October 2015

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Machen’s article only becomes more relevant with the passing years.

What Should Be Done by Christian People Who are in a Modernist Church?
by Dr. J. Gresham Machen

[The following article was originally published in The Presbyterian Guardian, vol. 1, no. 2 (21 October 1935): 22.]

machen03What is the duty of Christian congregations or Christian individuals who find themselves in a church that is dominated by unbelief? Shall they remain in such a church, or shall they withdraw from it and become members of a consistently Christian Church?

That is certainly the question of the hour for the orthodox part of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Various attempts are being made to answer the question. Various considerations are being urged on one side or the other.

If we separate from the existing church organization, it is being said, shall we be able to retain any of our congregational property, or will that all have to be abandoned to the uses of the existing organization?

On the other hand, if we remain in a church that is dominated by unbelief, does that not mean that we are simply heaping up greater resources for the Modernists in future years to use? Will not every gift that we make, every church building that we put up, be turned over ultimately to the uses of unbelief?

No doubt such considerations on one side or the other of this question are very interesting. I am bound to say in passing that the considerations in favor of separation seem to me to be much stronger than the considerations on the other side.

But I propose to the readers of this page that we should now approach the question in an entirely different way. I propose that we should see what the Bible has to say about the matter. Does the Bible permit Christian people to live year after year, decade after decade, in a church that is so largely dominated by unbelief as is the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.?

The answer to that question is surely not difficult. I am not thinking just now so much of individual texts directly bearing on the question, though those texts are not difficult to find and though they are not really balanced by any texts on the other side; but I am thinking of the Bible’s whole teaching about the Church and what the Church ought to mean in the individual’s Christian life. If we read what the Bible says about the Church and then examine the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., can we really put our hands upon our hearts and say in the presence of God that the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. even approximates being what the Bible says a church of Jesus Christ must be or provides that nurture which the Bible says every Christian ought to have?

Now I know very well that we ought to be careful when interrogating the Bible on this point. Sometimes, when the Bible speaks about the Church, it is speaking about the Church as it will finally be when it appears without blemish before Christ. We have no right to demand of the Church militant a perfection that will belong only to the Church triumphant to the Church in its final, glorious state. When the Bible speaks of the Church militant, the Church as it actually appears upon this earth, it detects always the presence of error and sin in that Church, and it does not permit a Christian to withdraw from that Church or any branch of that Church just because that Church or that branch of it is not perfect.

All this is true. But it really does not apply to the situation in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The point is that that Church is very largely dominated by unbelief. It does not merely harbor unbelief here and there. No, it has made unbelief, in the form of a deadly Modernist vagueness, the determinative force in its central official life.

Such a body is hardly what the Bible means by a church at all. The Bible commands Christian people to be members of a true church, even though it be an imperfect one. It represents the nurture provided by such a true church as a necessity, not a luxury, in the Christian life. There must therefore be a separation between the Christian and the Modernist elements in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. That is perfectly clear. The only question is how the separation shall be effected.

Unquestionably the best way would be the way of reform. If Modernism should be removed from the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., and that church should be brought back to conformity with its constitution and with the Word of God, all would be well.

The other way is the way of separation from the existing organization on the part of the loyal part of the church. Only, if the separation comes, it ought to come in such fashion as to make perfectly clear the fact that those who are separating from the present Modernist organization are not founding a “new church,” but are carrying on the true, spiritual succession of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.

Something will no doubt be said regarding both of these possibilities on this page in future issues of The Presbyterian Guardian.

Words to Live By:
It should always be a fearsome thing to propose division or separation, even for reasons such as stated above. And I am quite certain that separation was never a light matter in Dr. Machen’s consideration. In our daily prayers, we ought to regularly pray for the unity of the Body of Christ, the Church. As long as we are in this sinful flesh, there will always be divisions, for our understanding of God’s Word is imperfect. But the way to greater unity rests not in pushing aside the truth of God’s Word, but rather, in pressing forward to know more and more of God’s will, as revealed in the Scriptures.

