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February 16 – 17, 1973 — A momentous date in the history of what was to become the Presbyterian Church in America.

Quoting from Paul Settle’s book, To God All Praise and Glory:

“Perhaps the most significant meeting of the entire movement convened on February 16 at the Airport Hilton in Atlanta. All the executive committees of the four conservative organizations were present with the Steering Committee. Jack Williamson brought the news from Dallas, where the Plan of Union Committee had met, that the liberals had lied: there was no plan of union! The committee scrapped teh work that had been done and asked the PCUS and UPUSA General Assemblies to allow the committee to continue its work and bring a report in 1975. Williamson said that “it was extremely unlikely that any future plan would include a belateral escape clause.” As before, in August, the men sank to their knees to pray with many tears. They now knew that there was no turning back: they must leave the PCUS, in order to exercise, as Francis Schaeffer has said, “discipline in reverse.” The season of prayer strengthened them immeasureably. John Richards told Georgia Settle: “We had…men of great power in prayer…we prayed around the table…and the prayer formed in us a kind of exhilaration;”

[To God All Praise and Glory, page 43. This book is available from the Christian Education and Publications bookstore]

News of this event was reported to the people of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod through the Bulletin News Supplement, printed by Joel Belz [back before he became editor of World Magazine]. The February 20, 1973 edition of the News Supplement stated:

“Conservatives in the Presbyterian Church U.S. (popularly known as the Southern Presbyterian Church) have responded officially to the power plays and liberalism of the hierarchy of their denomination, and laid plans for the forming of a new denomination.

A steering committee for a continuing church met in mid-February in Atlanta to lay specific plans for the new church, and did not immediately release those details. But the scope of the new move was apparent because of the broad base of participation at the Atlanta meeting. Included were leaders of Concerned Presbyterians and of Presbyterian Churchmen United, two protest groups within the Southern denomination, as well as the leaders of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship and the Presbyterian Journal.

Many of those represented had looked forward to the possible union of their denomination with the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), because that union–even though it was with a liberal denomination–included an escape clause through which local churches could leave and keep their properties. But in early February, that union plan was scrapped by the liberal leaders of the Southern church. Conservatives believe the plan was abandoned because of a fear that too many congregations would exercise their rights through the escape clause.

With no prospects left of being able to leave the denomination with their properties, conservatives gathered and voted unanimously to leave the church and begin anew. They will do so with no guarantees at all with respect to the numerous church properties involved.

Several Reformed Presbyterians participated in the Atlanta meetings, and indicated a genuine desire on the part of the churchmen involved to extend fellowship between themselves and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.”

[excerpted from the Bulletin News Supplement, vol. 17, no. 8, February 20, 1973]

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This day, January 15, in 1966 marks the death of the Rev. Flournoy Shepperson.

sheppersonSrFlournoy Shepperson was licensed and ordained in July of 1917 by the Ouchita Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. His first pastorate was in a yoked ministry to the Presbyterian churches of Magnolia and Mt. Holly, Arkansas, serving there 1908 to 1911. Rev. Shepperson next pastored the Presbyterian church in Monticello, Arkansas from 1911 to 1920, before answering a call to serve Purity Presbyterian church in Chester, South Carolina, from 1921-1925. His last pastorate in the PCUS was with the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC, which he served from 1925 to 1940. He then withdrew from the Southern Presbyterian denomination and united with the Bible Presbyterian Synod, while his brother David remained within the PCUS. Upon leaving the PCUS, Dr. Shepperson planted a Bible Presbyterian church in Greenville with an initial congregation of 335 members. The church later took the name Augusta Street Presbyterian church, and eventually became part of the PCA, though it was dissolved in 1996. The Augusta Street church was also notable as the original location of the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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Oddly, Second Presbyterian of Greenville—the church that Dr. Shepperson left—later became one of the founding churches of the PCA, in 1973, and it was not until 1982 when the Augusta Street church also joined the PCA, as part of the Joining and Receiving of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES).

From the Memorial read at the 144th RPCES General Synod:

Dr. Shepperson was among those who very early sensed the rising tide of unbelief in his own Presbyterian denomination and took a strong stand against it. It was under his leadership that there was formed a new Presbyterian church in his own city of Greenville, South Carolina, completely separated from apostasy, which church has grown to be one of the largest and most influential churches of our Synod.

Dr. Shepperson was an able and faithful preacher of the Word of God. He possessed a sense of humor that often brightened and enlivened his messages. This he did not lose even in that period of ill health that preceded his death. Many of us can testify to the rich blessing of his ministry from our own pulpits. Those of us who knew him intimately can also testify to his deep devotion to his Lord and to the consequent blessing always experienced in fellowship with him.

We are all aware of the fact that our loss is his great gain. We know that for him to depart this earthly life was to immediately be with Christ, which is far better. We believe that he could honestly echo the words of the great apostle, “to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Dr. Shepperson had three sons, two of whom entered the ministry, and a daughter. Flournoy Shepperson, Jr. was ordained in the BPC and later came into the RPCES. He pastored churches in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittstown, PA, Savannah, GA, Durham, NC and Tampa, FL. Dr. Shepperson’s son Sam was also ordained in the BPC and later affiliated with the PCA. He had a long pastorate in Arkansas and is now honorably retired. It was Sam who so graciously provided the news clipping and photograph of his father.

Words to Live By: The Church is blessed with many faithful pastors. Sometimes it is easy to focus on the relative few who stray in doctrine or practice, and we forget to praise God for how He works through those who remain faithful and steadfast year after year. We are engaged in a great spiritual battle, and your pastor is on the front lines. Remember to pray for him.

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From Trash to Treasure.

tenney_samuel_millsPresbyterian pastors love to rummage through old books. Browsing through a used bookstore in Houston, Texas, in 1902, the Rev. Samuel Mills Tenney noticed a bound stack of papers set aside in a corner of the store. His curiosity piqued, he asked the store owner and found that the papers were going to be thrown out. Glad to be relieved of what he considered trash, the owner gave the pile of papers to Rev. Tenney, who then carried his prize home for closer inspection.

Back in his study, Rev. Tenney dusted off the papers and began to examine them closer. To his great surprise, he found these were class notes and other papers from around 1845 which had once belonged to Robert Lewis Dabney, from when Dabney was a student in Seminary. Dabney, as most know, went on to become one of the leading theologians of the old Southern Presbyterian Church. “Is this the way our Church treats her great men?,” Tenney asked himself.

This “chance” discovery became the inspiration that led Rev. Tenney to a lifelong obsession to preserve the history of his denomination. His 1902 discovery then led to his founding the Presbyterian Historical Society of the Synod of Texas, which later came to be located in Texarkana. Working without other support, Tenney spent the next twenty-five years gathering an impressive collection of records and memorabilia.

Then in 1926, when the 66th General Assembly of the PCUS met in Pensacola, Florida, that Assembly voted to establish a denominational archives, utilizing Rev. Tenney’s collection as the core of their new archives. The next year, the archives was given its official name, operating as the Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. Relocation of the archival collections from Texarkana to denominational property in Montreat, North Carolina followed shortly thereafter.

Rev. Tenney continued as director of the Historical Foundation until his death on December 23, 1939.

When the PCUS merged with the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. in 1983, the merged denomination now had two archives, the other being the Presbyterian Historical Society, located in Philadelphia. Both institutions continued on, operated by the Presbyterian Church (USA), until early in 21st century, when the decision was made to close the Montreat location. So ended a great cultural institution. The major collections of the old Historical Foundation were relocated to Philadelphia, while arrangements were made to house the congregational history collections at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia.

When the Presbyterian Church in America was founded in 1973, there were subsequent discussions about housing our denominational records and archival collections at Montreat, under a cooperative agreement. Thankfully that arrangement was never realized. Instead, in 1984, Dr. Morton Smith, then Stated Clerk of the PCA, stood before the Twelfth General Assembly and made his case for a PCA Archives. The Assembly approved his motion. This was at a point when the PCA still did not have central denominational offices for its agencies, and so Dr. Will Barker, then president of Covenant Theological Seminary, offered free space for the Archives in the Seminary’s library. We’ve been there ever since, though we’re rapidly outgrowing our current facility.

Words to Live By:
There are a number of reasons why a denomination needs to maintain its own archive. But far and away, the most important is that these records stand as a testimony to what the Lord has done in our midst. I like to think of the Historical Center as a “Hall of Testimonies,”— witnesses to the reality of the Gospel and the fact that Jesus Christ changes lives.

He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered.” — (Psalm 111:4a, KJV)

“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” — (Psalm 145:4, KJV)

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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.

 

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PCUS_1879_BCOOne of the most significant signs of promise for the BCO in the 1870s was that it lost its original association in PCUS opinion with centralization.. Few commented on the localist tendency of the recent revisions.

However, except for an occasional muted expression by the Christian Observer, 177 fear of centralization ceased to be a major concern in the constitutional debate. Even leaders of the independent Missouri synod, by the time they joined the PCUS in 1874, felt assured that the Church and its constitutional projects were in accord with their view that “the Presbytery under the Constitution is supreme. Significantly, none of the seven controversial issues considered separately in 1877-78 was a centralization issue.

Instead, the most articulate opponents of the BCO in the late 1870s were a few leaders, such as Plumer, who rejected the jure divino polity theories while they were gaining currency in the Church as a whole.179 By 1877 Plumer, increasingly isolated on the question, was inveighing against the BCO on the grounds that it was a disruptive change of the established system, without addressing the merits of its  provisions. His opposition to constitutional change was entangled with his personal conflict with most of his Columbia colleagues, who had been Thornwell’s close associates.181 That kind of opposition, removed from the anti-centralist onslaught of 1867, would not indefinitely forestall adoption of the new constitution. The canvass of presbyteries in 1877-78 showed that the end of the constitutionmaking process was finally at hand. Now, American Presbyterians twenty-nine of the sixty-two responding presbyteries were ready to enact the BCO.

In their votes on the seven separately-submitted issues, the presbyteries showed revisers the combination of provisions which would command maximum support.

The 1878 Assembly used the presbytery recommendations to prepare a new text, and submitted it for action.182 Welcoming the prospect of consensus, the presbyteries ratified the draft constitution by 56 votes to 8. Appropriately, church leaders then fell into a last-minute dispute about the powers of the Assembly and the presbyteries. Some argued that the Assembly still had discretion to decide on the merits of the BCO, but others considered the presbytery actions determinative in themselves. On May 19,1879, acting on the latter interpretation, the General Assembly declared the Book of Church Order in force.

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chaferLS.Yep. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, was a Presbyterian. As was Chafer’s mentor, C. I. (Cyrus Ingerson) Scofield, and as was Scofield’s mentor, James H. Brookes. Presbyterians all. Perhaps that helps to explain how it was the dispensationalism made such inroads into Presbyterian circles in the era from the 1880’s to the 1930’s. That, and the fact that dispensationalists did a fair job of defending the Scriptures when few others. apart from the Princeton conservatives, would or could.

Lewis Sperry Chafer was born in Ashtabula county, Ohio, on February 27, 1871. His parents were the Rev. Thomas Franklin Chafer, a Congregationalist pastor, and Lois Lomira Sperry Chafer, the daughter of a Welsh Wesleyan lay preacher. When Lewis was just eleven, his father died of tuberculosis. Lewis developed an interest in music while attending the New Lyme Institute as he prepared for college. At Oberlin College, he majored in music and met his future wife, Ella Loraine Case. After their marriage in 1896, he began to serve as an evangelist.

An invitation to teach at the Northfield Boys School in turn led to a close friendship with C. I. Scofield, and as they say, the rest is history. Dallas Theological Seminary, founded in 1924 as the Evangelical Theological College, continues to this day. Its founder, Lewis Sperry Chafer, died on August 22, 1952.

In a prior post we talked about Milo Jamison’s role in the split that created the Bible Presbyterian Church. Jamison was a dispensationalist, while the recently formed denomination that was renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was quickly aligning itself against that system. In the last several decades, dispensationalism as a system has been going through a number of changes, but historically it has been anchored to three key tenets: (1) A “normal, literal” interpretation of Scripture; (2) A strict distinction between Israel and the Church; and (3) a scheme of dispensations or ages which divide up Biblical history. The latter two points are particularly where we find ourselves in disagreement with dispensationalism.

D. James Kennedy, when examining men for ordination, would routinely ask for the candidate’s views on dispensationalism, and whether the candidate approved or disapproved of the 1944 Southern Presbyterian report on dispensationalism. And Dr. Kennedy was right to use that Report in that way. However, the untold story behind that PCUS report is that in all likelihood, the Report was an attempt to split the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian denomination, many of whom at that time were dispensationalists. As modernists were gaining power in the PCUS, the 1944 Report gave them an opportunity to set one camp of conservatives over against another and so dampen opposition to their own agenda.

In Sum:
Few conservative Presbyterians today consider themselves dispensationalists. The old Reformation doctrine—really the old Biblical doctrine—of covenant theology is being taught once again, and taught well in our seminaries and in our churches. How it came to be virtually ignored in the 19th-century is something of a mystery, but the general lack of such teaching in that era does help to explain the rise of dispensationalism during the same time period. Nature abhors a vacuum.

For Further Study:
One of the better popular-level works on covenant theology is O. Palmer Robertson’s Christ of the Covenants. Ask your pastor about other helpful materials on this important subject.

Image source: From a photograph on file at the PCA Historical Center, with the scan prepared by the staff of the Historical Center. The photograph lacks any indication as to who the photographer might have been.

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This day, January 15, in 1966 marks the death of the Rev. Flournoy Shepperson [10 October 1883-15 January 1966].

sheppersonSrFlournoy Shepperson was licensed and ordained in July of 1917 by the Ouchita Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. His first pastorate was in a yoked ministry to the Presbyterian churches of Magnolia and Mt. Holly, Arkansas, serving there 1908 to 1911. Rev. Shepperson next pastored the Presbyterian church in Monticello, Arkansas from 1911 to 1920, before answering a call to serve Purity Presbyterian church in Chester, South Carolina, from 1921-1925. His last pastorate in the PCUS was with the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC, which he served from 1925 to 1940. He then withdrew from the Southern Presbyterian denomination and united with the Bible Presbyterian Synod, while his brother David remained within the PCUS. Upon leaving the PCUS, Dr. Shepperson planted a Bible Presbyterian church in Greenville with an initial congregation of 335 members. The church later took the name Augusta Street Presbyterian church, and eventually became part of the PCA, though it was dissolved in 1996. The Augusta Street church was also notable as the original location of theGreenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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Oddly, Second Presbyterian of Greenville—the church that Dr. Shepperson left—later became one of the founding churches of the PCA, in 1973, and it was not until 1982 when the Augusta Street church also joined the PCA, as part of the Joining and Receiving of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES).

From the Memorial read at the 144th RPCES General Synod:

Dr. Shepperson was among those who very early sensed the rising tide of unbelief in his own Presbyterian denomination and took a strong stand against it. It was under his leadership that there was formed a new Presbyterian church in his own city of Greenville, South Carolina, completely separated from apostasy, which church has grown to be one of the largest and most influential churches of our Synod.

Dr. Shepperson was an able and faithful preacher of the Word of God. He possessed a sense of humor that often brightened and enlivened his messages. This he did not lose even in that period of ill health that preceded his death. Many of us can testify to the rich blessing of his ministry from our own pulpits. Those of us who knew him intimately can also testify to his deep devotion to his Lord and to the consequent blessing always experienced in fellowship with him.

We are all aware of the fact that our loss is his great gain. We know that for him to depart this earthly life was to immediately be with Christ, which is far better. We believe that he could honestly echo the words of the great apostle, “to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Dr. Shepperson had three sons, two of whom entered the ministry, and a daughter. Flournoy Shepperson, Jr. was ordained in the BPC and later came into the RPCES. He pastored churches in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittstown, PA, Savannah, GA, Durham, NC and Tampa, FL. Dr. Shepperson’s son Sam was also ordained in the BPC and later affiliated with the PCA. He had a long pastorate in Arkansas and is now honorably retired. It was Sam who so graciously provided the news clipping and photograph of his father.

Words to Live By: The Church is blessed with many faithful pastors. Sometimes it is easy to focus on the relative few who stray in doctrine or practice, and we forget to praise God for how He works through those who remain faithful and steadfast year after year. We are engaged in a great spiritual battle, and your pastor is on the front lines. Remember to pray for him.

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Here We Stand

declarationOfCommitmentThere were four organizations that were formative of the Presbyterian Church in America. They were:
1. The Presbyterian Journal,which began in May of 1942. Founded by a group of conservative Presbyterians, including L. Nelson Bell, the Journal was founded to work against the liberalism infecting the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (aka, Southern Presbyterian Church).
2. The Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, founded by the Rev. William Hill, Jr., conducted revivals in PCUS churches.
3. Concerned Presbyterians,a laymen’s group
4. Presbyterian Churchmen United (PCU), an organization of conservative pastors in the PCUS.

Originally published on October 4, 1969 by the Presbyterian Churchmen United (PCU), the Declaration of Commitment was a clarion call issued to the ministers and people of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS)—a call for recommitment to the Word of God and to the Reformed Faith, signed by over 500 ministers and published in over 30 major newspapers.

DECLARATION OF COMMITMENT

To the membership of the Presbyterian Church, US, in light of the questions and concerns being expressed in the Church as to the nature of our faith and order, we, the undersigned ministers declare our conviction:

—That the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ turns men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. By coming to faith in Him alone is there genuine reconciliation between man and God and man and man.

—That the Holy Scriptures are the infallible Word of God, and that these Scriptures commit the Church to a mission whose primary end is the salvation and nurture of souls.

—That Christian faith must bear fruit if it is to remain virile. These fruits vary from believer to believer. But common to them all are evidences of love, concern and neighborliness, toward all races of men without partiality and without prejudice, especially to the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged. The man of faith views all men as neighbors and himself as debtor, for Christ’s sake.

—That, for the implementation of the above principles, in obedience to our ordination vows, we must strive to preserve a confessional Church, thoroughly Reformed and Presbyterian. Thus, our support of or opposition to any proposed union will be determined by these considerations.

—That, being fully committed by our ordination vows to the system of doctrine set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, we must oppose all efforts to change in substance or otherwise debase our historic doctrinal commitment.

—That we are in the same context by vow committed to historic Presbyterian polity with its representative system and its parity among teaching and ruling elders. Thus, we are forced to oppose any efforts to take our Church into the massive organization envisioned by COCU [i.e., Consultation on Church Union.]

—That, should the basic theology or polity of the Church be altered or diluted, we shall be prepared to take such actions as may be necessary to fulfill the obligation imposed by our ordination vows, to maintain our Presbyterian faith.

Words to Live By:
In this clarion call, over 500 pastors called for the Church to remain true to the Reformed Faith, to remain a confessional and Presbyterian church, in doctrine and in polity. They staked out a position with this document, standing against a proposed ecumenical merger which would have taken their denomination into liberal and unbelieving waters. And they made it clear that they would not be party to such a merger but would honor their ordination vows.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” – (2 Thess. 2:15)

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” – (2 Timothy 1:13)

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) – Hebrews 10:23)

Image source: News clipping from the Paul G. Settle Manuscript Collection, Box 256, file 27, at the PCA Historical Center. Date [circa 1969] and source of the clipping not known.

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Time to Move for a New Church

The evidence was already in, in fact, it was well in.  All of the efforts of the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church U.S.) had failed to stop the tide of liberalism in that once great church.  So after the last General Assembly in 1971, something had to be done.

Gathering together in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1971, a group of conservative Presbyterians met to discuss the situation.  Realizing that some key elders were not present, they met two weeks later on July 30th at the Airport Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia. This was a meeting which was filled with talk to the heavenly Father as well as to those of like precious faith. They met all together and then in small groups.

By the morning of the next day, some statements were presented to the group.  They were as follows:  “A plan for the continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to Scripture and the Reformed faith: 1. To create a climate of opinion favorable to the continuation of conservative presbyteries and churches loyal to Scripture and the Reformed Faith, by promoting as strong an image as possible of such loyalty through actions taken by synods, presbyteries, and congregations. 2. To identify presbyteries and congregations willing to take such a stand.  And 3. To accept the inevitability of division in the PCUS and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to Scripture and the Westminster Standards.

This intent was breathed in prayer in, in the discussion towards it, and breathed out in prayer at the conclusion of it.  Men who had been through the battle to return the PCUS to the faith of the fathers wept at the very prospect of the future.  And when the vote came in favor of the three points, there were no high fives, or shouts of victory, but rather silence, as one of the men there said, a heavy silence of profound sadness.  They were not merely leaving the southern church.  The southern church had left them and their ordained convictions for a mess of liberal pottage, as Cain had done much earlier in his life.

A timetable was then worked out followed by the organization of a Steering Committee.  The plans were set in motion for a Continuing Church, which in time was named the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By: 
Thank God for men and women with a firm conviction of the historic Christian faith.  Praise God for Christian leaders who refused to compromise the truth of the gospel for a mixture of theological error.  We need men and women like these in every age, for the Christian church to march on and be the appointed means to bring the gospel to every creature.  Be a part of your local church if it is holding faithfully to the faith once delivered unto the saints.

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Lardner Wilson Moore was born on May 20, 1898, in Osaka, Japan. His father was the Rev. John Wallace Moore and his mother, Kate (Boude) Moore. His parents were among the very first Protestant missionaries to serve in Japan.

Lardener received his collegiate education at Austin College, in Texas, earning his BA there in 1918 and an MA in 1919. He then pursued his preparation for ministry at Union Theological Seminary, in Richmond, Virginia, where he earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1922.

Upon graduation from Seminary, Lardner then married Grace Eagleton, in Sherman, Texas on July 6, 1922. To this marriage, three children were born, including George Eagleton, John Wallace and Robert Wilson.

Moore was licensed and ordained on September 15, 1921 under the authority of Durant Presbytery (PCUS), being installed as a pastor of the PCUS church in Caddo, Oklahoma. Additionally, he served as Stated Supply for a smaller Presbyterian church in Caney, Oklahoma. These posts he held from 1922-1924. [Returning to the States from Japan in 1942, Rev. Moore was able to return to Caddo to conduct the funeral of a member of his former church]

But his heart was set on foreign service and in 1924 he began his career as a foreign missionary to Japan, remaining there until 1968.  A term of service in the US Army, from 1943 – 1947 had interrupted his work in Japan. In that military service, he was commissioned to oversee the translation work of a core group of Japanese Americans. At the conclusion of the War, he also served as a language arbiter during the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

In the years following the War, he became president of Shikoku Christian College in Zentsuji, Japan, serving in that post from 1950 – 1957.

In 1968, Rev. Moore was honorably retired, and returning the United States, went on to serve as Stated Supply at a Presbyterian church in Antlers, Oklahoma, from 1969 to 1972. It was in 1973 that he was received by the PCA’s Texas Presbytery. Later, on October 31, 1981 he transferred his credentials into the OPC.

Rev. Moore died peacefully in his sleep on December 28, 1987, within a few months of his 90th birthday.

Words to Live By:
The Lord gifts all of us differently. To some, He gives a great facility with languages, thus equipping them to be particularly useful in the work of missions. If you know someone with such gifting, do all you can to help them along their way in serving the Lord. More than anything, pray for them, even now, long before they ever reach the mission field. Pray that the Lord will prepare them and that He will use them to advance His kingdom. Pray that they will stand strong in the Lord, firmly anchored in Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.

Sunday: Come back tomorrow for a sermon by the Rev. Lardner W. Moore.

For Further Study:
For more insight into Major Lardner W. Moore’s work as language arbiter with the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, click here. [See under #8. Language Arbiter]

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