September 2018

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He Was Always Preparing

In 1982, the denomination known as the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) was received into Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). This ecclesiastical merger was known as the Joining and Receiving (J&R). The RPCES was itself created by the union of two denominations, in 1965. One denomination had a shorter history. This was the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), as it was known from 1961-1965. Prior to that, it operated under the name of the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod, and this group was the larger portion of a split of the Bible Presbyterian Church [1938-1955].

The other denomination that merged with the EPC to create the RPCES was the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod (RPCGS), and this group had a much longer history, dating back to 1833. That was the year in which the Reformed Presbyterian Church suffered a split, thus creating the RPCGS. The other body created by this split is in existence to this day—the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA).

Are you thoroughly confused yet? To recap, the PCA received the RPCES in 1982, and the RPCGS was one of the two denominations that united to form the RPCES. (see! that wasn’t so tough!).

Black_John_1768-1849Which brings us to the Rev. John Black, who served as the first Stated Clerk of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod. And as the combined history of the denomination received in 1982 became part of the history of the PCA, it was in that sense, in a manner of speaking, that we might call Dr. Black the first Stated Clerk of the PCA.

John Black had been born in Northern Ireland, in the county of Antrim, on October 2, 1768, and it was only after reaching adulthood that he immigrated to this country. He had been educated at Glasgow College, in Scotland and left for America in 1797. For a while he worked as a teacher, but soon was licensed to preach by the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in 1799. Upon his ordination, Rev. Black settled in the region of Pittsburgh, which was then just a small village, and there he remained the pastor of the same church for forty-eight years, until the close of his life, on October 25, 1849.

As a preacher, he was “distinct, plain, a fluent speaker, always interesting and often eloquent and powerful.” And time and again he proved himself as one who was always ready to preach, whenever called. Yet he never wrote out or memorized his sermons. “He was ready, because he had a full mental storehouse,—the power of abstraction, the gift of language, a great command of the resources of his own mind, and, above all, a strong, humble and unwavering dependence on the help of God’s Holy Spirit. He preached because he loved the work, and had found, by repeated trial, that he had from God the ready power to perform it. And, yet, Dr. Black prepared to preach. He was always preparing. His studies were never finished, and, to the close of his life, he was a laborious student. His views of the Christian ministry were too high to admit of the attempt to serve God with what had cost him nothing. He selected his subject, elaborated it in his mind, used all available helps, wrote upon paper an extended skeleton, and so went to the desk to speak on God’s behalf to sinners. He preached for nearly fifty years, and then died with the harness on.”

To give a flavor of his sermons, here is an excerpt from a sermon which he delivered at the opening of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church as it met in Philadelphia in May of 1816. The sermon is on the subject of “Church Fellowship;” Rev. Black begins:—

Saints by profession, are bound to hold communion and fellowship, in the worship and service of God.

I. I am to explain this Communion—

1. It is a communion of Saints. The house of God is holy, and holiness becometh it well forever. Here the social principle is exercised in its perfection on earth. It is devoted to holy purposes, and consecrated to the Lord of the whole earth. None have a right, in the sight of God, to this holy fellowship, but real Saints, and none but such really enjoy it. Others, though they may be present, and appear to participate in the communion of the Saints. yet it is only in appearance. Externally, they draw near to God in his holy institutions,. but their hearts have no concern in the solemnity. The character of such is given in Ezekiel, 33:31. “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their month they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” But those who are Saints, were once, a very different character. They were, by nature, children of wrath, even as others. How then do they obtain this character? No way but by union to Jesus Christ, through the regenerating influence of the Spirit of God. Means are generally used, but the efficiency is of God. In the day of effectual working of his Holy Spirit, lays on them an arrest of mercy. They are apprehended by Christ, and are made to apprehend him. Their understandings are enlightened, so that they are enabled to discover the certainty, the value, the excellency, the suitableness of Jesus the Saviour, to their needy case. Objective testimony is furnished, with such undoubted evidence, that they become convinced, and are verily persuaded, not only that they may fully and freely accept of the offered salvation, but that it is the best and the most desirable thing so to do. The will, renewed by the Holy Ghost, follows the dictate of the understanding, and actually receives the Lord Jesus Christ, appropriating him for life and salvation. This completes a mystical and indissoluble union between Christ and the believer’s soul. Christ, by the bond of his spirit, unites himself to the elect sinner, in regeneration, and the sinner, effectually called, by the bond of faith unites himself to the person of the Redeemer. The believer, thus united to Christ, is in the court of heaven, sustained, as righteous. Christ and he being one, whatever is Christ’s is reckoned to the believer. Christ’s righteousness is his, and on account of that righteousness, he is justified. His name is changed from sinner to saint.

We have said, that only such as are thus really Saints, are, in the sight of God, entitled to the communion and fellowship of his church. But as the heart of man is known only to God—as it is his prerogative, and only his, to search the heart and try the reins, an absolute knowledge of this union to Christ, which constitutes men really Saints, cannot belong to this communion. Only Saints by profession, such as possess those distinctive characters which the head of the church has laid down in his word, by which we may, in the judgment of charity, know, and esteem men to be his followers. By their works shall ye know them. If they are sound in the faith, and have a life and conversation, such as becometh the gospel; they are to be reputed Saints, and with such, we are bound to have communion.

2. It is a communion of love and holy affections.

Not only are all Saints united to the Head Christ Jesus, but they are all united to one another in love. They are members one of another. They have one common interest, and they mutually seek each other’s good. They are all actuated by the same spirit. They are all concerned for the honour of their glorious head. They are brethren, children of the same Father and of the same Mother. God is their Father. By him they were spiritually begotten, through the instrumentality of the word of truth. The Church is their Mother. By her they were brought forth. The spouse (the individual believer) calls the church her mother’s house, the chambers of her that conceived her. There are, it is true, some mother’s children, that are not the Father’s children, nominal professors, who love not the real children of the family: but all who are the children of adoption, the sons and the daughters of the Lord Almighty—have a communion in one another’s love. They seek the good of the family, and they live together in unity, as it becometh brethren. This love, and kind affection, is opposed to the biting and devouring of one another. It is opposed to quarrels and intestine broils, the disgrace and the ruin of every family. It is opposed to schism and divisions. Those who possess this principle of love, will cover with the mantle of charity the failings and the infirmities of their brethren. They will bear one another’s burdens. They will be gentle and easy to be entreated. They will not willingly give, or take, offence. But bound up in the bundle of life and of love, with the rest of the members of the household of faith, they will take sweet counsel together, and walk to the house of God in company….”

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM.

Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?

A. In the first petition, which is, “Hallowed be Thy name,” we pray, that God would enable us, and others, to glorify Him in all that whereby He maketh Himself known, and that He would dispose all things to His own glory.

Scripture References: Ps. 67:1-3; II Thess. 3:1; Isa. 64:1-2; Rom. 11:36; Isa. 11:9.

Questions:

1. What is meant by the word “petition” and how many are there in the Lord’s Prayer?

The word “petition” simply means the desiring or asking of anything. There are six in the Lord’s Prayer and we are considering the first.

2. How do we hallow the name of God?

Simply stated, it would mean to glorify His name. For example, Isa. 3:13 states, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear, and your dread” We should glorify (sanctify, hallow) Him in all ways as we walk in this world so that the world will see Him in us as much as possible.

3. How can we be certain that we shall do this?

We can be as certain as possible by endeavoring to be diligent about the attributes, ordinances, word and the works of God? It would be good for us to look back in our studies once again to our duties concerning these ways God makes Himself known to us and examine ourselves regarding them.

4. When we pray in this petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” what is the meaning of our prayer?

We are really praying for two things: 1. That God will hallow (glorify) Himself in this world; 2. That God, working through us, will enable us to glory His name in this world. The first part of this petition is accomplished as God magnifies Himself as He works out all things after His will, even those things which seem to us the opposite. The second part of this petition has been discussed in Question 3.

