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The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 10.

Q.10. How did God create man?

  1. God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.


Created.—Made or formed.

Male and Female.—Man and Woman.

After his own image.—After God’s likeness or resemblance.

With dominion over the creatures.—Having power, or authority, over the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea.


In this there are four things taught:

  1. That God made man male and female.—Genesis i. 27. God created man—male and female created he them.
  2. That man was made after the image or likeness of God.—Genesis i. 27. God created man in his own image.
  3. That God’s image consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.—Colossians iii. 10. And have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.—Ephesians iv. 24. The new man, who, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.

4. That man, when first created, had dominion over the creatures.—Genesis i. 28. And God blessed them, and said unto them,—Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Happy Birthday! The following PCA churches were organized [particularized] on this day, in the year indicated. Nearly one-third of all PCA churches pre-date the 1973 formation of the PCA, and for most of those churches, we do not presently know their exact date of organization. Typically it is the newer churches where we have that information. Please let us know if we missed a church’s anniversary date and we’ll add it to our list for future use. In some cases here we are using the date when the church came into the PCA, rather than when it was organized.

Covenant Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, AL [Evangel], organized March 4, 1979.
Covenant Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC [Calvary Presbytery], organized March 4, 1951 and was among the founding churches of the PCA in 1973.
Parish Presbyterian Church, Franklin, TN [Nashville Presbytery], organized March 4, 2007.
River’s Edge Community Church, Oella, MD [Chesapeake Presbytery], organized March 4, 2007.

From the brief church history presented on the web site of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina:

Covenant Presbyterian Church was formally organized by a commission of Congaree Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States on Sunday, March 4, 1951, in a service held at Watkins School. The Reverend Harry F. Petersen, Jr., Executive Secretary of Congaree Presbytery, was instrumental in the founding of the church and leading it during the early years before a pastor was called. Pastors of the congregation have included the Rev. Cecil D. Brearley, Jr. (1954 – 1960), the Rev. Harry T. Schutte (1960 – 1977), the Rev. J. Gary Aitken (1977 – 1990), the Rev. LeRoy H. Ferguson (1991 – 2001) and the Rev. Eric R. Dye (2004 – present).

The congregation met in Watkins School until August of 1951. We moved when construction of the first sanctuary was completed on property on Alms House Road in the rapidly growing northeastern area of Columbia. Alms House Road was later renamed Covenant Road after the church. In 1959, a new church sanctuary and children’s building were dedicated on the same property. Additional buildings have been added since then to support our ministry.

On July 1, 1973, Covenant Church voted to pull out of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and join the newly organized, more reformed Presbyterian Church in America.

In addition to its witness to Christ, Covenant has served members of the congregation and community with a Christian school. Beginning with a kindergarten and adding elementary grades in 1982, Covenant Presbyterian Day School was established. The school, now known as Covenant Classical Christian School, has grown to a full K4-12th grade Classical Christian School with a current enrollment of 166. Many of Covenant’s members are now serving as ministers in Presbyterian churches, on the mission field and other Christian ministries.

Covenant has always taken an active part in the work of the higher courts of the church. Its pastors and many of its members have served on Presbytery and General Assembly committees.

This short history offers only a glimpse of the way in which God has blessed and used the ministry of Covenant Church. All over the state and nation are those who for a time were touched by the ministry of Covenant. “To God be the glory … great things He hath done.”


Mind Your Tongue!

The following letter will serve to illustrate the state of Mr. Tennent’s mind at this period:—


“February 12, 1742.

“I have many afflicting thoughts about the debates which have subsisted in our synod for some time.  I would to God the breach were healed, were it the will of the Almighty.  As for my own part, wherein I have mismanaged in doing what I did, I do look upon it to be my duty, and should be willing to acknowledge it in the openest manner.  I cannot justify the excessive heat of temper which has sometime appeared in my conduct.  I have been of late, since I returned from New England, visited with much spiritual desertion and distresses of various kinds, coming in a thick and almost continual suc-cession, which have given me a greater discovery of myself than I think I ever had before.  These things, with the trial[2] of the Moravians, have given me a clear view of the danger of every thing which tends to enthusiasm and division in the visible church.  I think that while the enthusiastical Moravians, and Long-beards or Pietists, are uniting their bodies, (no doubt to increase their strength and render  themselves more consider-able,) it is a shame that the ministers who are in the main of sound principles in religion should be divided and quarrelling.  Alas for it!  my soul is sick for these things.  I wish that some scriptural methods could be fallen upon to put an end to these confusions.  Some time since I felt a disposition to fall on my knees, if I had opportunity, to entreat them to be at peace.

“I remain, with all due honour and respect, your poor worthless brother in the ministry.

