January 2016

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

Q. 62.
What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?

A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Exodus 31:15-16; Leviticus 23:3; Exodus 31:17; Genesis 2:3.

QUESTIONS:

1. How many reasons are there annexed to this commandment?

There are four reasons annexed to this commandment and this is more than for any of the other commandments. God knew men would be prone to break this commandment.

2.
What is the first reason?

The first reason is, God’s allowing us six days for our own employment. God has been very liberal with us in this area and we should certainly grant Him one day out of the seven. In addition, in modern times very few people work on Saturday afternoon, which is another reason for giving Him one day.

3.
What is the second reason?

The second reason is, God’s challenging a special propriety in the seventh day. This is God’s claiming the day as His own. He does not claim it as His own without granting us anything from it, for as we use it in the right way He will grant us the greatest joy in communion with Him.

4.
What is the third reason?

The third reason is, God’s own example in resting Himself from His works of creation on the seventh day. Here there is a spiritual blessing from resting one day by His command. In addition, there is a physical motivation in that He knew it would be good for our bodies for us to rest one day. His example should be followed, all to His glory.

5.
What is the fourth reason?

The fourth reason is, God’s blessing of the Sabbath. Our Lord consecrates the day to His holy use. The right use of the day will result in blessings for us, “showers of blessings” will fall upon us. The wrong use of the day will result in miseries and woes. (Nehemiah 13:18).

MAN’S NEED OF THE SABBATH

It is hard for us today, in the midst of the blatant desecration of the Sabbath, to hold to the authority of God and the commands we find in the Decalogue. On every hand we find that the opposition is strong. The day starts with the weighty Sunday newspaper. Sporting events are the order of the day. The armed services have decided that the Lord’s Day is a day of training. Wherever we turn we are faced with the pressures of the world to deny what many of us have been told from childhood, that the holy calm of a Sabbath morn should be kept throughout the day.

Certainly as believers in Christ, we know what we should do. The commands in the Scripture are plain. Six questions in our Shorter Catechism are given to this important question of Christian living. But when we attempt to meet our adversaries with these arguments it means nothing to them. They care not for Holy Writ and win not listen. But there are arguments that they might listen to, and these same arguments would be good for us to take into our hearts and ponder them, all to the glory of God. Mark 2:27 indeed teaches us: “The Sabbath was made for man.” Our Lord knew that we need this Day.

We need it because of our physical nature. He made us in such a way that we need to rest one day out of the seven. It is interesting to note that the Deists in France long ago, those who had left Roman Catholicism but had not become Protestants, admitted that they could not get along without the Sabbath. Their bodies craved it.

We need it as a day when the family can be together. God put a great emphasis on the family, and the Scripture is filled with admonitions that should be followed by the family. When are they going to be followed? Could not the Sabbath be used in this important area? Prayer, teaching of the Word, communication—these are all important in the family unit.

We need it for the teaching we can obtain from the House of God. The preaching of the Word is the primary means of Grace, and we should use every opportunity we have to fill our minds with those things that will keep us from sinning against Him. He knew that a day must be set aside for instruction in righteousness, and we must make use of it.

Let us be faithful to Him, and to ourselves in this matter. Let us once again return to the “old fashioned” Sabbath before it is too late. We are in danger of losing what we have in our freedom of worship unless we have some convictions about it.

Published By: The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 4 No. 57, September, 1965.

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hallDWWe continue today with our Election Day Sermon Series, authored by the Rev. David W. Hall, pastor of the Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, Georgia. The relevance of this series should be obvious in this election year, and Dr. Hall knows his subject well, having studied these election day sermons and even published a volume of them in 1985. I should note that not every sermon reviewed by Dr. Hall will have been by a Presbyterian, while at the same time his review will most certainly be from the perspective of a convinced, orthodox Presbyterian. We are grateful to Dr. Hall for his willingness to prepare these reviews, and consider this an excellent opportunity for our readers to think through questions of what the Scriptures teach regarding the relation of Church and State, as well as how Christians should view matters of secular governance.

Today, Dr. Hall looks at a sermon by the Rev. Jonathan Mayhew [1720-1766], who served as pastor of the Old West Church in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the Rev. Mayhew who coined the phrase “No taxation without representation.”

  1. mayhewJ“Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers” by Jonathan Mayhew

Colonial thinkers Samuel Adams and Rev. Jonathan Mayhew argued against the innate goodness of man with implicit reference to King George III: “Ambition and lust for power,” they claimed, “are predominant passions in the breasts of most men. . . . power is of a grasping, encroaching nature . . . [it] aims at extending itself and operating according to mere will, whenever it meets with no balance, check, constraint, or opposition of any kind.”[1] That conclusion seemed more and more obvious to many American colonists.

Notwithstanding, that had not always been the case. Previously in 1521, William Tyndale had written characteristically: “[G]overnment per se is divinely ordained by God in the Scriptures; bad rulers were sent by God to chastise the nation for their sins; rebellion causes more harm to innocents than to the guilty.” William Tyndale also exhibited the received Christian consensus: “God hath made the king in every realm judge over all, and over him there is no judge. He that judgeth the king judgeth God, and he that layeth hand on the king layeth hand on God…. If the subjects sin, they must be brought to the king’s judgement. If the king sins, he must be reserved unto the judgement, wrath and vengeance of God.” By 1750, however, that view was roundly challenged.

On January 30, 1750, Jonathan Mayhew (1720-1766), a Unitarian-leaning minister of Boston’s West Church, preached a sermon entitled “Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers.” This sermon by a 29-year old pastor set out to interpret Romans 13 correctly, while reflecting on the anniversary of a king’s death (then nostalgically memorialize by some) a century earlier. Although Mayhew was a minister who paddled against the Calvinistic currents of his day, his views still resonated with Geneva’s distinct political tones. This influential sermon has been called the morning gun of the Revolution[2] and could have been preached by a French Huguenot resister.[3] Mayhew, a graduate of Harvard (1744) was considered by many to be the leading preacher in his day. Mayhew claimed that, “It is the duty of Christian magistrates to inform themselves what it is which their religion teaches concerning the na­ture and design of their office. And it is equally the duty of all Christian people to inform themselves what it is which their religion teaches concerning that subjection which they owe to the higher powers.”

