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A Presbyterian Woman of Uncommon Courage
by David T. Myers

Lady Anna (some say Anne) Cunningham was a Scottish woman of Christian conviction and courage. Born into a family of distinguished Scotch Reformers and yes, Presbyterians, she was reared with biblical principles and Presbyterian doctrine in the days of John Knox. The fact that she was in economic wealth only added to the influence of her important place in the history of Scotland.

Of her early life, we possess no information, except a cherished commitment to Presbyterianism. We do know that in 1603, she married on January 30 the heir of the Marquis of Hamilton. That meant in those days and years an opposition to the crown of England and Scotland who actively fought for the establishment of Anglicanism in the realm. This was a spiritual battle, and at times a military one.

One of her grown children, James, sided with the king against the Presbyterians. He joined the English army as they attempted to militarily conquer the kingdom of Scotland by force in 1639. His mother, the Lady of this post, appeared on horseback with a troop of cavalry, wearing two pistols, with home made silver bullets, which she said would take care of these invaders, including her wayward son! The king’s army and navy did not land on Scotland’s shore, considering that they were outnumbered by these fierce Scottish forces. Eventually, a pacification was concluded between the king and the Presbyterians after the Battle of Berwick.

Lady Cunningham died in 1647 in Scotland.

Words to Live By: Our faithful subscribers may conclude that she had all of the advantages that a wealthy and influential woman could have in her upbringing and sub sequential life. But there are some historical figures which had those and out of fear of losing them, compromised their testimony of faith. This Christian woman did not do so, but out of a living faith and hope, threw herself and all her wealth and position into the fray of supporting Christian Presbyterian doctrine and life in difficult times. Wherever God has placed you, Christian women, use your circumstances to stand strong for the Lord Jesus in your home, church, and society.

In Flanders Fields
by Rev. David T. Myers

Few, if any of our subscribers, were alive during the closing days of World War One. Yet some of them would still recognize, if only from history books, the defining poem which summed up the horrors of that war to end all wars, namely, “In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If you break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.”

The author of this poem, John MaCrae, a medical doctor on the battlefield that day, had just experienced the death of a beloved friend in a battle. He sat down in the back of a ambulance to pen these words in grief over the loss of his friend. After writing it, he threw it away as unimportant. An officer friend retrieved it and sent it to an English newspaper publisher who printed it. It went on to become the famous poem describing all wars. And the “poppy” flower was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead of Canada, Britain, the United States, and other Commonwealth countries.

John McCrae would not make it home to Canada however. He became ill with pneumonia which was soon complicated by meningitis. He died on this day, January 28, 1918 and buried with military honors in France.

What many of our readers may not know, however, is that John MaCrae was by both sides of his ancestry a Scotch Presbyterian. He was reared in a home where the Bible was read and studied ever day. He was taught to obey its every precept by his godly parents. He attended St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Montreal, Canada. A statue can be found there as well on the field in France, which reminds everyone who sees it as the extraordinary life of a soldier-physician who made the extreme sacrifice.

Words to Live By: In this series of biographies on This Day in Presbyterian History, we try as your editors to bring you characters of Presbyterian conviction and conduct who made the world, even the war world, brighter by their self-denying life and yes, their death. We shall behold them again at the resurrection of the dead in glory. For now, we can remember their life and yes, their demise, and behold their place in Presbyterian history. We can thank God as the giver of both life and death that it was not lived in vain, but accomplished what the Sovereign God decreed was their place in history. And we can give thanks to that God of the Bible for His leading in our lives. Take time today to thank God for that very fact.

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

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

Jackson, Mississippi

The Influence Of The Auburn Affirmationists Today

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

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

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

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

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

The “New Curriculum”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Westminster Study Edition Of The Holy Bible

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

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

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

Dr. Allis’ Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Allis’ Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Opinion Of Time Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

Influence Of The Affirmationists And Other Modernists

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

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

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

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

Thou Shalt Say, No!