5. What are the things He works out after His will that are opposite from what we would expect?

A few we could mention would be the persecutions, the trials He takes us through and the times we sin and He overrules.

GLORIFYING GOD IN PRAYER.

In a summary of Richard Baxter’s directions on how to pray, taken from his Christian Directory, published in 1673, we find these words: “When you are about to pray, stir up in your souls the most earnest belief in those unseen things that your prayers refer to; and pray as if you saw them all the while–God in His glory, heaven and hell, and Jesus Christ as your Mediator in the heavens.”

Not long ago I noted a prayer by Richard Alleine, one of the Puritans, in which he said, “O Lord, our God, Thou high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, we know that Thou hast said that Thou dost dwell with him that is of contrite and humble spirit, that Thou dost revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

These two quotes then led to a study of what the Word of God says regarding intercessory prayer. Our question, after studying the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, should be: how do we prepare ourselves for real prayer as we begin by glorifying His name? What does God’s Word say about the methods that might be used to glorify His name? Let us check a few of the verses and see what we might find from them. Let us see if we can not put down some principles of how we, in prayer, may hallow His name.

1. Our prayer could well begin with Eph. 1:17 as we pray that God might give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.

2. Our prayer might continue with Eph. 1:13 as we pray that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened.

3. From here we could progress to a continuation of Eph. 1:18 as we pray that we might know the hope of His calling.

4. Our prayer could continue with Eph. 1:19 as we seek to understand, comprehend, the exceeding greatness of His power.

5. We could end this short study of how to glorify Him in prayer by turning to Eph. 3:19 and ask that we might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Certainly there are many more principles. We could turn to Eph. 3:18; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10 and many others. The point is that we are not left without instruction in the Word of God as to how we can best glorify Him in our prayers. As we begin the Lord’s Prayer with those words, “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we can surely recognize that our attitude can be conditioned by some of the above principles.

Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 7, No. 6 (June 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

As you prepare your hearts for times of worship this Lord’s Day:

HOW TO LEAVE THE HOUSE OF GOD.

[excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, Vol. XII, No. 39 (29 September 1838): 154, column 2.]

And he sent them away.“—From these five short and simple words, Bishop Heber forms one of his most practical and interesting sermons. After repeating the Evangelist’s account of the miracle, at the close of the performance of which Jesus Christ uttered these words, he goes on to lay before his hearers the duties that are incumbent upon them, after being “sent away,” with a blessing from the house of God, and begs them, in his own impressive manner, to bow in supplication, as they leave that temple, to Him who can alone give them strength to go on their way rejoicing, or enable them to fulfil the duties that intervene between that time and the next period appointed for their assembling together. So should we go away strengthened, and refreshed in spirit by the words of the teacher, as the multitude left the Saviour, nourished in body by the miraculous food he had bestowed—”then would the dawn of each returning day bring increase of knowledge;” then, when another Sabbath calls us to God’s holy temple, we would return in the increased favor of God and the clearer light of His countenance; and at length, when the great Sabbath of nature is arrived, and he who once fed the poor flock in the wilderness returns in His father’s glory, to rule over heaven and earth, He will “send us away” no more, but cause us, world without end, to dwell in His tabernacle, and before His face, that “where He is, there we may be also.”Southern Churchman.

“Now the interesting question is, How have the people improved the preaching of the law and the gospel? Most of those who lived under the ministry of my predecessor have gone to the grave. But to you who are yet living and hearing the gospel, the question is solemn and important. Have you so improved the preaching of God’s word as to become wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus?

 

The bicentennial observation of the founding of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church, of Fairton, New Jersey, commonly known back then as the Old Stone Church, was observed on September 29, 1880, the church having been organized in 1680. That congregation continues on to the present day and is a member church of the Presbyterian Church in America.

osbornEthanEasily the most distinguished pastor in the history of the Old Stone Church was the Rev. Ethan Osborn. The following is a transcript of the aged pastor’s last words to his congregation,

“the aged preacher, in all the faithfulness of his still loving heart, and under circumstances which could not fail to awaken for him the sympathy of his audience. He is now in his ninety-second year. The place where he stands was he scene of his eventful ministrations for more than half a century, and he does not expect ever to preach from that pulpit again. After referring to the ministry of his predecessor, who in 1780 preached the first sermon in the house, to his own labors there, and to those of the writer of this memorial, then the pastor of the congregation, he proceeds—”

“I may safely say that by the preaching of these three ministers, in this house, the doctrines and all things essential to duty and salvation, have been clearly explained and faithfully urged upon the people. The doctrine of human depravity has been explained and proved from Scripture and common observation. Here also the doctrine of regeneration has been repeatedly set forth, and the absolute necessity of it urged upon the people. It has been shown that we must be new created in Christ Jesus, must have the love of God ruling in our hearts, or we can never be admitted into his kingdom.

“Also the doctrines of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have been faithfully preached in this house, and their absolute necessity in order to obtain pardon and heavenly felicity. Likewise the duties prescribed in the gospel have been explained and insisted on. The people have been informed that supreme love to God is their indispensable duty. Here also they have been taught the duties we owe, one to another, to do good to all according to our abilities and opportunities; and to ourselves, to live sober and religious lives in the world. Here also, that the law forbids every sin, whether in action, word or heart, and pronounces a curse on every transgression of it. For ‘cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ And as all have sinned, therefore no human being can be justified before God by the deeds of the law, or by meritorious obedience. The law requires perfect and perpetual obedience. But as no man has yielded such obedience, or possessed sinless perfection, therefore in vain do you now look to the law for justification.

‘Since to convince and to condemn,
Is all the law can do.’

“But, thanks to God : the gospel reveals a way of justification, how we may obtain forgiveness and the favor of God. And this blessed gospel has often been preached in this house, the gospel which offers a free pardon to every humble penitent. ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ The blessed Saviour invites the weary and heavy laden sinner to come to him, assuring him that he will raise him up at the last day to eternal life. Such is the inviting and beneficent language of the gospel. But at the same time, both law and gospel denounce everlasting punishment on such as reject the Saviour and die impenitent.

“Now the interesting question is, How have the people improved the preaching of the law and the gospel? Most of those who lived under the ministry of my predecessor have gone to the grave. But to you who are yet living and hearing the gospel, the question is solemn and important. Have you so improved the preaching of God’s word as to become wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus?

“To those who are pious believers, I would say, you have chosen the good part, and God has begun a gracious work in you which he will carry on until it terminates in glory. So that by faith in Christ, shaving laid hold on the hope set before us, you may have a strong consolation, and go on your Christian course rejoicing. Be not satisfied with your present relative attainments, but press forward to the work of perfection, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Use the appointed means of reading and hearing the word of God, not forsaking the assembling of yourselves for public worship, as many do, and by no means neglect the privilege and duty of prayer. Ask and receive, not only that you may have grace to serve God, but that you may also grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ. In this way religion will become more pleasant. The nearer you advance toward heavenly perfection, the more delighted you will be with heavenly enjoyment. ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.’

‘Come leave his pleasant ways,
And let us taste his grace.’

“Never be weary in well doing, for in perseverance, you shall in due time reap a glorious harvest. As an inducement thus to live and spend your remaining days, remember your judge and mind will ere long call us to answer, how I have preached the gospel and how you have improved it.

“I now turn to those of you whose future happiness is not yet secured by faith in the Mediator. Your situation is awfully dangerous. You are now suspended between the possibility of eternal happiness or eternal misery. You are now between the two vast extremes, or if I may more plainly express it between heaven and hell. Either celestial happiness or infernal misery must in a short time be your everlasting portion. How solemn is the prospect before you—the joys of heaven or the sorrows of hell, one of which must be your everlasting portion,—the latter except ye turn at God’s reproof. ‘As though God did beseech you, by us, we pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’ Believe me when I say it is my heart’s desire and prayer to God, that you and I may have a joyful meeting at the judgment, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“As we expect this to be the last Sabbath on which I shall speak to you from this pulpit, let me say, in the presence of God who knows my heart, that I have endeavored and prayed that I might faithfully perform my ministerial duties. Though I am conscious of much imperfection, God is my witness, that I have ever preached such doctrine and precepts as I verily believe are agreeable to his word. I have repeatedly said, ‘the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.’ With gratitude to God, I look back upon the religious revivals with which he has blessed us and the friendly relations which have subsisted between us. It is no small satisfaction that as pastor and people we separated as friends, and that a pleasant intercourse subsists between myself and my successor, your present pastor. Never were the people more dear to me, I shall love them as long as I live.

“Excuse my plainness, and permit me once more to say in the fullness of my feelings, that my heart’s desire and prayer to God for you all is, that you may be saved. As it will not be long before we must each answer to God—I for my ministry, and you for your improvement of it, let us be diligent in what duty remains and in advancing toward heaven. Let brotherly love continue and abound, until it shall be perfected in the heavenly kingdom. And may God prepare us all to meet in heaven! I now bid you a cordial farewell, praying that it may fare well with you in this world, in blessings of health and prosperity, as far as shall be for God’s glory and your own good, and that in the future world, entered with your blessed Saviour into the joy of your Lord, you may FARE WELL.”

[excerpted from The Pastor of the Old Stone Church (1858), pp. 52-56. To read this work online, click here.]

Chalmers Alexander was a ruling elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi. In an effort to acquaint our readers with some of his very astute work, we present this segment of a series published around 1949.

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander

Jackson, Mississippi

This is the third in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation.” This is an informative new series of articles written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

The heretical Auburn Affirmation, bearing the names of almost 1,300 ordained ministers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, was published in 1924.

Since that time the Auburn Affirmation signers and their theological fellow-travelers have got hold of much of the machinery which controls the affairs of the Northern Presbyterian Church.

Now what have the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists been doing in that denomination in recent years? Have there been any recent evidences of their far-reaching influence?

You do not have to look very far to find the answer to those questions.

The “New Curriculum”

In 1948 the Northern Presbyterian Church inaugurated a new program of religious instruction to be used in the Sunday Schools of that denomination. This new educational program, known as the “New Curriculum,” is the result of the work of a committee appointed to undertake the task by that denomination’s Board of Christian Education (which has had among its members, from time to time, various signers of the Auburn Affirmation).

A clear and detailed analysis of the contents of the “New Curriculum” was given recently by one of America’s outstanding Old Testament scholars, Dr. Oswald T. Allis, Ph.D., who taught for some twenty years at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Allis, himself a member of the Northern Presbyterian Church, says, among other things:

“The New Curriculum clearly does not seek to impress on the minds of those who are to use it the fact that the Bible ‘being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages’ is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (see Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I, Sec. 8). On the contrary, the aim seems to be to convince the reader by both direct and indirect methods, that the doctrine of the plenary (verbal) inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is no longer tenable. Such is the view of the editor-in-chief, and it is apparently shared by his collaborators . . .

“If you have been using the International Uniform Lessons, continue to use them for the present and demand that they or any substitute for them, such as the New Curriculum aims to provide, be truly Bible-centered, and that the device of teaching modern Liberalism by the story-book method be definitely abandoned . . .

“It is pointed out in the prospectus to the New Curriculum that the subject for study during the entire second year will be ‘The Bible.’ This announcement would be most welcome, were it not for the fact that it at once raises the vital question. How will this great subject be presented? Will this ‘Bible’ be the Bible of Protestant Christendom, the Bible of the Presbyterian Church which, in its Confession of Faith, defines it as consisting of 66 books which make up the Canon of Holy Scripture and are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice? Or, will it be the Bible of the critics, the Bible of so-called Modern Scholarship?

“We believe that the answer to this question is given with sufficient clearness in the materials of the New Curriculum which are now available . . .The article on ‘Introduction to the Old Testament’ was supplied by Professor Rowley. The view presented is in general that of the so-called higher criticism . . .

“Such ‘straws’ as these seem to make it rather plain that there is little if any basis for the hope that the New Curriculum will gradually become conservative and advocate positions which are acceptable to the Conservatives who are expected, in loyalty to the Boards of their Church, to use it … But the indications seem clearly to be that unless a radical change is demanded and insisted upon by the Conservatives who we believe still constitute a majority in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the New Curriculum in its second year will be more decidedly and outspokenly modernistic and higher critical than in its first.”

In the May 1949 issue of Christianity Today, one of the sound church papers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, its Editor remarked: “A Presbyterian minister of our acquaintance wrote to the editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum expressing general agreement with the criticisms of it made by Dr. Allis in a ‘Critique,’ which was widely circulated throughout the Church last summer, and voicing the hope that the features objected to might be eliminated. He received a reply from which we quote the following: ‘I am sorry that I cannot promise any possibility that the curriculum will develop into closer accord with Dr. Allis’ viewpoint.’ This reply indicates how groundless is the hope of reform-from-within of the New Curriculum.”

(Dr. Allis’ detailed analysis of the “New Curriculum” first appeared in The Sunday School Times. It is now available in the form of a pamphlet entitled ‘A Critique of the New Curriculum.” It can be ordered from the Sunday School Times Publishing Co., 325 N. 13th Street, Philadelphia 5, Pa., or from The Southern Presbyterian Journal, and the cost is 15c per copy.)

The Westminster Study Edition Of The Holy Bible

In addition to their influence on the Sunday School literature which is to be taught to the children and adults in the Sunday Schools and the Bible classes of the Northern Presbyterian Church, the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists in that denomination have definitely had an influence on the new Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible.

This Westminster Study Edition, commonly called the “Presbyterian Bible,” was published in 1948 by the Westminster Press, a subsidiary of the Board of Christian Education of the Northern Presbyterian Church (which Board has had among its members, from time to time, various signers of the Auburn Affirmation).

The Editor of Christianity Today wrote in the May 1949 issue of that paper: “The full significance of this Study Edition, at least for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., will not be clear unless it is noted that one of its chief editors is Dr. James D. Smart, editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum, and that it has been announced that the subject for study in the New Curriculum during the entire second year will be ‘The Bible.’ It seems certain, therefore, that Sunday School scholars in said Church, insofar as it uses the New Curriculum, will be taught that the Bible is a faulty book that abounds in conflicting and even in flatly contradictory statements. It is equally important to note an this connection that its chief editors include three professors from Princeton Seminary, three from MoCormick Seminary, one from Louisville Seminary (Northern), and one from San Francisco Seminary—a fact that more than suggests that the view of the Bible taught in this Study Edition is being inculcated in the institutions training the great majority of the future ministers of said Church (the Northern Presbyterian Church)”.

Dr. Allis’ Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

And Dr. Allis, in commenting on the tenor of the editorial comments and explanations contained in this edition of the Holy Bible, has remarked: “. . . the viewpoint of the Westminster Study Edition is definitely ‘critical.’ It is an attempt to present in popular form and for the average reader the more or less radical conclusions of the higher critics. Those who are at all familiar with the critical theories which have been advanced with ever increasing confidence and dogmatism, first in Germany, then in England, and finally in this country, during the last half century and more, will probably find little that is new or startling in this volume. But for those who are not so well-informed, a few examples will suffice to establish this obvious fact and to indicate its vast significance for the student and teacher of the Bible.

“The critics have been insisting with ever increasing dogmatism for nearly a century, that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is composed of at least four major documents (J, E, D, P), that the earliest of these documents dates from about the time of Elijah, and that the composite work was not completed until about 400 B.C.

