and Congregation, we do join us; and so do forsake and renounce the Congregation of Satan, with all the superstitious abomination and idolatry thereof. And moreover, [we] shall declare ourselves manifestly enemies thereto, By this our faithful Promise before God, testified to this Congregation by our Subscription at these Presents.

At Edinburghthe third of December, anno 1557. God called to witness.

A. Earle of Argyle.
Glencarne.
Mortoun.
Archibald, Lord of Lorne.
Iohn Erskin of Dun,
Et cetera.

Then in God’s providence, within just a few years, this was the picture throughout Scotland:

“. . . In Scotland we hear that there have been some disturbances, I know not of what kind, respecting matters of religion; that the nobles have driven out the monks and taken possession of the monasteries; that some French soldiers of the garrison have been slain in a riot, and that the Queen was so incensed as to proclaim the banishment of the preacher Knox by sound of horn, according to the usual custom in Scotland, when they mean to send any one into exile. What has become of him I know not,” . . . .London, May 1559.

“. . . Everything is in a ferment in Scotland. Knox, surrounded by a thousand followers, is holding assemblies throughout the whole kingdom. The old Queen (dowager) has been compelled to shut herself up in the garrison. The nobility, with united hearts and hands, are restoring religion throughout the country, in spite of all opposition. All the monasteries are everywhere levelled with the ground; the theatrical dresses, the sacrilegious chalices, the idols, the altars, are consigned to the flames; not a vestiage of the ancient superstition and idolatry is left.” — London, August 1, 1559.

” . . . The Scots have in their camp the preachers Knox and Goodman, and they call themselves the ‘Congregation of Christ.’ Their next step was to send to the Queen to retire from Leith, if she would not be driven from thence by force and violence. And from this time they began to treat an alliance with England.” — London, Dec. 1, 1559.

[excerpted from letters of Bishop Jewel to Peter Martyr]

Words to Live By:
It is the Lord who raises up kings, and who brings down nations. (Judg 2:16; Isa. 9:11; Prov. 21:1). More importantly, salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps. 3:8; Jonah 2:9). When the Lord turns His face toward us, we shall be saved. When the Lord sovereignly sends His Spirit, then and only then might a nation be called back from sin and destruction to repentance and godliness. When Reformation came to Scotland, it was the work of the Lord and not the work of men. Pray the Lord would so move across this earth again. Pray that Christ would be lifted up, that all men might be drawn to Him.

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