“P.S.—I break open this letter myself, to add my thoughts about some extraordinary things in Mr. Davenport’s conduct.  As to his making his judgment about the internal states of persons or their experience, a term of church fellowship, I believe it is unscriptural, and of awful tendency to rend and tear the church.  It is bottomed upon a false base,—viz.:  that a certain and infallible knowledge of the good estate of men is attainable in this life from their experience.  The practice is schismatical, inasmuch as it sets up a term of communion which Christ has not fixed.  The late method of setting up separate meetings upon the supposed unregeneracy of pastors is enthusiastical, proud, and schismatical.  All that fear God ought to oppose it as a most dangerous engine to bring the churches into the most damnable errors and confusions.  The practice is built upon a twofold false hypothesis—infallibility of knowledge, and that unconverted ministers will be used as instruments of no good in the church.  The practice of openly exposing ministers who are supposed to be unconverted, in public discourse, by particular application of times and places, serves only to provoke them instead of doing them any good, and declares our own arrogance.  It is an unprecedented, divi-sial, and pernicious practice.  It is lording it over our brethren to a degree superior to what any prelate has pretended, since the coming of Christ, so far as I know, the pope only excepted; though I really do not remember to have read that the pope went on at this rate.  The sending out of unlearned men to teach others upon the supposition of their piety in ordinary cases seems to bring the ministry into contempt, to cherish enthusiasm, and bring all into confusion.  Whatever fair face
it may have, it is a most perverse practice.  The practice of singing in the streets is a piece of weakness and enthusiastical ostentation.

“I wish you success, dear sir, in your journey; my soul is grieved for such enthusiastical fooleries.  They portend much mischief to the poor church of God if they be not seasonably checked.  May your labours be blessed for that end!  I must also express my abhorrence of all pretence to immediate inspiration or following immediate impulses, as an enthusiastical, perilous ignis-fatuus.

Well might “Philalethes” array Gilbert against Tennent, when this letter issued from the press, at the very time the third edition of the Nottingham Sermon appeared.  How Tennent could so entirely have forgotten his own guiltiness in the main with Davenport, is not to be conjectured.  The letter is like David’s condemnation to death of the rich man who furnished his guest with a feast on the only lamb of his poor neighbor.  Did Dickinson reply with Nathan’s rebuke to him?  Probably he was so rejoiced to be furnished for his journey with this weapon of proof, that he forgot to notice the inconsistency.

[1] Published in Pennsylvania Gazette, and reprinted in Hodge’s History.

[2] Brainerd to Bellamy, March 26, 1743, writes as follows—“The Moravian tenets cause as much debate as ever; and for my part I’m totally lost and non-plussed about ‘em, so that I endeavour as much as possible to suspend my judgment about ‘em, for I cannot tell whether they are eminent Christians, or whether their conduct is all underhanded policy and an intreague of Satan.  The more I talked to Mr. Noble and others, the more I was lost and puzzled; and yet Mr. Nobel must be a Christian.


Death in New York of a Distinguished South Carolina Divine and Patriotic Citizen.

The Charleston News and Courier, of last week, contained the following write up of the life and distinguished services of the Rev. Francis P. Mullally, D. D., who died in New York on January 17, 1904. We feel sure the article will be read with interest, as Mr. Mullally was well known to a great many of readers:

Dr. Mullally was a native of the County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of what is called in that country a gentleman farmer. His early boyhood was passed in that romantic, region. Ile had inherited a love for field sports and became a splendid horseman, ever foremost in the chase. He had finished his academic studies, when the “Young Ireland” party raised the standard of revolt, under the leadership of Smith

O’Brien, John Mitchell, Thomas F. Meagher, Devin Reilly, Thomas Davis and other gifted and gallant Irishmen.  It was the famous movement of 1848, which terminated in disaster and defeat.  Dr. Mullally was one of the most ardent and active of the revolutionists; his zeal in the cause and the sterling qualities of the young patriot attracted the admiration of Smith O’Brien, who appointed him his private secretary.

He enjoyed the confidence of the leaders and was complimented for his courage and constancy, which was a breathing inspiration, a glowing heart-fire.

After the capture, conviction and transportation of the leaders he managed to escape and came to America.  After remaining for a brief period in New York he went to Georgia and taught the classics in the C. P. Beman Academy, near Sparta.  He then came to this State and settled in Columbia, where he entered the Presbyterian Seminary, from which he was graduated with high honors.  On entering the ministry ho was appointed co-pastor to the renowned Rev. J. H. Thornwell, D. D., and soon became prominent in religious circles, and was noted for eloquence, impressiveness, fervor and zeal.

In 1859 he was married to Miss Elizabeth K. Adger, daughter of the Rev. J. B. Adger, D. D.  At the breaking out of the war he promptly volunteered his services and entered the field as a member of a company attached to the 2d regiment South

Carolina volunteers, commanded by the knightly Col. J. B. Kershaw, and went to Virginia with that command, doing his duty faithfully. Although a minister of the Gospel he was frequently found on the firing line, not only giving spiritual consolation to the dying, but also encouraging the men fighting in the front of the battle.  On one occasion, at least, he used a rifle effectively, and his coolness and courage elicited the admiration of Lieut. Col. William Wallace, and that fearless officer spoke of him as the embodiment of bravery.  When Orr’s 1st regiment of rifles went to Virginia, under the command of the gallant and chivalrous Col. J. Foster Marshall, Dr. Mullally was appointed regimental chaplain and immediately won the affection of the men by his devotion to duty, his winning amiability of manner and lofty eloquence, which attracted the attention and thrilled hundreds in other regiments of Gregg’s (afterwards McGowan’s) brigade.  Gen. McGowan complimented him highly for the deep interest he took in the welfare of the men.

Dr. Mullally was known to Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, who spoke of him in complimentary terms.  On that memorable morning, at the Wilderness, when the lion hearted Gen. Micah Jenkins was killed and Gen. Longstreet was seriously wounded, Dr. Mullally was in the midst of the fight, his handsome and expressive face all aglow as he cheered his courageous comrades or knelt by the dying heroes.

After the fateful 9th of April at Appomattox Dr. Mullally returned to South Carolina, and for some time taught school in Pendleton.  He afterwards went to Boliver, Tenn., thence to Covington, Ky., where he remained several years as pastor of one of the churches. The failure of the Southern cause, like the unsuccessful rising in his loved motherland, left him depressed in spirit.  He went to Sparta, Ga., and subsequently to Lexington, Va., where he took a course in law at the Washington and Lee University. The degree of doctor of divinity was conferred on him by the Mecklenburg college.  For some time he was the able and accomplished President of Adger College, Walhalla.  He lived in Dakota for two years; after this he went to New York, where he remained until the lamatable day of his death.  Although absent from

South Carolina, the affection for the cherished home of his adoption remained unchanged.  He continued to believe in the righteousness of the noble cause he so ardently espoused and so faithfully defended.

Dr. Mullally was strikingly handsome, tall and finely proportioned.  He was magnetic in manner, cultured and of a gentle and generous nature. His piety was of the purest order.  He was high-mined and conscientious, firm in his opinions, but temperate and tolerant towards others.  He loved his fellow man, assisted him when in distress, made due allowance for his frailties and aided him, too, in a manner fully commensurate with his means.  His devotion to his native land was a passion and a romance. In the South he had many admiring friends, who loved him when living, to whom he had endeared himself by his warm-heartedness, manly and sterling qualities, and who deeply deplore his death. Among the many tributes paid to Dr. Mullally during the war, there was none more eloquent than that which came from one of his heroic army comrades, the late Judge James S. Cothran, of Abbeville, to whose assistance Dr. Mullally went during the battle in which that gallant officer was seriously wounded.  Judge Cothran frequently said Dr. Mullally was, like Bayard of old, “without fear and without reproach.”  Dr. Mullally was a finished scholar, thoroughly versed in the classics; his oratory was of the Ciceronian order. There are survivors of McGowan’s brigade in Charleston and elsewhere throughout the State who recall his rich and resonant voice, his fertility of thought and felicity of expression.  During the winter of 1864 he delivered a discourse on the righteousness of the Confederate cause which was a masterpiece of lofty and inspired eloquence, learned and logical. Dr. Mullally wrote a series of able and brilliant articles on the book of Romans, and was a frequent contributor to papers and magazines.  He was domestic in his habits and loved the happiness and tranquillity of the home circle. Dr. Mullally leaves eight children : J. B. Adger Mullally, Thornwell, Mandeville, Lane, William, Miss Elizabeth K., Miss Susie D. A. and Miss Mary Clare Mullally.

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The School & Family Catechist.

SmithThis new year brings us to some “new” material on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Each Sunday this year we will be drawing from a work by the Rev. William Smith of Glasgow, published in 1836. The full title of the work is The school and family catechist, or, An explication and analysis of the Assembly’s Shorter catechism; : with appropriate passages of Scripture, attached to each division of the analysis, proving the doctrine or precept, and showing it to be founded on the word of God. From what we’ve been able to find, it was popular enough in its day, but appears now to be something of a rare work, with no more than five copies to be found worldwide, one of which is thankfully at the PCA Historical Center. It has been equally difficult to find out anything about the author, the Rev. William Smith (a common name makes the search more difficult!). He was at least an author of some note in his own era, having published at least four or five other works, and this particular work seems to have met with some success, going through at least three editions in Scotland and one in North America. As he opens this little volume in a Preface, I’m struck by true words which remain timely even today:

An acquaintance with the principles of our holy religion is a matter of high importance, both to our present happiness, and to our future welfare. It is always in a religious community that the best members of society are to be found, whether man be contemplated in the capacity of a magistrate, or of a subject, as filling the higher, or as occupying the more subordinate stations of human life. In those countries where true religion is unknown, or, which amounts to nearly the same thing, where it has little or no hold upon the minds of the people at large, crimes the most shocking, and the most revolting to humanity, are perpetrated without remorse. If then, a religious education be highly advantageous to us, even as members of civil society, and as beings appointed to act a part on the stage of time, how does it rise in importance, when we consider that it is essentially necessary, and indispensable, to our preparation for eternity, and for entering upon that state of being, in which our everlasting happiness or misery shall, as we are assured, greatly depend upon the habits we have formed in the present life. If we be desirous of reaping the proper fruit, let us take care that the soil be well cultivated, and the seed sowed in due time. If we are anxious, that our children should act their part in life in such a manner as to promote their comfort and respectability here, and their eternal happiness hereafter, let us be careful to have their minds stored, as early as possible, with sentiments of religion and of virtue. This is the only sure foundation that we can lay for their future usefulness and comfort in life, and for their welfare in another world. If a religious education is thus important, it must then be evident, that an acquaintance with the principles of religion is indispensably necessary, since without this no real progress can be made in spiritual knowledge. Hence the evident utility of those publications in which these princples are laid down clearly and distinctly, divested of all extraneous matter. [emphasis added]

Smith’s approach is similar to that of Fisher in his Catechism, where additional questions and answers are added to explain and expound those found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Rev. Smith however is careful to note that his approach is to remain succinct and to keep the whole work short, thus the more likely to be used with some profit.

But for today, here is our first entry, in which Rev. Smith briefly deals with the first question of the Shorter Catechism. You will quickly note that his treatments are briefer than those which we ran last year by Rev. Van Horn. But I trust a more succinct handling of each question will in turn allow our readers more time to reflect on what is said here:—

Quest. by  1. WHAT is the chief end of man?
Ans. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.


Chief end.—The principle purpose or design for which man was made, and to which he should, above all things, labor to attain.

To glorify God
.—To do honor to his name, by loving him, and trusting in him, believing his word, and keeping his commandments.

To enjoy him for ever
.—To have God’s favor, and the influences of his Spirit in this world, and to share in the happiness of his immediate presence in heaven hereafter.

Here we learn that the principle design of every man’s being sent into the world is twofold:

1. To glorify God.—1 Cor. x. 31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

2. To enjoy God.—Psalm lxxiii. 25, 26. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.—God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

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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by Rev. Leonard Van Horn

Q. 95. To Whom is baptism to be administered?

A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to Him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Scripture References: Acts 8:36; Acts 2:38-39; I Cor. 7:14; Ephesians 2:12 (See verses below).

1. Is it Scriptural to administer baptism to all people?
A. No, only those who are members of the visible church, who are part of the covenant, are eligible.

2. How can infants be baptized, an infant who cannot repent and believe and thus become a member of the visible church?
A. Our Larger Catechism teaches us that the visible church is made up of “all such as profess the true religion, and their children.”

3. Can you explain, in outline form, the proof that infants should be baptized?
A. The following steps are involved and it should be kept in mind that these steps are simply motivators for your own study in this important doctrine:
—1. When you consider infant baptism you are basing your belief on what we call “Covenant Theology” for the practice of infant baptism is vitally related to the covenant of grace.
—2. The infant must be the child of a believing parent (or parents) in order to be considered part of the covenant (I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:38-39).
—3. God established a covenant of grace with Abraham and this covenant included children (Gen. 17:7, 11-12).
—4. The covenant of the Old Testament and the covenant of the New Testament are substantially the same and God promised it would be an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:7; Gal. 3:13; Rom. 4:3).
—5. The rite of circumcision symbolized salvation in the Old Testament and it was the sign of the covenant relationship between God and His people. Baptism in the New Testament symbolized the same. (Gen. 17; Deut. 10; Rom. 4; Col. 2:11-12).
—6. God’s people, because of the teachings just mentioned, are bound to put the sign of the covenant upon themselves and their children.


Many times, in churches subscribing to Reformed doctrine, the sacrament of baptism is taken too lightly. Too many parents are guilty of an attitude of thinking their task is done when they have their child baptized.

Too many churches give themselves a pious pat on the back when another child is baptized and feel that their task is completed. The sacrament of baptism is used in the wrong way so many times.

It is good for us once in a while to review our beliefs about a particular doctrine. In regard to baptism, we need to be reminded again and again that a person may be saved without it and a person may be lost even with it. We do not believe in the necessity of baptism for salvation. We do think it is a sin to neglect it. Here we need to review what our Confession states regarding it: “. . . it be a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance.” Again, “The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred, by the Holy Ghost. . .”

John Murray put it well when he said, “To suppose that we may entertain any confidence respecting the covenant grace signified and sealed by our baptism, if we are destitute of godly fear, if we break God’s covenant, and walk contrary to his commandments, would be contradiction.”

God help us to use this sacrament in the correct way!

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. 6, No. 11 (November 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

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What Happened To The Signers Of The Auburn Affirmation?

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

This is the second in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance and Co-operation.” This is an informative series of articles which was written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church and published in 1949:—


According to the heretical Auburn Affirmation, a Northern Presbyterian minister might believe that the Holy Bible contained many errors, that the Lord Jesus Christ was an illegitimate child, that His body still rests in the grave in Palestine until this very day, that He most emphatically did ‘not offer up Himself a sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice and reconcile us to God, and that He never performed a single miracle during His entire life—a Northern Presbyterian minister might believe and proclaim these views and yet be worthy of all confidence and fellowship.”

Why The Affirmation Was Published 

The heretical Auburn Affirmation had come into being because the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church had in 1923 declared each of the following to be “an essential doctrine of the Word of God and our standards”:

1. The full inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.
2. The Virgin Birth of Christ.

3. His substitutionary atonement by which He satisfied Divine justice and reconciled us to God.

4. His bodily resurrection.

5. His miracles.

These five doctrines, which became known as the “Five Points,” had previously been declared to be “essential” doctrines by the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church in 1910 and later in 1916.

Now the Auburn Affirmation, which was published in 1924, bearing the names of 1,293 ordained ministers who constituted more than one-tenth of the ministers then in the Northern Presbyterian denomination, was issued in protest. It affirmed that not one of the doctrines declared to be “essential” by the General Assembly of 1923 was really essential at all, and that all of the “Five Points,” far from being “essential” doctrines, were only “theories.”

In The Southern Presbyterian Journal of July 1949, the heresies and apostasy contained in the Auburn Affirmation were discussed in more detail than available space permits here.

What ever happened to the Presbyterian ministers who signed this infamous Auburn Affirmation?
Were any of them ever tried for heresy? Were any of them expelled from the Northern Presbyterian Church?

The Affirmationists Were Never Disciplined

No, strange to say, not one signer of the Auburn Affirmation was ever tried for heresy or dismissed from the Northern Presbyterian Church. Back in 1893 the General Assembly had convicted Dr. Charles A. Briggs of heresy and had suspended him from the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church for teaching, among other things, that the Scriptures contained error. And on similar charges Professor Henry Preserved Smith, of Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, had likewise been convicted of heresy and had been suspended from the ministry of that denomination in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

But after the Auburn Affirmation was published in 1924, none of the almost 1,300 signers of that document were ever even tried for heresy. As some of the Bible-believing members of the Northern Presbyterian denomination freely admitted later, the Conservatives failed to do their full duty in this connection.

The Conservatives in the Northern Presbyterian Church did make some attempt to deal with the Auburn Affirmation heresy. For instance, in April of 1924 the Presbytery of Cincinnati presented to the General Assembly of that denomination an overture which officially placed the Auburn Affirmation before it, with the request that proper action be taken in the matter. This overture was referred to the General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Bills and Overtures, which was known to be “extremely liberal’’ — and which had four Auburn Affirmationists in its membership! As would be expected, this Committee recommended to the General Assembly that “no action be taken” on the overture, and the General Assembly adopted this Committee’s recommendation.

A Heresy Trial Was Attempted 

Ten years later, in 1934, an effort was made at last to discipline some of the signers of the Auburn Affirmation in one of the Presbyteries of the Northern Presbyterian Church. In October of that year formal charges of heresy were filed in the Presbytery of Philadelphia against eleven Auburn Affirmationist ministers who were subject to the jurisdiction of that Presbytery. But the proceedings never reached the stage of a trial, and the doctrinal issues involved were never squarely faced by the ministers accused. It was claimed that the Auburn Affirmation had been signed some ten years earlier and that a trial was now outlawed by the “statute of limitations.” After a considerable amount of argument, the Presbytery of Philadelphia, by a vote (in which the accused ministers themselves took part!), refused to allow the formal charges of heresy to be referred to its Committee on Judicial Business, and it ordered the formal charges of heresy to be returned to the prosecutors who had filed them.

Thus the efforts of the Conservatives to discipline the signers of the heretical Auburn Affirmation had failed. And the Modernist camel, having now thrust his head into the Northern Presbyterian tent, soon began to thrust in his shoulders preparatory to standing up and trying to walk off with the entire tent.

Affirmationist Influence In The General Assembly 

Since 1924 the power and influence of the Auburn Affirmationists have been greatly increased and have become more and more evident in the affairs of the Northern Presbyterian Church. Auburn Affirmation signers have been placed on the most important committees and boards of the General Assembly of that denomination, and Au-

burn Affirmationists have been placed on the faculties and boards of trustees of some of its theological seminaries.

It was not until 1940, however, that the Auburn Affirmationists succeeded in having one of their number, Dr. William L. Young, elected to the high office of Moderator of the General Assembly.

And in the same General Assembly of 1940 the influence and power of the Affirmationists were clearly demonstrated with regard to an overture received from the Presbytery of Arkansas (of the Northern Presbyterian Church), which asked that the “Five Points” which had been declared to be “essential” doctrines by the General Assembly of 1923 now be declared once more to be essential. This overture was referred to the General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Bills and Overtures— the chairman of which was an Auburn Affirmation signer. This Committee recommended, of course, that the General Assembly take no action on the overture from the Presbytery of Arkansas. And the General Assembly adopted this Committee’s recommendation by unanimous vote.

And in the General Assembly of 1941 the power and influence of the Auburn Affirmationists were again clearly demonstrated. In that year the Presbytery of Cedar Rapids sent an overture to the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church which was intended to assure our Southern Presbyterian Church of the doctrinal soundness of the Northern Presbyterian denomination. This overture asked the General Assembly to state that it regarded the following “as being involved in the ordination vows to which we subscribe”:—the infallible truth and Divine authority of the Scriptures, belief in Christ as true and eternal God, the Virgin Birth of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection, and the second coming of Christ.

This overture from the Presbytery of Cedar Rapids was referred to the General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Bills and Overtures, and that Committee had as its chairman in 1941 none other than Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, who was among the first one hundred and fifty Northern Presbyterian ministers who had signed the Auburn Affirmation! Dr. Coffin’s Committee took this overture and rewrote it so that it did not affirm a single Christian doctrine! The General Assembly then adopted this rewritten overture piously reaffirming “the fidelity of the Church to its doctrinal standards” and declared itself convinced that “its ministers and elders are loyal to their ordination vows”—whatever that might mean, to Auburn Affirmationists and to other Modernists!

Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin Elected Moderator 

But it was not until 1943 that the Auburn Affirmationists finally succeeded in climbing Mount Everest and in planting the Modernist banner on its very summit. For it was in 1943 that Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, that extreme, radical Modernist who was among the first to sign the Auburn Affirmation, was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church! Twenty years ago no one would have dreamed that this could possibly happen!

Dr. Coffin, long-term President of Union Theological Seminary of New York City, one of the most noted centers of extreme Modernism in America; an institution which in 1892 terminated its relation to the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church because the General Assembly of that denomination had in 1891 failed to confirm the appointment of Dr. Charles A. Briggs as Professor of Biblical Theology at Union Theological Seminary of New York City (the same Dr. Briggs who was found guilty of heresy and was suspended from the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church in 1893 but who remained a professor at Union Seminary until his death in 1913); Union Seminary of New York, that institution which for years had as Professor of Practical Theology the well-known, radical Modernist, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, who has written, over his own signature, the following statement: “I do not believe in the Virgin Birth, or in that old-fashioned substitutionary Doctrine of the Atonement; and I do not know any intelligent Christian minister who does”! Dr. Coffin, who himself has written: “Certain widely used hymns still perpetuate the theory that God pardons sinners because Christ purchased that pardon by his obedience and suffering. But a forgiveness that is paid for is not forgiveness. There is no cleansing blood which can wipe out threcord of what has been—the Cross of Christ is not a means of procuring forgiveness”! Dr. Coffin of all the ministers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, honored with the highest position in that denomination!

Truly the signers of the heretical Auburn Affirmation had come a long way since 1924.

The Affirmationists Today 

Today the Northern Presbyterian denomination is honey-combed with Auburn Affirmationists and with their theological fellow-travelers. Their influence in the official affairs of that church is decidedly powerful and wide-spread. They have their hands on much of the machinery that governs the affairs of that denomination.

If the Southern Presbyterian Church were to unite with the very much larger Northern Presbyterian Church, Southern Presbyterians could rest assured that to a very large extent their church activities would be controlled by the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists who are now exerting such a powerful influence in the larger Northern Presbyterian Church.

What shall every Southern Presbyterian, as a Bible-believing Christian who repudiates completely the views contained in the Auburn Affirmation and who wishes to remain separated from the signers of the heretical Auburn Affirmation, say with regard to the proposed union with the heresy-tainted Northern Presbyterian Church?

Thou Shalt Say, No!

The latter half of the twentieth century was marked by a number of unions between various Presbyterian denominations. There were splits too, but the number of mergers or attempted mergers was noteworthy. One attempted merger, never brought to completion, occurred over the middle years of the 1970s. Ultimately these talks between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) ended without creating the merger. Perhaps more accurately, talks of merger were transformed into a larger vision, as the OPC, the RPCES, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) and the PCA began a mutual discussion in the late 1970s, which finally led to the RPCES being received into the PCA, while the OPC and RPCNA continued on as separate denominations.

What follows is the transcription of a two-page document recently located in the PCA Historical Center. This is report on a second informal conference between the OPC and the RPCES. There was a prior report on the first of these conferences, but I cannot find that we have that document. If one of our readers does have it, please contact me at the PCA Historical Center.


A SUMMARY of the second informal RP-OP Conference of Expressions  on the union of the two denominations at John Knox Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Silver Spring, Md., Saturday, November 23, 1974, 9:00 a.m.

These two presbyteries are either indifferent to dangers or valiant enough to walk where angels fear to walk; mature in grace or ostentatiously obsequious; or those who really oppose the union do not come to these meetings but if there do not press their issues.

The Rev. Larry Vail of Grace OPC, Vienna, Va., led the brethren in a meditation on Ephesians 3:14-21. He stressed that Paul’s prayer has the impulse for church unity. He mentioned that this impulse is love and that this love is the fertile ground for faith, which in turn becomes the basis for the UNITY of the Body of Christ. A period of prayer followed the meditation.

Six topics of discussion were posted on the black board:

A. The Scope and Character of Eschatological Liberty.
B. Dispensationalism.
C. The Apologetical Significance of the Doctrine of God, Regeneration, Faith, and the Unity of the Covenant.
D. Neo-Pentecostalism.
E. Discipline as Held on Paper and Practice.
F. Organic Union and the Scriptural Mandate.

Dr. Robert Countess moderated the meeting. Dr. Countess is pastor of OPC in Manassas, Va. (until July, 1974, he was RPCES).