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Saturated with Scripture

Just last year, on October 20, 2014, a Civil War monument to Confederate General Stephen Dodson Ramseur was rededicated near Belle Grove National Historic Park in Virginia on the Cedar Creek Battlefield. It was the anniversary of his death on that battlefield in 1864. He was a solid believer in Christ as Lord and Savior. He was also a solid Christian Presbyterian.

Ramseur was born on May 31, 1837 in Lincolnton, North Carolina, the second son of nine children born to Jacob and Mary Ramseur. Jacob was a merchant. His wife was a staunch Presbyterian and taught the children, including Stephen, that same conviction in his young years.

Stephen, or as he later on was called Dodson, or Dod, went to schools in this area and eventually on to Davidson College, a Presbyterian School. It was there that he fell under the influence of the Professor of Mathematics, Danial Hervey Hill. The latter encouraged Dod to attend the United States Military College at West Point, so after a period of only two years at Davidson, he did. He was to remain there for five years, eventually graduating fourteenth out of a class of forty-one students.

Ramsuer lived his Christian convictions at West Point, reading his Bible daily, attending worship services, and living a moral life. At the same time, his political views were becoming more and more Southern in their convictions. At one time, he observed that Southern students were superior to northern students in every way! (No amen permitted by our Southern subscribers!) He graduated in 1860, commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Third U.S. Artillery, only to resign from it and join the newly-formed Confederate States of America when his state of North Carolina seceded from the United States. Before long, he was promoted to Colonel of the Third North Carolina Infantry Regiment. Eventually he was commissioned a Major General, the youngest general officer in the Confederacy. He fought in many battles from the Seven Days Battles in 1861 to the Battle of Cedar Creek in 1864. On October 28, 1863, he married his first cousin, Ellen Richmond, or “Nellie,” who like himself was of Presbyterian conviction, which union produced a daughter, though he never saw her. A year later, on this day, October 20, 1864, he would die of battle wounds at Cedar Creek.

His biblical faith remained a steadfast conviction throughout his life. No letters left his pen without those Scriptural convictions and prayers imbedded in them. Some of them follow:

“Sometimes I am so oppressed with my sinfulness, that I cannot be but sad.”

“Let us rejoice rather and be exceedingly glad that our Redeemer lives and reigns continually, making intercession for us at the throne in heaven.”

“May we be soon live together a Christian life, loving and obedient children of our merciful God.”

“May He who turns pride to shame, vain glory to emptiness, who is powerful to raise up and to destroy, may that God be our strength and shield, our mighty Protector and our deliverer.”

Words to Live By:
Dodson Ramseur’s life was saturated with Scripture. How as a Christian he could have held those political convictions and all that went with it, we may never comprehend, but that he both lived and died a Christian Presbyterian, with a firm hope in Christ, is nonetheless certain. Dear reader, does the Word of God so saturate your life that your neighbors, when they hear you converse and when they witness your behavior, there is no doubt as to Whom you belong?

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A New Method of Missionary Work

For centuries, the work of foreign missions all over the world  had been done by faithful missionaries going from nations like England or America, serving the Lord in some field white unto harvest, and then going off the scene back to their sending agency.  That method was in need of changing, and the Rev. John Livingston Nevius would be the one who would change foreign mission methods forever.

Born on March 4, 1829 in western New York, John Nevius attended Princeton Theological Seminary in the 1850’s.  Called while in seminary to the foreign mission field, he found the perfect mate in Helen Coan in 1853. Marrying her, they set sail for China.

At first they traveled, setting up missions and schools. Then they settled down in one province of that vast land.  Observing the work of other missionaries in that nation, this Presbyterian missionary began to see the need to establish “self-propagating, self-supporting, and self-governing indigenous churches from the very beginning of a missionary’s work on the field.  Interesting, even though this approach, which was eventually crystallized in a book, was first developed in China, it never really matured into reality there. But when broaching the same method in the land of Korea, it was received completed by the Korean church. And today, that land and its churches have taken the three “self’s” and followed them religiously.

