Articles by Wayne Sparkman

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Keeping in mind that newspapers were little different then than now, subject to the same human foibles*, nonetheless the following coverage of the modernist controversy and the resulting denominational split is interesting, as it offers some different perspectives on what a division means to those involved.

[*There are two errors that appear in the text below, both of which will be noted in brackets in their first appearance.]

This article is from a Wilmington, DE newspaper, dated June 29, 1936, and is found preserved in one of seven scrapbooks gathered by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon, covering the modernist controversy in the years 1935-1939. The photographs have been added and were not part of the original article.

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Dissension with all the heartaches and strained loyalties that civil war brings, is definitely wedged in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Where it will lead and the effect of the wedge, no one knows.

But this much is already evident in the Presbytery of New Castle, which embraced Delaware and parts of Maryland: families are divided, parents against children, husbands against wives, and friend with friend.

This is a time when members of congregations are torn between loyalty to their established church, when men are being accused of dogmatism, heresy, apostasy and free will.

Out of the seething cauldron has been born a new church, the Presbyterian Church in [sic; should be “of”] America, in contrast to the old Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The nature of the wedge that is lodged in the church of the U.S.A. today is itself controversial.

Question Not Doctrinal

Those who are remaining loyal say the split is on a church constitutional question and among the loyalists are both fundamentalists and modernists.

“The matter now and never has been a controversy between ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘modernists’ the general council of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. states.

It is a question the general council states, of whether ministers shall disobey the established constitution of a church and agree to the will of the majority.

The secessionists–all fundamentalists–say the differences are based upon doctrinal questions and liberty of conscience.

In any case, the immediate cause of the secession and the controversy has been the Independent Board of [sic; should be “for”] Presbyterian Foreign Missions, a board with no official connection with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The leading personality in the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions has been the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, N.J.

Four Judicatories in Church

For those not familiar with Presbyterian Church government, it should be explained that the judicatory and administrative bodies of the church are: First, the session, composed of representatives of a congregation, governing the church; second, the Presbytery governing a group of sessions in a district; third, the synod, a group of Presbyteries and fourth, the General Assembly which is the national ruling body of the Presbyterian Church which also is the supreme court and lawmaking body of the entire church.

Also as part of the story of the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions is Pearl Buck, a missionary in China, whom it was charged was too much a modernist.

Dr. Machen Heads Movement

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Though she resigned, the charges persisted from the militant fundamentalists of the Presbyterian Church against the alleged modernism in the foreign mission groups. In 1933, Dr. Machen introduced into the Presbytery of New Brunswick a proposed resolution to be presented to General Assembly relating to what he called “modernism” in the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.

A large majority of the Presbytery of New Brunswick refused to send this resolution to General Assembly but similar resolutions did reach General Assembly in 1933. The assembly received it and Dr. Machen was heard by the committee to which the resolutions had been presented for consideration.

By a vote of 43 to 2, the committee reported unfavorably and expressed its confidence in the Board of Foreign Missions and by a nearly unanimous vote, the General Assembly approved the report of this committee.

But Dr. Machen did not pause there. Accepting neither the views of the committee nor the “judgment of the General Assembly,” he was influential in the establishment of the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions, incorporated in December of 1933, with Dr. Machen as president. It is not a recognized body of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., being just what its name indicates, “independent.”

H. S. Laird, Member of Board

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To this board came the Rev. Harold S. Laird, pastor of the First and Central Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, an ardent fundamentalist.

But before he joined the independent board, he consulted with his session. He did not join against their counsel.

Another point, not widely known, is that Mr. Laird during his pastorate at First and Central Presbyterian Church never solicited for the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions.

“It was only after much earnest prayer and careful consideration,” he said, “that I came to the conviction that this movement was of God, and being thus convinced, I agreed to throw what little influence I have in the church to the lifting high of this standard. This was my primary motive in allowing myself to be elected a member of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.

“It is from this board that I was ordered to resign. I believe the board is of God and I also believe that my call to membership on that board was of God. Under such circumstances, how can I resign? Shall I obey man rather than God?”

Taking note of this independent board and that ministers and elders were prominent in its membership, the General Assembly directed that all ministers and laymen affiliated with the board sever their connections with the organization.

Those who declined to obey this direction were ordered tried by their Presbyteries. A number were found guilty and either rebuked or suspended.

Mr. Laird tried before the Presbytery of New Castle, protested that his affiliation with the independent board had been guided by his conscience and that in refusing to sever his connection, he was placing the word of God above the courts of man.

Rebuked, But Not Suspended.

Mr. Laird, however, was found guilty, with one dissenting vote in his favor. He was ordered rebuked but allowed to remain [in] his pulpit.

But Mr. Laird continued in the membership of the independent board. The Presbytery recently suspended him from the ministry–an act regarded as illegal by Mr. Laird who immediately renounced the authority of the Presbytery.

Words to Live By
Unity is a precious thing, to be cultivated and prized. But Christian unity must be centered on the saving Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where we have that unity, it is glorious. Without Jesus Christ as our Cornerstone, there can be no Church.

Luke 12:49-53 (ESV)
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!
50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!
51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.
53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Psalm 133 (KJV)
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST.
by Rev. William Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism,
Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?

A. In the fifth petition, which is, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray, That God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because, by his grace, we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

EXPLICATION.

Our debts. –Our sins are here called debts, because they show that God has not received from us what is due, and all the demands of his law and justice must be satisfied for them, before we can be again admitted into his favor.

Christ’s sake. –See Explic. Q. 98.

By his grace. –By God’s favor and help.

From the heart. –Freely, entirely, or without any remaining grudge in our minds.

ANALYSIS.

We here see, that when we use, in prayer, these words, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray for two things:

1. That God would freely pardon all our sins. –Psal. li. 1. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

2. That God would do this for Christ’s sake. –John xvi. 23, 24. Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in my name, he will give it you. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

In this answer we are likewise told, that we are encouraged thus to ask for the pardon of our sins from God, because, by his grace, we are enabled from the heart to forgive others. –Matt. vi. 14. If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

A Plan of Action for Revival

If you look at some of the early Presbyterian Guardian issues on-line, you will notice on the masthead the name of the Constitutional Covenant Union.  What was this organization?

The Covenant Union was an independent agency organized after the 1935 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.  That national meeting brought some powerful indications that the conservative Presbyterians days were numbered in the visible church.  So there went out a call to the supporters of the true Presbyterians to come to Philadelphia for a meeting on June 27, 1935.  Over one hundred people answered the call.  The Constitutional Covenant Union was organized, with officers elected, an executive committee named, and a constitution adopted.  Chapters were to be organized, and a program of reform of the Presbyterian Church USA promoted.

That program was set introduced by an opening statement.  The purposes were two-fold.  It said, “we, the members of this Covenant Union are resolved, in accordance with God’s Word and in humble reliance upon His grace, to maintain the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, (1) making every effort  to bring about a reform of the existing church organization and to restore the church’s clear and glorious Christian testimony, which modernism and indifferentism have now so grievously silenced, but (2) if such efforts fail, and in  particular, if the tyrannical policy of the present majority triumphs, holding ourselves ready to perpetuate the true Presbyterian Church, USA, regardless of cost.”

The meeting in Philadelphia would last from June 11 to June 14.  It was upon its closing promptly attacked by not only the church machine of the denomination, but also from a surprising corner in the Rev. Samuel Craig, editor of Christianity Today.  Remember, the latter magazine had been set up by Samuel Craig to expose the apostasy of the Presbyterian Church USA.  But there were changes being made in his purposes around this time.  Instead of supporting the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, he had resigned from both it, and the Board of Trustees of Westminster Seminary.  Now Craig was advocating the support of sound missionaries of the official Board of Foreign Missions.  When that became known, the Rev. McAllister Griffiths resigned as managing editor of Christianity Today, and became the editor of the Presbyterian Guardian.

Rallies began to be held in all parts of the country sponsored by this Covenant Union, with chapters formed in those areas.  However, even with this remnant meeting, it was obvious that the second purpose of the Covenant Union would be realized.  When the 1936 General Assembly met, and the supporters of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions were disciplined with expulsion, there was a call for another meeting.  Taking place on June 11 – 14 in Philadelphia, the Covenant Union was dissolved and the Presbyterian Church of America came into being.   (See June 11)

Words to Live By: J. Gresham Machen said on this occasion that we cannot trust the world.  We cannot trust civilization.  We cannot trust the visible church.  When God speaks through His Word, we can trust only Him.  His words are still true today.  Make the blessed Book of books your guide this day.

MAKING THE LORD OUR TRUST
by Rev. Dr. Harold Samuel Laird.
[The Independent Board Bulletin 7.6 (June-July 1941): 3-4.]

Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.Psalm 40:4.

How many of us can honestly say “Amen” to the great truth set forth in this verse! We have tasted of the blessedness promised those who honestly make the Lord their trust. This blessedness is to many of us the more pronounced because it is in contrast to the anxiety and fear experienced before we learned to make Him our trust, and while we were making someone else or something else our trust.

It is quite possible that many have not yet made the Lord their trust simply because it is not clear to them just what this means. This word “trust” is the characteristic Old Testament word for the New Testament words “faith” and “belief,” being found more than one hundred and fifty times in our English Bibles, and many more times in its Hebrew forms throughout the Old Testament. A careful study of these Hebrew forms of the word “trust” will disclose that in their literal sense there are three which cover the entire period of the soul’s experience—past, present, and future.

There is the Hebrew word frequently rendered “trust” which literally translated means “to cast upon.” The very first picture that comes to one’s mind in connection with this thought is that of one weighed down with a heavy burden which is too much for him to bear. The heaviest burden mankind bears is the burden of sins unconfessed and unforgiven. There are other burdens such as poor health, financial troubles, or family difficulties, but none of these can compare in weight with the burden of sins unconfessed and unforgiven when conviction of sin is wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost. It was unquestionably of this burden that the Lord Jesus was speaking when He extended His gracious invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This, is a call to discipleship, and discipleship involves first of all acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, the One who on Calvary’s tree bore in His own body our sins. Because He actually bore our sins there, He now is able graciously to invite us to cast the burden of them, however many or great they have been, upon Him. Thus we may trust Him for the past. The Word of God says, “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust” in this sense. We have the same thought in Psalm 32:1: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Then there is the Hebrew word frequently rendered “trust” which literally translated means “to take refuge,” this with respect to the present. In this sense the word is used as a picture of one who in the hour of present trouble finds a refuge in the Lord. Such was David’s testimony in the forty-sixth Psalm, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This was also the testimony of the man Moses at the very close of his long life of fellowship with God. Indeed it was almost the last word he spake, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

The third Hebrew word which is frequently rendered “trust” when literally translated means “to lean on,” this with respect to the future. This word we find used by the Psalmist in Psalm 56:3, as he looks to the future with its almost certain fearful experiences, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee,” or “I will lean upon thee.” Again in Psalm 37:5, “Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” In Proverbs 29:25 we read, “Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.” These are but a very few of the many passages where this word is thus used. In all of these we will note that the thought is directed toward the future.

“Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust,” simply because when one thus leans upon the Lord, anxiety and fear flee away. Some lean upon their possessions, others upon earthly friends, but only those who learn to lean upon the Lord experience the blessedness of peace which is freedom from anxiety.

Dear readers: Our apologies for having missed yesterday’s post. I had to take my son to the hospital the night before, and while the post was only somewhat ready, it was not finished, and circumstances did not allow completion. My son will be alright, but will require several more days of treatment; thankfully, surgery will be avoided.

The Perseverance of the Saints, Illustrated, Proved and Applied

Shepard Kosciusko Kollock was born at Elizabeth, New Jersey, on June 25th, 1795. His father was an officer in the Revolutionary Army, and greatly admired the personal and military character of the Polish leader Kosciusko, and so gave that name, together with his own, to his youngest son. Shepard graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1812, at the age of seventeen and with high honors. After studying theology with his brother-in-law, the Rev. John McDowell, and his brother, Dr. Henry Kollock, Shepard was subsequently licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of South Caroline, in June of 1814.

After preaching for three years in South Carolina and Georgia, Rev. Kollock received a call to serve the Presbyterian church in Oxford, North Carolina, and it was only at this point when he was finally ordained, by the Presbytery of Orange, on May 2nd, 1818. However, not long after this, he accepted an appointment as Professor of Rhetoric and Logic at the University of North Carolina, prompting him to resign his pulpit.

In 1825 he became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Norfolk, Virginia, and continued there for about ten years, thereafter returning to New Jersey and for three years he was engaged as an agent for the Board of Domestic Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. From about 1828 to 1848, Rev. Kollock was the pastor of the church in Burlington, and his final pastorate was in Greenwich. At last, worn out by a life of faithful labors, age and increasing infirmity, he resigned and came to live in Philadelphia in 1860. Death came at last on April 7, 1865.

Dr. Kollock was a successful minister of the Gospel in all his charges, and a gentleman of culture of no common order. His Hints on Preaching without Reading, and Pastoral Reminiscences, were translated into French and published in Paris. He also contributed several valuable articles to the Princeton Review.

Kollock’s work, The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, Illustrated, Proved and Applied, by first published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication in 1835 and was later included in volume one of the series commonly known under the title, Presbyterian Tracts. In lieu of our Words to Live By section, we reproduce a portion of that work here today, for those who might want to read further:–

PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.

In every age the Church has been pained by beholding persons whose professions were high and specious, declining from the truth, returning to the world, and again indulging in the lusts of the flesh. Such examples tend to afflict humble believers, and to fill them with apprehensions that their own state is unsafe, and may terminate in destruction. To prevent such an inference, the Scriptures, whenever they predict, or relate, the apostacy of those who had once “the form of godliness,” immediately subjoin, as a source of consolation, an assurance that the real children of God shall be preserved from defection.

Thus the Saviour (Matt. xxiv.) foretelling the appearance of those who should come in his name, and “deceive many,” intimates that the elect shall not be deceived.

Thus Paul (2 Tim. ii. 19.) mentioning the apostacy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, probably eminent teachers in the Church, adds, lest believers should suppose that their own condition was uncertain, and their own faith liable to be destroyed: “nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his”—”they that are built upon the foundation of his unchangeable love and purpose shall never be overthrown.”

Thus also the apostle John (1 John ii. 19.) having mentioned that many anti-christs were in the world who were generally apostates, adds: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us;”—as if he had said, ‘Whatever plausible appearances they make, they prove, by becoming apostates, that they were hypocrites; for if they had been true believers, renewed by grace and vitally united to Christ, they would have persevered in communion with us; but they went out that they might appear to the world in the real characters of false-hearted professors.

Such is the spirit of the language of Scripture, and in these, and other similar passages, is plainly taught the doctrine of THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.

It is a doctrine which lies at the foundation of all the hope which the believer enjoys; it inspires confidence in danger, comfort in sorrow, succour in temptation, and is an “anchor to his soul,” amidst tempests the most violent.

Let us inquire what reason we have to receive this doctrine as the truth of God.

In making this investigation we shall arrange our reflections in the following order:

I. We shall definitely state the question at issue, and show what we mean when we maintain the final perseverance of the saints.

II. We shall establish the doctrine by arguments.

III. We shall answer the principal objections against it.

When we say that the saints shall finally persevere, we mean not by the word saints those who, having made a profession, and possessing a semblance of religion, are regarded by others as pious; or those who are confidently esteemed by themselves as godly; or those who are only federally holy—by external consecration to God, as were the people of Israel. We grant that all these may finally and entirely apostasize. But by saints we mean those, and those only, who have really been born again; who have been brought from a state of enmity against God into a state of reconciliation and love; who have been justified, accepted and adopted; who are animated by the Holy Spirit, that dwelling both in Christ and them, forms an intimate union between him the head, and them the members.

When we say that such persons shall not finally and entirely fall away from grace, we do not mean that their graces may not languish and decline. The question is not concerning the decay, but the loss of grace; not concerning sickness and debility, but total death. A person may faint away, showing no signs of animation, while a principle of life remains; and spiritual life may undergo so violent a shock as to be brought apparently to the very verge of death, and yet not be extinguished.

Neither do we mean that the acts of grace shall never be interrupted; but only that the spirit and habit of it shall never be lost. We grant that the saints may fall into many and great sins; but we maintain that, through the presence of God cherishing the principles of spiritual life once implanted, they shall never so sin, as to fall into that state in which they were before conversion, and of the children of the Holy One, become the children of the devil. They may fall into transgressions that deserve perdition, but God will excite their repentance, animate their faith, enliven their hope, and thus keep them in his covenant and love.

When we say that the saints shall persevere, we mean not, that considered in themselves, and with no strength but their own, they will be able to stand. We rest the certainty of their perseverance on the assistance of the Spirit, and the support of God. In themselves, they are weak, unable to begin, to continue, or to finish the life of holiness; but according to the divine covenant and promises, they “are kept by his power through faith unto salvation.”

Neither do we assert that grace, considered in itself, is absolutely incapable of being lost. It is one thing to affirm that it shall not be lost, and another thing to affirm that it is in its nature absolutely incapable of being lost. We know that the world shall no more be overwhelmed by a flood, but we at the same time admit that it is susceptible of being drowned. We therefore ground the perseverance of the saints, not upon the firmness and unchangeableness of grace, as it subsists in the creature, but upon the love, the power, the wisdom, the faithfulness, and the covenant of Almighty God. [emphasis added.]

Attending to these distinctions and limitations, we have a proper view of the doctrine before us. It may be conveyed in the following proposition:

All who are truly regenerated and vitally united to Christ, though weak and frail in themselves, shall be so protected and kept by the power of God that the habits of grace shall never be entirely lost, nor the principle of spiritual life totally extinguished; and although they may fall into sins, yet they shall never fall from their interest in the covenant, but shall be renewed to repentance, and be at last brought, by a steady perseverance, to eternal salvation.

This is the sum of the doctrine before us. We proceed

II. To establish its truth.

To continue reading The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, by the Rev. Dr. Shepard K. Kollock, click here.[this is a short tract, only twenty pages in length.]

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