Since magistracy was an ordinance of God, Mayhew warned believers to avoid embracing anarchy. Disobedience to those rulers who properly exercised authority remained a heinous political sin. But after noting cases in which resistance against tyrants was justified, Mayhew stated this principle: “there does not seem to be any necessity of suppos­ing, that an absolute, unlimited obedience, whether active or passive, is here enjoined, merely for this reason—that the precept is delivered in absolute terms, without any excep­tion or limitation expressly mentioned.”

His distinction between active and passive obedience was almost identical to the earlier though of Beza and others associated with the Swiss Reformation. Like Calvin before him, Mayhew argued that obedience to any authority, whether family, church, or civil, was conditioned on that authority’s ruling according to God’s standards. The duty of universal obedience and non‑resistance to the higher powers “cannot be argued from the absolute, unlimited ex­pressions which the apostle here uses, so neither can it be argued from the scope and drift of his reasoning, considered with relation to the persons he was here opposing.” While a limited duty could be inferred from scriptural teaching, “the duty of unlimited obedience, whether active or passive, can be argued neither from the manner of ex­pression here used, nor from the general scope and design of the passage.”

The duty of submission was not “to all who bear the title of rulers in common, but only to those who actually perform the duty of rulers by exercising a reasonable and just authority for the good of human society.” Once rulers begin to act contrary to their mandates and rule in their own interests—when they rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare,” Mayhew preached (virtually as Augustine taught earlier), “they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve glorious character than common pirates and highway men.” Those who “use all their power to hurt and injure the public” were “not God’s ministers, but Satan’s . . . such as do not take care of and attend upon the public interest, but their own, to the ruin of the public.” As such, they did not deserve honor or submission, nor the more practical obligation of tribute or taxes.

If the condition of authority was the good of the people, and the ruler or his designated officials did not fulfill that condition, removal was justified. Like the sixteenth-century Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, Mayhew’s argument legitimated resistance, at least to the king’s officers, as follows:

If any other powers oppress the people, it is generally allowed that the people may get redress by resistance, if other methods prove ineffectual. And if any officers in a kingly government go beyond the limits of that power which they have derived from the crown (the supposed original source of all power and authority in the state), and attempt illegally to take away the properties and lives of their fellow‑subjects, they may be forcibly resisted, at least till application can be made to the crown.

The king, as Samuel Rutherford, George Buchanan, and many others had argued earlier, did not have unlimited power. He could not take the lives or properties of subjects lawfully. Mayhew drew on the primary instance of open resistance within the British tradition, the overthrow of British King Charles I by Calvinists and Puritans a century earlier. Providing a catalogue of reasons for forfeiture similar to the grounds of the Declaration of Independence, Mayhew argued that citizens had been warranted in overthrowing Charles’ tyranny because he levied unjust taxes, cast courageous men in prison, and betrayed his pledged support of the Protestant faith. Mayhew recast Charles I as Nero when Charles “abetted the horrid massacre in Ireland, in which two hundred thousand Protestants were butchered by the Roman Catholics”—all the while taxing the citizens to pay for such murderous acts of government.

mayhewJ_title_pageThe first resistance to that tyranny originated with the king’s own lower magistrates. Mayhew emphasized that this resistance was “Not by a private junta, not by a small seditious party, not by a few desperadoes, who to mend their fortunes would embroil the state; but by the Lords and Commons of England.” These mid-level governors remained faithful to their covenant even if it drew the King’s ire. Resistance was first to arise from “the whole representative body,” not from citizens acting on their own initiative.

Nevertheless, Mayhew maintained, with a caustic irony, the propriety of commemorating the anniversary of the death of Charles I, who had become, after a century, a saint and martyr for freedom’s holy cause, albeit unintentionally. How could a ruler who opposed the rule of law and the good of the people be remembered positively? Mayhew answered: “He was a saint, not because he was in his life a good man, but a good Churchman; not because he was a lover of holiness, but the hierarchy; not because he was a friend to Christ, but the [priest]craft. And he was a martyr in his death, not because he bravely suffered . . . but because he died an enemy to liberty and the rights of conscience; i. e., not because he died an enemy to sin, but dissenters.”

For Mayhew, the anniversary would “prove a standing memento that Britons will not be slaves, and a warning to all corrupt counsellors and ministers not to go too far in advising arbitrary, despotic measures.” In conclusion, he urged: “Let us all learn to be free and to be loyal; let us not profess ourselves vassals to the lawless pleasure of any man on earth; but let us remember, at the same time, government is sacred, and not to be trifled with.” [4]

The loud crack of this fired homiletical shot still echoes through various hills, calling citizens to respect government when it governs properly. However, submission is limited to the government remaining on its chartered rails. An online version of this message is posted at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=etas. An abridged form (of the 18,000 word original is available at: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/discourse-concerning-unlimited-submission-and-non-resistance-to-the-higher-powers/

By Dr. David W. Hall, Pastor
Midway Presbyterian Church
Powder Springs, Georgia (USA)

[1] Cited in M. Stanton Evans, The Theme is Liberty: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1994), 99.

[2] Jonathan C. D. Clark, The Language of Liberty, 1660-1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 366. John Adams noted this sermon’s influence in Europe and in America. See his Works, X: 287-288.

[3] Bailyn notes that for his “full rationale for resistance,” Mayhew drew not so much on Locke “whose ideas would scarcely have supported what he was saying, but [on] a sermon of Benjamin Hoadly, from whom he borrowed” ideas and phrases. See Bernard Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets of the American Revolution, vol. 1 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 36.

[4] In another election day sermon in 1754, Mayhew stated that all means proper were to be used by the government to “Christianize” native American Indians and to guarantee that they not become converts to the “wicked religion” of “Romish missionaries.” See A. W. Plumstead, ed., The Wall and the Garden: Selected Massachusetts Election Sermons, 1670-1775 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1968), 307. Accordingly, he believed the state had a duty to “bring them if possible to embrace the Protestant faith.” Idem. On two other occasions in that same sermon before the Massachusetts House of Representatives, he indicated that governors should support the Protestant religion. Op. cit., 316, 318.

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“I am killed; but don’t tell your mother.”

His epitaph, composed by the Rev. William Arthur of Pequea, read as follows:

In memory of
THE REV. DR. JAMES LATTA,
Who died 29th January, 1801, in the 68th year of his age.
By his death, society has lost an invaluable member;
Religion one of its brightest ornaments, and most amiable examples.
His genius was masterly, and his literature extensive.
As a classical scholar, he was excelled by few.
His taste correct, his style nervous and elegant.
In the pulpit he was a model.
In the judicatures of the Church, distinguished by his accuracy and precision.
After a life devoted to his Master’s service,
He rested from his labours, lamented most by those who knew his words.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth;
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours,
And their works do follow them.”

lattaJamesHaving read that assessment of the man, it might easily be said, “There were giants in those days.” James Latta was born in Ireland in the winter of 1732, migrating to this country when he was just six or seven years old. Ordained an evangelist by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in the fall of 1759, he was later installed as pastor of the Deep Run church in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1761. He remained in this pulpit until 1770. resigning there to answer a call to serve the congregation of Chestnut Level, in Lancaster county, PA. One account notes that “the congregation at that time was widely scattered and weak. The salary promised in the call was only one hundred pounds, Pennsylvania currency, which was never increased, and rarely all paid.” Friends prevailed upon him to educate their sons, and the school he reluctantly started prospered, until the Revolutionary war brought things to a close, with many of the older students joining the army.

Odd Now to Consider:
On the 28th day of May, 1762, the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia was set off by the Synod from the Presbytery of Philadelphia. This consisted of five ministers, of whom Mr. Latta was one; and they were all strenuous advocates of what was called the Old Side. It appears from certain dissents and protests, in 1766, when an ineffectual attempt was made in Synod to reunite the two Presbyteries, that this Second Presbytery had been formed on the elective affinity principle, as its members professed to be conscientiously opposed to the practice of examining candidates for the ministry on their experimental acquaintance with religion, which the Synod had approved of; and had declared that sooner than remain in a Presbytery which pursued that practice, they would break off from all connection with the Synod.

During the war, Rev. Latta served as a private and a chaplain in the Pennsylvania Militia, and after the war, he returned to his pulpit in Chestnut Level. The first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. convened in 1789. Two years later, Rev. Latta was honored to serve as the Moderator of the third General Assembly, in 1791. Latta continued as the pastor of the Chestnut Level congregation until the time of his death, in 1801.

More on his Death:
Dr. Latta laboured on in the ministry, until very near the close of life. In December, a month before his decease, he attended a meeting of his Presbytery at New London, twenty miles from home. The circumstances of his death, as related by one of his daughters, were as follows:—Riding to church one Sabbath with his daughter Mary, he was thrown from the carriage, and falling on his head, he was somewhat stunned. He observed to her,—-“I am killed; but do not tell your mother.” He proceeded to church, preached with some difficulty, and returned home. He soon after fell into a sleepy, comatose state, until his daughter, the next day, alarmed, related to her mother what had happened. Help was immediately called in, but in vain. He continued a few days, almost insensible, and then died.

Words to Live By: Rev. Latta’s biographer says of him, that as a preacher, he was faithful to declare the whole counsel of God. While he comforted and encouraged true Christians, he held up to sinners a glass in which they might see themselves; but, in addressing them, he always spoke as with the compassion of a father. The doctrines of Grace were the burden of his preaching.”  God give us faithful pastors who will minister the Word of God in Spirit and in truth.

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Death of Joseph A. Alexander

Joseph Addison Alexander, third son of the Rev. Archibald and Janetta (Waddel) Alexander, was born in Philadelphia on 24 April 1809. His early education was obtained under the immediate supervision of his parents, and owing to an intellectual vigor rare indeed, his powers of acquiring knowledge were amazing, especially in the department of languages. In 1825 he graduated at the College of New Jersey (since 1896, Princeton University), with the highest honors of his class. He was elected Tutor, but declined the appointment, and, with Mr. Patton, founded Edgehill School at Princeton. He studied theology at home and at the University of Halle and Berlin, in Europe. He was licensed and ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in 1832, and became assistant instructor of the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible, in the Princeton Theological Seminary; in 1835 he was appointed Associate Professor, and in 1840 sole Professor of Biblical and Oriental Literature; in 1851 he was transferred to the chair of Biblical and Ecclesiastical History; and in 1859, at his own request, he was assigned the department of Hellenistic Greek and New Testament Literature. The main business of his life was with the Holy Bible, giving to theological research and instruction all the energies of his massive intellect.

[At right: The Edgehill School, Princeton, New Jersey, co-founded by J.A. Alexander & R.B. Patton]

Dr. Alexander’s gigantic mind was in full vigor until the day before his death. On the morning of that day he was occupied with his usual course of polyglot reading in the Bible, being accustomed to read the Scriptures in some six different languages, as part of his daily devotions. He seems also to have entertained himself, during some part of the day, with one of the Greek classics, Herodotus, as a pencil mark on the margin, “January 27th, 1860.” is said to show. In the afternoon of that day, he rode out in the open air for the first time since his attack of hemorrhage. During that ride, however, which was not continued more than forty-five minutes, a sudden sinking of life came on him, so much so that he was borne almost entirely by the help of others from the carriage. The sinking continued all Friday night, and on Saturday he was hardly conscious of anything until he died. His death was perfectly calm, without a struggle, without one heaving breath. His death occurred in his study, January 28th, 1860.

[Wilson’s Presbyterian Almanac for 1861 (p. 71) notes that his death, at the age of 51, was caused by diabetes. Alexander’s brother, James Waddel Alexander, had died of dysentery not six months earlier, in 1859, at the age of 55.]

Dr. Alexander’s sermons were sure to be original, evangelical, forcible, elegant and tending to practical effect upon the conscience. He was a frequent contributor to The Princeton Review, and for a time served with Professor Dod as its editor. As an author he took high rank. A volume of his fragmentary “Notes on New Testament Literature and Ecclesiastical History” was posthumously published in 1861. In 1851 his “Psalms Translated and Explained” appeared in three volumes. In 1857 “The Acts of the Apostles Explained,” in two volumes. In 1858 “The Gospel, According to Mark, Explained,” in one volume. the Commentary on Matthew was unfinished at his death, but so much as he had prepared was published in 1861, as the last work on which his pen was engaged.

Words to Live By:  A man of great gifts, Dr. Alexander was well used of the Lord in the advancement of His kingdom. Yet for all this, we must not covet. The Lord has a place and a role for each of His children, and it is not unusual to find that “the least of these” are often enabled to bear great witness to the glory of God in the Gospel.

Biographical sketch and portrait image from Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church (1884), pp. 21-22. Image of the Edgehill campus from The Presbyterian Historical Almanac and Annual Remembrancer of the Church, for 1861 (Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson), page 341. All scans performed by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.

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The Fighting Parson and his Paxtang Boys
by Rev. David T. Myers

When calling a Presbyterian pastor, his qualifications are important. Does he preach the Word of God? Check! Does he evangelize the unconverted and make disciples? Check! Does he administer the sacraments? Check! Does he visit the people in their homes, especially the sick? Check! Does he lead military operations against marauding natives? Whoa! Wait a minute. What? That isn’t listed in the Book of Church Order! And yet, that was often the calling of the pastor in frontier churches. In this case, the Rev. John Elder was one of the Fighting Parsons of the Paxtang Boys in Pennsylvania.

John Elder was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 26, 1706. He attended the University of Edinburgh. In 1735, he traveled to America and into the Presbyterian church. Ordained on November 22, 1738, he was called to the Paxton Presbyterian Church, two miles north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Other than a brief separation from that congregation, he was to stay there as an under shepherd for 56 years.

Being a Presbyterian was no easy life in colonial America. Surrounded by hostile natives, each day was a challenge. Weapons were carried as they worked in the fields, or even as they gathered for worship. Pastor Elder himself would prop his rifle next to his pulpit! On the way home, members would scan the skies for any smoke, which would indicate a home burned by the natives. More than one member might be killed or captured during the week.

Finally, the men of the Presbyterian Church in Paxton realized that something more was needed. They were being picked off family by family. So Pastor Elder formed an association for defense which he named the Paxtang Boys. John Elder became the captain of the group. They were recognized by the provincial government and Captain Elder became Colonel Elder. As more and more members were killed, the fever for revenge broke out among the settlers.

Gathering in a group of fifty, the Paxtang Boys headed for the Indian village to find the murderers of their families. There is evidence that Pastor Elder tried to stop them, but they were too delirious for revenge. They arrived at the village and in the end, all the natives, those who were guilty and those who were innocent in the raids, were slaughtered. A further raid into another town brought more killing by the Boys. They even marched to Philadelphia, but were stopped finally by the militia.

On this day, January 27, 1764, Pastor John Elder wrote the following communication to the Provincial Governor: “The storm which has been so long gathering has at length exploded. Had the Governor removed the Indians, which had been frequently, but without success, urged, this painful catastrophe might have been avoided. What could I do with men heated to madness? All that I could do was done. I expostulated but life and reason were set at defiance. Yet these men in their private lives are virtuous and respectable; not cruel, but mild and merciful. This deed, magnified into the blackest of crimes, shall come to be considered as wrath caused by momentary excitement, to which human infirmity is subjected.”

Words to Live By:
Paul in Ephesians 4:26, 27 commands “Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger. And do not give the devil an opportunity.” When the Paxtang Boys degenerated into savages themselves, killing both those guilty and innocent natives in villages, it continues to be condemned in writings even today in Pennsylvania. Being out of control is not an option for the believer, ever. One trait of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. See Galatians 5:22, 23.

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Gerstner01Dr. John Gerstner, the esteemed Professor of Church History at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, for many years persisted in his allegiance to his denomination. Despite the urgings of friends, he continued to hope for better days for his Church. But finally when one matter in particular came to the fore, the conclusion was inescapable, and Dr. Gerstner drafted the following statement [emphasis added to highlight the noted date]:—

THE APOSTASY OF THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
by Dr. John Gerstner

The United Presbyterian Church in The United States of America became apostate, officially on January 26, 1981 turning away from adherence to the Lord Jesus Christ by permitting in its ministry a denier of that same Lord Jesus Christ.  This was done by the decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of The General Assembly of The United Presbyterian Church in The United States of America.  It upheld National Capital Union Presbytery’s approval of Mansfield Kaseman for ministry.  The Synod of The Piedmont had become apostate for the same reason, July 8, 1980.  At Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly levels, Mr. Kaseman had been shown to be guilty of denying or refusing to affirm at least four essentials of the Christian religion:  the sinlessness, bodily resurrection, vicarious atonement, and deity of Jesus Christ.

Documents of the six trials, two each by Presbytery and the Permanent Judicial Commissions of Synod and General Assembly (1979 and 1980) are available for those who would inform themselves in depth. This paper concentrates on the 1981 decision of The Permanent Judicial Commission of The General Assembly which finally, officially, produced the legal and constitutional apostasy of The United Presbyterian Church denomination.  First, after brief statement of the evidence and argument that Mr. Kaseman did indeed deny or refuse to affirm indispensable Christian doctrine, we present second, a somewhat longer critique of The Permanent Judicial Commission decision of January 26, 1981 substantiating our grave charges that in defending apostasy it made The General Assembly apostate. We then third, explain why this apostate action makes the whole denomination apostate and why, fourth, if The General Assembly does not effectively repudiate this apostasy or begin the process of repudiation, every Christian is obliged to separate from the non-Christian denomination. We conclude with an appendix in the form of a proposal for action at The 193rd General Assembly meeting at Houston, Texas, May 19-27, 1981 which may be taken if apostasy is not there repudiated.

I.  The Case Against Kaseman

The substance of the complainants’ case against the National Capital Union Presbytery can be briefly stated.  First, the complainants charged that Mr. Kaseman denied or would not affirm the sinlessness of Christ.  If Christ was not sinless He could not be the Savior of the world.  He would need a Savior Himself.  The only response from Kaseman’s defenders was that he was thinking of sinlessness in the sense of frustration.  There was no denial that Mr. Kaseman would not affirm Christ’s freedom from all sin.

Second, Mr. Kaseman refused to affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The complainants pointed out that according to I Cor. 15:17, “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (NASV)  Paul was speaking in that chapter about the bodily resurrection of Christ.  There is no other kind of resurrection than bodily because the soul never does die. The only response ever received was that Kaseman did affirm the “resurrection” (not bodily resurrection). The complainants never denied that Mr. Kaseman affirmed a non-bodily resurrection whatever that may mean.

Third, Mr. Kaseman specifically denied the doctrine of the “vicarious atonement”. No one can question that without Christ’s atonement for our sins there is no possible salvation. The only response that came from the defenders of Mr. Kaseman was that there are other metaphors beside the concept of substitution that describe the death of our Lord.  That never was at issue either. The defenders never questioned the allegation that Mr. Kaseman did deny the “vicarious atonement” which is absolutely essential whatever else may also be essential to the doctrine of the atonement.

Fourth, this whole trial first came about in National Capital Union Presbytery when in March of 1979 Mr. Kaseman was asked if he believed that Jesus Christ was God and he answered, “No, obviously No.  God is God.” Much discussion followed and much was said and reported in the secular and religious press during the following two years but never did Kaseman ever deny this apostate statement.  The Presbytery’s Committee of Representation never said anything to justify Mr. Kaseman.  It was once irrelevantly contended that he merely meant to say that Christ was more than God, being man also, but Christ’s humanity was never an issue either.  Kaseman denied that Jesus Christ was God. He has never denied the denial.  In the second trial before the National Capital Union Presbytery when the same question was put to Mr. Kaseman he refused to answer with a categorical negative as he had before. He also refused to take back his previous statement so that it still stands on the record. He did say at the second interrogation that Jesus Christ is one with God and affirmed belief in the Trinity.

The affirmation (which apparently satisfied the majority of Presbytery) that Christ was one with the deity did not amount to an affirmation of the deity of Jesus Christ.  The proof of that is the explanation which Mr. Kaseman offered for denying that Jesus Christ is God.  If Jesus Christ were God, he asked, how would he answer the death of God theologians: Who was then minding the universe? This only served to show that Mr. Kaseman did not even understand the doctrine of the Incarnation, much less believe it. He apparently thinks that the doctrine of the incarnation means that God ceased being infinite and omnipresent and became finitized and temporalized in a human being! Having such a grotesque misconception, Mr. Kaseman could not possibly believe that Christ was or is God.

All of these most grave charges have been repeatedly proven by complainants as the documents of the various trials clearly illustrate. They have complained against the National Capital Union Presbytery for its approving Mr. Kaseman in spite of his demonstrated apostasy.  Neither the Committee of Representation of the Presbytery nor any of the higher courts that have heard the case have ever refuted these charges.  In some instances, including the final trial, there was no attempt to do so.  This refusal or inability was in spite of the fact that the complainants have charged apostasy and pled with the higher courts if they could not refute the charges, to set aside the Presbytery’s decision and discipline all courts which have approved it.

  1. The Permanent Judicial Commission of The General Assembly Decision of January 26, 1981

The final court at the final hearing, (the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly in the hearing January 24, 1981), falls far short of saving our Church from the apostasy charged. Actually it itself, by tacit compliance, became guilty of the same apostasy. All that the supreme court of our denomination did was affirm how orthodox our Confessions are, while at the same time upholding Presbytery and Synod in approving a man whose unorthodoxy, in at least four essentials of the Christian faith, had been demonstrated.

First of all, . . .

Those interested in reading the entirety of Dr. Gerstner’s treatment of this issue may write to the PCA Historical Center for a digital copy. Address your mail to [archivist (AT) pcahistory /DOT/ org]

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One Pastor’s Influence — Benjamin Morgan Palmer [1818-1902]

Benjamin Morgan Palmer, who was born on this day, January 25, in 1818, served a long pastorate in the city of New Orleans and had a fruitful ministry there. His was an important voice in the larger community outside the church, as well. When gambling interests sought to re-establish and continue a lottery in that city, he spoke against it. What follows is the report of Rev. Palmer’s efforts, as found in C. W. Grafton’s history of Presbyterianism in MississippiThe title of this chapter in Grafton’s history is a bit misleading in that, of course, the lottery was not something sponsored by the Synod of Mississippi, but rather was a grievous concern occurring within their borders.
[Note: Grafton’s work was never published, but we are pleased to have a photostatic copy of  the original typescript here at the PCA Historical Center, received by the kind donation of the Rev. Vaughn Hathaway.]

Chapter 24
Lottery in the Synod of Mississippi

At the very beginning of the Presbyterian church in Mississippi a strong decided attitude was taken against all ungodly amusements.

The Presbytery of Mississippi was organized in 1816 and in the second or third meeting it passed strong resolutions against card playing and games of chance. They say “All games of chance are so many inconsiderate and irreverent appeals to divine providence. If we may not take the name of God in vain, neither may we trifle with his providence, or make sport of it for our amusement. Games of chance being abused for the purposes of gain are odious to the feelings of the moral and upright. Christian feeling has long since proscribed games of chance and all forms of gambling. There is but one sentiment on this subject among the truly pious and it has become the moral sense of the Christian church. To offend this sentiment is to offend the church.”

For a long time in early days the habit of raising money by lottery prevailed throughout the land. But it proved to be a most vicious and destructive agency in polluting the morals of the people.

The city of New Orleans and the whole state of Louisiana, we must continue to remember, were a part of the Synod of Mississippi and did not become separated from the Mississippi Synod till 1901, when the Synod of Louisiana was organized.

The Legislature of Louisiana had chartered a corporation in the state to raise money by lottery. In 1891 the license was about to expire and its promoters throughout the state were inaugurating a big effort to have the charter of the company renewed. It was a critical period in the history of the state. The evil effects of the lottery had been set forth during a long period of years and there was a growing spirit in Louisiana against renewing the license.

The Christian citizens all over the state agitated the question and were outspoken against it. The money power in favor of the lottery was very strong and it seemed as if the great evil was about to be fastened anew upon the state. The good people of all the neighboring states sympathized with Louisiana and they held meetings far and wide condemning the lottery.

In the fall of 1891 a great meeting was held in New Orleans in order to stir up the heart of the people and warn them to use all efforts to arrest the spirit of public gambling.

Some fine addresses were delivered, but Dr. Palmer of the Synod of Mississippi delivered the crowning address. His whole heart was aflame with the subject and the sympathy of the big congregation was with him. His address struck the right chord at the right time and it broke the backbone of the lottery. It was a great address and for the purpose of embalming it in the memory of our young people, we are giving it word for word as delivered that night. We leave out the cheers and the plaudits and the handclapping which were in evidence all through the speech.

When you read the address take your place in our big city. Think of the occasion and you will have something in your mind that will help you always. It is scriptural, patriotic and convincing to the highest degree and we make no apology in bringing it before you. It accomplished the grand result for which it was delivered. The address now follows:

Mr. Chairman and fellow citizens of Louisiana.

“I lay the indictment against the Lottery Company of Louisiana, that it is essentially an immoral institution whose business and avowed aim it is to propagate gambling throughout the state and throughout the country. This being not simply a nuisance but even a crime, no Legislature as the creature of the people nor even the people themselves in convention assembled, have the power to legitimate it either by legislative enactment upon the one hand or by fundamental charter upon the other. In other words, I lay the indictment against the Louisiana Lottery Company that its continued existence is incompatible not only with the safety but with the being of the state.

In saying this, sir, I desire to be understood as not simply uttering the language of denunciation. I frame the indictment and I propose to support each of its specifications by adequate proof; and I do this the more distinctly from the conviction that there are many citizens throughout our bounds, who, having been accustomed to look at the lottery simply as a means of revenue either public or private, have not sufficiently considered the inherent viciousness of this system itself.

And it is that class which I hope this night to reach and to range upon our side in this great controversy.

Indeed, sir, if the worst should come to the worst in this present campaign, I for one could wish that, all technicalities being swept away, there might be some method by which the question might be carried up to the Supreme Court of the United States whether it is competent to any state in the union to commit suicide. And if that venerable court should return an answer, which I think they would not for a moment consider as possible, I would then for my part make the appeal to the virtues and common sense of the masses of our people, that the very instinct of self-preservation may stamp out of existence an institution which is fatal to the liberties and the life of the commonwealth.

To read the rest of this chapter, click here.

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.
Scripture References: Ezek. 22:26; Mal. 1:13; Amos 8:5; Isa. 58:13; Jer. 17:24, 27.

QUESTIONS:

1. What are the two types of sins forbidden in this fourth commandment?

The two types of sins forbidden are the sin of omission and the sin of commission.

2. What are the sins of omission mentioned in this question?

The sins of omission mentioned are: (1) The omission of the duties of the Sabbath. These duties would be such things as the neglect of private or public worship, and the neglect of duties of love and mercy that should be performed on the Sabbath.

3. Would it be possible for us to sin even in the performance of duties of love and mercy on the Sabbath?

Yes, it would be possible for us to sin in the performance of these duties if we performed them in the wrong manner. We could go about them in a weary way, wishing that we did not have to perform them, failing to realize that in the performance of these duties we may also be serving our Lord. (Matt. 25:31-46)

4. How could we best defend ourselves against such attitudes?

We can best defend ourselves by fixing our hearts on God (Ps. 57:7), by claiming by faith our place “in the heavenlies” at the start of the day, asking God to keep us faithful in all things.

5. What are the sins of commission mentioned in this question?

The sins of commission mentioned are the following: (1) Profaning the Sabbath Day by idleness. (2) Profaning the day by doing things which are sinful in the eyes of God on His day. (3) Profaning the day by unnecessary thoughts and words and acts regarding worldly matters, by pleasures and recreations that are contrary to all the Word teaches for the lawful performance on the Sabbath.

6. Why is it so important to keep this day as unto the Lord?

It is important because God has commanded us to do so and it is important because it is impossible to be holy without the keeping of His commandments.

THE SABBATH AND THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

The question is asked by many believers today: “Why has it become such a common thing to break the Sabbath?” That it is a common thing can’t be denied. It is a rare church today where any attempt is made to keep the Sabbath Day holy in the Lord. Did you ever ask a minister, who says nothing about this in his church, why he does not?
Did you ever pin him down to giving a reason for it? You might be surprised at his answer.

Many of them will answer with words like these: “Well, I fail to see why this has too much importance to the church of today. After all, this was a ceremonial law and ceremonial laws are no longer binding on the Christian. Besides, you can’t expect too much of the people. We should be thankful if they attend church on the Lord’s Day.”

There are two glaring errors in such an answer. The first error is that the keeping of the Sabbath was a ceremonial law. The observing of the Sabbath was instituted a long time before God gave His people the ceremonial laws through His servant Moses. The keeping of the Sabbath is one of the moral laws handed down by God and is just as binding as the other nine commandments. Did you ever notice that in our Shorter Catechism there are more questions devoted to the keeping of the Sabbath than in any other of the commandments?

The second error in the hypothetical answer by the minister is that of not expecting too much of the people. This is a common error today of ministers and one that is practiced by many ministers in their work. In the area of Sabbath keeping the average minister of today has simply given up. He keeps quiet; but he is commissioned by God to preach the whole counsel of God and the keeping of the Sabbath must be submitted to the Lordship of Christ just as much as anything else. He should remember that Christ did not eliminate the keeping of the Sabbath. Christ simply placed it where it belonged. He secured It. He placed it under His Lordship. (Matt. 12:7, 8).

As a born-again believer, ‘What are you doing about the Sabbath? Do you recognize the Lordship of Christ in this area of your Christian life? Would you be willing to submit every part of your life to this commandment? May God help all of us to do so, all to His glory.

The Shield and Sword, Inc.
MemphIs, Tennessee 38117.
Vol. 4 No. 56
Rev. Leonard T. Van Hom, Editor
August, 1965.

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We are pleased to begin today our series on Election Day Sermons, authored by the Rev. David W. Hall, pastor of the Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, Georgia. This series will post every Saturday and will run through most of this year, concluding at the end of October. We had originally intended to post the first segment next Saturday, January 30th, just prior to the Iowa Caucus, but Dr. Hall thought the following to be timely, and so we begin the series today. The last post in the series should appear approximately right before Election Day in November of this year. 

A Sermon on the Anniversary of the Independence of America by Samuel Miller (July 4, 1793)
by Dr. David W. Hall 

On January 18th at Liberty University, a Republican candidate referred to a Bible passage in his talk (and was criticized for wrongly citing it—although some scholars would agree that “2 Corinthians” is as acceptable as “Second Corinthians” as far as phraseology goes, but we doubt that Mr. Trump was aware of those nuances), advising that Christianity was under siege. While such remarks stir our passions, more than two centuries earlier, another speaker referred to that same passage with an entire sermon devoted to it. If one wishes a more thorough explication of this passage, one could consult Samuel Miller’s “Sermon on the Anniversary of the Independence of America.” Perhaps even Mr. Trump would benefit from a more detailed acquaintance with this classic sermon.

If one doesn’t believe that earlier American preachers frequently preached politically-ladened material, he is simply not aware of history. In this 1793 memorial sermon, a youthful stalwart from Princeton chose the text from 2 Cor. 3:17 (“And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty”) to remind his listeners of the blessings of liberty. He addressed them as “near witnesses of these stupendous transactions,” even though the events were well known. He set the stage with this well-stated opening:

In contemplating national advantages, and national happiness, numerous are the objects which present themselves to a wise and reflecting patriot. While he remembers the past, with thankfulness and triumph; and while he looks forward, with glowing anticipation, to future glories, he will by no means forget to inquire into the secret springs, which had an active influence in the former, and which, there is reason to believe, will be equally connected with the latter.

Neagle-Sartain portraitSamuel Miller (1769-1850) was the second Professor at Princeton Seminary (NJ) beginning in 1813. Ordained in 1793, he pastored several churches in New York City (Wall Street and First Presbyterian Churches) The author of numerous theological and ecclesiological texts, Miller is viewed as a co-founder of Princeton Seminary (1813), becoming the pedagogical guiding light for the likes of Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, and others. His interests ranged from theater to slavery, and from history to government. He also served as Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly. He is a distinct link between the Colonial era and the nineteenth century.

Miller wishes to offer “a few general remarks on the important influence of the Christian religion in promoting political freedom.” Fully cognizant of the original setting and meaning of this passage in Corinthians, notwithstanding, Miller believed that “the proposition contained in our text is equally true, whether we understand it as speaking of spiritual or political liberty, we may safely apply it to the latter, without incurring the charge of unnatural perversion.” Far from hesitating to apply this ancient text to his moment, he preached:

The sentiment, then, which I shall deduce from the text, and to illustrate and urge which, shall be the principal object of the present discourse, is, That the general prevalence of real Christianity, in any government, has a direct and immediate tendency to promote, and to confirm therein, political liberty.

This important truth may be established, both by attending to the nature of this religion, in an abstract view; and by adverting to fact, and the experimental testimony with which we are furnished by history.

Like Calvin before him, Miller still spoke of human depravity and referred to “tyranny” (used 6 times in this sermon) as the causative enemy both to be avoided and which justified rebellion. Further, political liberty did not automatically flow from consent of the governed, dispersed governmental branches, nor did “political liberty . . . rest, solely, on the form of government, under which a nation may happen to live.” Instead, “It must have its seat in the hearts and dispositions of those individuals which compose the body politic; and it is with the hearts and dispositions of men that Christianity is conversant.” Thus, enduring liberty, “that perfect law of liberty, which this holy religion includes, prevails and governs in the minds of all, their freedom rests upon a basis more solid and immovable, than human wisdom can devise. For the obvious tendency of this divine system, in all its parts, is, in the language of its great Author, to bring deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to undo the heavy burdens; to let the oppressed go free; and to break every yoke.

With piercing specificity, he claimed: “The prevalence of real Christianity, tends to promote the principles and the love of political freedom, by the doctrines which it teaches, concerning the human character, and the unalienable rights of mankind; and by the virtues which it inculcates, and leads its votaries to practice.” A correlate of this biblical faith was:

Christianity, on the one hand, teaches those, who are raised to places of authority, that they are not intrinsically greater than those whom they govern; and that all the rational and justifiable power with which they are invested, flows from the people, and is dependent on their sovereign pleasure. There is a love of dominion natural to every human creator; and in those who are destitute of religion, this temper is apt to reign uncontrolled. Hence experience has always testified, that rulers, left to themselves, are prone to imagine, that they are a superior order of beings . . .

In contrast to the religion of self,

Christianity, wherever it exerts its native influence, leads every citizen to reverence himself-to cherish a free and manly spirit-to think with boldness and energy-to form his principles upon fair inquiry, and to resign neither his conscience nor his person to the capricious will of men. It teaches, and it creates in the mind, a noble contempt for that abject submission to the encroachments of despotism, to which the ignorant and the unprincipled readily yield. It forbids us to call, or to acknowledge, any one master upon earth, knowing that we have a Master in heaven, to whom both rulers, and those whom they govern, are equally accountable. In a word, Christianity, by illuminating the minds of men, leads them to consider themselves, as they really are, all coordinate terrestrial princes, stripped, indeed, of the empty pageantry and title, but retaining the substance of dignity and power. Under the influence of this illumination, how natural to disdain the shackles of oppression-to take the alarm at every attempt to trample on their just rights; and to pull down, with indignation, from the seat of authority, every bold invader!

One of Miller’s clearest summaries asserts: “The prevalence of Christianity promotes the principles and the love of political freedom, not only by the knowledge which it affords of the human character, and of the unalienable rights of mankind, but also by the duties which it inculcates, and leads its votaries to discharge.” Further, he sees “the native tendency of the Christian religion” as promoting “civil liberty.” Miller adds: “When we compare those nations, in which Christianity was unknown, with those which have been happily favored with the light of spiritual day, we find ample reason to justify the remarks which have been made.”

Miller not only extols the value of religion for the public square but also he claimed that “there never was a government, in which the knowledge of pure and undefiled Christianity prevailed, in which, at the same time, despotism held his throne without control.” As a specific, Miller thought Christianity mitigated against slavery, which yielded “to the mild and benign spirit of Christianity. Experience has shown, that domestic slavery also flies before her, unable to stand the test of her pure and holy tribunal. After the introduction of this religion into the Roman empire, every law that was made, relating to slaves, was in their favor, abating the rigors of servitude, until, at last, all the subjects of the empire were reckoned equally free.” He also expected that “Christianity shall extend her scepter of benevolence and love over every part of this growing empire-when oppression shall not only be softened of his rigors; but shall take his flight forever from our land.”

This sermon is available in printed form in both Election Day Sermons (Covenant Foundation, 1996) and the excellent anthology by Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998); it is accessible online at: http://consource.org/document/a-sermon-on-the-anniversary-of-the-independence-of-america-by-samuel-miller-1793-7-4/
I
t is also available as a photographic scan of an original copy, here.

Excerpts from Miller’s stirring conclusion are below to entice the reader to access the whole.

Again; if it be a solemn truth, that the prevalence of Christianity, has a natural and immediate tendency to promote political freedom, then, those are the truest and the wisest patriots, who study to increase its influence in society. Hence it becomes every American citizen to consider this as the great palladium of our liberty, demanding our first and highest care. . . .To each of you, then, my fellow citizens, on this anniversary of our independence, be the solemn address made! do you wish to stand fast in that liberty, wherewith the Governor of the universe hath made you free? Do you desire the increasing prosperity of your country? Do you wish to see the law respected-good order preserved, and universal peace to prevail? Are you convinced, that purity of morals is necessary for these important purposes? Do you believe, that the Christian religion is the firmest basis of morality? Fix its credit, then, by adopting it yourselves, and spread its glory by the luster of your example! And while you tell to your children, and to your children’s children, the wonderful works of the Lord, and the great deliverance which he hath wrought out for us, teach them to remember the Author of these blessings, and they will know how to estimate their value. Teach them to acknowledge the God of heaven as their King, and they will despise submission to earthly despots. Teach them to be Christians, and they will ever be free.

Dr. David W. Hall, Pastor
Midway Presbyterian Church
Powder Springs, Georgia

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taylorgaikenGeorge Aiken Taylor was born on January 22, 1920 in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, the son of Presbyterian missionaries George W. Taylor and Julia Pratt Taylor.  When he was fifteen years old he returned to this country to complete his education, graduating from the Presbyterian College of South Carolina with the A.B. degree in 1940.  He taught in the South Carolina public schools for a year, and then entered the U.S. Army in 1941.  He served with the 36th (Texas) Infantry Division and rose to the rank of Captain, commanding a heavy weapons company in the 142nd Infantry.  He participated in five major campaigns in World War II, was wounded once and decorated once.

Taylor married the former Blanche Williams of Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1942 and to this marriage, four children were born.

After the war, Taylor entered Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, graduating with the B.D. degree, Magna Cum Laude in 1948.  He was also ordained in 1948.  He served as pastor of Smyrna Presbyterian Church in Smyrna, Georgia for two years and then became pastor of Northside Presbyterian Church in Burlington, North Carolina.  In 1950 he then entered Duke University for graduate study.  Later he was awarded the Ph.D. degree by Duke for his dissertation, John Calvin, the Teacher, a study of religious education in Calvin’s Geneva.

Dr. Taylor served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Louisiana from 1954 to 1959.  He became interested in the work of Alcoholics Anonymous through his own work with alcoholics, developing an appreciation for A.A.’s principles, and wrote A Sober Faith in 1953.  His book St. Luke’s Life of Jesus was published in 1954.

In 1959 Dr. Taylor became editor of The Presbyterian Journal, an independent weekly with an international circulation and with offices in Asheville, North Carolina.  He served in this capacity for twenty-four years, and during that time was active in the conservative movement in the PCUS which eventuated in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), formed in 1973.  He was a leader in the PCA and was elected moderator of its General Assembly in 1978.

In 1983, Dr. Taylor was named president of Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, and was inaugurated in December of that year.  However, three months later—on March 6, 1984—he died suddenly.  Memorial services were held in Pennsylvania, and funeral services at Gaither Chapel in Montreat, North Carolina.  Dr. Taylor was buried in nearby Swannanoa, North Carolina.

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