John Nevius also in his plan suggested that Christian missionaries should only begin programs which the national church desired and supported.  Further, the national church should call out and support their pastors.  Intensive beliefs and doctrinal instruction should be provided each year by the missionaries.  It is clear that the focus would not be on some Western culture and church, but rather on the mission field’s culture and church.  Indeed, the missionary’s “job” was to work themselves out of that “job,” and leave it to the Christian church people to win their nation to Christ.

Countless church bodies have followed the Nevius plan.  The Mission to the World agency of the Presbyterian Church in America employs this plan, often setting deadlines for establishing a Presbytery of pastors and churches, and then sending the missionary to some other field to continue the process.

John Livingstone Nevius died while in China on October 19, 1893 and is buried in China.

It is deeply interesting to ponder the Lord’s sovereign hand in the affairs of China, from that time until now, how the Lord has purified that Church. To read another missionary’s account, from 1927, click here.

Words to live by:  When I hear of a church which has closed down when a pastor has left by moving on or by death, I reflect that this John Nevius plan wouldn’t be a bad one for our local American church scene.  For reasons known only to the pastor and people, the work to equip the saints to do the work of service, as Ephesians 4:1112 states,  had been missing in that closed church.  Now it was the pastor’s fault.  He wanted to think that he was irreplaceable.  Or maybe the members resisted that Scriptural methodology.  But whatever the reason was, the work came to an end when the pastor was removed from the scene.  So here is my question?  Pastors, are you equipping the saints to do the work of ministry?  And members, are you zealous to be equipped to do the work of ministry?  It is important to ask and answer these questions.

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

Q.42. — What is the sum of the ten commandments?

A. — The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Scripture References: Matt. 22:37-40; Matt. 10:27; James 2:10; Rom. 13:10.

Questions:

1. How are the duties of the commandments divided in this answer?

The duties are divided in the following way: Our duties toward God and our duties toward our neighbor.

2. What is the meaning of the word “sum” in this question?

The meaning of the word “sum” is the comprehensive duty of the law which is love; for love is the fulfilling of the law.

3. What is the meaning of loving God with all our heart?

To love God with all our heart means to love him without hypocrisy, to be sincere and honest in our love.

4.
What is the meaning of loving God with all our soul?

To love God with all our soul means to exercise all the faculties we have in fulfilling the duties of our Christian life as we delight in Him and in following His will.

5.
What is the meaning of loving God with all our strength?

To love God with all our strength means to love nothing or no one more than God.

6. Who is our neighbor that we are to love as ourselves?

Every man is our neighbor therefore we are to have a general affection toward all.

7. What is it to love our neighbor as ourselves?.

To love our neighbor as ourselves is to love him with the same truth and constancy of love as we do ourselves, Eph. 5:29.

8. If a standard could be given from Scripture as to this love for others, what could be given?

A good standard from the word of God would be Matt. 7: 12—that we do to others what we would have them do to us, or John 5:12, where Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

DELIGHT THYSELF IN THE LORD

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Ps. 37:4). When a person is saved by grace one of the results is that he will love the Lord, will have a desire to delight himself in the Lord. There will be a desire on the part of the Christian to love the Lord with the whole heart. This is not always possible because of sin but the desire, the aim is there.

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes reads, “Thyself, O my God, Thyself for thine own sake, above all things else I love. Thyself I desire. Thyself as my last end I long for. Thyself for thine own sake, not aught else whatsoever, always and in all things I seek, with all my heart and marrow, with groaning and weeping, with unbroken toil and grief.” Someone has well said that the trouble with the church of today is that we do not have enough children of God with the melting, zealous prayer of men like Andrewes.

So many times people will say, “I am sure I love God for after all I did ask His Son to come into my heart and I do go to church, etc.” How can we be sure we are delighting ourselves in the Lord? How can we be sure we love Him? Some of the characteristics of a real love to God are as follows: (1) We can not find contentment outside of Him for He is the health of our countenance. (2) We hate that which would separate us from God, namely sin. The Psalmist said, “I hate every false way.” This is something over which we do not always have the victory for many times the false way wins out but when it does and we realize it we plead for forgiveness from Him. (3) We want to tell others about Him. To say we love God, delight in Him, and keep quiet about Him would be inconsistency of the worst order. (4) We are willing to suffer, If needs be, die for Him. Paul said, “I am ready to be offered up.” We are always willing to go through whatever He would have us go through if only His name might be glorified.

There are indeed many other characteristics but the ones listed above should be sufficient for us to use as a standard regarding our love for Him. It would be good for us to pause right now and pray: “Search me 0 God and know my heart.” The flame of love should always be be burning brightly in our hearts. If it is not it may be that neglect of duty, or too much love of the world, or lack of prayer and Bible study might be putting out that flame. That flame needs to be ever fanned not hindered. If it is not there we shall never receive the desires of our hearts from Him.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 42 (June 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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The following plaintive appeared on the pages of a Presbyterian newspaper in October of 1879, exhorting both pastors and parents to pay better attention to the spiritual nurture of the children of the Church. The account is interesting in itself, but also for the vignette provided on the ministry of Rev. Daniel Baker, so noted for his children’s sermons.

The Christian Observer and Commonwealth, 58.41 (8 October 1879): 1, col. 4.

Presbyterianism is a family religion. Every baptized child is a member of the Church. The children are the lambs of the flock. They must be fed, but they cannot receive and digest the food suitable for veterans in the faith.

Surely they should not be left at home in idleness and spiritual starvation, while the parents are receiving the bread of life; yet, does it benefit the poor little lambs to be thrust into starchy clothes and imprisoned “bolt upright,” in an uncomfortable pew for an hour and a half, staring in idiotic vacancy at the preacher, who utters not a word within the ken of childhood? Nay! many a disappointed little heart is carried home, having been denied, from sheer oversight, a single crumb from the Master’s table. Some faithful parents still marshal their children to church? But what do they go for? Are not the majority of shepherds forgetting to feed the lambs; forgetting that these little boys are the future elders and deacons, nay, the future ministers in the Church of Christ?

Not a quarter of a century ago the “family pew” was an institution. The usual Sabbath morning scene was that of whole families going together to Church. The father and mother each leading a toddling little one; and respectfully walking behind the fresh, clean boys and girls, some half dozen or more, even those old enough for beaux and sweethearts, deeming it out of the question to be absent from the family pew Sunday mornings.

Every little fellow had his “Sunday clothes,” instead of his “evening dress,” and the Sabbath was to him the white day of the seven, when “brand new,” he turned over a clean leaf in life, and started over again. The mother then knew that her boy was not on the church steps in doubtful company, or one of the disorderly occupants of the back pew. Parents ruled their households then; now the children have the supremacy. They go to church or not, as they like, and sit where they please when they go.. Sabbath evening drills in the Shorter Catechism are old-fashioned; memorizing the Psalms and hymns, a fogy notion, and the main idea is to make the Sabbath a pleasant day. When the minister calls, the children go tumbling out of the back door as if some frightful apparition had made its appearance.

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]How many of the readers of the OBSERVER remember Rev. Daniel Baker, that blessed old patriarch, embalmed in the memory of every one who, as a child, heard his children’s sermons–literally the milk for babes. How often have many of us sat in a crowded house of children, and heard him talk right to our hearts about “coals of fire;” and the songs he would sing, in the midst of his sermons, to bring into wakeful surprise some nodding head or drooping pair of eyes; such as “Let dogs delight to bark and bite;” and the swearing word he gave the boys, “Pot hooks and hangers!” as a cure for swearing.

The children must be looked after. The world is carrying on its interests, and so is the Evil One, upon the very wings of lightning. The boys can hardly wait to get into their “teens,” or to show a shady upper lip before they are hurried into the battle of life.

An immense energy must, on the other hand, be thrown into the religion of the present day, and children must be enlisted before the world has filled up their hearts, as it will, and that right early.

Words to Live By:
When children are baptized in a Presbyterian church, the pastor typically asks the congregation if they will covenant to pray for that child. Sad to say, but most of us probably thereafter forget to ever again pray for that child. Brothers and sisters! Take this occasion to stop and pray for the children in your church, that the Lord would be at work in their hearts, leading them to saving faith in Christ Jesus as their Savior, drawing them near to a lifetime of discipleship, striving to walk closely with Him.

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Today’s post is drawn from Alfred Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church (1884), p. 850:

The Long Pastorate of a Great Pastor and Biographer

SpragueWBWilliam Buell Sprague was born in Andover, Tolland county, Connecticut, on this day, October 16, 1795. He graduated at Yale College in 1815, and in 1816 entered Princeton Theological Seminary, just four years after the start of that institution. After studying there over two years, Sprague was licensed to preach by the Association of Ministers in the county of Tolland, on August 29th, 1818. As pastor of the Congregational Church of West Springfield, Massachusetts, he labored with great assiduity and success from August 25th, 1819, until July 21st, 1829, when he accepted a call to the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York, over which he was installed on August 26th, 1829.

In Albany, he had a pastorate of forty years’ duration, remarkable for the extraordinary steadfastness and warmth of attachment existing through all that protracted period between himself and his large and intelligent congregation, and even more remarkable for the vast and varied labors performed by him. He has been well and truly described as “an illustrious man, a cultivated, elegant, voluminous, usefull and popular preacher; an indefatigable and successful pastor; an unselfish and devoted friend; loving, genial, pure, noble; an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile; one of the most child-like, unsophisticated and charitable of men.”

While Dr. Sprague never relaxed his pulpit and pastoral duties, his added literary labors were prodigious and their fruits exceedingly great. He preached nearly two hundred sermons on special public occasions, the most of which were published. He also produced a large number of biographies and other volumes on practical religious subjects. But the great literary work of his life was his Annals of the American Pulpit, undertaken when he was fifty-seven years old, and finished in ten large octavo volumes.

On December 20th, 1869, Dr. Sprague was released at his own request, from his pastoral charge in Albany, and retired to Flushing, Long Island, where he passed his later years, which were a serene and beautiful evening to his industrious, useful and eminent life. Here he enjoyed the sunshine of the divine favor, and looked upon the approach of death with a strong and placid faith. He gently and peacefully passed away, May 7th, 1876, and his remains were taken to Albany for interment, the funeral services being held in the church of which he had been so long the beloved and honored pastor.

A number of Sprague’s works can be found in digital format, here.

If I may select one for you, The Claims of Past and Future Generations on Civil Leaders, looks interesting, judging by its title.

From Sprague’s Historical Introduction to The Annals of the Presbyterian Pulpit:
“…
The early history of the Presbyterian Church in this country is involved in no little obscurity,—owing principally to the fact that those who originally composed it, instead of forming a compact community, were widely scattered throughout the different Colonies. It is evident, however, that several churches were established some time before the close of the seventeenth century. In Maryland there were the Churches of Rehoboth, Snow Hill, Marlborough, Monokin, and Wicomin,—the first mentioned of which is commonly considered the oldest, and was probably formed several years before 1690. The Church on Elizabeth River, in Virginia, is supposed by some to date back to nearly the same period, but the exact time of its origin cannot be ascertained. The Churches in Freehold, and Woodbridge, New Jersey were constituted in 1692 [Note: there is good evidence that Fairfield Presbyterian Church, in Fairton, NJ, was established in 1680.]; and the First Church in Philadelphia, as nearly as can be ascertained, in 1698. In Newcastle, Delaware, in Charleston, South Carolina, and in some other places, Presbyterian Churches were planted at a very early period. In the latter part of 1705, or early in 1706, a Presbytery was formed under the title of the Presbytery of Philadelphia,—all whose members were from Scotland or Ireland, except the Rev. Jedediah Andrews, who was born and educated in New England.”

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Dr. Charles Rosenbury. ErdmanIt was at the momentous Syracuse, N.Y. meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. where Dr. J. Gresham Machen was officially defrocked from the ministry of that denomination. That action in turn then prompted the founding of what was to become the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Also in attendance at that General Assembly in Syracuse was one of Machen’s many adversaries, Dr. Charles R. Erdman, a man who was by all accounts staunchly evangelical. Yet he found himself in opposition to the course taken by Dr. Machen— he found himself siding with those very men who took a decidedly modernist and unbelieving approach to the Scriptures.

The Syracuse Herald gave some coverage of Dr. Erdman’s visit to his birthplace in Fayetteville, NY that year, noting:

“Dr. Erdman was born in Fayetteville, where his father was a Presbyterian minister, but when he was three weeks old, his parents moved to another charge. [Erdman was born on July 20, 1866].

“In spite of the short time Dr. Erdman was a resident of the Onandaga County village, however, he has frequently visited his birthplace and this week, before the adjournment of the General Assembly which he is attending, he will again visit his birthplace, he said Saturday.

“Dr. Erdman’s father, the Rev. William Jacob Erdman, preached in the same church, and lived in the same manse as did the father of Grover Cleveland, former President of the United States. His youngest daughter is the wife of Francis Grover Cleveland, son of the late former President.

“The greater part of Dr. Erdman’s boyhood was passed in Jamestown. He also lived in Chicago where his father was pastor of Dwight L. Moody’s church. He was graduated from Princeton University in 1886 and from Princeton Seminary in 1891. He holds [honorary] doctor’s degrees from Wooster College, Princeton University and Davidson College.

“For six years following his ordination in 1891 he was pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Overbook, Pa. Then he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, Pa., where he remained until 1906 when he became a Princeton professor.

“He became a member of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in 1906 and in 1926 was elected as president, an office he still holds. He was elected moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1925. In the same year he was moderator of the New Brunswick Presbytery. In 1910 he was a delegate tot he World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh and in 1922 to the National Christian Council in Shanghai.

“He is the author of many books, including The Ruling Elder, Sunday Afternoon with a Railroad Man, Coming to the Communion, Within the Gates of the Far East, The Return of Christ, The Lord We Love, The Spirit of Christ, The Life of D.L. Moody, and expositions of most of the books of the New Testament.

“Dr. Erdman’s wife was Miss Estelle Pardee of Germantown, daugher of a widely-known coal operator. His son, the Rev. Calvin Pardee Erdman, also a Presbyterian minister, has preached in Hawaii and California….

“The Erdmans have a summer home at Saranac Lake.”

Embedded in that newspaper account are a few clues for the observant reader as to why Dr. Erdman found himself an opponent of Machen. Erdman had become attached to the denominational board of foreign missions, and Machen had been critical of that Board for fielding missionaries who held low views of Scripture. Moreover, Erdman’s personal and family connection to D.L. Moody might indicate a faith and a theology that was more generally evangelical and less confessional or Reformed in nature. Politics may also have had a part. By familial connection with Grover Cleveland, Dr. Erdman may have been a Democrat, whereas J. Gresham Machen was decidedly libertarian in his views and more of a political free-thinker.

Long-time Princeton Seminary professor Charles Erdman passed away on May 9, 1960. [Our apologies! The correct death date for Dr. Erdman is May 9, 1960. The confusion arose by way of his son’s death date—Charles R. Erdman, Jr. died on October 15, 1984.]

Words to Live By:
Why some men make the decisions they do is often a puzzle beyond our understanding. In pondering this point, we realize how much we must seek to live humbly in the fear of the Lord, for there are times when it takes a clear head and a resolute faith if we are to stand fast on the sure counsel of God’s Word. Too many of us are shaped by our associations, much more so than we realize. Seek instead to be shaped by the Word of God. Live each day as honestly as possible, confessing your sin, repenting and seeking the Lord’s mercy and grace.

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To Spare a Mother’s Life is a Myth of Abortion

The statement of the medical doctor blew the lid off of one of the more famous grounds of abortion.  He said, “protection of the life of the mother as an exercise of abortion is a smoke screen. In my thirty-six years of pediatric surgery, I have never known of one instances where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life. If toward the end of the pregnancy complications would arise that threaten the mother’s life, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section.  His intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger. To spare a mother’s life is a myth of abortion.”

