Southern Presbyterian

You are currently browsing articles tagged Southern Presbyterian.

pattonFLFrances Landey Patton [22 February 1843 – 25 November 1932] was certainly coming up in the world! This native of the Bermuda Island had pastored three churches, beginning in 1865, prior to his being installed in 1873 as professor of didactic and polemic theology at the Presbyterian Seminary of the Northwest [later renamed McCormick Theological Seminary]. Then in 1881, installed as professor of systematic theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary. Then, in 1888, he was installed as president of The College of New Jersey, and it was during his tenure that the school was renamed Princeton University, in 1896. He served as president of the school until 1902, when he was succeeded by Woodrow Wilson. Patton then became president of the Princeton Theological Seminary, and served in that capacity from 1902 until his retirement in 1913.

Patton was a thorough proponent of the historic Princeton position, which admitted no novelty in the sacred theology. He opposed modernism and the higher criticism. When in 1906 J. Gresham Machen began as an instructor at the Seminary, Dr. Patton proved to be a great influence on Machen. Later, in 1926, when Machen was nominated to take the chair of apologetics and ethics, Patton wrote in support of Machen’s bid for that position.

The following brief quote comes from Dr. Patton’s address on the occasion of his inauguration, on this day, October 27, 1881, as professor of systematic theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary. With these closing words, Patton presents a clear and summary analysis of the choice confronting the world in the modern era:—

patton_1881_inaugurationThe question of the hour is not whether God is the logical correlative of our consciousness of moral obligation; nor whether happiness or holiness is the end of life; nor whether conscience is intuitive or developed out of a “strong sense of avoidance.” It is not expressed in the utilitarianism of Mill, or the altruism of Spencer. It does not reveal itself in the paradoxes of Sidgwick, or the transcendentalism of Bradley.

It is the question whether there can be any guarantee for the purity of home, or the stability of the social organism under a philosophy that makes man an automaton. And if, as Mr. Frederick Harrison says, the present age is “ the great assize of all religion,” it looks as if the time had come for the trial of the issue. We have had enough of demurrers and continuances, enough of answers and replications, enough of rejoinders and surrejoinders. The time has come when men must face the question of the possibility of morals. They must decide between a metaphysic that leads to an absolute vacuum in knowledge, absolute irresponsibility in morals, absolute mechanism in life, and a metaphysic that will secure the separateness, the sovereignty, the morality, the immortality of the soul.

With the soul assured, the way to God is plain. And if God is a revelation of God may be. With the possibility of a revelation conceded, the proofs are sufficient, And with a proved revelation before us it is easy to understand that in God we live and move and have our being; that the truth of history has been,the unfolding of His purpose; that the order of nature is the movement of His mind; that the work of the philosopher is to rethink his thought; that Christianity is the solution of all problems ; that the blood of Christ removes the blot of sin; that the Church is the flower of humanity; that the incarnation of the Logos is God’s great achievement; that Jesus is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and the express image of His person; that in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and that by Him all things consist.

Quote Source: Van Dyke, Henry J. and Francis L. Patton, Addresses at the Inauguration of the Rev. Francis L. Patton, D.D., LL.D. at Princeton, N.J., October 27, 1881. 1. The Charge, by Dr. Van Dyke, pp. 5-20; 2. Inaugural Address, by Rev. Francis L. Patton, pp. 21-46.

Words to Live By:
“If God is, then a revelation of God may be.” [The quote above lacks the comma, which I think helps make better sense of the sentence.] If there is a sovereign, personal God, then He may reveal Himself in such a way that we can understand something of who He is and what He demands of us as His creatures. The choice confronting modern man is simple. Either believe in an impersonal universe in which there can be no purpose, a universe in which everything is irrational, OR know that there is a God who is, a God who has purposed, at His own expense, to remove that which divides us from fellowship with Him, a God who has said to all who call upon Him in faith, “I will be your God and you will be My people.”

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

For our Sunday sermon, we present the following transcript of a tract authored by the Rev. Thomas Verner Moore, subject of our blog on Saturday. This tract was number 62 in a series issued by the publications arm of the old Southern Presbyterian denomination. What can we learn from this evangelistic presentation, when compared with modern day efforts?

WHAT CAN I DO?

This is a question that is often asked by those on whom the matter of personal religion is pressed, and although sometimes asked in a spirit of evasion, is frequently asked in sincerity. We propose to answer this question, and to show some things at least that may be done to secure eternal life.

Before specifying these things, it may be proper to say, that none of them are necessary prerequisites to a believing reception of Christ. It is the duty of every one who hears the gospel to receive it at once, and without delay, or qualification, to accept the Saviour just as He is offered, without waiting for any more feeling, any more conviction of sin, any more preparation of heart, or any better state of soul than when there is an honest desire to be saved from sin in its guilt and pollution. To suppose that it is needful to wait for any protracted preparation, any washing of the outer scales of the leprosy before coming to the great Physician, is to contradict the whole tenor of the gospel, which calls on the sinner to come to repentance, on the sick to come to the Physician, on the heavy-laden to come to the relieving hand that can give them rest. But as there are some who say, “We know not how to come to Christ, we find no real or active interest in our hearts on this subject, our judgments are convinced but our hearts are utterly unmoved, and yet we are willing to do whatever may be done to awake a deeper interest in our bosoms, and bring us to the point of a sincere and hearty surrender to Christ, if we only knew what we could do.”

We will try to meet this desire, and to specify to such persons some things that they can do, and if they are not mistaken in this view of their feelings, they will be willing to do these things, and the doing of them will either impel them farther forward towards the cross, or show them that there is some wedge of gold or Babylonish garment that is hidden beneath the tent.

1. You can begin to consider the question of personal religion. It is the want of consideration that causes much of the indifference you feel on the subject. Have you ever given it one hour of serious reflection? Have you ever retired to your room and there carefully thought on this matter, in the presence of God, and with a sense of His omniscient scrutiny? Have you not rather banished it from your thoughts and tried to avoid what would produce serious reflection? Have you not been afraid to go alone, and face to face, with an unseen but all-seeing God, gaze on this high and awful question? This then you can do. You can retire to-day, or to-night, to some private place, and there think of the fact that you are a sinner, that you are making God your enemy every day, that you are standing in a path that for six thousand years has been swept by the whirlwind of His wrath, that this awful tempest may be unloosed at any moment, that there is nothing between you and the bottomless abyss but a thin partition that may give way in an instant by disease or accident, that you are hanging all the concerns of eternity on a mere perhaps, and that thousands have perished by doing just what you are doing now. You can think of Calvary—why Jesus suffered, why you can treat those sufferings so lightly, why you think so little of a Saviour’s blood, and how fearful a thing it must be to have that blood lying neglected at your feet. Will you consider this matter not once, but again, and again, until you feel that you are in danger and must have a deliverer?

2. You can pray. You say that you cannot regenerate yourself, or change by any direct act your affections; that God alone can do these things. Has not God said that He is willing to do them for all who desire it? If you really desire these things, you can pray for them, for prayer is only the offering up of our desires to God for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ Jesus. Then as you ponder, you may pray, and at least say, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and if this prayer is sincerely offered, you have the assurance of actual fact in regard to the certainty with which it will be answered.

3. You can read. You have the Bible. Read the 51st Psalm; the 53rd and the 55th of Isaiah; the 12th to 16th chapters of Luke; the 3d chapter of John; the 4th and 5th of 2d Corinthians, or similar portions of Scripture, which may readily be found. You can get religious books, such as James’s or Henry’s Anxious Inquirer, the Great Question, the Way of Life, Baxter’s Call, the Memoirs of McCheyne, Henry Martyn, or some of the many excellent works so easily accessible by the distributing agencies of our religious literature. Read them daily, and keep your soul thus in contact with the great facts of religion. Do this every day.

4. You can avoid what will dissipate serious reflection. You know what this is by experience, for you have sought it in various forms. The persons, the things, the reading, and talking, and acting, that are unfriendly to religious thought, you know better than any one can tell you, and these things you can avoid, and thus fence in the soil to some extent from the fowls that pick up the seed.

5. You can seek the means of instruction. You can go to your pastor, or some Christian friend and ask him to explain the way of salvation to you. You would do so with your physician if your body was disordered, why not with your spiritual physician when your soul is disordered? You can not only attend church on the Sabbath, but you can attend the weekly lecture and prayer-meeting. The very reason that makes you shrink from attending these meetings is the reason that should take you there, if you are in earnest in what you say. “Then shall ye seek Me and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.”

6. You can resolve to abandon all that is sinful. You will find your real difficulty here. You love sin, in some form, this is the real reason of your difficulty in coming to Christ. Now you must choose between sin and salvation. If you are unwilling to give up your hold of the one, you must give up your hope of the other. If you would know your sins, take up the Decalogue, or Galatians 5:19-23, or Colossians 3:5-15, or similar portions of God’s Word, and you will readily discover them. But you do not need even these special inquiries. You know them already. Are you willing to endeavor, from this time, to abandon them, as far as in you lies?

7. You can resolve to begin the discharge of every known duty. You know what God requires of man. This He requires of every one, and hence of you, and he requires it of you now. Your secret feeling is that these duties are obligatory only on a Christian. But this is a mistake. They rest on all, and a Christian is only trying to do, what is binding on every one, and you among the rest. You ought to do these duties whether you are a Christian or not. The proof that you are willing to be a Christian will be found in the fact that you are willing to begin the discharge of these duties. If unwilling, you do not desire really to be a child of God; if willing, begin them now, for they are binding on you now; you are a rebellious child, but still a child, and bound to do all the duties of a child, and if you wish to return to your Father, that wish will be manifested by beginning to obey him as a child. Here again is the second great test of your sincerity.

8. You can then try to look to Jesus for pardon, for strength, for holiness, for happiness, and for eternal life. You can try to believe that Jesus will do as he has promised to do, save those who strive honestly to trust and obey Him. Is it not strange that this should require any effort? Then try these things, and as you take one step, you will see more readily how and when to take another.

Tract no. 62.
Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication.

 

Tags: , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seceding Presbyterians Prepare to Fight Injunction Suit.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

machen-master-1936

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: