National Presbyterian Church

You are currently browsing articles tagged National Presbyterian Church.

New Church Sends Communication to All Christian Churches

It was at the close of the First General Assembly of what was originally named the National Presbyterian Church (a year later, renamed the Presbyterian Church in America) that a message was sent to all churches of Jesus Christ throughout the world from this new denomination.  Adopted and then sent on December 7, 1973, the elders of this new Presbyterian Church wished everyone to know of their principles and convictions which occasioned this new Church.

Chief among them was the sole basis of the Bible being the Word of God written by inspired authors and carrying the authority of the divine Author.  They desired that all branches of the visible church would recognize their conviction that “the Bible is the very Word of God, so inspired in the whole and in all its parts, as in the original autographs, the inerrant Word of God.”  Further, it is the only infallible and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.”  (Message to all Churches, p. 1)

They also declared that they believed the system of doctrine found in God’s Word to be the system known as the Reformed Faith, as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. They wanted everyone to know that this Reformed Faith is an authentic and valid expression of Biblical Christianity.

A third conviction was expressed to renew and reaffirm their understanding of the nature and mission of the Church. To them, Christ is King and the only Law-giver, having established the Church as a spiritual reality.  It is composed of all the elect from all ages, manifested visibly upon the earth.

The chief end of man’s existence—our very reason for living—is to glorify God. That truth, reflected in the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism aim, also implies that we give top priority to the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ which speaks to going into all the world, preaching the gospel, and disciplining all nations, bringing them into the church.

Last, they sought a return to the historic Presbyterian view of Church government from the Session of the local church to the Assembly of all the local church representatives.

With a closing invitation to ecclesiastical fellowship with all who maintain their principles of faith and order, the address came to a close.

Words to live by:  Even though the name was changed from National Presbyterian Church to Presbyterian Church in America in the next year after the publication of this Address, the principles and convictions have remained the same in this now forty year old church.  If you are not in a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching Presbyterian and Reformed church, prayerfully consider the testimony and witness of the Presbyterian Church in America.

To read the entire “Message to All Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the World,” click here.

Tags: , , ,

schaeffer02On December 5, 1973, the second day of the first General Assembly was underway for the National Presbyterian Church. In fact, it was on this second day of that General Assembly that the original name of the denomination was chosen. A year later the young denomination voted to change its name, choosing the name Presbyterian Church in America.

Shortly after the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America, Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer composed the following thoughts in observance of that event. Notable in his mind was the contrast between the divisions of the 1930’s and the 1970’s and the manner in which each of these divisions had been conducted. Dr. Schaeffer’s message, titled “A Step Forward”, was subsequently published in THE PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL, 6 March 1974, pages 7-8.

Photo source: Picture taken from the February 1973 issue of One in Christ, the Bulletin of the National Presbyterian and Reformed Fellowship.

“A STEP FORWARD”

The formation of the National Presbyterian Church is a step forward in the Lord’s work in our chaotic age!

As a life-long Presbyterian and now a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, I have had a deep interest in the Presbyterian Church US since my days at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, from which I graduated in 1935.

Even at that time it was evident that Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., was a source of liberalism in the pulpits of the PCUS. Through the years I have seen no sign that the situation is improving.

To me, practicing the principle of the purity of the visible Church is a part of the command of the word of God. In the PCUS, good men have tried unsuccessfully to practice this principle by combating clearly false teachings at the center of Christian truth. These include the older rationalistic liberalism and the new neo-orthodox, existential liberalism. After having failed to bring purity into the Church, they chose the only way to be obedient–they practiced the principle in reverse and withdrew.

Thirty-eight years ago such a division occurred in the Northern Presbyterian Church. Those in the Presbyterian Church US have showed more than long patience in their efforts to bring improvements in their Church from within. However, the formation of the National Presbyterian Church should not be seen as the ending but a beginning.

It would be tragic if the National Presbyterian Church made the same mistakes which were made in the Presbyterian Church in the North. True brethren who have not felt led by the Lord to leave the PCUS should be treated with dignity and a loving beauty. There are two reasons for this:

Observable Love

First, Jesus taught that the mark of the Christian is the observable love shown among all true believers. Second, by keeping the lines open to these men–not as a stratagem but as loving obedience to Christ’s commands–the National Presbyterian Church will continue to offer a viable alternative. In the days ahead, the pressures will increase through the further growth of liberal control and the almost certain coming union with the United Presbyterian Church USA. I pray that mistakes made years ago in the North will not be repeated today.

The vision of the National Presbyterian Church should not end here. We must keep our distinctives as to the Reformed position, which we believe are true to the Scripture, and it should be natural to have close contacts with other true Presbyterian bodies. The chasm should not be at the point of our distinctives; it should be between Bible-believing Christians and those who have given up loyalty to the Scripture.

Two things are happening simultaneously now: The first is a resurgency for Christian truth. Going back to the 1930’s in the United States, the larger historic denominations were largely lost to the liberals, but three were not: The Lutheran Church-Missiouri Synod, the Christian Reformed Church, and the Southern Baptists. Thirty-five years later, these three denominations are now grappling with the same issues, all of which are rooted in the question of the authority of Scripture.

The Missouri Synod under the leadership of courageous men seems to have won its battle. The Southern Baptist Church now finds itself in the same position as the Presbyterian Church US in the 1930’s. That is, the churchmen are largely faithful, but the seminaries are infiltrated with liberalism.

One may hope and pray that the Baptists will stir themselves before it is too late. If the Baptists practice the principle of the purity of the visible Church in the direction the Missouri Synod has gone, then they may not have to travel the unhappy route of withdrawal as had to be done in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

Doors and Bridges

The National Presbyterian Church stands at a place of significance if the doors are kept open on one side to the true believers in the Presbyterian Church, and bridges are built toward those struggling for the same cause in other groups. However, at this time the question is not the formation merely of an organization; it is the establishment of a true Church.

The failure of those who separated from the Presbyterian Church USA during the 1930’s extended beyond the loss of contact with those true Christians who stayed in the Church; it extended to the attempted organizational expression. The International Council of Christian Churches gave such hope in its beginning, failed because of its harshness; it did not express or practice that mark of the Christian, the observable love among all true Christians.

There the question now is whether 35 years are enough to expunge this mistake so that another organization is viable at this time. The leaders in the National Presbyterian Church should consciously try to establish contacts with those who are true to the Scripture and committed to the practice of the purity of the visible Church in whatever groups they may be. Certainly groups in other countries would be interested in such contacts.

The second important occurrence now is the obverse, unhappy side of the first. At the same time we take heart from the formation of the National Presbyterian Church and events in the Lutheran Church-Missiouri Synod, we recognize a most distressing trend is developing: In much of evangelicalism regard for Scripture is weakening.

It is my observation that ecclesiastical latitudinarianism leads to cooperative latitudinarianism, and this tends to lead to doctrinal deviation, especially in regard to Scripture.

For example, think of the change at Fuller Theological Seminary. In a paper read at Wheaton College a few years ago, Professor Daniel Fuller defined “non-revelational matters” in the Scripture as those which are “capable of being checked out by human investigation, that is, knowable by what eye can see and ear can hear.” He added that the Bible contains “the non-revelational areas of science and history.”

This kind of thinking is not limited to one seminary. The battleground on the modern scene is whether the Bible is completely authoritative where it touches history and the cosmos, or only where it touches religious matters. It is difficult to see any basic difference between this and neo-orthodox existential theology.

The divergence in evangelical groups centers especially in the first half of Genesis, which is often considered to be parable rather than space-time history. The weakening among evangelicals is not limited to the United States; it is present in other parts of the world as well.

In England, preference tends to be given for general revelation over special revelation, so that science has the last voice. This is different in expression, but not in position, from that being developed theologically by Professor Fuller and those in the United States who are one with him.

If Christ does not come back within the next few years, I could visualize the possibility of a new alignment. Those standing for the total authority of all Scripture and for the principle of the practice of the purity of the visible Church would draw together and away from relativism, which surrounds us in the total culture and which has infiltrated the Church.

In such a setting, the National Presbyterian Church may in God’s providence be a central factor if it exhibits and practices God’s holiness in life and doctrine, and simultaneously exhibits and practices God’s love toward all true Christians in whatever groups they are.

I am thankful for the formation of the National Presbyterian Church and I pray no small or provincial vision for it.

 

Tags: , , ,

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

Tags: , , ,

A Supreme Court Justice Plants a Church

When forty thousand Christians on December 4, 1973 started a new Presbyterian Church, they were understandably excited beyond measure for the fruition of plans to begin a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching church true to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission.  Though they essentially had left the Southern Presbyterian church (PCUS), they had a vision of impacting the whole nation.  So they named their denomination the National Presbyterian Church.  They immediately however encountered a road block to the choice of that name.  There already was a congregation by that name, the National Presbyterian Church, located in Washington, D.C., and this local church had a national mission to all the states and even beyond, primarily as an endorsing authority for military chaplains. So in the second year of its existence, the new denomination changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in America.

National Presbyterian Church [the congregation] had its beginnings in two PCUSA congregations located in the nation’s capitol. The First Presbyterian Church, which began in the last decade of the seventeen hundreds in our nation’s capitol, was the home of countless presidents.  Chief executives like Jackson, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, Cleveland made this their Washington home church.

William Strong, Supreme Court Justice [6 May 1808-19 August 1895The other congregation which joined to make National Presbyterian what it is today was Covenant Presbyterian Church.  It was begun when eleven ruling elders of  New York Avenue Presbyterian Church met in the home of Supreme Court Justice William Strong on March 11, 1883 to plant another Presbyterian church in the capitol.  Its first service was in 1889 and it was dedicated in 1901.  Early attenders were President Harrison and Alexander Graham Bell.  It became the home church of President Dwight David Eisenhower, when he was elected to this high position.

Both churches united and were designated as the National Presbyterian Church as an action of the Presbyterian Church USA in 1946.   Thus, they did not wish any confusion as to what would be considered the National Presbyterian Church.

In hindsight, the decision to change the denominational name rather than contest the matter, while gracious, was also providential. For so the churches, sessions, and elders who came out of the PCUS church in 1973 were then enabled to choose what their real calling  was to be, namely, the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By: God doesn’t ever make any mistakes.  If an action in your life, or the life of your church, at first seems a puzzle, just wait for God’s providence to make it clear.

Tags: , , ,

A Christian Statesman

fultonCDarby03

Charles Darby Fulton was like many other conservative Presbyterians who chose to stay with the mother church rather than leave to join the newly formed denomination as it took a stand against modernism and apostasy. Their reasons for staying may have been varied, but conservatives like Fulton in many respects stayed for the tougher fight, for their numbers were even fewer after the exodus.

There is however something unique about the Rev. C. Darby Fulton that makes you want to know more about the man. He was widely typified as a Christian statesman. One way in which he demonstrated that quality of character was in the fact that, while he did not choose to come into the Presbyterian Church in America at its formation in 1973, he nonetheless was quite willing to bring a message during the PCA’s first General Assembly. Some conservatives who chose not to come into the PCA ignored or even opposed the new denomination. Darby Fulton was different, and that difference is part of what marks him out as a true Christian statesman. It’s part of what makes you want to know more about the true character of the man.

Charles Darby Fulton was born on September 5, 1892, in Kobe, Japan. His parents, the Rev. Samuel Peter Fulton [1865-1938] and Rachel Hoge Peck Fulton, were missionaries sent out by the Southern Presbyterian Church.

Darby Fulton was educated at the Presbyterian College of South Carolina, graduating there with the B.A. degree in 1911, and then earning an M.A. from the University of South Carolina in 1914 [note his thesis topic, in the blbiiography below] before turning his attention to preparation for the ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary. Graduating from Columbia in 1915, he lastly attended Princeton Theological Seminary, and there earned the STB degree n 1916. 

Rev. Fulton was ordained on June 25, 1915 by the Presbytery of Enoree [PCUS]. During the time that he was attending Princeton, he transferred his ministerial credentials to the PCUSA, and supported himself by serving the Glassboro and Bunker Hill churches, 1916-1917. Then upon graduation from Princeton, he was received back into Enoree Presbytery and the PCUS as he answered a call to missions work. It was at about this time that Rev. Fulton married Nannie Paul Ravenel, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, in October of 1917.

Departing for the PCUS operated Japan Mission, the Fultons served there from 1918 until 1925. Thereafter Rev. Fulton served as Field Secretary, 1925-32, and then as Executive Secretary, 1932-61, for the PCUS Board of Foreign Missions.

Dr. Fulton served as a professor at his alma mater, Columbia Theological Seminary, from 1962 to 1965, and on September 1, 1965, was entered on the rolls of Presbytery as honorably retired. During his lifetime, he had received a number of honors, including having served as the Moderator of General Assembly [PCUS] in 1948. The Presbyterian College of South Carolina awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1924 and he received the LL.D. degree from King College in 1952.  Following his retirement, the Rev. Dr. C. Darby Fulton lived another twelve years, and he died on May 27, 1977, at the age of 84, while residing in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to his death, he had established a fund to assist the Kobe Theological Seminary in Japan.

Partial Bibliography:
1914 – Financial Condition and Its Relation to Character. M.A. thesis at the University of South Carolina.
1938 – Star in the East
1946 – Now is the Time
1949 – Report on China.
1959 – Lectures: Series of three lectures delivered before the Synod of Virginia at Massanetta Springs, June 29-30, 1959.
1959 – Missions: Our philosophy, our program, contemporary problems (1959)
1966 – “Baptism in Reformation Perspective,” in One Race, One Gospel, One Task: World Congress on Evangelism (1966)
1973 – “The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ,” in Addresses delivered during the First General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church. Montgomery, AL: The Office of Administration, 1973. pp. 32-34.
Undated – “The Gospel is Relevant. Weaverville, NC: The Presbyterian Journal, n.d. Tract, 12 p.

Words to Live By:
For this section today, we would like to provide here the text of Rev. Fulton’s address on the occasion of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:

The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ, by C. Darby Fulton [Text: Philippians 3:7-14]

Every life has a key word. With some it is money; with others, pleasure; with still others, fame. With Alexander the Great it was conquest; with Napoleon, France; with Edison, science; with Paul, it was Christ.

Paul interpreted every phase of his life in its relation to Christ. When he rejoiced, it was in Christ; he gloried in Christ; he conquered in Christ; he was strong in Christ; and he took pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions and distresses for Christ’s sake. For him, to live was Christ.
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This Day in Presbyterian History:  

A Supreme Court Justice Plants a Church

When forty thousand Christians on December 4, 1973 started a new Presbyterian Church, they were understandably excited beyond measure for the fruition of plans to begin a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching church true to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission.  Though they essentially had left the Southern Presbyterian church (PCUS), they had a vision of impacting the whole nation.  So they named their denomination the National Presbyterian Church.  They immediately however encountered a road block to the choice of that name.  There already was a congregation by that name, the National Presbyterian Church, located in Washington, D.C., and this local church had a national mission to all the states and even beyond, primarily as an endorsing authority for military chaplains. So in the second year of its existence, the new denomination changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in America.

National Presbyterian Church [the congregation] had its beginnings in two PCUSA congregations located in the nation’s capitol. The First Presbyterian Church, which began in the last decade of the seventeen hundreds in our nation’s capitol, was the home of countless presidents.  Chief executives like Jackson, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, Cleveland made this their Washington home church.

The other congregation which joined to make National Presbyterian what it is today was Covenant Presbyterian Church.  It was begun when eleven ruling elders of  New York Avenue Presbyterian Church met in the home of Supreme Court Justice William Strong on March 11, 1883 to plant another Presbyterian church in the capitol.  Its first service was in 1889 and it was dedicated in 1901.  Early attenders were President Harrison and Alexander Graham Bell.  It became the home church of President Dwight David Eisenhower, when he was elected to this high position.

Both churches united and were designated as the National Presbyterian Church as an action of the Presbyterian Church USA in 1946.   Thus, they did not wish any confusion as to what would be considered the National Presbyterian Church.

In hindsight, the decision to change the denominational name rather than contest the matter, while gracious, was also providential. For so the churches, sessions, and elders who came out of the PCUS church in 1973 were then enabled to choose what their real calling  was to be, namely, the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By: God doesn’t ever make any mistakes.  If an action in your life, or the life of your church, at first seems a puzzle, just wait for God’s providence to make it clear.

Through the Scriptures: Joshua 1 – 3

Through the Standards: Why the Redeemer is Both Jesus and Christ, according to the Confession

WCF 8:3
“The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.  Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father, who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.”

Remembering Our Fathers and Brothers, passed into glory on this day, March 11, in
1983 – the Rev. John Knox Bowling.
2005 – the Rev. Richard Summers.

Tags:

%d bloggers like this: