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Present at the Founding, Now Standing Before Our Lord.

In years past we have written several times on this date of the founding of the PCA. There were 223 pastors present at the founding of the denomination in 1973, first named the National Presbyterian Church. A year later the young denomination took its permanent name, the Presbyterian Church in America. By the grace of God, the majority of these 223 founding fathers are still with us, and many of them still labor in pulpit ministry. Sadly, some sixty of them have passed away. And we would not overlook the role played by those founding fathers were were ruling elders, though regrettably, their names are not so easily gathered. All these took their stand for the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the great Commission. As the Lord enabled them, so we praise Him for how He worked through them. 

Provided here without further comment is a list of those teaching elders who were present at the founding of the PCA, but who have now gone on to their eternal reward. Their life dates and their Presbytery membership at the time of their death are also noted. I think this list is up to date, but if I have missed any names, please forgive the omission and inform me so I can make the correction. Also, if you have a close connection to the family of any of these men, I would love to hear from you.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Albert, Basil Pierce [1929-2006], Tennessee Valley Presbytery

Allen, Howard Spivey [1921-2000], Covenant

Anderson, Bertil Ivar, [1918-2001], Mississippi Valley

Armfield, Joseph H., Jr. [1909-1989], Central Carolina

Baker, John Lewis [1930-2013], Eastern Carolina

Baldwin, John Persons [1925-1991], Philadelphia

Barnes, Kenneth Lee [1911-2009], Palmetto

Benchoff, W. Henry [1915-1984], Calvary

Bowling, John Knox [1904-1983], Texas

Broomall, Wick [1902-1976], Central Georgia

Clelland, John Paul [1907-1993], Southeast Alabama

Cook, Thomas Allen [1917-2012], Gulfstream

DeRuiter, Peter [1900-1977], Grace

DeYoung, Adrian E. [1914-1977], Evangel

Dunkerley, Donald Austin [1936-1999], Gulf Coast

Elder, M. (Monroe) Timothy [1934-2012], Gulf Coast

Esty, Donald Roy [1923-2001], Southwest

Everett, Joseph Walker, Jr., D.D. [1918-1974], Calvary

Flaxman, Russell George [1920-1994], James River

Fowler, Guy N. [1922-1988], Palmetto

Giddens, William E., Jr. [1915-2000], Evangel

Graham, Donald Carson [1910-2002], Southern Florida

Hamby, Oliver Newton [1914-1995], Evangel

Hill, William E., Jr. [1907-1983], New River

Hobson, Kemp J. [1896-1984], Tennessee Valley

Hoolsema, Thomas [1910-1999], South Texas

Hoyt, Samuel Browne, Jr. [1922-2000], Fellowship

Hulse, Doyle A. [1913-1991], Southern Florida

Jackson, Erskine Lewis [1908-2002], Mississippi Valley

Korn, Robert Charles 1932-2002], Palmetto

Lacey, Thomas Edward [1934-1994], Mississippi Valley

Lyons, James Lloyd [1929-2011], Evangel

Manning, Frederick Easley, Jr. [1927-2012], Tennessee Valley

McCown, Dan H. [1924-1979], Texas

McIlwaine, William A. [1893-1985], (Presbytery not noted)

McNutt, Charles W. [1917-1996], New River

McQuitty, Eric [1930-2009], Louisiana

Miller, Harry Norval, Jr. [1931-2013], Metro Atlanta

Moore, James E. [1906-1989], Covenant

Murphy, Christopher Douglas Fred [1927-2009], Central Carolina

Ostenson, Robert James [1922-2008], Southern Florida

Patterson, Donald B. [1923-1998], Mississippi Valley

Pino, Virgil [1921-2003]. Warrior

Plowden, Charles M., Jr. [1909-1988], Palmetto

Priddy, James Gordon [1923-1994], Fellowship

Rose, William H., Jr. [1921-2000], Covenant

Ross, Jack S. [1934-1990], Central Georgia

Rufus, Billy E. [1934-2004], Western Carolina

Scott, Jack B. [1928-2011], Mississippi Valley

Smith, Frank Edward [1914-1993], Northeast

Stennis, Julian [1923-2002], Warrior

Sulc, Daniel David [1929-2013], Western Carolina

Taylor, G. Aiken [1920-1984], Western Carolinas

Taylor, George Henry, Jr. [1910-1987], Louisiana

Thompson, John R., Sr. [1928-2006], Palmetto

Toms, Russell David [1920-2001], Southwest Florida

Umbreit, A. Dale [1924-1988], Central Georgia

Van Horn, Leonard Thomas [1920-2005], Evangel

West, Vernon N. [1921-2008], Fellowship

Wilson, Charles Leonard [1943-2011], Palmetto

Yeargan, Charles B. [1912-1992], Western Carolina

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The Brief Life of a Denomination You Probably Never Heard Of.

It was on this day, April 1, in 1858, that the United Synod of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was formally organized. (The United Synod is not to be confused with the United Presbyterian Church of North America, which was also organized in 1858, but that was on May 26th. We’ll come back to them in 56 days from now.) Right now we’re concerned with the United Synod of the Presbyterian Church.

“Who?,” you say.

Well, they were more commonly known as the United Synod of the South.

Still nothing, huh?

To get to the United Synod, and for a bit of background, yet without bogging down in detail, let’s quickly rehearse some of the significant Presbyterian schisms.

First, there was the Old Side-New Side split in what later became the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1789). That split ran from 1741 to 1758, at which point the split was mended.

Next, there was the schism in 1810 that created the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Centered primarily in
Tennessee and Kentucky, they left because they came to reject certain key doctrines of Calvinism.

As an aside, we’ll also mention the 1833 split of the Reformed Presbyterian Church into Old Light (RPCNA) and New Light (RPCGS) factions.

Coming back to the PCUSA, there was the big split in 1837 which created the Old School and New School divisions. This split had been over serious matters. The Old School side wanted an end to the Plan of Union (a church-planting arrangement with Congregationalists). But the Old School men particularly wanted to rid the Church of doctrinal errors known as Hopkinsianism or New Haven Theology. Not all New School men held to those views, but many did.

After that split, Old School and New School went their separate ways. [This division was mended in 1869, but that’s another story.]

The Old School wing of the PCUSA split in 1861, a month after the Civil War began. It split north and south, and that’s what created the Southern Presbyterian Church. But to be accurate, this split was not over the issue of slavery, but over something called the Gardiner Spring resolution. The 1861 Old School General Assembly adopted this resolution, which in part required pastors to swear an oath of allegiance to the federal government. Many thought that was an inappropriate thing for a church to do, and obviously the Southern pastors, with the war already underway, decided not to go along with that idea, so they split.