When Millennial Issues Came to the Fore
by Rev. David T. Myers

The noble infant seem to be coming apart at the seams. Its “father,” Dr. J. Gresham Machen had been taken to heaven on the first day of the new year of 1937.  His “warrior children,” as they were described once, were not in agreement over a number of issues.  The first theological battle in the Presbyterian Church of America was over the “last things,” or eschatology (study of the last things).

Was the new denomination going to be  classic or historic pre-millennialist, that is, Christ would return, then reign on earth for a literal one thousand years?  Was it going to be a dispensational premillennial return, where Christ’s return is divided into a two-step process: first a secret rapture, with countless people left behind?  Second, a public event, with seven years of tribulation at the hands of the anti-christ, then a one thousand year reign by King Jesus, at which time Israel will receive all the promises made down through the years?  This latter view was that taught by the Schofield Reference Bible.  Or was it to be a-millennialist, in which the one thousand years is a figurative number describing the whole period between the resurrection of God and His return? During this time, Christ rules from heaven, and peace comes through the proclamation of the gospel message.  Which viewpoint will characterize this new Presbyterian denomination?

Professor John Murray, of Westminster Seminary, beginning in December of 1935, wrote a whole series of articles on “the Reformed faith and Modern Substitutes.”  He attacked vigorously Modernism, Arminianism, and dispensational pre-millennialism.  Many were offended by his articles.

In 1937, already a new seminary had been begun over the issue of the last things, when Professor Allan A MacRae left Westminster to begin Faith Theological Seminary.  These same issues of the last days also came publicly to the floor of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America on August 13, 1937.  Eventually they, along with other issues such as Christian liberty, would lead to the beginning of the Bible Presbyterian Church.

Words to live by:
In hindsight, this surely was one of the least reasons to separate from brothers and sisters in Christ.   We need to believe that Christ Jesus will return in power and great glory. That is fundamental.  But to quibble over the events surrounding his return, and worse yet, to separate from other Christians, is questionable, to say the least.  Let us instead resolve to share the gospel with every creature, and then rejoice as Christ  comes back to this earth.

Words to Live By:
The following article, though written from the perspective of a concern within Congregational churches in the early 19th century, has much that is applicable for us today.  One key point is made in the statement that “Doctrinal  standards give stability, and secure uniformity of sentiment and discipline.”

Dr. John Leith made this same point, though more extensively, some years ago in his Warfield Lecture, “Reformed Preaching Today.” Among other points, Leith stressed that the recovery of great preaching requires a well-educated congregation that can track with the pastor’s sermons:

The recovery of great preaching calls for the revival of the Christian community as a disciplined, knowledgeable, worshiping community of people. The recovery of preaching and the recovery of the community will have to take place together, because there can be no recovery of a vital Christian community, well informed, apart from the recovery of great preaching. And on the other hand, a great congregation makes a great preacher.

And catechesis is the indisputable foundation of a great congregation!

The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism

            In this age of change and boasted improvement, we have witnessed with regret, the increasing disposition of Christians to depart from ancient standards and formularies of doctrines. How far the love of novelty has influence in producing this state of things, we are not prepared to say. The fact is that innovations and changes are easily effected, and the old paths are forsaken; often, seemly because they are old and have been trodden by men of other ages, and new ones are chosen, seemingly because they are new and without examination, whether they will conduct safely or not.

            Perhaps in no portion of the Christian church has the change been greater, than in the congregational churches of Connecticut; ancient standards of doctrine in these churches, have been suffered to pass away, not by a public and formal objection, but by silent neglect on the part of individual churches in order to accommodate and receive to their communion such as would dissent from doctrines contained in their old standards. To this as one cause silently operating, may be traced as we believe the gradual decrease of the congregational churches in Connecticut, and the increase of other denominations. Doctrinal standards give stability, and secure uniformity of sentiment and discipline, and then adhered in the denominations embracing them, they serve to strengthen and increase that denomination but when such standards are trodden down or thrown aside, the denomination is changed in its distinctive character, notwithstanding the name should be still retained.

            The Saybrook Platform, on whose doctrinal basis, the Congregational churches of Connecticut are organized, and on whose articles of agreement in discipline, they have been consociated, have become an obsolete book—it is but little known—and scarcely to be found in a bookstore for sale. By many of the younger members of these churches, it is doubtful whether it has ever been read. It is not long since that a proposition was made in the General Association of Connecticut that a new edition should be printed, and that it should be recommended to some booksellers to undertake the work.—But the proposition was opposed on the ground that some Congregational pastors could not subscribe to the Platform without reservations in regard to particular doctrines; and after some discussion it was indefinitely postponed. It was apparent, that most of the younger pastors chose to have the Platform lie forgotten and die a natural death if it would. It is well known also, that some of our theological professors cannot subscribe to this manual of doctrine without written reservations. The creed also of individual churches, originally in substance in strict uniformity to the doctrines of the Platform, and of the shorter Catechism, are now subject to frequent alterations. In some, one doctrine is omitted—in others more, and the language throughout changed for the purpose of rendering the doctrines retained more palatable.—Frequent changes of pastors also greatly contribute to changes in the creeds of individual churches; old creeds are thrown by, and new ones substituted to be more accordant with the taste of the age and the supposed improvements in theology.—In this manner, old standards of doctrine are lost sight of, and many of the congregational churches embrace a mixture of Calvinism, Arminianism, and nothingism, and in this state are in danger of crumbling to pieces.

            The loss of the Shorter Catechism to the congregational churches is very great.—When that catechism was taught regularly in our schools and in our families and on the Sabbath it laid a good foundation in the minds of children for religious improvement, a foundation which contributed to consistency and stability in after life. Though children have greater advantages for gaining religious knowledge by means of Sabbath schools and Sabbath school libraries, still, in point of doctrinal stability and knowledge of religious truth, it is questionable whether they are to be compared with what their parents were when they were children. The catechism has gone from families as well as from schools and parents are in danger of leaving their own duty to be performed by Sabbath school teachers and of acting as if the responsibility were taken off from them. Parents should not feel that their own obligations are lessened, while they have the co-operation of Sabbath school teachers. They can do that which no other class of teachers can do in the religious education of children, and all teachers need their co-operation and support. Religious education should be commenced in families and by parents, and it should be conducted under their watchful eye.

            The Assembly’s shorter catechism is a standard manual, which will never wear out. Religious parents have no occasion to be afraid of this, nor to lay it aside as an obsolete catechism, though the phraseology in some trifling particulars might be changed for the better, still as a whole, this catechism is sound—we shall find no better catechism; it has been fully proved, and it will be found safe for the rising generation.—We will remember the time when this catechism was regularly taught in common schools, and under what circumstances it was excluded. We have been associated with school visitors who denounced it and who declared that they would prefer Paine’s Age of Reason to be taught to the children. The fact is the great and essential truths of the Bible are embodied in this catechism, and these truths have always been opposed to the natural heart in man, and infidels and men of loose sentiments have scouted them in past ages, and in the present age they continue to do this.

            We should rejoice to have Christian parents bring back this manual into their families, and to have them teach it to their children and to expound it to them as they are able, and we should also rejoice to see it revived in our Sabbath schools, and adapted as a text book in Bible classes. We have no doubt that the effect would be salutary in forming the character of the rising generation.

            We acknowledge our attachments to this catechism and we view it as a favorable indication, that some pastors of congregational churches are reviving the good old custom of catechising the children of their congregations from this manual and that others are introducing it into their Sabbath schools.—The bringing back of the catechism will be attended with more established views of doctrines in our churches and will have an important influence in guarding the minds of the young from the dangers to which they are exposed, from the cavils of infidels, and the lax sentiments of the age.—[Hartford Watchman.]

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer, Vol. X, no. 29 (16 July 1836): 113, columns 2-3.

Things For All Men To Do.

green_beriahThe following few paragraphs, below, form the opening portion of a discourse by Beriah Green, Jr. [1795-1874]. A graduate of Middlebury College, in Vermont, Green studied for the ministry at Andover Seminary. After a dozen years as professor at Western Reserve College, Hudson, Ohio, Green became the president of the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York, a manual labor college founded in 1829 by Presbyterians. Rev. Green accepted that post on condition that he could advocate for the immediate end of slavery and could also accept African Americans as students at the school. A number of prominent black leaders, men such as Henry Highland Garnet, were educated at Oneida during Green’s tenure.

In the following address, delivered on a Sunday evening, July 17, 1836, in the Presbyterian church at Whitesboro, New York, Rev. Green delivered a powerful call to end the institution of slavery, under the title of “Things for Northern Men to Do.” Since that time, the intervening years have seen a great deal of turmoil and change in our nation. Yet Green’s message from the text of Jeremiah 7 remains disturbingly appropriate even today. Where he railed against racial slavery, we now see abortion, pornography, sexual slavery, and all manner of addictions running rampant across our nation. “Crimes of all sorts and sizes we are in the habit of committing.” The sins of a former era and those of our own time are linked by a common thread, one which treats men and women made in the image of God as mere objects to satisfy our lusts. What can we as Christians do? Are we powerless?

Rev. Green offers his understanding of the Scriptural imperative:—

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. — Jeremiah 7:3-7, KJV.

“The general sentiment among the Hebrews, with which Jeremiah had almost alone to content, is clearly indicated by a shocking assertion, which they were wont to throw into the face of Jeremiah. Crimes of all sorts and sizes they were in the habit of committing; and then, reeking with corruption and red with blood, of coming and standing before God in His temple, to insult Him with the declaration, that they “were delivered to do all such abominations.” Things had taken such a shape and posture, that they could do no better than to violate the most sacred relations, and break the strongest ties which bound them to heaven and earth. They were connected with a system of abominations which they could not dissolve, and from which they could not break away. With the different parts of this system, the fibres of society had been intertwisted. It was supported by confirmed usages and venerated institutions. What hazards must they not encounter, what risks must they not run, in opposing the sentiment which generally prevailed around them! They thought it better to go with the multitude to do evil, than incur popular odium in resisting it. They could not keep their character and retain their influence, without taking a share in popular iniquity. Their wickedness was a matter of necessity. Still they could not refuse to see that it was driving their country to fearful extremities. Ruin stared them in the face. What could they do? On the one hand, driven by such strong necessities to sin; and on the other, exposed to such exterminating judgments for their iniquities!

“Just here the prophet met them. The difficulties in which they were involved, and the dangers to which they were exposed, they owed to themselves. And if they stoutly persevered in the crooked ways they had so rashly trodden, they were undone. Nothing would then save them from the dishonored graves, which their own hands had been so long employed in digging. Yet they need not perish. If they would avoid presumption, they might escape despair. They might not charge the blame of their iniquities on God. They might not allege, that “they were delivered to do the abominations” they were guilty of. So long as they did so, their repentance and salvation were impossible. The work, which demanded their attention, lay directly before them. This done, and all their perplexities, and difficulties, and embarrassments would instantly vanish. This done, destruction, with its open jaws now ready to devour them, would at once flee away. This done, and benignant heaven would pour upon them the choicest, most enduring benefits. . . .”

To read the remainder of Rev. Green’s discourse, click here.

Words to Live By:
Salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps. 3:8). The gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful, even to the bringing down of kingdoms and powers raised against it. May the Lord’s people first repent of their sins, and then, humbled, may we come before the throne of grace night and day, seeking the Lord’s mercy and grace upon a people rushing headlong into destruction.

From Prisoner of War to Professor of Bible
by Rev. David T. Myers

Clyde Wayne Field was his name. College students at the now closed Highland College in Pasadena, California had him teach classes for the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, as well as English Bible. He was an able teacher, instructing those who sat in the daily sessions at the small Presbyterian College week after week. But his experiences in life prior to this was anything but orderly.

Born in Braymer, Missouri, when he came of age, he joined the Army Air Corps of the United States. As our country had entered World War 2, First Lieutenant Clyde Field began to fly in heavy bombers over Germany, seeking to defeat the Nazi’s in their global plans for world domination.

Early in 1944, his plane was hit by aircraft fire, forcing Lt. Clyde Field to jump out of the burning plane. Seeking to steer himself by the rip cords to miss the population center beneath him, he tried everything within his power to accomplish that. But he landed in the middle of the German town. He was a prisoner of war.

Clyde was sent to a Gestapo-run prisoner of war camp for the next year. One of six thousand Allied prisoners, he suffered emotionally and physically. His daily food was cabbage soup and bread made from flour and sawdust. Once, he was given a small portion of food and realized that if he didn’t add to it, it would be gone in a day or so. So he went around the prison camp, adding grass, and leaves, anything, to make it stretch longer. However, it tasted terrible, so he had to throw the whole concoction out.

As Russian forces closed in from the east on the prison camp, the whole contingent of captured Allied troops were forced to walk in their weakened conditions one hundred miles. Desperate times called for desperate measures. As Clyde Field engaged a German farmer in his best high school German, he knew that his fellow prisoners were in the rear raiding the farm animals. Eventually, Allied forces came and rescued the prisoners of war. He was released on this day, May 29, 1945, and returned to the United States.

He attended and graduated from Wheaton College and Faith Theological Seminary. Further Master of Theology studies were done at Grace Theological Seminary. Ordained in the Bible Presbyterian Church, he served two BP churches in California and Montana. But his main teaching ministry was at Highland College, where this author studied under him from 1959 to 1963.

Clyde Field went to be with his Lord and Savior on December 24, 2007.

Words to Live By:
One of his Highland College students, Shirley Larsen, of the state of Washington, commented to this author in an email that (Clyde Field) “really helped me form a strong basis for my view of Scripture as God-breathed, authoritative, and reliable. His emphasis on who Jesus was from John chapter 1, because of the language structure of the text, gave me a life long foundation for belief and trust in our Triune God.” Would it be the same for all of us, as we communicate the Reformed faith to our families and the church family, the result will be a stronger faith in Christian doctrine and life in them.

A Pastoral Letter on the Eve of the American Revolution
by Rev. David T Myers

There was no turning back in one sense. American militia men in the province of Massachusetts under Captain John Parker had stood up militarily, at least for a awhile, against the British regulars at Lexington. The proverbial die was cast. So on May 17, 1775, Presbyterian elders gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, representing the churches of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, for an important pastoral letter to their Presbyterian churches and members.

Under the address of “Very dear Brethren,” these Synodical members representing the Presbyterian congregations of the two colonies of New York and Pennsylvania wrote six propositions to their brethren.

First, in the upcoming struggle, they urged their congregations in the pews to express their attachment and respect to their sovereign King George! They wanted everyone to know that lawlessness was not to be the cause of the future national struggle. (This author of this post wonders how many Scotch-Irish presbyters were present in this Synod, given their anti-British sentiments from past years in the old country!) But his first point was written to earnestly desire the preservation and security of those rights which belonged to them as freemen and Britons.”

Second, there was a plea to support the delegates and any future actions of the Continental Congress then meeting in Philadelphia. The presbyters were urged to treat them in respect and encourage them in their difficult service.

It is interesting that this second proposition included a mutual feeling of respect be given to other denominations and their people. If it came to war, and certainly the first battle had already taken place, a mutual support was desirable toward the final end of victory.

Third, the morals of the members in their respective congregations were to be watched over by the spiritual leaders of the church. A denial of this principle would make any people ripe for Divine judgment. Reformation of manners was of utmost necessity. Thus, maintenance of biblical church discipline was called for by these overseers of the congregations.

Next, ordinary duties to God and man, especially those of the household of faith, were called upon by the Synod. “Wantonness and irregularity” were warned against in the struggle.

Fifth, a “spirit of humanity and mercy” was recommended to all those who were called upon as soldiers in the present struggle. “Meekness and gentleness of spirit” were called upon by those in the ranks, rather then rancor and a spirit of revenge.

And then this sentence stands out in this fifth point in the pastoral letter. “Man will fight most bravely, who never fights til it is necessary, and who ceases to fight as soon as the necessity is over.” How important was this sentence, especially considering the Tories who would fight with the British in their battles with their patriot neighbors.

Lastly, a spiritual point of recommendation closed out the pastoral address, urging the members to attend to general fasts, with continual attendance in the exercise of prayers, and to join with others in the aforementioned duties.

The Pastoral Letter was approved, with only one dissenting vote, by the elders, both teaching and ruling elders, and sent to the churchesii.

Words to Live By:

Our Confession of Faith has in chapter 31 a statement of justification of today’s post which states “Synods and councils . . . are not to inter meddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by humble petition in cases extraordinary . . . . Obviously, this 1775 Synod believed this matter was an extraordinary case. And so they sent it to the churches of the Synod. When that happens in the churches of our subscribers, be much in prayer in the preparation of the pastoral letter, under gird it with more prayer upon its sending out to the churches and members, and pray for a biblical response to its contents, that God would be glorified and the membership would be edified.

Salvation for American Boys and Girls
by Johannes G. Vos
[excerpted from The Presbyterian, 97.4 (27 January 1927): 17, 27.

In 1925, the son of Princeton professor Geerhardus Vos, Johannes G. Vos, enrolled at the Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1928. He continued his preparation for the ministry with a year at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, 1928-1929. Some of his classmates included Loraine Boettner, Wick Broomall, Jr., David Freeman, and Paul Woolley. But with good indication of both his ministerial aptitude and his scholastic ability, on top of his school work, Johannes was actively engaged in evangelistic ministry. Here in this article from 1927, we read of the child evangelism work that he was involved with. In the first photo shown below, Johannes Vos can be seen standing behind the gathered children.

The School Bag Gospel League is a spiritual movement with a spiritual end. Its aim is the salvation of America’s boys and girls, by placing in their hands the sacred Scriptures which are able to make wise unto salvation. It distributes free of charge to school children from nine to seventeen years of age, Gospels and Testaments under a simple membership plan. The work is dependent on the voluntary offerings of the Lord’s people for its support. It originated in the Autumn of 1922, in New York City. Since that time it has spread to 210 centers in thirty-four States and the Dominion of Canada. No appeals for money are made. Many thousands of Gospels and Testaments have been issued, and hundreds of conversions have been reported. Where possible, the work of Scripture distribution is followed up by evangelistic services and Bible study classes. A few reports from different centers of the League will show the progress of the work.

From the League secretary at Indiana, Pa.: “I have about 600 members altogether, and have given out about 300 Testaments. There have been 29 children who have accepted Christ as their Saviour….

From a boy, age 12, in Trenton, N.J.: “I said not to leave too many Testaments, but, as it looks, I need more, because I got fourteen members to-day at school…(This boy, during the school year 1925-26, enlisted eighty-seven other children in the League, gave them the different Gospels as these were needed, and was able to issue School-Bag Testaments to seventy-two who completed the reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—surely a remarkable record!)

In one New Jersey public school, in a rural section, seventy-five children completed the reading of the four Gospels and received Testaments. The principal of the school was deeply and favorably impressed… In another New Jersey community, where about half of the children in the school are foreign and many of them Roman Catholic, two boys enrolled about forty members and issued Testaments to thirty-five who completed the reading of the four Gospels. A dozen or more of these accepted Christ as their personal Saviour at an outdoor evangelistic service held by the League in the summer of 1925.

From the secretary at Milwaukee, Wisconsin: “We have about sixty enrolled, and ten have already received their Testaments. They love the Gospels. It is a wonderful plan, and God is surely blessing our part of it.”

For young and old, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. This gospel is contained in the Holy Scriptures. What a precious treasure Christ has committed to His Church! Surely God’s people should ever be eager to spread the glad news to young and old that Christ’s kingdom may be extended  and His people united to Him. The children of America are eager for the gospel. They are ready to receive it. When it is presented to them in its simplicity and fullness, it bears its precious fruit. God has set before His people an open door, and (for the time being, at least) no man can shut it. How long the door will remain open, no one can predict. The people of God must come to realize their responsibility to place God’s Word in the hands of the multitudes of un-evangelized American youth.

“It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt. 18: 14). Can it conceivably be God’s will that many millions of children in our country should grow to maturity without God, without the Saviour, without the Bible? Can it be His will that His people should be too busy with other things to give these little ones the bread of life?

The School-Bag Gospel League plan is a new thing, and for that very reason many hesitate to adopt it. Consider, however, that the old plans and methods are not meeting the need. It is a rare Sabbath-school that has more children than it had twenty years ago, unless it be a new school. It is a rare church that has as many children in attendance at the services of the Lord’s house as it had twenty years ago. Meantime, millions of American children are growing up without the gospel. The easy thing is to be satisfied with the old methods, to do the old things in the old way. But, remember, that sometimes the hard thing is the thing God would have us do; sometimes the new thing is the thing God has raised up to meet the need of His kingdom; sometimes the man who receives God’s richest blessings is the one who is not afraid to take up a new thing. Consider also that this movement has upon it the seal of four years of divine blessing. If God were not in it, how could it spread as it has, making no appeals for funds?

Words to Live By:
Further information about the School Bag Gospel League is difficult to find. There was a book authored by Thomas Mitchell Chalmers, The School Bag Gospel League : What It Is, which consisted of three articles or chapters. The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary has the only copy that I could locate. The author, Thomas M. Chalmers was connected with an evangelistic work called the Jewish Missionary and served as editor of that work’s magazine. As to what became of this ministry, perhaps it was a victim of the Great Depression. We simply don’t know at this point. Johannes G. Vos [1903-1983] completed his additional training at RPTS and became a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, pastoring a congregation in Kansas and for many years producing a magazine called The Blue Banner. More recently, articles from The Blue Banner were extracted and published as a commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism. For more on the life and ministry of Johannes G. Vos, click here.

“From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”—I Timothy 3:15.

 

Having previously reminded our readers of H.L. Mencken’s eulogy for Dr. J. Gresham Machen, here is another, from an opponent, as printed on the pages of THE PRESBYTERIAN, vol. 107, no. 3 (January 1937), page 4—published not long after Dr. Machen’s unexpected death on 1 January 1937, 

PEARL BUCK ON DR. MACHEN

In the last issue of The New Republic, Pearl S. Buck has an editorial article, entitled “A Tribute to Dr. Machen.” She says of him : “In the days when he was hot upon the trail of my own too liberal soul, I received from him, in the midst of his public protestations, a private letter saying that he hoped I would not misunderstand his denunciations or in any way interpret them as being at all personal to me. He had, he said, the utmost respect for me as a person, but no respect at all for my views. I replied that I perfectly understood, inasmuch as this was exactly the way I felt about him, the only difference being that he had the same right to his views that I had to my own. He wrote again to say very courteously that I was completely mistaken, since views were either right or wrong, and his were right.” This testimony draws attention to the great courtesy which marked Dr. Machen’s attitude towards those who were at opposite poles from him. It is to be seen in his books when he crossed swords with some destructive critic.

[The Presbyterian 107.3 (21 January 1937): 4.]

Words to Live By:
Note Dr. Machen’s gracious note, sent privately. No Christian should ever strike out in anger against another human being. We can and must oppose all that error which is contrary to the Scriptures, but our criticisms need not be personal. We have every reason to extend a hand of grace and mercy, even while standing firmly for the truth.

 

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