The Rev. Dominic Aquila, of Stony Point RPC, gave a summary of his paper on the first RP-OP Conference. Dominic reiterated that the issues of difference are not in the area of theology, church polity, etc., but rather in the realm of real suspicion and misunderstanding; not the content but the individual viewpoints.

An OPC brother expressed that suspicion toward OP evangelistic apathy can be substantiate, but only on the basis of isolated occurrence. Yet an isolated situation can never become a norm to characterize a denominational emphasis or the lack of it. A reply from the RP was that similar situations have occurred in the RPC and could have led to suspicion among the OP. To that the moderator gave an apt illustration from his personal experience.

An elder urged that real obstacles for union still exist on account of the lack of being sufficiently informed on the level of the elders.

The eschatological matter was more predominant at this meeting. References to the Larger Catechism Questions 86-89 were made. It was suggested, that if the RPC Standards do not show the change as given in the proposed Plan of Union, why then have the change, if it causes considerable difficulties to accept the proposed change. An RP man expressed that, as he sees it, this issue is more at the gut-level—emotional. He said the proof to that was exceptionally evident at the RP Synod in May, 1974. Another urged that distinctions have to be made clear, that there is a difference between the historic pre-millennial view and dispensationalism, in order to alleviate prevailing misunderstandings. Both denominations confessed to the fact that they have eschatological mixture and considerable liberty. Because of that the brethren were reminded that there are always emotional people in any group and that therefore certain attempts to make charges of heresy will be inevitable. The important part of that is, will the charge and response be done in mature love? A situation concerning RP minister ______ ________ and the OP Presbytery of ______________ was presented to illustrate the point of emotionalism. But the assembly was cautioned not to make that issue an illustration of an eschatological clash but rather a legitimate presbytery matter to which the assembly had not enough facts to draw illustrative conclusions. Some one else suggested the possibility of having something black on white to promote and protect eschatological liberty in the future in the merged denomination.

The other posted topics did not find such lengthy evaluations. Topic C was drawn out, and mention was made that this was more a matter of individual emphasis of those who are involved in this field. The differences that exist will continue to be more personal than normative.

Neo-Pentecostalism and issues concerning it SEEMED to be more settled in the mind of the brethren or insufficient facts thwarted any “juicy” discussion on this matter. It was pointed out that the Form of Government of both denominations expressed some implicit attitude (OPC FOG ch. 3, par. 1, and RPC FOG ch. 5, par. 1).

Christian liberty caused no aspects of disagreement. There seemed to be general agreement on the statement on holy living in the plan of union.

In conclusion, one should say that it is refreshing to get together with another denomination and find such large and wide range of harmony. Thanks to God’s eternal grace, we have the more excellent way to settle the differences that exist. May it be said of us in the future that the love of Christ constrained us . . . rather than that emotional fulmination variegated us.

Respectfully submitted,

Hermann W. Mischte
Dominic Aquilla

This brief essay by the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer appeared in the October 1943 issue of the Bulletin of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM). May it serve as a timely and relevant reminder and may God enable us through His Holy Spirit, through prayer and through His Word as we continue to confront the evils of this world.

The photo shown below is from a later issue of the IBPFM Bulletin, as the Schaeffers began their ministry in Switzerland in 1948. 


by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer

[reprinted from The Independent Board Bulletin, October 1943, pp. 16-19.]



“I will make of thee a great nation.” Gen. 12:2.

We thoroughly approve the viewpoint of this paper. If its attitude were

the attitude of all Christians the fear in which even American Jews live would

vanish and many would turn to Christ at once.–Editor.

We live in an age in which anti-Semitism is a powerful force. In many lands it has resulted in the death of countless Jews. Even in our own land it shows itself in various guises from time to time. Even among those who call themselves fundamentalist Christians we find an occasional individual who spends a large portion of his time assailing the Jews.

Considering anti-Semitism, the first thing that fixes itself in my thinking is the fact that Christ was a Jew. When we open the New Testament to Matthew 1:1, we find the very first claim made concerning Christ is that he sprang from Abraham and was a descendant of David. The Bible does not say that Jesus just happened to be a Jew, but the Word emphasizes over and over again that he was a Jew.

When He was eight days old, He was taken to the Temple and circumcized as was every Jewish male. Therefore, we must remember that Jesus bore in His body the physical mark of the Jewish people. When He was twelve, He was dedicated at the Temple, again emphasizing that His Jewish race and Jewish faith were not incidental to Him, but that from His early training they were His vital human background. During His public ministry, as an adult man, the Bible teaches that while repudiating purely human Jewish traditions, His life carefully conformed to Old Testament standards. In fact, He lived in such a way that even the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled fully in Him. He was the Jew of all Jews.

In His public ministry we find Him dealing almost exclusively with the Jews. Hardly ever did He touch a Gentile life. The twelve disciples were all Jews. The earliest church consisted completely of Jews. It was Peter, the Jew, who spoke to the proselyte, Cornelius. It was the believing Jews, scattered abroad by the persecution following the death of Stephen, who took the Good News to Antioch of Syria where the first Gentile Christian Church was formed. The missionary who opened up the heathen Roman Empire to the preaching of the Gospel was the Jew, Paul.

