H. McAllister Griffiths

You are currently browsing articles tagged H. McAllister Griffiths.

The first General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church Meets

They said that the Presbyterian Church of America which began in 1936 had been “a false start.”  Issues regarding  the exact details associated with Christ’s second coming as well as the total abstention from alcoholic beverages formed a divisive wedge between once united brothers in Christ.   The place of independent agencies in the new church versus denomination agencies added another issue to the contention of “a false start” in the Presbyterian Church of America.  Some would even argue that the death of J. Gresham Machen was a blow to the original testimony.  But whatever it was, in 1937, a small group of ministers and ruling elders had gathered in another place from the General Assembly then meeting to set up the rules for association for a new church.


And now, beginning September 61938, and continuing two more days, thirty-nine teaching elders and eleven ruling elders met at the new tabernacle building of the Collingswood Bible Presbyterian Church, in Collingswood, New Jersey.  The name of this new church had been taken from the name of the congregation pastored by the Rev. David K. Myers, a home missionary of the Presbyterian Church of America in Lemmon, South Dakota.  That constituted  the first Bible Presbyterian Church in the nation.  The other churches were represented by seven presbyteries: New Jersey, Great Plains, Philadelphia, Great Lakes, Chicago Bible, Iowa, and California.  In its beginning days, it would have a glorious testimony to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Some of its original ministers were individuals who had and would have a testimony in present and future years.  They were: Francis A Schaeffer, H. McAllister Griffiths, Carl McIntire, Harold S Laird, Oliver Buswell, Allan MacRae, Charles Dana Chrisman, A. Franklyn Faucette, J. A Toms, and others.  J. A Toms was elected moderator, and H. McAllister Griffiths was elected the Stated Clerk.  Those who had suffered censure in various degrees by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. were absolved of all such censure.

Two of the original resolutions passed by this new church were the exact two which were issues in the Presbyterian Church of America.  The church was decidedly placed in the premillennial camp by adding parenthesis to the Confessions Standards.  Further, the call for holiness and specifically a call for total abstinence from alcoholic beverages was passed by the new church.

Even though they were classified as independent agencies, both the Independent Board for Foreign Missions and Faith Theological Seminary were endorsed by the new denomination.   

Words to live by:  There is always joy over the birth of something new, especially a church body.  But to have individuals who had stood the test of orthodoxy in an increasing liberal church find out that they cannot agree with one another on other issues is disheartening. The issue of the doctrine of the last things was not premillennialism per se.  It was dispensational premillennialism.  The issue of holiness of life and total abstinence from alcohol was an issue in the days of prohibition, but to this writer it was not a reason to separate from brothers in the Lord.  Westminster Seminary put out a directive right around this time which enjoined its students from alcohol, citing a witness to the world and that of offending brothers in Christ.  But there is encouragement even in small blessings, for just a few years ago, modern Bible Presbyterians approved a motion in granting observer status to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. There are blessings to brothers who dwell together in liberty.

Tags: , , ,

The first General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church Meets

They said that the Presbyterian Church of America which began in 1936 had been ”a false start.”  Issues regarding  the exact details associated with Christ’s second coming as well as the total abstention from alcoholic beverages formed a divisive wedge between once united brothers in Christ.   The place of independent agencies in the new church versus denomination agencies added another issue to the contention of “a false start” in the Presbyterian Church of America.  Some would even argue that the death of J. Gresham Machen was a blow to the original testimony.  But whatever it was, in 1937, a small group of ministers and ruling elders had gathered in another place from the General Assembly then meeting to set up the rules for association for a new church.


And now, beginning September 6, 1938, and continuing two more days, thirty-nine teaching elders and eleven ruling elders met at the new tabernacle building of the Collingswood Bible Presbyterian Church, in Collingswood, New Jersey.  The name of this new church had been taken from the name of the congregation pastored by the Rev. David K. Myers, a home missionary of the Presbyterian Church of America in Lemmon, South Dakota.  That constituted  the first Bible Presbyterian Church in the nation.  The other churches were represented by seven presbyteries: New Jersey, Great Plains, Philadelphia, Great Lakes, Chicago Bible, Iowa, and California.  In its beginning days, it would have a glorious testimony to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Some of its original ministers were individuals who had and would have a testimony in present and future years.  They were: Francis A Schaeffer [in the above photo, he is the first man on the left, in the front row], H. McAllister Griffiths, Carl McIntire, Harold S Laird, Oliver Buswell, Allan MacRae, Charles Dana Chrisman, A. Franklyn Faucette, J. A. Toms, and others.  J. A. Toms was elected moderator, and H. McAllister Griffiths was elected the Stated Clerk.  Those who had suffered censure in various degrees by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. were absolved of all such censure.

Two of the original resolutions passed by this new church were the exact two which were issues in the Presbyterian Church of America.  The church was decidedly placed in the premillennial camp by adding parenthesis to the Confessions Standards.  Further, the call for holiness and specifically a call for total abstinence from alcoholic beverages was passed by the new church.

Even though they were classified as independent agencies, both the Independent Board for Foreign Missions and Faith Theological Seminary were endorsed by the new denomination.   

Words to live by:  There is always joy over the birth of something new, especially a church body.  But to have individuals who had stood the test of orthodoxy in an increasing liberal church find out that they cannot agree with one another on other issues is disheartening. The issue of the doctrine of the last things was not premillennialism per se.  It was dispensational premillennialism.  The issue of holiness of life and total abstinence from alcohol was an issue in the days of prohibition, but to this writer it was not a reason to separate from brothers in the Lord.  Westminster Seminary put out a directive right around this time which enjoined its students from alcohol, citing a witness to the world and that of offending brothers in Christ.  But there is encouragement even in small blessings, for just a few years ago, modern Bible Presbyterians approved a motion in granting observer status to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. There are blessings to brothers who dwell together in liberty.

Coverage of the First General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church was provided on the pages of The Christian Beacon, in its September 15, 1938 issue. To view the entirety of that issue as a PDF scan, click here.

Photo source: The Christian Beacon, 3.32 (15 September 1938).

Tags: , , , ,

In 1973, conservative Presbyterians left the old Southern Presbyterian denomination and formed The National Presbyterian Church. A year later, when it became known that there was a name conflict with another organization, the young denomination chose to simply change its name, and soon selected the name, Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) has a somewhat similar story. That denomination was originally organized in 1936 under the name of The Presbyterian Church of America. However, in this latter case, the mother church—the one they had leftfiled a lawsuit against the new denomination, seeking to prohibit their use of that name. Finally, in 1938, the defendants lost their case and were forced to adopt a new name. [Correction: My counterpart in the OPC, John Muether, was good to note that rather than actually losing their case in court, the OPC instead came to the conclusion that they did not have the resources to pursue the case through the courts, and so surrendered rather than spend more money and time on the fight.] Since that time the denomination has been known as The Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The following several news clippings come from the collection of the Rev. Henry G. Welbon, preserved at the PCA Historical Center. 

1936_fight_for_namePhiladelphia Bulletin, August 20, 1936:
Fight for Name of Presbyterian.
New Body Engages Counsel to Defend Its Use of the Title
General Assembly Suit

Machen-Fundamentalist Presbyterians said today that they intend to make a vigorous legal fight to retain their right to use the name of the Presbyterian Church of America.

This decision comes as a result of the filing of a suit by the General Assemlbyof the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.–the parent organizationAug. 13, in which the use of that name by the new body is contested.

“The Presbyterian Church of America,” said the Rev. Edwin H. Rian, general secretary of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the new Presbyterian body, “has retained a well known Philadelphia law firm to represent it in the suit.

“The Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, D.D., has been employed to act as ecclesiastical counsel. Dr. Griffiths is regarded as an authority in Presbyterian law.

“Through its counsel, The Presbyterian Church of America expects to make a vigorous fight to protect its right to the use of that name.

“The very essence of religious liberty is involved in this case. Christians in every church will want to know if one church body can dictate to another.

“The Presbyterian Church of America has no desire to enter the civil courts, but the action of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. has made it obligatory. The Presbyterian Church of America will fight this case to a finish.”

New York Times, August 20, 1936, p. 23:
CHURCH GETS COUNSEL

Seceding Presbyterians Prepare to Fight Injunction Suit.

Philadelphia, August 19. — The Presbyterian Church of America, organized here in June by seceding Fundamentalists, prepared today to defend itself against an injunction suit filed in Commons Pleas Court last week by the parent denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

The defendant group announced that the firm of Sault, Ewing, Remick & Saul of this city will serve as its legal counsel, with the Rev. Dr. H. McAllister Griffiths of The Presbyterian Guardian, acting as ecclesiastical counsel.

The parent church is seeking to enjoin the secessionists from using the name Presbyterian, or any similar name or one with similar import, in the title of their organization.

machen-master-1936Lawrence, MA Evening Tribune, August 21, 1936:
Church Battle Goes to Court

Presbyterians of the nation have shifted to the courts the bitter fight which brought a schism in the church. Suit has been filed by Moderator Henry B. Master, of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., to prevent the new denomination headed by Dr. J. Gresham Machen from using the name “Presbyterian.” Dr. Machen leads the fundamentalists who split with the modernists.

 

Words to Live By:
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1, ESV)

Set a guard over your tongue, and watch carefully your actions before men. In all that you say, in all that you do, live to the glory of our Lord and our God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

machen-master-1936

Tags: , , , ,

This Day in Presbyterian History:  

An Answer to the Charge of Being Unloving

There is a relevant editorial in the March 2, 1936 edition of The Presbyterian Guardian.  Historically minded readers will recognize this magazine as the voice of conservative leaders who were at that time still members of the Presbyterian Church, USA.  However, their remaining time there was but short, for in that year, trials and suspensions were taking place at an alarming rate for no other charge other than refusing to desist from the support of an Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.  J. Gresham Machen was still alive and writing vigorously for the defense of the Christian faith.  Others were taking their stand for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

On the editorial page of that issue (Volume 1, Number 11), H. McAllister Griffiths writes in defense of the need to expose modernism in the church at large.  Specifically, he answers why such an exposé is not unloving.  Listen to his words, which even today are apt in addressing the errors of today, both inside and outside the church:

“Why then do we present the facts concerning modernism . . .?  Only because it is our duty.  We find no happiness in the betrayals of which we must tell.  No one in his right mind could gloat over them, or be other than sorrowful.  But — if we love the souls of men we must warn them.  We must warn a sleeping church, largely uninformed about the nature of its official boards.  And finally, if we care anything about the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the place due His Holy Word, we are under a solemn obligation to speak.

“This speaking, let it be understood, is in love. But what, exactly, is speaking in love?  Is it to speak lovingly?  Yes—in part.  But there is more to it than that.  We speak most in love when the motive that prompts us is love, and when the end desired is the supreme good of the one addressed.  The most loving words to a blind man approaching an unsuspected precipice would be ‘Stop! Stop! Stop where you are!’  What would you think of anyone who criticized the speaker of those words because he ‘didn’t have a good spirit,’ did not speak ‘lovingly,’ and who advised the blind man to go on, paying no attention to such an un-Christian fellow?

“(We see the church moving) on toward the precipice. The ground will feel solid beneath its feet until it gets to the edge. After it steps over it will be too late.  That is why we cry ‘Stop!’ now. And the cry of those who would save is the most loving cry in the world, even if unadorned with honeyed words.”

The Presbyterian stalwarts for the faith back in the 1930’s were praying and working for the elimination of unbelief in the Presbyterian church.  As we know now from history, such was not to be.  And those who were standing for the faith once delivered unto the saints were expelled from the church.

Words to Live By: The apostle Paul wrote 2000  plus years ago that all true Christians are to “take no part in the  unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)

Through the Scriptures: Deuteronomy 7 – 9

Through the Standards: The Covenant of Grace in the Catechisms

WLC 30 “Does God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God does not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Works; but of his mere love and mercy delivers his elect out of it, and brings them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Grace.”

WSC 20  “Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.”

Remembering Our Fathers and Brothers:
Mr. John Doak, a ruling elder in the Fifth Reformed Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, died on 2 March 1974. He was originally an immigrant from Ireland and had been a member of the Fifth Reformed church for over fifty years.

Rev. Frank L. Fiol, career missionary to India, died on 2 March 1999. Born in 1912, he attended Wheaton College and then graduated from Westminster Seminary in 1936. Upon ordination by the Philadelphia Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church, he and his wife sailed for India in October, 1936, under the auspices of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. From 1936 to 1980, Rev. Fiol served as a missionary, pastor and educator in India. He was honorably retired from that ministry in 1981. Rev. Fiol’s papers are preserved at the PCA Historical Center.

Rev. C. Howard Oakley died on this day in 2005. Born in Haddonfield, NJ in 1917, he was educated for the ministry at Faith Theological Seminary and his first pastorate was with the Bible Presbyterian Church in Seattle, WA, 1945-57. Rev. Oakley began a radio ministry in those years and continued that work alongside subsequent pastorates in  Cherry Hill, NJ and Memphis, TN. He was honorably retired in 1994.

Note : The PCA Historical Center has a small set of materials concerning Hall McAllister Griffiths, but would appreciate hearing from anyone who might have correspondence, unpublished writings, photographs or other materials by Rev. Griffiths. His was an interesting story. Contact the archivist at your convenience. For “the rest of the story” about H. McAllister Griffiths, click here.

Tags:

%d bloggers like this: