September 2017

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“Westminster Theological Seminary: Its Purpose and Plan” was delivered by the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen at the first convocation address at the Seminary on September 25, 1929. Dr. Machen’s address was subsequently published on the pages of The Presbyterian, in its October 10, 1929 issue (pages 6-9) and later reprinted in What Is Christianity?, edited by Ned B. Stonehouse (Eerdmans, 1951). The most recent reprint of this address appears on pages 187-194 of J. Gresham Machen: Selected Shorter Writings, edited by D.G. Hart (P&R, 2004):—

machen03Westminster Theological Seminary, which opens its doors today, will hardly be attended by those who seek the plaudits of the world or the plaudits of a worldly church. It can offer for the present no magnificent buildings, no long-established standing in the ecclesiastical or academic world. Why, then, does it open its doors; why does it appeal to the support of Christian men?

The answer is plain. Our new institution is devoted to an unpopular cause; it is devoted to the service of One who is despised and rejected by the world and increasingly belittled by the visible church, the majestic Lord and Savior who is presented to us in the Word of God. From Him men are turning away one by one. His sayings are too hard, His deeds of power too strange, His atoning death too great an offense to human pride. But to Him, despite all, we hold. No Christ of our own imaginings can ever take His place for us, no mystic Christ whom we seek merely in the hidden depths of our own souls. From all such we turn away ever anew to the blessed written Word and say to the Christ there set forth, the Christ with whom then we have living communion: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”

The Bible, then, which testifies of Christ, is the center and core of that with which Westminster Seminary has to do. Very different is the attitude of most theological institutions today. Most seminaries, with greater or lesser clearness and consistency, regard not the Bible alone, or the Bible in any unique sense, but the general phenomenon of religion as being the subject matter of their course. It is the duty of the theological student, they maintain, to observe various types of religious experience, attested by the Bible considered as a religious classic, but attested also by the religious conditions that prevail today, in order to arrive by a process of comparison at that type of religious experience which is best suited to the needs of the modern man. We believe, on the contrary, that God has been pleased to reveal himself to man and to redeem man once for all from the guilt and power of sin. The record of that revelation and that redemption is contained in the Holy Scriptures, and it is with the Holy Scriptures, and not merely with the human phenomenon of religion, that candidates for the ministry should learn to deal.

There is nothing narrow about such a curriculum; many and varied are the types of intellectual activity that it requires. When you say that God has revealed Himself to man, you must in the first place believe that God is and that the God who is is One who can reveal Himself, no blind world force, but a living Person. there we have one great division of the theological course. “Philosophical apologetics” or “theism,” it is called. But has this God, who might reveal Himself, actually done so in the way recorded in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments? In other words, is Christianity true? That question, we think, should not be evaded; and what is more, it need not be evaded by any Christian man. To be a Christian is, we think, a truly reasonable thing; Christianity flourishes not in obscurantist darkness, where objections are ignored, but in the full light of day.

But if the Bible contains a record of revelation and redemption, what in detail does the Bible say? In order to answer that question, it is not sufficient to be a philosopher; by being a philosopher you may perhaps determine, or think you can determine, what the Bible ought to say. But if you are to tell what the Bible does say, you must be able to read the Bible for yourself. And you cannot read the Bible for yourself unless you know the languages in which it was written. We may sometimes be tempted to wish that the Holy Spirit had given us the Word of God in a language better suited to our particular race, in a language that we could easily understand; but in His mysterious wisdom He gave it to us in Hebrew and in Greek. Hence if we want to know the Scriptures, to the study of Greek and Hebrew we must go. I am not sure that it will be ill for our souls. It is poor consecration indeed that is discouraged by a little earnest work, and sad is it for the church if it has only ministers whose preparation for their special calling is of the customary superficial kind.

J. Gresham Machen “Westminster Theological Seminary: It’s Purpose and Plan,”The Presbyterian 99 (October 10, 1929): 6-9.

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by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?

A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Scripture References: I Cor. 15:3,4. Acts 1:9. Eph. 1:19,20. Acts 1:11; Acts. 17:31.


1. How many parts are there to Christ’s exaltation?

There are four parts to his exaltation. The first part is his resurrection from the dead; the second, his ascension into heaven; the third, his sitting down at the right hand of the father; the fourth, his coming to judge the world.

2. Is it possible to prove that he rose from the dead?

It can be proven by the many witnesses who saw him and talked with him after his resurrection. Another proof is that if it were not so our faith would be in vain as is taught in I Cor. 15:17.

3. Who was responsible for this miracle of rising from the dead?

Christ did this by his own power and Spirit as is taught by such verses as John 10:17,18, Rom. 1:4.

4. What does the resurrection of Christ teach us?

It teaches us to walk in newness of life. Rem. 6:4.

5. Why did Christ ascend into heaven?

He ascended into heaven that he might be returned to the glory he had before the world was formed (John 17:5). By his ascension he also took over, as Head of the church, the destination of all believers.

6. What does Christ do at the right hand of God?

Christ makes intercession for all believers at this place and is also preparing a place for them.

7. When and how will Christ come to judge the world?

He will come to judge the world at the last day. He will judge the world in righteousness, giving to everyone w hat is deserved. (2 Cor. 5:10)


The fourth part of Christ’s exaltation is to judge the world at the last day. As believers, we can thank God that at the judgment we will be declared righteous on the ground of our participation in the righteousness of Christ. The “book of life” will be opened, the book of God’s eternal electing love. It is indeed a day to which the believer can look forward, by faith.

There is a thought concerning the judgment that should cause us to sincerely examine our hearts before the Lord. The secrets of all hearts, the inward states and hidden springs of action will be brought in as the subject matter of judgment, as well as the actions themselves. As professing Christians, this thought needs to be considered.

It is a truth that “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9), And yet it is an equal truth that the person who is sincerely saved through faith will show forth the fruits of good works as it is brought out very clearly in the next verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” If we claim Christ as our Saviour, the question is pertinent: Are we showing forth good works, are the fruits of the Spirit habitual with us or are the works of the flesh?

A. A. Hodge, in treating the judgment, states of the believers:
“Their holy characters and good deeds … wlll be publicly declared as the evidences of their election, of their relation to Christ, and of the glorious work of Christ in them.” (Matt. 13:43; 25:34-40).

It is important for us to ask of ourselves today, right now, Are we showing evidence of our election, of our relation to Christ, of the glorious work of Christ in us? Jim Elliot once wrote in his diary, ” ‘He makes His ministers a flame of fire.’ Am I ignitible? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame.” Is such our prayer? Will the day of judgment declare it and show forth the evidences of our election?

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 28 (April 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor
April, 1963

Yet another form of a children’s catechism. This version was published in THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY’S SHORTER CATECHISM, WITH SCRIPTURE PROOFS.  [Portland : Hyde, Lord and Duren. New-York City : Eli French. 1847.] 


  1. Who made you, child, and bade you live?
    God did my life and spirit give.

  2. Who keeps you safely, can you tell?
    God keeps me safe, and makes me well.

  3. How has God shown the way of truth?
    The Bible is the guide of youth.

  4. How should you act to God above?
    With fear and honour, praise and love.

  5. Does God know all you do and say?
    Yes, and my thoughts both night and day.

  6. Have you and evil heart within?
    Yes; I was even born in sin.

  7. How does your heart its badness show?
    By sinful words and actions too.

  8. Is not God angry when we sin?
    Yes. Oh how wicked I have been.

  9. What do your sins deserve t’ obtain?
    Present and everlasting pain.

  10. And can you save yourself from wo?
    I cannot save myself, I know.

  11. Have you the power to change your heart?
    No; it is prone from good to start.

  12. Who, then, can peace and pardon give?
    Jesus, who died that we might live.

  13. What proves that Jesus Christ will save?
    His life, his cross, his death, his grave.

  14. Can none but Christ for sin atone?
    The blood of Jesus Christ alone.

  15. And how may you his grace receive?
    In Jesus Christ I must believe.

  16. Must you repent with humble heart?
    Yes, and from every sin depart.

  17. From God what blessings should you seek?
    Lord, save my soul for Jesus’ sake.

  18. Should you love Christ, who was so good?
    Oh yes, with all my heart I should.

  19. Did Christ become a little child?
    Yes, holy, humble, meek and mild.

  20. What did his early his’try shew?
    Jesus in strength and wisdom grew.

  21. What was foretold of Jesus’ grace?
    The Lambs he’ll on his bosom place.

  22. And were the young thus loved and blest?
    Christ took and clasped them to his breast.

  23. What did Christ say, though young we be?
    Let little children come to me.

  24. Does Christ still view the young with love?
    Yes, on his glorious throne above.

  25. How should a child begin to pray?
    Lord, teach me what to think and say.

  26. Will God regard the hymns you raise?
    Yes, Jesus loves an infant’s praise.

  27. Who only can direct your youth?
    The Holy Spirit, God of truth.

  28. Must you of ev’ry lie beware?
    Yes, with most strict and constant care.

  29. Must you all evil tempers flee?
    I must not in a passion be.

  30. Must you your book and wisdom prize?
    Yes, I must be both good and wise.

  31. How must a child to others be?
    As I would have them act to me.

  32. What must you to your parents shew?
    Obedience, love, and honour too.

  33. What must your brother(s)* in you find?
    A heart that’s always mild and kind.

  34. Must you your sister(s) always love?
    Yes, and be gentle as a dove.

  35. How must you act to all you know?
    I must all love and kindness know.

  36. Do little children often die?
    Yes, quite as young and strong as I.

  37. Will Jesus judge the “small and great?”
    Yes, and will fix their endless state.

  38. Where shall the wicked sinner dwell?
    With everlasting flames in hell.

  39. What should you wish if call’d to die?
    To be with Christ above the sky.

  40. Where will good children ever be?
    In heav’n, their Saviour Christ to see.

* Or sister(s).
Or brother(s).

Recently in processing the Papers of Dr. Morton H. Smith, the first Stated Clerk of the PCA, I came across this letter written to Smith when he was just twenty-five years of age and considering a call to ministry and pondering which Seminary to attend.  The pastor of his home church, the Rev. James E. Moore, wrote to offer the following advice.  Moore and his brother Lardner were raised in Osaka, Japan. James prepared for the ministry at Westminster  Seminary, graduating in 1933 and was pastor of the Mt. Washington Presbyterian church in Baltimore, Maryland from 1934-1951. He was received into the PCA in 1974.
This letter continues to offer, I think, some sage advice to those considering a call to ministry. The letter also offers a bit of historical insight on the situation as it stood then for theologically conservative Presbyterians, and in that light, it is interesting and even encouraging to compare that situation with where we are today.


22 September, 1948

Dear Morton:

Rockwell told me on his return from the West that you had about decided to go to the Seminary but were undecided as to which one. I’m not sure of the reasons he gave but I did ask him for your address. I have been thinking about the Seminary and what is involved in a Seminary education. I hope you won’t think me presumptuous but I wouldn’t miss the opportunity of expressing my views on the matter. I hope the Lord will take my words and give you help so that you can know without any doubt whatsoever His will may be in your whole future.

The first thing that I would say is that you don’t have to go to the Seminary to preach the Gospel. It is not a necessity because the New Testament doesn’t say one word about it. There was no such school in the days of the Apostles and they didn’t take the time to start one. More, the law of our church does not presuppose a Seminary education. The requirements for ordination are given. Then it says that certain of these parts may be omitted if the candidate is a graduate of a seminary.

If then neither the New Testament nor our church requires a Seminary education, why bother to go to one? The answer should be given along these lines. See how far you can agree with me. First, the Gospel, the only Gospel, which we have to preach is found exclusively in the New Testament, that is, the Bible. God’s message of salvation for a lost world is not found in nature nor in conscience nor in the church. The Bible is the only source of information and instruction. We don’t deny the value of philosophical and scientific truth anywhere, but those truths, regardless of how valuable they may be, do not shed any light on the Gospel. The story of Jesus and His love is found only in the Bible. That will be the first part of our answer. We go to the Seminary to better study the Bible.

Second, we go to the Seminary to study all the Bible. If the Bible is the exclusive source of the Gospel, then we dare not neglect the Bible, lest somewhere it teach something that would have a tremendous bearing on the Gospel. The world can’t be impressed by ill-equipped men who don’t know what they are talking about. The world is educated to-day so that anyone who takes the time to study can know a tremendous lot about the Bible. Therefore a preacher must be equipped so that he knows enough of and from the Bible to be able to declare the “whole counsel of God.” You will appreciate this point of view. You weren’t brought up on the idea that five or six truths were adequate for your life. The Shorter Catechism covers the whole range of Scripture truth. Now it stands to reason that a man studying under those who are competent and experienced can learn more of the Bible than he can by trying to do it himself.

Third. A man goes to the Seminary that he may learn to convey the truth of the Bible, all of the Bible, to others. Now not just a certain class of others, laboring people, or miners, or sailors, or Wall Street. He attempts to equip himself so that he can meet poor sinners wherever he may find them, present the claims of Christ in language that is intelligible to them, demolish their excuses and lead them to repentance and faith. Personally, I want you so armored that you can go into any community, environment, race or creed and present the riches of Christ Jesus so persuasively that men will have no excuse. Therefore, I say, we go to the Seminary to learn to present all the Bible to All men.

That line of reasoning and only that line can possibly answer the question of the Seminary. There is one argument that is used that has entirely too much weight in the minds of men. It is this—I want to work in a certain church. To do that, I’ve got to attend one of that church’s Seminaries. In reply, I would say, does a man want to serve the church or serve Jesus Christ? ‘No man can serve two masters!’ Let anyone take his choice. If the church comes first, then I say better that man not go into the ministry. Any man who goes into the ministry must burn his bridges behind him.

But we have to be affiliated with some group of the Lord’s people. Yes. And personally I hope to serve the Southern Church all my life. But the Southern church did not call me to preach. Christ called me to preach. It was only after I had prepared myself that the church gave me her blessing. I can promise you this, it makes no difference what seminary you go to, you won’t have any trouble serving our church. There is a desparate need right now and I believe I’ll have a place for you next summer. Don’t let the Devil fool you with false arguments.

I think you may agree with what I have said so far. If so there remains only one thing to be said. There are a few seminaries that will fill the requirements of the above line of reasoning. There are none in the South that will. Every seminary in the South has Modernists right along with Fundamentalists teaching something of a hodge podge for a seminary education. I’d rather you not go to any seminary. The Professors of Systematic Theology in all four of our southern Seminaries deny the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration. Your education won’t be worth the time and trouble it takes to get one. Of course Southern scholarship is notorious for its lack. I think we have only one man who is a scholar of first rank in all four seminaries. Wm. C. Robinson of Columbia is the only man ever heard of outside the United States.

If you are interested further, I have just a final word to say. There is a Seminary that will fulfill all the requirements of a Seminary in a Biblical, scholarly way. That is Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. There are about 20 graduates of that school in the ministry of the Southern church. I would love to talk with you further about the matter if you would care to discuss it.

Morton, the world needs men who are equipped to fight a warfare with a brilliant and cruel enemy. The Church is crying for men who know the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Don’t spare any pains to prepare yourself in the best way possible, in order that you may do all in your power to become a vessel fit for the Master’s use.

I’m dreadfully sorry that I haven’t kept up our friendship. I should have written you long ago with regard to Covenant Baptism. I hope you are still interested. Rockwell tells me you are interested in the study of the last things. When you come East we’ll have to get together.

Please give my love to your nice wife. The Lord bless you both.

Sincerely, /s/ Jim Moore

A New Help for Conservative Presbyterian Chaplains in our Armed Forces

Being a military chaplain in any of our Armed Forces was always viewed with favor by this contributor.  That was probably because my father served his God and country as an Army chaplain from World War Two through the Korean Conflict. There were divine appointments in the context of a military which are not found in any civilian context.  And when the chaplain is a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching minister to men and women in the military, there is an extraordinary opportunity to see God’s kingdom and church grow in the faith and knowledge of the Triune God.

Prior to 1976, the National Association of Evangelicals were endorsing chaplains on behalf of young Presbyterian Church in America.  As good as that was, there was a conviction on the part of some, which was communicated by the Pacific Presbytery of the P.C.A., to request a study to consider whether sister Presbyterian churches could join together to endorse their own chaplains to the Chief of Chaplains. Committees were formed in the respective Presbyterian churches, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.  Ministers in all three churches who had been or were then military chaplains formed these committees.  A working group was organized and a name was suggested, which was, “Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel.”

On September 21, 1978, the initial meeting was held at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis to form such a commission.  The combined churches had over 100,000 members and could therefore endorse chaplains on its own.  Some of the added benefits of having our own endorsing agency included the ability to hold our own spiritual retreats, an increased awareness of our chaplains and their ministries at national denominational meetings, better representation before the Chief of Chaplains in Washington, D.C., and a national newspaper, called the Guardian.

Other Presbyterian and Reformed bodies joined in the commission, such as the Korean American Presbyterian Church, Korean Presbyterian Church in America, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and the United Reformed Churches in North America.  Col. (ret.) David Peterson, after a thirty year career in the United States Army as a chaplain, became the Executive Director in 1995.  He served until just recently when Brig. General (ret.) Douglas Lee took over the helm of that position.

To read more about this ministry, now led by CH (LTC) Jim Carter, RET, click here.

Pictured above right, Chaplain David Peterson

Words to live by: There are opportunities and challenges for our military chaplains which pastors in their civilian churches do not have normally.  Young men and women in uniform are facing war tours away from families.  How great is it to have a Bible-believing chaplain to be there with the Word of God to meet them in public and private.  Temptations are always present in a military situation.  How good is it to have a gospel-preaching chaplain present who can provide an escape from that temptation with other Christian soldiers for a Bible-study, or meaningful worship time.  Family life without a father or a mother, a husband or a wife, is stressful.  A Reformed chaplain can be there to counsel in difficult times.  Pray for our military chaplains.  Write them letters or emails of encouragement.  Provide them and their soldiers with care boxes from home.  Support them in their important callings.

For further reading : “The Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel,” by Robert B. Needham — Chapter 24 in Confident of Better Things, edited by John Muether and Danny Olinger (pp. 471–484). Needham provides a succinct history of the PRJCMP, undergirding that history with a very useful Scriptural defense of military chaplaincy.

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