This view is definitely accepted by the editors, despite the fact that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to regard any part of the Pentateuch as really dependable history . . .

“According to the editors ‘it is questionable whether the story of Adam and Eve was ever intended to be simply a literal and factual account of what two people said and did at a particular time in history . . .

“In the New Testament we observe the same critical attitude on the part of the editors as in the Old. The genuineness of four of the books is more or less emphatically denied: of I and II Timothy and Titus, all of which claim to be by Paul, and of II Peter, which claims to be by Peter. The generally accepted view that James was written by the Brother of the Lord is rejected and it is regarded as possible that ‘late in the first century some unknown Jewish Christian composed this book of exhortation in the style of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament’ . . .

Dr. Allis’ Conclusion

“The aim of this examination of the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible has been to make clear to the reader the vitally important difference between the Biblical and the Critical attitudes toward the Bible, and to establish the fact that the Study Edition is definitely critical, at times even radically so. A number of examples have been given. The number might easily be increased. But the important point in estimating the value of the Study Edition is not the question as to how much of the Bible the editors believe and how much they reject, how much they take in its clear and obvious sense and how much they interpret to mean something quite different from what it definitely states.

“The most important point is that they adopt an attitude to the Bible which cannot fail to undermine or destroy its authority and trustworthiness. An intelligent reader does not need to be told very many times that he is not to believe what the Bible plainly states, in order to get the impression that, if the editors are right, there is little or nothing in the Bible that he can be absolutely sure of.

“The editors are greatly concerned because of the widely prevalent ignorance of the Bible. Do they really believe that the way to get people interested in studying the Bible is to tell them again and again that they must not believe what it says? Do they really expect intelligent people to believe that an ancient Book which must be drastically edited, expurgated, and reconstructed in order to make it acceptable to its modern critics really speaks or can speak with the authority of God? It is hard to see how they can believe this. But apparently they do . . .

“Nine of the eleven editors of the Study Edition are ministers in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (the Northern Presbyterian Church). One of the nine is editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum . . .

“The question Presbyterians everywhere must face is whether they themselves believe that by any stretch of the imagination a teaching which does not hesitate to contradict the Bible and to empty precious passages of their most precious meaning can be called loyal to the Bible and to the Standards of our beloved Church; and whether they are willing to accept and use materials which do this. The issue is clear-cut. The Board of Christian Education and the Committee on the New Curriculum are clearly determined to make the higher critical interpretation of the Bible official in our Church. Shall we permit this? Shall we not rather insist that all the materials for Bible study published by or with the authority of the Boards and Agencies of our Church be, not critical of the Bible, but strictly and wholeheartedly Biblical?”

Dr. William Childs Robinson’s Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

Dr. Allis is not the only able scholar who raises serious questions about this new Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible. Dr. William Childs Robinson, Th.D., of our Columbia Theological Seminary, whom I consider to be the greatest theologian and the ablest defender of the Faith in our entire denomination, has remarked of this Westminster Study Edition that its editors seem hesitant to call Christ God, and that these editors’ whole doctrine of the Deity of Christ is weak.

Dr. Robinson has stated further: “The Westminster Study Bible offers to give the Church ‘some share in the gains that the new knowledge and the new methods have made available.’ It is advertised to give to ‘the modern reader’ ‘the discoveries of modern research in history and archaeology.’ From such statements one might infer that the editors had access to new information which had not been available or had not been used by those who have coma to conclusions other than those presented in the Westminster Bible . . .

“What we fear is that the reader may infer that the higher critical positions taken in this study Bible are also ‘the explanation of what the Church believes about the Bible,’ and that they are based on new information which was not at the disposal of the trusted Presbyterian scholars who have opposed these conclusions of higher criticism. Have the editors of the Westminster Bible information that men like Warfield of Princeton, George L. Robinson of McCormick, Henrickson of Calvin, Allis of Philadelphia, Mack of Richmond., McPheeters of Columbia and Gribble of Austin either did not have or did not use? . . .

“As a matter of fact there are some discoveries that militate against the higher critical view which have been made since these views were enunciated over a century ago. It used to be said that Moses could not have written, or stood sponsor for the writing of the Pentateuch because writing was not known in his age. The Westminster edition admits that writing was done in Moses’ day — in view of the Code of Hammurabi, it might have admitted that it was done in Abraham’s day. The Westminster Notes, however, continue to speak of oral tradition in a way that shows their authors have not fully integrated the fact of writing throughout Israel’s history into their conclusions . . .

“In the New Testament field the Westminster conclusion may also be compared with those offered by other competent scholars . . . Michaelis, Stauffer, Albright and E. K. Simpson hold and defend the view that John the Son of Zebedee wrote the Fourth Gospel. The Westminster Introduction does not. Michaelis also defends the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles and offers a chronology following a first Roman imprisonment into which they may be fitted. Bartlett in the Britannica defends them on the basis of a chronology ending with this imprisonment. Other scholars hold that Paul commissioned an amanuensis (one who is employed to write from dictation, or to copy manuscript) to draft these epistles in his name. This Westminster Bible concludes that they were likely not written by Paul.

“At least modern knowledge is not unanimous on the positions taken in the Westminster Study Bible and therefore these positions cannot be regarded as the united verdict of modern scholarship. Has the Church (the Northern Presbyterian Church) authorized the description of these views as ‘a thorough explanation of what the Church believes about the Bible’?”

The Opinion Of Time Magazine

In Time, issue of September 27, 1948, an article appeared which commented on this Westminster Study Edition of the Bible and made some comparisons between what it says and what a new Roman Catholic translation of Genesis says. Of the Roman Catholic translation Time stated: “But the new text is accompanied by very conservative Biblical criticism . . . Say the Catholic editors: ‘The Pentateuch … is substantially the work of Moses. It is a closely knit literary unit and was originally conceived as one work written for a single purpose’.”

This is the view which has always been held by the Bible-believing Conservatives.

With reference to the Westminster Study Edition, on the other hand, Time states that, though this edition sticks to the traditional King James wording, it “is far from conservative in commenting on it …. Say the Protestant editors: ‘The Pentateuch did not receive its final form until about 400 B.C. . . . The contents of Genesis preserve no hint as to the names of its authors and editors . . . Whoever the author of Genesis was, he must have had ancient sources at his disposal, for no man could have been witness to all the events described. This means that the present book is a composite work drawn from various sources.’ “

This is the view which has always been held by the Modernists and the so-called higher critics.

Not only do those now in control of the Northern Presbyterian Church intend to warp the minds of the children, and of the young people who attend Sunday School, by means of the Modernism and the destructive criticism contained in the “New Curriculum,” but they also intend to present as accepted truth to adults the destructive views of radical criticism which have been woven into the editorial comments contained in the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible.

Influence Of The Affirmationists And Other Modernists

Evidently the strong impetus given to Modernism in the Northern Presbyterian Church by the appearance of the Auburn Affirmation in 1924 has not diminished in the quarter of a century since that event.

The “New Curriculum” and the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible reveal clearly the fact that the influence of the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists in the Northern Presbyterian Church is still powerfully active in that denomination at the present time.

If the Southern Presbyterian Church unites with that denomination, Southern Presbyterians can rest assured that their children will be hand-fed in the Sunday School classes with the destructive Modernism which is found in the “New Curriculum.” And the adults who are weak in the Christian Faith will, in using the Westminster Study Edition of the Bible, find much in it that will make their faith still weaker.

What shall every Southern Presbyterian, as a Bible-believing Christian who repudiates completely the views contained in the Auburn Affirmation and who rejects completely the Modernism which it has helped promote in the Northern Presbyterian Church, say with regard to the proposed union with that heresy-tainted denomination?

Thou Shalt Say, No!

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