But back to the United Synod, this is where it gets interesting. Particularly because most historians don’t give it much, if any, attention. The United Synod was a split from the New School wing of the PCUSA.

One noted historian, Kenneth J. Foreman, Jr., has argued convincingly that “although slavery was a pervasive issue touching everything in America in the 1830’s, it was not one of the issues on which the 1837-38 Old School Presbyterians divided from the New.” Basically, there were strong proslavery elements and strong abolition elements in both Old School and New School wings of the division.

But as the New School Presbyterians began their separate existence, the issue of slavery became more and more central, just as it did throughout the nation at large. Finally, things came to a head for the New School when its General Assembly met in Cleveland in 1857.

Historian Harold M. Parker, Jr. says “There can be no doubt that the momentous Dred Scott decision of 6 March 1857 played an influential role in the New School Assembly’s action of that year. Clifton E. Olmstead has commented that with the decision ‘moderate evangelists were convinced that the time for charity and patience was over.’ Even the opponents of radicalism found themselves in the camp of the advocates of immediate abolitionism. Such ‘came not to bring peace but a sword with which to amputate the gangrenous member of American Society and purify the nation for its divine mission to the world.’ “

The New School Assembly began on May 21st, but it wasn’t until Friday, May 29th that they began to consider an overture regarding slavery. For four days they wrestled with the matter. Finally, the Assembly managed to adopt a paper which began:

“The General Assembly, in view of the memorials before them and of the present relations of the Church to the subject of Slavery, feel called upon to make the following exposition of principle and duty. The Presbyterian Church in these United States has, from the beginning, maintained an attitude of decided opposition to the institution of Slavery.”

[the paper then began to detail the various examples of that opposition. on pages 401-404. Contact me at archivist {AT} pcahistory [dot] org, if you would like to have the full text of that amended overture].

Having marshalled its evidence, the adopted paper concluded:

“We do not indeed, pronounce a sentence of indiscriminate condemnation upon all our brethren who are unfortunately connected with the system of Slavery. We tenderly sympathize with all those who deplore the evil, and are honestly doing all in their power for the present well-being of their slaves, and for their complete emancipation. We would aid and not embarrass such brethren. And yet, in the language of the General Assembly of 1818, we would “earnestly warn them against unduly extending the plea of necessity; against making it a cover for the love and practice of Slavery, or a pretence for not using efforts that are lawful and practicable to extinguish this evil.”

Clearly the New School Assembly was trying to take a firm stand, yet still they were treating the Southern New Schoolers with “kid gloves.”  How much different was the action of the Reformed Presbyterian Church when it sat down to discuss slavery in 1802 and decided unanimously that slaveholders could not be members in good standing–that unrepentant slaveholders would be excommunicated!

Nonetheless, the Southern New School men saw the writing on the wall and decided to separate. And thus the division in 1857 of the New School Presbyterian Church over the issue of slavery, several years before the start of the Civil War.

atkinsonCMOn April 1, 1858, the United Synod of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. met in Knoxville, Tennessee to formally organize the new denomination. The Rev. C. M. Atkinson, pictured at right, served as moderator for their first meeting.  Still, it was a short-lived denomination, for in 1863 these Southern New Schoolers agreed to merge with the Old School Southerners who had by then established their own separate existence as the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (aka Southern Presbyterian Church). In fact, Harold Parker has noted that “between 1863 and 1874, the Southern Presbyterian Church participated in six successful organic unions with other Presbyterian bodies in the South and border-states.”

That’s quite enough history for now, don’t you think?

Words to Live By:
The nagging question remains: How could Christians in that era, Old School or New School, have supported an evil like slavery? The only thing I’ve really come up with thus far is that we are, all of us–Christians and non-Christians–far more blinded by our culture than we realize. Christians should find a way out of that cultural blindness, in that the Bible gives us a vantage point that rises above all cultures, all philosophies, all times and man-made religions. If we are truly and fully Biblical in our world-view, we should rise above, and stand against, the sins of our times. The nagging question remains, what sins are we blind to today? Or do we think we’re better than our forefathers in the faith?

For Further Study:
Harold M. Parker, Jr. wrote the book on this subject, titled The United Synod of the South: The Southern New School Presbyterian Church. The PCA Historical Center has preserved among its collections an original copy of the Minutes of the first meeting of the United Synod (1858), but I cannot locate a digitized version of these Minutes. There is a digital copy of their 1861 Minutes available, here.

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buswellpresOn February 2, 1977, Dr. James Oliver Buswell Jr. was called to his heavenly home. It can truly be said of him, he had fought a good fight, he had finished his course, and he had kept the Faith.

At the age of 82 he could look back upon a life of dedication and service to his Master, Who had endowed him with many gifts, great wisdom and out¬standing leadership. He has been taken.from our midst, but his labors stand as a testimony of praise to God, Who was pleased to use him in many and varied ministries.

As a seminary student he entered the military service of his country as a Chaplain in the First World War, where he ministered to soldiers even in the thick of battle. He was wounded in the line of duty and was cited in General Orders and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

After the war he took up a pastorate in the Perseverance Presbyterian Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin—1919 to 1922. His next pastorate was in the Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1922 to 1926.

In the fall of 1925 he delivered a series of evangelistic messages at Wheaton College, Wheaton, 111. Shortly after that Dr. Charles A. Blanchard, the President of Wheaton College, died. Dr. Buswell was called to be the third president of Wheaton and was installed in April of 1926. He served there for 14 years in a most effective manner. During his administration the College grew numerically, its financial position was strengthened, new facilities were added, and it became fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities. It was during his administration that the Wheaton Graduate School was established. He remained at Wheaton until 1940.

Following this he taught for a short time at Faith Seminary. In January of 1941 he was called to the presidency of the National Bible Institute of New York City, which, under his leadership became Shelton College. The school also grew and developed under his 15 years of able leadership.

In 1956 he was called to be Dean of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, where he served for 14 years until his retirement in 1970. He and his wife moved to The Quarryville Presbyterian Home as guests, but here too he continued his ministry of speaking and writing.

He is known for his writings, especially the two volumes of Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, which is widely used today.

In 1936 Dr. Buswell, together with Dr. J. Gresham Machen, Dr. Harold S. Laird, and others, took his stand fearlessly for the Word of God in opposition to the forces of modernism in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. There was a great price to be paid from a human standpoint but, like Paul, he counted not his life dear to himself that he might finish the course God had given him. He, with the others mentioned, became the leaders of a new movement committed uncompromisingly to a loyalty to God and the Scriptures.

He helped form the Presbyterian Church of America in June of 1936, which later changed its name to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In the of 1937 he was a leader in the group which became the Bible Presbyterian Church and later, was again a leader in that portion of the BPC which became the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 1956-1965. In all of this taxing experience in the life of the Church, his leadership was evident and greatly respected.

He served on the Fraternal Relations Committee used to bring about the union of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in 1965. This resulted in the formation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.

One of the key issues which evidenced departure from the Word of God was that of the Foreign Missions Board of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Out of this arose the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Dr. Buswell was one of the founders under the leadership of Dr. Machen. In the developing Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the same urgency of missions continued under Dr. Buswell’s leadership and the Board of World Presbyterian Missions was created and continued to serve as the missionary arm of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Dr. Buswell served on this board until his death.

Dr. Buswell served on many boards, agencies and committees of the Re¬formed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. When the denomination was newly established, he had the joy of having a great input to its growth and development.

A great man has fallen, but God’s course continues—“He being dead, yet speaketh.” He has left the challenge to those who continue under the same Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dr. Buswell was survived by his dear wife, a faithful helpmeet for 59 years, and four children, all active in God’s work: Jane (Mrs. Philip Foxwell), Ruth (Mrs. Edward Noe), Dr. James Oliver Buswell III, and Dr. John Buswell. There are also ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren as well as a host of friends, both in heaven and in all parts of the world.

As a member of the Philadelphia Presbytery, our Synod, numerous boards and agencies, Dr. Buswell deserves the thanks to God which we all join in giving for this our fellow Christian. We thank God upon every remembrance of him. Our prayers and sincere sympathy are with his dear wife and all the members of his family. Joshua 1:2-3: “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.”

Words To Live By:
The challenge is for us to arise and possess that which God has promised us as His people. There remains yet much to be possessed for God’s kingdom.

[The text above, with a few minor edits, was the text of the Memorial for Dr. Buswell published in the Minutes of the 155th General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.]

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evangstudentIt was on this day, November 20th, in 1925, that students from across the nation gathered in Grand Rapids for the first annual conference sponsored by the new campus ministry known as the League of Evangelical Students. Seeking to establish an evangelical campus ministry, invitations went out in January of 1925 to a select number of seminaries. Six schools sent delegates to a meeting in April and a constitution was drawn up. Then, wasting no time, the November conference was planned and carried off to great success.

Established under the leadership of Dr. J. Gresham Machen and other prominent evangelical and Reformed scholars, the League began with high promise, but in sixteen short years, it had run its course and disappeared off the stage of campus ministry. Yet the League, despite a short term of ministry, can be said to have accomplished much. A fore-runner of InterVarsity and Reformed University Ministries, the League of Evangelical Students played a significant role in breaking up the fallow ground of campus ministry. 

To understand more about the League and its work, we can do no better than to read the following reports from three of the conference leaders:

The Grand Rapids Conference
by W.A.H. Zoerner

The League of Evangelical Students was given the great impetus, which promises to make it a very real factor in the lives of American students, at its First Annual Conference held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, November 20-24, 1925. At this conference nineteen schools were represented, eleven theological seminaries and eight Bible schools, and these represented student bodies from Texas to Canada and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Advocates of Christian Unity can take comfort in the fact that these schools represented at least eight of the prominent protestant denominations. One of the outstanding facts of the Conference was the splendid spirit of harmony and Christian unity manifested. The true joy of Christian fellowship was an admitted blessing to every delegate.

The Conference was the guest of Calvin Theological Seminary whose generous hospitality and helpful cooperation added greatly to its successful issue.

Preparations for the Conference were made by the Conference Committee appointed at Pittsburgh in April 1925. The chairman was John L. Schaver (Calvin Seminary) and the secretary of the committee Walter Laetsch (Northern Baptist Seminary). Too much credit cannot be given to these men for the Conference preparations, especially Mr. Schaver who gave a great deal of time and energy in handling the details. Mr. Schaver was elected chairman of the Conference and Mr. Laetsch secretary.

The importance of the League in the estimation of prominent conservative Christian leaders is evidenced by the presence at the Conference of such a representative group as the following list discloses. These men came as delegates, or upon invitation, to lend their judgment and to give addresses. Their presence was a proof of the need and place of an evangelical witness among students today. Dr. J. Gresham Machen, Princeton Seminary, Presbyterian U.S.A., spoke on the theme, “The Church’s Historic Fight against Modernism from Within.” Dr. Leander S. Keyser, Hamma Divinity School, Lutheran, gave two addresses on “Christianity and Liberalism,” and “The Origin of Man and Woman.” Rev. Harold Paul Sloan, Haddonfield, N.J., spoke on “What Modernism denies.” Dr. J.E. Kuizenga, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Mich., Reformed A., spoke on the theme, “The Supernaturalness of Christianity.” Rev. Joseph A. Schofield, Hobart, N.Y., gave a history of the movement. To these may be added the addresses of Dr. Melvin G. Kyle, Xenia Seminary, United Presbyterian, and Prof. S. Volbeda, Calvin Seminary, Christian Reformed, which are reported in other parts of this paper.

The Conference had also as visitors, Philip Mauro, Framingham, Mass., Prof. A.B. Winchester, Evangelical Theological College, Dallas, Tex., and J.E. Krebs, McCormick Seminary, Chicago, Ill.

The keynote of the Conference was unswerving loyalty to the Bible as the only authoritative rule of faith and practice.

The League’s Program
by Ned B. Stonehouse

“Ye shall be my witnesses.” These words are fulfilled by the witness of the individual Christian to his Lord and personal Saviour and by the great corporate witness of the Christian Church to Christ, its Head. Besides the perennial necessity of these forms of witness bearing, in times of doubt and unbelief and attach upon the Holy Scriptures, it becomes the right and obligation of Christians to band themselves together for the purpose of a united testimony to their common Faith.

The League of Evangelical Students is a witness-bearing organization. It is a movement among Christian students to bear witness to the Christian Religion in its Biblical, supernatural, historical interpretation. Such a witness necessarily includes a defense against the widespread attacks of present-day radicalism. That there is the need of a testimony before the world that there are thousands of students in institutions of higher learning who accept fully the fundamentals of the Christian Faith no one will deny.

One of the greatest fields of opportunity for the League is to present the claims of the true gospel ministry to college men. In too many educational institutions there is an idea that the purpose of the Christian ministry is simply the general uplift and improvement of mankind. This is important, but secondary. Over against this view, the League hopes to present the distinct calling of the Christian ministry to openly set forth Christ and Him crucified, the Saviour from sin and death through the atonement wrought by His shed blood.

The conference at Grand Rapids discussed and recommended the following as effectual means of carrying out the League’s purposes:
1. Promotion of the formation of chapters of evangelical students in seminaries, Bible schools, colleges, and universities.
2. Holding of conferences for inspiration, fellowship and the discussion of common problems; annually of the whole League and sectional conferences more frequently.
3. Sending of deputations to present the evangelical point of view and the claims of the gospel ministry.
4. Establishment of a bureau of evangelical leaders who will be available for addresses, especially at colleges.
5. Preparation of suggested reading for students with religious problems.
6. The publication of an official organ. [This was The Evangelical Student]
7. Issue of literature on the factual bases of the gospel.

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p style=”text-align: justify;”>“Why the League?”

by A.A. MacRae

THE greatest need of the world today and of every individual in the world is the religion of Jesus Christ. More important than any social improvement, any economic advancement, any political or moral reform, is the extension of the kingdom of God, through the proclamation of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Never did the world need this more than at the present time. Material conditions were never better, political and social advancements never greater, yet the world is not satisfied. Unrest and discontent abound. The only true satisfaction lies in the religion of Jesus Christ. The most real way to obey the second great commandment, “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself,” is through obeying the first commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”

Strange as it might seem, in this time of all times when Christians should present a united front before the world, and proclaim their God-given Gospel with power and conviction, foes to that Gospel have arisen within the very confines of the Christian Church itself, and many are seeking to dilute it until it loses all that gives it its distinctive power. No wonder scoffers outside the church are saying that the church is dead, when men inside the church are denying or explaining away the foundation stones of the church’s gospel.

The League of Evangelical Students is a student movement, originated by students, to declare beforethe world that there are in our educational institutions large bodies of students who believe thoroughly in the evangelical Gospel in all its richness. Radicalism and skepticism is noisy. It quickly makes its presence felt. It spreads rapidly, like the leaven described in Holy Scripture. Reading the accounts of student life in many current publications might lead one to believe that most seekers after learning had gone over to the ranks of Modernism and Infidelity. Attending some student conferences might lead one to a similar conclusion. It behooves the great body of students who accept the “Faith of our Fathers” to band together to witness to their conviction, and to record their opposition to the stealthy progress of religious unbelief.

The enemies of evangelical Christianity claim to represent intellectualism and scholarship. But truth is one, and the truths discovered by human research cannot reasonably contradict the truths revealed by the Maker of the Universe. The highest scholarship cannot discover any facts which contradict the plain teachings of the Bible. As Dr. Keyser declared at the Grand Rapids Conference: “I maintain that the finest shcolarship in the owrld, under the proper conditions, will lead just to the top of Mt. Calvary.” In the face of the widespread assertions that modern scholarship has rendered conservative Christianity untenable, the members of the League are witnessing to their conviction that true education is possible only when the facts revealed in God’s word are recognized as authoritative.

It is with this spirit that the League has been organized. It desires to include within its membership all who wish to declare with it their adherence to Biblical, supernatural Christianity. The occasion for its formation is plainly stated in the preamble to its constitution. Section I of Article III gives the qualifications for membership:

Qualifications for membership in the League shall be faith in the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and acceptance of the fundamental truths of the Christian Religion, such as: the Trinity, the Virgin Birth of Christ, His Divine and Human Nature, His Substitutionary Atonement, His Resurrection from the Dead, and His Coming Again.

This statement was purposely made very brief and simple, as the League had no intention of promulgating a new creed. It takes its stand upon historic Christianity, the common heritage of all the Evangelical Churches. It is not a movement toward church unity, nor has it a desire in any way to minimize the distinctive doctrines of the various denominations. But it is a movement of studnets who believe in supernaturalistic Christianity, from all the denominations, joining together for the specific purposes outlined in the Constitution of the League. This is very clearly stated in the next section of the Constitution (Art III, Sec. 2):

The above summary is not intended to be regarded as a complete statement, nor as an authoritative definition of the limits of Christian fellowship, but simply as an indication of the class of persons whom the League welcomes as members.

Mutually exclusive conceptions of the nature of the Christian Religion are current today. Every student who calls himself a Christian can easily determine which of these conceptions he holds. The League is a movement of those who hold one of these conceptions–that which regards the Christian Religion as a supernaturally revealed body of facts, showing how man can receive eternal life, through the great act of God who sent His only-begotten Son to die on Calvary’s cross for the sins of the world.

The above articles were transcribed from The Evangelical Student (Princeton, NJ), Volume I, No. 1 (April 1926), pages 3-4.

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Day Two of their Second General Assembly
The following materials are drawn from the scrapbooks gathered by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. Initially organized as the Presbyterian Church of America, the denomination we now know as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church met in its second General Assembly, beginning on Thursday, November 12 and adjourned on Saturday, November 14, 1936. As the retiring moderator of the first Assembly, the Rev. J. Gresham Machen had opened the proceedings with a sermon on 2 Cor. 5:14-15, and the assembled delegates then celebrated the Lord’s Supper. The Rev. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. and the Rev. J. Burton Thwing were nominated for Moderator of the Second General Assembly, and Rev. Buswell was elected to serve, the Rev. Cornelius Van Til and the Rev. Carl McIntire escorting Rev. Buswell to the platform. The election of Rev. Buswell as Moderator was, for one, seen as a way to minimize the possibility of friction over the issue of pre-millennialism, Buswell himself being a pre-millennialist. Ultimately that gambit did not succeed, and the young denomination suffered a split in 1938, with the formation of the overtly pre-millennial Bible Presbyterian Synod.

PCofA_2dGA_BuswellCaption for the news clipping photo at right: At the left is Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., president of Wheaton College, who was elected at the opening business session of the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America here yesterday. he succeeds Dr. J. Gresham Machen, of Philadelphia, show at the right, who was one of the leaders in the revolt of Fundamentalists from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The revolt let to the formation of the new church at the first General Assembly, June 11.

PCofA_2dGA_05NEW CHURCH ACTS FOR POPULAR RULE

Presbyterian of America Goes on Record Against Interlocking Committees.

OPPOSE OFFICIAL CLIQUE

Resolutions placing the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America on record as against “interlocking committees and putting power into the hands of a few men” were adopted today. [i.e., Friday, Nov. 13th]

This action was taken at sessions in the Manufacturers and Bankers’ Club, Broad and Walnut Streets. The Rev. Martin Luther Thomas, of California, in proposing the resolution said such precautions would prevent the church being controlled by a few men at headquarters and guard against “maladministration.”

Members of the new denomination before its formation constantly asserted that the parent Church, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., was controlled by an official clique.

Several commissioners opposed the resolution on the ground that it would create suspicion, but Mr. Thomas said: “It is better to avoid the abuse of power int he beginning than have trouble stemming it later.”

The resolutions were carried by a large majority.

Another resolution calling for a staggering of appointments to committees so as to prevent self-perpetuation of the governing heads, was defeated, when it was pointed out that the organizers of the new church should be given a free hand to carry out their work without interruption.

Wording of the actual resolution:  “In order to avoid interlocking committees, it is the desire of this General Assembly that no man be allowed to serve at the same time on more than one standing committee, board, or agency, except where an emergency exists.” [Minutes, pp. 12]

Words to Live By:
I recall that at a certain meeting of my presbytery, a candidate for the ministry was asked what he liked about the Presbyterian Church in America. With this candidate having grown up in an independent church fellowship, his reply shocked all of us elders at its first sound when he replied, “our Book of Church Order!” What we groaned at, with its very specific ways of doing things, was the very thing he rejoiced in, finding a supply of godly guidelines with which to “do church.” Elder representatives at the above described General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America wanted to profit from the past, especially even from the negative examples of those liberal churchmen and apostate churches where biblical input had been strangled in past PCUSA church assemblies. So important rules were added to the constitution of their newly formed church. Once adopted into practice, the more important outreach of the church could be accomplished with God’s blessing.

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O God of All Comfort and Mercy!

We focus today on the death of a covenant child, the son of the Rev. Andrew Hart Kerr. The death of any child is always difficult. I pray the following account will offer parents some consolation and pastors some guidance in their own ministry.

kerr_AHAndrew Hart Kerr was born on April 2, 1812. Raised in Virginia, he came to West Tennessee in 1854 and the town of Kerrville, which was laid out in 1873, was named in his honor. Rev. Kerr founded the Delta Presbyterian Church there in 1857, and spent forty-four years of his life in the ministry. In his time he was recognized as one of the leading lights of the Southern Presbyterian Church, serving as Moderator of the sixth General Assembly in 1866. Rev. Kerr died on September 16, 1883.

From 1865-1870, the Rev. Thomas Dwight Witherspoon was pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis. He and Rev. Kerr quickly became close friends, and so it was that when tragedy struck close on the heels of that sixth General Assembly, Rev. Witherspoon was there to minister to the Kerr family. At the graveside, he brought not only the eulogy for Rev. Hart’s son, but in later years, served the same sad task for two other Hart children. Eventually these three eulogies, along with an evangelistic message to children and an exhortation to parents, were gathered together and published as Children of the Covenant. I know of few such resources for pastors, though From Grief to Glory, by James W. Bruce, III, would be one recent work on this same difficult subject.

The Christian Observer covered the story of the death of the Rev. Hart’s son, Andrew Hart Kerr, Jr., who died of cholera just one day after the close of the General Assembly:—

“On Saturday, the 24th of November, while we were in Memphis, the Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Kerr, said to us, ‘Bro. Robinson, when you preach to some of our people tomorrow, I want you to preach, as I heard you preach once about how all the afflictions of the people of God work together for good.’ We complied with his request, little thinking, that within three days, our friend Dr. Kerr, would himself have such special need of that very truth of the Bible to sustain his stricken soul.

“We left him on Monday afternoon, presiding over the General Assembly with a dignity and grace that we seldom had seen equaled. And the first news we heard, was of the death of his noble boy on Wednesday. We had intended writing a notice of his sad bereavement this week, with special reference to that request that we should preach on that particular subject–the afflictions that come upon God’s people. but before we began our article, we received from a friend the following account of the noble boy’s death, which is so simple, so beautiful, and so worthy the serious thought of all our boys and girls, who have been recognized as member of the Church in their baptism, that we prefer to present this beautiful story just as it was told to us. We earnestly hope that the children will all read it, and be led by it to imitate the wonderful faith of this little boy, Andrew Hart Kerr:

“Andrew Hart Kerr, Jr., died Wednesday, the 28th day of November, after fifteen hours sickness, at 10 o’clock, a.m., without a groan or a struggle. He was 13 years and 18 days old. Six hours after the adjournment of that great body, of which you speak in such just and exalted terms in your paper, and the Moderator, Dr. Kerr, was receiving the warm congratulations and expressions of cordial love and esteem from the noble men just risen from the Lord’s council, his only son, Andrew Hart, Jr., the most promising youth of my acquaintance, and at least the equal of any I ever knew, was stricken down with cholera, and died in fifteen hours.

” ‘Hart’ was a child of the covenant, and though he had never yet made a public profession of religion, his was the most triumphant death I ever witnessed.

“When the child was thirteen months old, I was present as his believing parents gave him to God, by the hands of the late beloved and excellent Dr. Edgar, of Nashville, and then I knew the Master was there present, ratifying and approving the dedication, and often since have I said, that if I had no other and higher testimony in proof of the “doctrines of the covenant” in regard to infant baptism, than what I saw and felt upon that occasion, it were enough.

“From his earliest recollection, Hart had been trained up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” and though a child in years, was well versed in the doctrines of the church of his fathers. The day before his death he sat during the entire session of the General Assembly among its members, listening with the closest interest to its proceedings, and at the close was deeply moved by his father’s parting address and the farewell greetings he there witnessed. When he was informed that he would probably not get well, and his father exhorted him to place his trust in his Savior, and to give his heart to God, he prayed long, earnestly and with remarkable force and intelligence, for mercy and forgiveness through the merits of a crucified Redeemer, in whom alone he relied for salvation, and when he concluded his prayer, in which he exhibited a thorough acquaintance with the whole plan of salvation through the cross, he gave the most indubitable assurance of his acceptance and reconciliation in Christ, and continued to rejoice and praise God, and to tell what a blessed Savior he had found, until his strength was too far spent to talk. The Rev. Drs. Adger and Joseph R. Wilson, of the Assembly, were present, and enquired faithfully into the ground of his hope; and when he told them he knew, young as he was, that he was a sinner, and that he must be saved, if saved at all, through the atoning merits of a crucified Redeemer, and that he had given his whole heart to God, and now felt that he had rather go and be with Christ and the Angels, than stay in a world of sin and sorrow, these good men could not refrain from shouting “Glory! Glory!! Glory to God in the highest!!!” as they heard then and there such clear evidence of His faithfulness to his promises, in the case of this child of the Covenant. They bid the crushed parent rejoice, and not weep amid such splendid manifestations of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

“Calmly he bid each one present goodbye, exhorting them to meet him in heaven, and gave to his sister, who was present, a kiss for his ma and sisters, who were absent, calling each by name, saying, “tell ma not to be distressed about me, that I died happy in Jesus, and have gone to heaven, where she and my little sisters must meet me.–When asked if he was afraid to die, he promptly replied, “No, no, who would be afraid to meet his Maker’s face, with Jesus for his friend?” “I know in whom I trust.” He spoke of different friends and relatives who had gone before, and whom he expected to see in heaven, and said,”I love my father and mother, and sisters very much, but I love Jesus more,and would rather go to him than stay here.” He suffered comparatively little, and never shed a tear from the time he was taken till he breathed his last. He was in full possession of his mental faculties, to all appearance, up to the instant the breath left his body, and until he could speak no longer, said his trust was in the Lord, that he was dying happy, without pain; and when he could not utter the words, he would respond with his head, conscious to the very last, never for a single moment doubting or wavering in his faith and hope of salvation through Christ Jesus as his Redeemer.

“Thus went out from earth one of the brightest minds I ever knew, and a bud of promise has thus early dropped from its stem, of which there was greater hope than any left behind. But as he said himself, ‘It is all right, God knows what is best.’

Words to Live By:
On the loss of a child, some of the most poignant pastoral counsel comes from the pen of Samuel Rutherford. In Letter II, we read these words of consolation,

“My love in Christ remembered to you. I was indeed sorrowful at my departure from you, especially since you were in such heaviness after your daughter’s death. Yet I do persuade myself that the weightiest end of the cross of Christ that is laid upon you lies upon your strong Saviour; for Isaiah says, “In all your afflictions He is afflicted” (Isa. 63:9). O blessed Second [i.e., the Second Person of the Trinity] who suffers with you! and glad may your soul be even to walk in the fiery furnace with one like unto the Son of Man, who is also the Son of God….But what? Do you think her lost, when she is but sleeping in the bosom of the Almighty? Think her not absent who is in such a friend’s house. Is she lost to you who is found in Christ? If she were with a dear friend, although you should never see her again, your care for her would be but small. Oh, now, is she not with a dear Friend?…” [The Letters of Samuel Rutherford. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1984, p. 34.]

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Dr. Caspar Wistar Hodge, Jr., who was the Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology in Princeton Theological Seminary from 1921 until his death, died on the Friday morning of February 26, 1937, in the Princeton Hospital, of pneumonia. He had been ill for about one week, and died at the age of sixty-six years.

Dr. Hodge was a member of a family closely connected with the Princeton Theological Seminary for more than 100 years. His father, Dr. Caspar Wistar Hodge and his grandfather, Dr. Charles Hodge, as well as his great-uncle, Dr. Archibald Alexander Hodge, had all been members, like himself, of the seminary faculty.

Dr. Hodge was born at Princeton on September 22, 1870. He graduated from Princeton University in 1892, and after further studies received from that school the degree of Ph.D. in 1894. After a year of study abroad at the Universities of Heidelberg and Berlin, he returned to Princeton in 1895, taking the post of instructor in Philosophy in the College. Dr. Hodge remained in that position for two years, going then to Lafayette College as associate professor of Ethics for one year. Thereafter he entered Princeton Seminary to study for the ministry.

Upon graduation from the Seminary in 1901, he was ordained a minister and remained at the Seminary as an instructor in Systematic Theology. After six years he was made assistant professor of Dogmatic Theology, and eight years later professor in the same department, from which he was transferred in 1921 to the Charles Hodge professorship.

Dr. Hodge was well known as a writer on Biblical and theological studies, as a contributor to religious periodicals in America and in Scotland, and as an editor and contributor for several published books.

In 1897, Dr. Hodge married Miss Sarah Henry, of Princeton. He was survived by one daughter, Mrs. Carl H. Ernlund, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a sister, Miss Madeline Hodge. Funeral services were held in the Miller Chapel of the Seminary at Princeton on Monday morning, March 1, 1937.

For Further Study:
The Significance of the Reformed Faith Today,” by C. W. Hodge, Jr., is a brilliant analysis of what is termed the new theology, in contrast with the old theology.
[This PDF is a close reproduction of a typescript found among the Papers of Dr. Robert Dick Wilson. The typescript is undated, but Dr. Hodge’s opening comments, particularly his reference to the recent death of Dr. B.B. Warfield, dates the paper to 1921 when Dr. Hodge was installed as Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology.

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Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.

buswellarmyJames Oliver Buswell, Jr. was born January 16, 1895, in Burlington Wisconsin. When he was four years old he moved with his family to Mellon, Wisconsin. Reflecting upon the example of his father, particularly as displayed during those years following 1899 in the home missions work in the north woods of Wisconsin, Dr. Buswell wrote in 1926: “I thank God for a father who was a perfectly fearless preacher of righteousness, a wonderfully persuasive preacher of grace, and above all, a clear-sighted and patient guide in all his sons’ perplexities.” (Bulletin of Wheaton College, III (May 1926), 2)

In the summer of 1919 just after returning from France Dr. Buswell wrote the following: “Just before the Meuse-Argonne offensive, we were billeted in Camp Marquette for about five days. Everyone knew that we were going into a drive; the spirit of soberness was in the air. We had a revival there…. About thirty-five presented themselves for baptism, and in two days about a hundred and fifty men came to one or the other of us, the two regimental chaplains, stating that they wanted to be known as Christian men. Some of these were already devout Christian characters, and others had just then found Christ as their Saviour…. They were men who had come to Christ as a result of the simple preaching of the old Gospel.” (Bibliotheca Sacra, LXXXII (October 1925), 405)

On the morning of September 26, 1918, the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne began. Dr. Buswell, armed with a 45 caliber automatic pistol and extra ammunition for the troops, went over Vouquois Hill that morning and into the bloody offensive. In the five days that followed nearly two-thirds of the regiment was either killed or wounded. Ninety percent of the men who had identified themselves as believers or who had just become Christians were either killed or wounded. Dr. Buswell ministered to the dead and dying with Bible and bandages. Bullets struck his canteen at his side and pierced his chest gas mask. For bravery and devotion to duty under heavy fire Dr. Buswell was cited in General Orders and eventually received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, awarded years later in a special program in the Wheaton College chapel on March 17, 1934. Finally, Dr. Buswell himself was wounded in the leg by shrapnel about noon, on Sunday, September 29, 1918. Dr. Buswell spent about three months in a hospital. He returned to his regiment by Christmas, 1918,which was by then in northern France. The Armistice ending the War had been signed November 11, 1918, in Compiegne Forest.

buswellpresOn June 17, 1919, Dr. Buswell debarked in the United States and was discharged from the Army. While overseas, Buswell had developed the outline for his first published work, Problems in the Prayer Life, which was later published in 1927

Words to Live By: Suffering comes in many forms. There is the suffering that we bring upon ourselves and there is also the suffering caused by others. All of us live in relation to the rest of the world and we are increasingly affected by events far removed from our own immediate circumstances. War is one of the most horrific events which can engulf any people, yet every Christian can have the resolute assurance that God is sovereign over all of human history, that whatever may happen, the Christian rests securely in the Father’s hands. (Isaiah 45; Romans 8).

“Not only in our prayer life, but our whole status of being in grace, is dependent upon Christ. We were “far off,” but now we are “made nigh in the blood of Christ.” [Ephesians 2:13] He is the “great high priest,” “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” It is wholly due to Him that we have received the invitation to “draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:14-16] The statement of the lost and hopeless condition of men without Christ is not popular in our day. Nevertheless, there is no access to God, hence no prayer, without Christ, “for there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all…” [I Timothy 2:56]
[Buswell, Problems in the Prayer Life, pp. 13-14.]

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In the latter part of 1860, President James Buchanan made a proclamation setting January 4, 1861 apart “for fasting, humiliation, and prayer throughout the nation.” When that day arrived, across the nation special services were held in churches, public buildings were closed, and many businesses were shuttered for the day. Among the many Presbyterian pastors who answered the call to preach that day, the Rev. George Duffield, Jr. began his sermon that day with an overview of the nation’s long tradition of coming before the Lord with humble petitionWhen his sermon was later published, he added a brief Preface. Both the Preface and the sermon introduction are reproduced below.

Rev. Duffield begins:—

The history of this Sermon is a very simple one. The phrase “National Sins” in the President’s Proclamation, suggested an inquiry as to what these sins were? One of the sources of information on this topic, it occurred to us, would be the sermons that had been delivered on other National Fast Days. Many such being just at our hand, we turned them over with no little interest and curiosity. The more we “touched the bones of the prophets,” the more we felt that virtue came out of them.

“Faithful men,” indeed, were these old Fathers, to whom the Gospel in all its relations, both temporal and eternal, might be most safely entrusted! Though a reward was offered for their heads, they preached; though a Tory party in the Church might wish to keep them quiet, still they preached; though their brethren not infrequently found vehement fault with them for so doing, yet, the Word of God “burning like a fire in their bones,” they could not do otherwise than preach. The Chinese idea which so many have been endeavoring to inculcate of late, that “to speak of politics is to be guilty of death,” by such men as Mayhew, Witherspoon, Emmons, &c., would have been laughed to scorn! “Dumb dogs that cannot bark,” could not be said of them, any more than of Calvin, and Knox, and the staunch old English Puritans! Thank God that such men lived on this side of the Atlantic, as well as the other!

There is no excuse for us if we do not try, at least, to imitate their example. If ever the pulpit is to regain that influence which it has lost in our land, it must be by preaching occasionally such sermons as that of Dr. Langdon,* “Governments corrupted by vice, and restored by virtue,” May 31st, 1775, from a favorite text in those times, Isaiah 1:26. “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning.” As ministers we must study, and quote, and preach upon that other text as often as they did, viz. : Isaiah 40: 12, “The Nation that will not serve Thee, shall perish;” further enforced by Jeremiah 18:3-10. The hitherto unpublished document of the old Chaplain in the Appendix will show how far we have drifted, we greatly fear, in the wrong direction. Stirring times may be before us, and that very speedily; “wherefore, let us gird up the loins of our mind, be sober, and hope to the end!” Should our humble effort in this discourse be of no further service, it may at least save some valuable ministerial time in the way of reference. The man who would write a good religious history of this Nation, could scarcely do his countrymen a better service. Is it yet too late for our American Wilberforce, Theodore Freylinghuysen, to do it?

*See the Pulpit of the American Revolution; or, the Political Sermons of the period of 1776, by John Wingate Thornton, Boston, 1860.

—George Duffield, Jr.

Philadelphia, January 5th, 1861.

THE GOD OF OUR FATHERS.

For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,

Say ye not, A Confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A Confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Sanctify the Lord of Hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
And He shall be for a Sanctuary.” — Isaiah 8:11-14.

Went to church and fasted all day.” Such is the record in the private journal of the great “Father of his Country,” under date of Wednesday, June 1st, A.D., 1774; a day solemnly appointed by the Assembly of Virginia, on hearing of the passage of the Boston Port Bill, “as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to avert from us the evils of civil war, and to inspire us with firmness in support of our rights.”

A year later, just after the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, the Old Continental Congress appointed a day of General Fast.

On May 17th, 1776, “which was kept as a national fast, George Duffield, the minister of the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, with John Adams for a listener, drew a parallel between George the First and Pharoah, and inferred that the same Providence of God which had rescued the Israelites, intended to free the Americans.”

Could it have been in remembrance of this day in Old Pine Street [this was the original name of the Third Presbyterian Church], that “unfashionable as the faith in an overruling Providence” then was, this same John Adams was not ashamed to proclaim another National Fast, May 9th, 1798? Was it an evidence of the value of such a day, that even though hostilities had actually commenced between the United States and France, and a vessel of each nation had suffered capture, that such a body of men as the French Directory, so speedily and unexpectedly made overtures of peace, and that of their own accord?

In the fourth year of the second war with Great Britain, the example of John Adams was followed by President Madison, and January 12th, 1815, was recommended by him as a National Fast Day.

Even while the people were yet speaking, He “in whose hand the king’s heart is as the rivers of water; and who turneth it whithersoever he will,” heard their prayer; and only one month after, February 18th, 1815, they received “an answer of peace,” literally, and had the privilege of celebrating a day of National Thanksgiving.

The last two days of this character are within the recollection of nearly all here present, viz. : May 14th, 1841, being the day of national fast recommended by Mr. Tyler, on the decease of President Harrison; and August 3d, 1849, the fast day recommended by President Taylor, that God in mercy would arrest the further progress of the cholera.