Who said this?  None other than C. Everett Koop, who served for two terms  under President Ronald Reagan as Surgeon General of the United States in the nineteen eighties (1982 – 1989). C. Everett Koop was pro-life in his views of life in the womb.

Born in  Brooklyn, New York on October 14, 1916, “Chick” Koop, as he was known by his friends, certainly had the education to make him the top doctor in the country.  Educated at Dartmouth College in his undergraduate years, he went on to receive degree after degree at the top medical hospitals in the country.  In addition, he received forty-one honorary  doctorates.

While in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he joined Tenth Presbyterian Church, serving as a ruling elder of that P.C.A. congregation. He cooperated with Francis Schaeffer in producing the “How Then Shall We Live” series, which informed American Christians of their duty to be salt and light in the midst of a corrupting and darksome  culture.

As of this writing, he lives up in New Hampshire.

Words to live by:  If you check on the world-wide web, you can find some other statements by Dr. Koop dealing with the issues which define our world, such as euthanasia, which he decries that medicine cannot be considered our healer and our killer at the same time.  We can thank God that he was raised up for such a time and age as this, when sound biblical conclusions needed to be raised in a culture which devalues life.

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What follows provides us with an interesting insight into the process of licensure and ordination for ministerial candidates nearly 300 years ago. Here too, our readers find out where our masthead comes from, namely the source of today’s post: Historical Discourse of the 150th Anniversary of the Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church, by J. Smith Futhey, Esq.

This section appears on pages 42-45 of the above volume:

“The Rev. Adam Boyd, who was the first regular pastor of this Church, was born in Ballymena, county Antrim, Ireland, in 1692, and came to New England as a probationer [in this context, the word means that he was licensed to preach] in 1722 or 1723. While there, he preached at Dedham. After remaining there for a time, he concluded to return to his native country, and was furnished by the celebrated Cotton Mather—who esteemed him well—with a certificate of his good character in this country, dated June 10, 1724. He, however, had formed an attachment to a daughter of Rev. Thomas Craighead, one of the pioneers of the Irish Presbyterians of New England, and, relinquishing his design of returning home, came to Pennsylvania, whither Mr. Craighead and his family had shortly preceded him, bringing with him the commendatory letter of Cotton Mather, as well as credentials from Ireland, and was received under the care of New Castle Presbytery. The following is the minute of Presbytery on the occasion of his reception: “July 29, 1724. The testimonials of Mr. Adam Boyd, preacher of the gospel, lately come from New England, were read and approved, and he being interrogated by the moderator, whether he would submit to this Presbytery, he answered that he would, during his abode in these parts .” Mr. Craighead had been received as a member of Presbytery on January 28, 1723-24.

“On the same day on which Mr. Boyd became a member of Presbytery, he was sent as a supply to Octorara, with directions to collect a congregation also at Pequea, and take the necessary steps towards its organization. He was so acceptable to the people that at the next meeting of Presbytery, September 14, 1724, a call was presented for his services as a pastor by Cornelius Rowan and Arthur Park, representatives of the people at Octorara and Pickqua. This call was accepted by him on the 6th of October, and at the urgent request of the commissioners who presented it, that an early day should be fixed for his ordination, the Presbytery met at the “Ackterara Meeting House” on the 13th of October, 1724, for that purpose.

“At this meeting of Presbytery—the first held on this spot—there were present as members, Thomas Craighead, of White Clay creek, George Gillespie, of Head of Christiana, Henry Hook, of Drawyers, Thomas Evans, of Pencader, and Alexander Hutchinson, of Bohemia, ministers, and Peter Bouchelle, elder. Mr. Craighead presided as Moderator.

“Mr. Boyd having passed the usual examination, the minutes of Presbytery record that “Proclamation being made three times by Mr. George Gillespie, at the door of the meeting house of Octorara, that if any person had any thing to object against the ordaining of Mr. Adam Boyd, they should make it known to the Presbytery now sitting, and no objection being made, they proceeded to his ordination, solemnly setting him apart to the work of the ministry, with prayer and imposition of the hands of the Presbytery. Mr. Henry Hook preaching the ordination sermon, and presiding in the work.”

Words to Live By:
To those of our readers who are not ordained teaching elders, the setting aside of qualified men to the office of the ministry in our Presbytery meetings may indeed sound foreign. But in another sense, those who are not ordained and not attenders of your regional Presbytery meetings still have the written record of Holy Scripture, such as 1 Timothy 4:14, where Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy and said, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” (NASV)  The laying on of the hands of the presbytery  in our regional meetings have a biblical basis to them! It may indeed be a worthwhile day for you to attend as a layman or laywoman the proceedings of your local Presbytery some Saturday, or whenever they meet during the week. Visitors are welcome. Just talk to your pastor or a ruling elder for information on the next meeting.  It will enable you to pray more for your church, see the work of the Spirit in other nearby churches, and realize anew the biblical basis for being a Presbyterian!

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Our post today is excerpted from the Minutes of the 153rd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1975), p. 176-177:

 

The cause of Bible-believing archaeological study today owes more to joseph P. Free than to any other individual. It is an honor to the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, that for 30 years he has been numbered among our teaching elders.

Joseph Free was born in Cleveland, Ohio, October 1, 1911, and entered Stony Brook School, Long Island, New York, and received the A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, New Jersey. In 1935 Dr. Free accepted an invitation to join the faculty of Wheaton College, Illinois, in the departments of French and Spanish. For ten years he studied in the field of Near Eastern history and archaeology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and for nearly 20 years, until 1965, he served as Fred McManus Professor of Biblical Archaeology at Wheaton. After a brief period of retirement to his home in the north woods of Minnesota, he resumed his life work in the teaching of archaeology at Bemidji State College, Minnesota, where he was employed at the time of his death, on October 12, 1974. He was a member of the Midwestern Presbytery (RPCES), and was its moderator for two years in the 1940’s. He was ordained in 1944 to the ministry of the Bible Presbyterian Church. At his death he was still a member of the Midwestern Presbytery (RPCES).

Dr. Free is best known as the excavator of ancient Dothan, in northern Israel, the town near which young Joseph was sold by his brothers (Gen. 37:17) and where the prophet Elisha performed a miracle of deliverance (II Kings 6:13). Professor Free had gained archaeological field experience as a staff member with the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem; and he and Mrs. Free directed ten seasons of excavation at Dothan between 1953 and 1964. Many field archaeologists and teachers, including several on the staff of Covenant Theological Seminary, owe their basic training to his untiring efforts and competent leadership. His vision resulted in the founding of the Near East Archaeological Society in 1960 and the Near East School of Archaeological and Biblical Studies in 1962, under which scores of students were introduced to Bible geography, history, and archaeology. He authored the widely used textbook Archaeology and Bible History, plus more than fifty articles on archaeology for both scholarly and popular Christian journals. He held membership in the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Schools of Oriental Research, American Oriental Society, Society of Biblical Literature, and National Society of Arts and Letters, which he served as National Literature Chairman, 1966-1970.

He was married to Ruby Aldrich on August 20, 1935. In addition to Mrs. Free, he was survived by a daughter, a son, three grandchildren, a foster son, and two sisters. Joseph P. Free was zealous in his defense of the faith and of the inerrancy of Holy Scripture. The same verse that at Princeton honors the memory of one of America’s greatest nineteenth century Reformed scholars of the Old Testament, Dr. William Henry Green, may now with propriety be applied to our brother Dr. Free: 

“They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”—Deuteronomy 12:3. 

For Further Study:
For more on the life and ministry of Dr. Free, see “Joseph P. Free And The Romance Of Biblical Archaeology.” by Timothy Larsen, in the Westminster Theological Journal, 66.1 (Spring 2004): 97ff. To view a portion of this article, click here.

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