And if we ask ourselves why it was that the Jews received such an important place in the early Christian Church, we must realize that it was not an afterthought in the plan of God, but that for two thousand years God had been working in history to bring forth this very fact. God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees as the first Jew when the earth had completely apostasized from the living God. He promised him that the land should be his, that he should have numerous seed, but above all things, that all the world should be blessed through him. God called forth Abraham for this specific purpose, that through him the Messiah should come. The Jews for two thousand years, in the providence of God, were the cradle of the coming Redeemer.

As we examine the history of that two thousand years, we find God constantly reaffirming the promise of the coming Messiah to the Jews, so that not only was the promise made to Abraham but to Isaac and Jacob, and then it was narrowed down to the tribe of Judah, and then to the royal family–the family of David. As the years passed by it was also promised that He should be born in Bethlehem, that He should be a suffering Messiah, but also that He should rule in Palestine on behalf of His people, the Jews.

In these two thousand years in which the way was prepared for the coming of the Messiah, all the earth was in darkness but for the light that shone in Israel. While our ancestors worshipped we know not what, but certainly not the living God, the Jews were called God’s chosen people. They were separated from all other peoples of the earth. They were loved of God, a kingdom of priests. And even in their times of sin, God kept His hand upon them in order that a remnant should be His from which the Anointed One should come. Nay, Jesus was not a Jew by accident, nor as an incidental thing in the plan of God; if Jesus had not been born a Jew, according to both the Old Testament and the New, He could not have been our Saviour.

As for the present time in which we live, Romans 11:17 – 24 teaches that we Gentile believers should not boast against the Jews, the natural branches, for if God spared not the natural branches, we are told to take heed lest He spare not us. How clearly it is emphasized that if we who were wild branches by nature, were grafted contrary to nature into the good olive tree, much more shall the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree. And what does Ephesians 2:14 stress to us but that at Jesus’ death the middle wall of partition was broken down between Jew and Gentile–not that the Jew should be cast aside, but that we should have place with the Jew by faith. Abraham is now our father, and as we have put our faith in Christ, we are now spiritual Jews.

For the future the Word of God is explicit still. In Romans 11:25 it is made clear that the blindness which now in part is happened to Israel is not forever bu until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And then what is to come to pass? The 26th verse tells us that all Israel shall then be saved, when the Deliverer shall turn away all ungodliness from Jacob. The 29th verse is a verse that we love and use for ourselves, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” We may take it to ourselves because God never breaks any promise, but let us notice that the primary application in this place is to the Jew. God has promised great things for Israel as a nation, and this Word here tells us that He will bring them to pass. If He does not bring them to pass, then the gifts and calling of God are not without repentance. Clearly again, in Zechariah 12:10 it is stated that the day will come when the Jews “shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.” In the day when Israel shall be saved they shall look upon Jesus and know that in His first coming He was their true Messiah. Again, it is not only the Old Testament which promises that the land of Palestine will once more belong to the Jews, but in the New Testament, in Luke 21:24, we are told that Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles only until the time of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled. Therefore, the Word tells us that the day will come when all Israel shall be saved, and the Jews will look upon Jesus as their true Messiah, and also that the Promised Land will be theirs once more. It is not only for the past, not only for the present, but also for the future, that we who are now Christ’s should love the Jew.

We cannot expect the Gentile, who merely uses the term “Christian” to designate the difference between Gentile and Jew, to love the Jew, but we who are Christians indeed, in that we have been saved through faith in Christ, should love His ancient people. Above all things in this regard we should keep constantly in our minds that our Lord Himself was a Jew–born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew. Also, the great majority of those heroes of the faith I personally long to see when I go to be with that Lord are Jews. I want to see Abraham; and he is a Jew. And I want to see Isaac; he is a Jew. I want to see Jacob; and he is a Jew. I want to see Joseph; and he is a Jew. I want to see Moses; and he is a Jew. I want to see Joshua; and he is a Jew. I want to see Gideon and the other judges; and they are Jews. I want to see the prophets–Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, and all the rest; and they are Jews. I want to see Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah; they are Jews. I want to see John; and he is a Jew. I want to see James; and he is a Jew. I want to see Peter; and he is a Jew. I want to see Paul; and he is a Jew. These are only some of those I long to meet who bear the name of Jew. How could I hate the Jew?

And if this is not enough for those of us who are Bible-believing Christians, let us note the command of God in Romans 11:31. It tells us clearly what our attitude in this age should be to natural Israel. We should have mercy unto them. And, my friends, mercy and anti-Semitism in any form do not live in the same household. We cannot seek to win them individually to the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour if we despise them as a people in our hearts.

Not long ago an influential Jew in New York City, the Labor Editor of one of the New York papers, quoted to me a little poem which he said was widely repeated among the Jews of that city. As I have considered this rhyme, I have found it more than an interesting jingle. It speaks wisdom concerning the man who bears the name of Christian and yet is anti-Semitic in his thinking.

“How odd of God to choose the Jew,
But not so odd as those who choose
The Jewish God and hate the Jew.”


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