Once more, and it may be for the last time, a Proclamation comes from the President of the people of the United States, designating this 4th day of January, 1861, as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, throughout the Union, that God may “remember us as he did our fathers.”

As Presbyterians, we are in no doubt as to the propriety of observing this day. “If at any time,” says our excellent Directory for Worship, “the civil power should think it proper to appoint a fast, it is the duty of the ministers and people of our communion, as we live under a Christian government, to pay all due respect to the same.” We are at no loss as to the manner of observing the day. “There shall be public worship upon all such days, and let the prayers, psalms, portions of Scripture to be read, and sermons, be all in a special manner adapted to the occasion.” As to the character of the prayers and sermon, the book is even more explicit still. “On fast-days let the minister point out the authority and providences calling to the observation thereof; and let him spend a more than usual portion of time, in solemn prayer, particularly confession of sin, especially of the day and place, with their aggravations, which have brought down the judgment of heaven. And let the whole day be spent in deep humiliation and mourning before God.”

Evidently in the minds of those who framed the Constitution of the American Presbyterian Church (adopted in the same year, and framed by some of the same men who framed our National Constitution, now in such imminent danger), the proper observance of such a day as this, both on the part of minister and people, was considered by them one of the most solemn and important duties that could possibly be discharged on earth.

“When the lion roars it becomes us to fear; when God’s hand is lifted up, and he appears about to strike, it is high time for us to strip ourselves of our ornaments, and to lie down in sackcloth and ashes.” As one of the watchmen on the walls of Zion, appointed of the Lord, if appointed at all, in Israel, “to hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me,” I must confess in all sincerity of heart, that never did I enter the House of Prayer on so solemn an occasion as the present—never did I venture to speak under a more tremendous pressure of personal and relative responsibility, to blow the trumpet with no uncertain sound! Business pausing in the midst of the week, and closing her shops, and stores, and factories! Religion throwing open her thousand temples, to invite within them those who believe that “only the omnipotent arm of God can save us from the awful effects of our follies and our crimes;” he only will speak aright at such a time as this, to whom God shall speak “with a strong hand,” and whom he will instruct accordingly. When “the voice of the Lord is upon the waters, and the God of glory thundereth,” all that man can say, is only as the faint echo that dies on the distant shore.

As appropriate to the occasion that has brought us together this morning, I propose, for the most part, in the way of an humble chronicler of the dealings of God with us, in our moral history as a nation, to direct your thoughts,

I. To Our National Mercies.
II. Our National Sins.
III. Our National Judgments.
IV. Our National Position.
V. Our National Duties.

Words to Live By:
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” — Isaiah 1:4, KJV.

While we may readily point out the sins of our fathers, were our ancestors alive today, what sins of ours would cause them to cover their faces and despise our claim to be Christians? We have no moral superiority over former generations. If anything, we may be in a far more precarious position. And so as true today as ever, we need humility and repentance as we stand before our Lord. We need to cry out for His mercy and we desperately need the fear of the Lord. We stray so easily, and so repentance must become a daily, even constant discipline. Salvation belongs to the Lord. His blessing is upon His people. On Him we can rely.

 

 

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Day Two of their Second General Assembly The following materials are drawn from the scrapbooks gathered by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. Initially organized as the Presbyterian Church of America, the denomination we now know as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church met in its second General Assembly, beginning on Thursday, November 12 and adjourned on Saturday, November 14, 1936. As the retiring moderator of the first Assembly, the Rev. J. Gresham Machen had opened the proceedings with a sermon on 2 Cor. 5:14-15, and the assembled delegates then celebrated the Lord’s Supper. The Rev. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. and the Rev. J. Burton Thwing were nominated for Moderator of the Second General Assembly, and Rev. Buswell was elected to serve, the Rev. Cornelius Van Til and the Rev. Carl McIntire escorting Rev. Buswell to the platform. The election of Rev. Buswell as Moderator was, for one, seen as a way to minimize the possibility of friction over the issue of pre-millennialism, Buswell himself being a pre-millennialist. Ultimately that gambit did not succeed, and the young denomination suffered a split in 1938, with the formation of the overtly pre-millennial Bible Presbyterian Synod.

PCofA_2dGA_Buswell Caption for the news clipping photo at right: At the left is Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., president of Wheaton College, who was elected at the opening business session of the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America here yesterday. he succeeds Dr. J. Gresham Machen, of Philadelphia, show at the right, who was one of the leaders in the revolt of Fundamentalists from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The revolt let to the formation of the new church at the first General Assembly, June 11.

PCofA_2dGA_05NEW CHURCH ACTS FOR POPULAR RULE

Presbyterian of America Goes on Record Against Interlocking Committees.

OPPOSE OFFICIAL CLIQUE

Resolutions placing the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America on record as against “interlocking committees and putting power into the hands of a few men” were adopted today. [i.e., Friday, Nov. 13th]

This action was taken at sessions in the Manufacturers and Bankers’ Club, Broad and Walnut Streets. The Rev. Martin Luther Thomas, of California, in proposing the resolution said such precautions would prevent the church being controlled by a few men at headquarters and guard against “maladministration.”

Members of the new denomination before its formation constantly asserted that the parent Church, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., was controlled by an official clique.

Several commissioners opposed the resolution on the ground that it would create suspicion, but Mr. Thomas said: “It is better to avoid the abuse of power int he beginning than have trouble stemming it later.”

The resolutions were carried by a large majority.

Another resolution calling for a staggering of appointments to committees so as to prevent self-perpetuation of the governing heads, was defeated, when it was pointed out that the organizers of the new church should be given a free hand to carry out their work without interruption.

Wording of the actual resolution:  “In order to avoid interlocking committees, it is the desire of this General Assembly that no man be allowed to serve at the same time on more than one standing committee, board, or agency, except where an emergency exists.” [Minutes, pp. 12]

Words to Live By:
I recall that at a certain meeting of my presbytery, a candidate for the ministry was asked what he liked about the Presbyterian Church in America. With this candidate having grown up in an independent church fellowship, his reply shocked all of us elders at its first sound when he replied, “our Book of Church Order!” What we groaned at, with its very specific ways of doing things, was the very thing he rejoiced in, finding a supply of godly guidelines with which to “do church.” Elder representatives at the above described General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America wanted to profit from the past, especially even from the negative examples of those liberal churchmen and apostate churches where biblical input had been strangled in past PCUSA church assemblies. So important rules were added to the constitution of their newly formed church. Once adopted into practice, the more important outreach of the church could be accomplished with God’s blessing.

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