April 2019

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Some Pastors Are Born Teachers.

SandersonJWBorn in Baltimore, Maryland on March 19, 1916, John W. Sanderson later attended Wheaton College, graduating with the BA degree in 1937. He then attended Faith Theological Seminary, earning the Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1940 and the Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1945. In 1949 he earned an MA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A final degree, the Doctor of Divinity degree, was awarded by Geneva College in 1966.

Rev. Sanderson was licensed and ordained in 1940 by Chicago Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church. His first pastorate was at the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri, serving there from 1940 until 1943. He was the first pastor of this church, and upon his departure, the congregation next called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. From 1945 to 1952 and again from 1955 to 1956, Rev. Sanderson served as Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Faith Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Between those two terms as professor, he served as the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE from 1952 to 1955.

sandersonIn the academic year of 1956-1957, Sanderson served as a professor at Covenant College, which was then located in St. Louis, Missouri. Leaving that position briefly, he served as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1957 to 1963. Returning to St. Louis, he taught at Covenant Seminary, 1963-1964, and then moved with the 1964 Covenant College relocation to Lookout Mountain, TN, working at the College variously as professor, dean and vice president between the years 1964–1976. Dr. Sanderson finally returned to teach at Covenant Seminary from 1976 to 1984.

Rev. Sanderson’s honors include serving as the Moderator of Synod for the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1951. Other fields of service included teaching in India (1973), Chile (1978) and Peru (1978). For a brief time, 1956-1957, Rev. Sanderson had also served as editor of The Bible Presbyterian Reporter.

He was honorably retired from the ministry in 1986, and died on April 30, 1998. He had transferred his ministerial credentials into the PCA in 1982 when the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod was received into the PCA, and at the time of his death, though residing at the Quarryville (PA) Retirement Community, was a member of the PCA’s Missouri Presbytery.

We close our post today with a brief but useful article by Rev. Sanderson which was published in Salt, a student publication at Covenant Seminary. A bibliography of his major published works follows the article:—

Great Biblical Ideas: God’s Omniscience.

God’s omniscience has meant much to me. Scripture teaches that the Lord knows all things about me (Psalm 139), about the world (Proverbs 15:3), and about Himself (1 Corinthians 2:10).

In its practical outworking, this concept gives comfort because it teaches us that there can never be any surprises for God, any unforeseen obstacles, nor any changes in His working because of developments of which He knows nothing. In one of his moments of assurance Job said, “But he knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Job uttered these words against a background of his own bitter ignorance of his situation, and he found some help in this truth.

God’s omniscience also helps us during times of temptation. The assurance that nothing can be hid from Him is a deterrent to sin. Clarence E. Macartney, in his volume The Way of a Man with a Maid, tells of a scene from a drama on the life of Joseph. Potiphar’s wife is puzzled because Joseph will not succumb to her temptation. Then she spies over in the corner an idol “looking” at them. Thinking the idol’s “presence” is what is deterring Joseph, she takes the cover from the bed and covers the idol’s face. Then she turns again to Joseph, fully expecting him to do now as she wishes. In the play Joseph still refuses because his God never hides His face.

Although this is only a fictionalized account, it illustrates vividly how God’s omniscience, when we are persuaded of it in practical living, is a positive incentive to holiness. God’s full knowledge is a sobering thought for the Christian (Hebrews 4:13) as well as for the disobedient (Jeremiah 23:23); Ezekiel 11:5).

God’s omniscience is one of the reasons for our believing in the full truthfulness of Scripture. We are assured of the integrity of the Word because the Word is an expression of the Spirit’s knowledge. Notice the way Paul develops this in 1 Corinthians 2. No man knows the future which God has planned for us (vs. 9), but God has revealed the future by His Spirit. The Spirit is qualified to do this revealing because He has searched all things, “yea, the deep things of God” (v. 10). Now these things have been given to the apostles by the Spirit (v. 12). The apostles preach these things and so they communicate to “spiritual” men what Paul calls “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). What a comfort in times of doubt and criticism — God knows more than the critics and this knowledge stands behind the words of Scripture!

God’s omniscience should drive us to worship. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and his fame was so great that the queen traveled “from the uttermost parts of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” (Luke 11:31). Read her reaction in 1 Kings 10 — “there was no more spirit in her.” Perhaps we should say that she was breathless! Yet Jesus says that she will condemn His generation because “a greater than Solomon is here.”

Today we revere scholars and are overwhelmed by their scholarship. How much more should we be overwhelmed by the “fountain of all wisdom” and tremble when we handle His Word!

“Great Biblical Ideas,” excerpted from Salt: Official Student Publication of Covenant Theological Seminary, 1.2 (18 December 1968): 10.


Rudolph, Robert K., John W. Sanderson, Jr., George S. Christian, and Cornelius Van Til, First Annual Institute of the Reformed Faith (s.l. : s.n., 1951), 69pp.

Encounter in the non-Christian Era (Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan Pub. House, 1970), 95pp.

The Fruit of the Spirit: A Study Guide (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1972), 128pp. This work was reprinted in 1976 and 1985, and has also been translated into Korean, in 1984.

Mirrors of His Glory : Images of God from Scripture (Phillipsburg, N.J. : Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1991), x, 235 p.

Festschrift, 1997—
Where is the Salt? : Essays and Studies in Honor of John W. Sanderson, Jr.(Lookout Mountain, Ga. : Covenant College, 1997), ii, 133pp.
Contents: Philosophy and the prophet: some thoughts on a Christian philosophical method, by Reginald F. McLelland — Creation, fall, redemption: a mandate for redemptive activity, by Charles W. Anderson — Training the next generation: can we help Johnny tell right from wrong?, by Stephen R. Kaufmann — Understanding our contemporary world, by Louis J. Voskuil — Life and its origin, God’s second causes, by John E. Lothers, Jr. — Cur homo?: reflections on human creativity, by Nicholas P. Barker — Multicultural Christianity, by Patricia Ralston — Computers, comics, and careers: a paradigm shift to secular drift, by Russell H. Heddendorf — Computer science technology: a perspective for Christian higher education, by Douglas R. Sizemore.

Called to Noble Service

Reproduced here are two accounts, the first an obituary, the second a reminiscence, on the death of the Rev. David Herron, who served some fifty years as a missionary to India, sent by the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod. In 1833 the Reformed Presbyterians had suffered a split, dividing into the RP, General Synod and RP, Synod groups. Yet despite the grievous wound of a denominational split, both sides were aggressive in their missionary efforts, and just two years after that split, Rev. Herron was sent to India to begin a work there. The work begun there in Dehra Dun continued on after Herron’s death. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Calvin Taylor, then later by Rev. Frank Fiol, Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Taylor, and Mr. & Mrs. David Fiol. What an amazing legacy down through the years; what a wonderful testimony to the Lord God whom we serve!


herronDavid_age90The committee to whom was referred the demise of Rev. David Herron, who died on the 29th of April, 1900, would submit to Synod the following minute. In the death of our esteemed brother for over fifty years a representative of General Synod, as a missionary in Northern India, our church has lost a man and minister eminent for missionary spirit, a high order of talent, Christian graces, and a temper and disposition which endeared him to all who knew him. His long service in missionary work in India, and his wide acquaintance with the needs and natives of India render his death an almost irreparable loss to our mission in the East.

At the meeting of General Synod held in Pittsburgh, 1835, a resolution was adopted that two of its members be selected for the foreign field. At that time Synod resorted to the ordinance of the lot, the result was that the lot fell on Rev. David Herron and Rev. Wm. Calderwood. The occasion was one of great solemnity and a farewell meeting of Synod was held.

These brethren proceeded to prepare for their departure to their distant field of labor. After reaching India our brother gave himself earnestly to the acquisition of the native language. At the same time he connected with the Saharanpur Presbytery. After missionating for a time in various parts of the Northwest provinces, he subsequently became principal of a female school in Dehra Doon. Here he became instrumental in training young women for varied work in India, some of whom became distinguished in literature and in medicine. Among these were two daughters of Rev. B.M. Bose, who now su
pport their father at Dehra Doon.

When the Saharanpur Presbytery was about to be dissolved by the Presbyterian Church, Rev. David Herron, in connection with Mr. Calderwood took means to preserve the integrity of the Presbytery and was eminently successful. And when after many years of separation, the reunion of the Saharanpur Presbytery with General Synod was proposed, our brother heartily seconded the proposition, and expressed himself by letter, as thankful to the church of his fathers and the church of his choice for their kindly continuing him as a member of the church after so many years of estrangement.

The last work of Mr. Herron’s life has been preaching to a regiment of English soldiers, together with aiding by sympathy and contributions an asylum for lepers.

He was a warm and genial friend, a successful missionary, able preacher of the Gospel, and a devoted Christian brother. The mission in India will deeply feel his loss. But he has gone to higher society. He sleeps in Jesus, and although his body lies in the grave, far distant from the sepulchres of his fathers, and we can see no more his genial face on earth, we hope to meet with him in the home above, where separation shall never enter. Meanwhile General Synod places on record this minute of appreciation of his life and labors.

[The Minutes of General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1900)p. 28-29.]

The Rev. David Herron, who fell asleep in the Lord at Chakrata, India on the 29th of April, 1900, was intimately connected with the Saharanpur Presbytery almost from the time of its organization in 1837, and was its staunch supporter during the period of its greatest troubles; and it is not too much to say that had it not been for his strenuous exertions to maintain its integrity it would have been impossible for the Presbytery to continue in existence up to the present day. By his death not only has the Presbytery been bereft of a friend on whose wise counsel and unfailing support it could always depend, but the whole Church in India has been deprived of the benefits derivable from the presence among them of a venerable minister of mature experience, wide sympathies and burning zeal in the cause of Missions. He has however fought a good fight and has received a crown of glory at the hand of his Lord and Saviour, and although we deeply mourn his loss we bow in submission to the Will of our Heavenly Father whom it has pleased to take him away from us to a life of happiness above.

[The Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, 35.14-17 (July-Aug, 1901): 312.]

Pictured below, Rev. Herron with his children and an Indian servant. This photograph was taken in 1863 when Rev. Herron returned to the United States following the death of his wife, Mary Louise Browning Herron.


Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.


Communion with God.—That friendly intercourse, or fellowship, or correspondence, with God, which our first parents had before they sinned.

Under God’s wrath.—To have God angry with us every day.

Under the curse of God.—To be condemned, or given up, by the law of God, to everlasting punishment in the world to come.

Liable to all the miseries in this life.—Exposed, or subjected, to pain, sickness, poverty, and distress of every kind, both of body and mind.

Pains of hell.—The dreadful punishments which wicked men shall be made to suffer after death.


In this answer we have six particulars, of great importance for us to know :

That mankind by the fall lost communion with God. –Genesis 3:8. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees of the garden. Isaiah 59:2. Your inquiries have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

That they are all under God’s wrath and curse. – Ephesians 2:3. And were by nature the children of wrath. Galatians 3:10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.

That, from being under God’s wrath and curse, mankind are liable to all the miseries of this life. –Genesis 3:17. Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.

That, on the same account, they are also liable, or subject, to death. – Romans 6:23. The wages of sin is death.

That they are likewise liable to, or in danger of, the pains of hell. –Psalm 9:17. The wicked shall be turned into hell.

We are here also taught that the pains of hell shall last for ever. –Matthew 25:46. These shall go away into everlasting punishment. 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.


Mere good pleasure. –Purely from God’s will or choice, and on no other account.

From all eternity. –Before the beginning of time.

Elected. –Made choice of some, or took them from among the rest of mankind.

Covenant of grace. –That merciful arrangement, or agreement, entered into by the Father for the Godhead, and the Lord Jesus Christ on the part of man, to save a certain number of mankind from everlasting misery. It is sometimes also called the New Covenant, or the Gospel.

Estate of salvation. –A state of repentance, or hatred of sin, and a love of holiness, here, ending in everlasting happiness in heaven.

Redeemer. –One who saves, or delivers from slavery and misery, either by paying a price, or by using force.


In this answer before us, there are seven particulars, or points of doctrine, stated :

  1. That God hath elected, or chosen, SOME of mankind to everlasting life. -2 Thessalonians 2:13. We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.
  2. That God has done this, out of his mere good pleasure. -2 Timothy 1:9. Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
  3. That he did it from all eternity. –Ephesians 1:4. He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love.
  4. That, as a consequence of this election, or choice, God entered into a covenant. –Psalm 89:3. I have made a covenant with my chosen.
  5. That this covenant is a covenant of grace. –Ephesians 2:8. For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
  6. That the design of this covenant was, 1st, to deliver those whom God had chosen, from the estate of sin and misery, -Matthew 1:21. He shall save his people from their sins. 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come. 2dly, To bring them into a state of salvation. –Titus 3:5. He, (that is, God our Saviour,) saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
  7. That this deliverance is wrought by a Redeemer.­ –Proverbs 23:11. Their Redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

“We Don’t Have Forever,” by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer: 

he following transcript was originally printed in the PCA Messenger in 1980:

(Francis A. Schaeffer, founder of the L’Abri Fellowship, author of 21 books, and principal in the “How Should We Then Live?” and “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” film-seminar series, was the featured speaker at the 1980 “Consultation on Presbyterian Alternatives” sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in America. His counsel, excerpted here from the full transcript of his Pittsburgh messages, was heard by participants from several Presbyterian communions.)

Two biblical principles must be practiced simultaneously, at each step of the way, if we are to be really Bible-believing Christians. One is the principle of the practice of the purity of the visible church. The other is the principle of an observable love among all true Christians.

Those of us who left the old Presbyterian Church USA (the “Northern” Church) 44 years ago made mistakes which marked the movement for years to come. The second principle often was not practiced. In particular we often failed to manifest an observable love for the fellow believers who stayed in that denomination when others of us left.

Things were said which are very difficult to forget even more than 40 years later. The periodicals of those who left tended to spend more time attacking the real Christians who stayed in the old denomination than in dealing with the liberals. Those who came out at times refused to pray with those who had not come out.  Many who left totally broke off all forms of fellowship with true brothers in Christ who did not come out.

What was destroyed was Christ’s command to love each other. And what was left was often a turning inward, a self-righteousness, a hardness, and, too often, a feeling that withdrawal had made those who came out so right that anything they did could be excused.

Further, having learned these bad habits, they later treated each other badly when the new groups had minor differences among themselves.

We cannot stress both of the principles simultaneously in the flesh. Sometimes we stress purity without love.  Or we can stress love without purity. In order to stress both simultaneously we must look moment to moment to the work of Christ and to the work of the Holy Spirit. Without this, a stress on purity becomes hard, proud, and legalistic.  Without this, a stress on love becomes compromise. Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit (and the emphasis here is on exhibit, not just talk) simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God. Without our exhibition of both, our marvelous God and Lord is not set forth. Rather, a caricature is set forth and He is dishonored.

We paid a terrible price for what happened in those early days. As some of you now come out of your denominations, please do learn from our mistakes. Each pastor, each congregation must be led by the Holy Spirit. If some disappoint you, do not turn bitter.

One of the joys of my life occurred at the Lausanne Congress (the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland). Some men from the newly formed Presbyterian Church in America asked me to attend a meeting they and others had called there. When I arrived I found that it was made up of Southern men who had just left the Presbyterian Church US to form the PCA and some Christians who were still in the PCUS. Someone from each side spoke. Both said to me that the meeting was possible because of my voice and especially my little book, The Church Before the Watching World (published by InterVarsity Press). I must say I could have wept, and perhaps I did. It is possible for us to do better than we would naturally do. It is not possible if we ignore the fleshly dangers and fail to look to our living Lord for his strength and grace.

Those of us who left our old denomination in the Thirties had another great problem, as I see it. It was confusion over where to place the basic chasm which marks off who we are. Does that chasm mark us as those who are building Bible-believing churches and that on this side of the chasm we hold the distinctives of being Presbyterian and Reformed? Or is the primary chasm that we are Presbyterian and Reformed and that we are divided from all who are not? The answer makes a great deal of difference.

When we go to a town to start a church, are we going there with the primary motivation to build a church which is loyal to Presbyterians and the Reformed faith, or are we going there to build a church which will preach the Gospel which historic, Bible-believing Christianity holds, and then on this side of that chasm teach that which we believe is true to the Bible in regard to church government and doctrine? The difference makes a difference to our mentality, to our motivation, and to the breadth of our outreach. I must say, to me one view is catholic, biblical and gives good promise of success; the other is introverted and self-limiting, yes, and sectarian. I spoke of a good promise of success. I mean on two levels: First in church growth and a healthy outlook among those we reach; second, in providing leadership in the whole church of Christ.

We alone do not face this problem of putting the chasm at the wrong place, of course. A too zealous mentality on the Lutheran view of the sacraments is the same. A too sectarian mentality in regard to the mode of baptism is another. The zeal of the Plymouth Brethren for an unpaid ministry is often the same. No, it is not just our problem. But it is our problem. To put the chasm in the wrong place is to fail to fulfill our calling, and I am convinced that when we do so we displease our Lord.

Those who remain in the old-line churches have their own set of problems. In contrast to the problem of hardness to which those who withdraw are prone, those who remain are likely to develop a general latitudinarianism. One who accepts ecclesiastical latitudinarianism easily steps into a cooperative latitudinarianism which can become a doctrinal latitudinarianism and especially a letdown on a clear view of Scripture.

This is what happened in certain segments of what I would call the evangelical establishment. Out of the evangelical latitudinarianism of the Thirties and Forties grew the letdown in regard to the Scripture in certain areas of the evangelical structure in the Seventies. Large sections of evangelicalism today put all they can into acting as though it makes no real difference as to whether we hold the historic view of Scripture or the existential view. The existential methodology says that the Bible is authoritative when it teaches “religious” things but not when it touches that which is historic, scientific, or such things as the male/female relationship.

Not all who have stayed in the liberal denominations have done this, by any means, but it is hard to escape. I don’t see how those who have chosen to stay in (no matter what occurs) can escape a latitudinarian mentality which will struggle to paper over the differences on Scripture in order to keep an external veneer of unity. That veneer in fact obscures a real lack of unity on the crucial point of Scripture.  And when the doctrinal latitudinarianism sets in we can be sure from all of church history and from observation in our own period of church history that in just a generation or two the line between evangelical and liberal will be lost.

This is already observable in that the liberals largely have shifted to the existential methodology and have expressed great approval that the “moderate evangelicals” have done so.  The trend will surely continue. Unless we see the new liberalism with its existential methodology as a whole, and reject it as a whole, we will, to the extent to which we tolerate it, be confused in our thinking.  Failure to reject it will also involve us in the general relativism of our day and compromising in our actions.

The second major problem of those who stay in the liberally controlled denominations is the natural tendency to constantly move back the line at which the final stand will be taken.  For example, can you imagine Clarence Macartney, Donald Grey Barnhouse or T. Roland Phillips being in a denomination in which the baffle line was the ordination of women?  Can you imagine these great evangelical preachers of the Twenties and Thirties (who stayed in the Presbyterian Church USA) now being in a denomination which refuses to ordain a young man whose only fault was that while he said he would not preach against the ordination of women yet he would not say he had changed his mind that it was unbiblical? Can you imagine that these leaders of the conservative cause in an earlier era would have considered it a victory to have stalled the ordination of practicing homosexuals and practicing lesbians?  What do you think Macartney, Barnhouse, and Phillips would have said about these recent developments?  Such a situation in their denomination would never have been in their minds as in the realm of conceivable.

The line does move back.  In what presbytery of the Northern Presbyterian Church can you bring an ordained man under biblical discipline for holding false views of doctrine and expect him to be disciplined?

Beware of false victories.  Even if a conservative man is elected moderator of the general assembly (as Macartney was in 1924), it would amount to absolutely nothing.  Despite the jubilation among conservatives at Macartney’s election, the bureaucracy simply rolled on, and not too many years later conservative leader J. Gresham Machen could be unfrocked.  Nelson Bell was elected moderator of the Southern Church later (in 1972), and nothing changed. The power centers of the bureaucracy and the liberally-controlled seminaries were unmoved.

There are always those who say, “don’t break up our ranks … wait a while longer … wait for this … wait for that.” It is always wait.  Never act. But 40 years is a long time to wait when things are always and consistently getting worse. And (with my present health problem) I tell you soberly, we do not have forever to take that courageous and costly stand for Christ that we sometimes talk about. We do not have forever for that. We hear many coaxing words, but watch for the power structure to strike out when it is threatened. If the liberals’ power is really in danger or if they fear the loss of property, watch out!

What of the future? We live in a day that is fast-moving.  The United States is moving at great speed toward totally humanistic orientation in society and state.  Do you think this will leave our own little projects, our own church, and our own lives untouched? Don’t be silly. The warnings are on every side. When a San Francisco Orthodox Presbyterian congregation can be dragged into court for breaking the law of discrimination because it dismissed an avowed, practicing homosexual as an organist, can we be so blind as to not hear all the warning bells go off?  When by a ruling of a federal court the will of Congress can be overturned concerning the limitation on the willful killing of unborn children, should not the warning bells go off as to the kind of pressures ahead of us?

Who supports these things? The liberal denominations do, publicly, formally, and financially.  And it puts into a vise those of us who stand for biblical morality, let alone doctrine.  Beyond the denominations, it is their councils of churches that support not only these things but also terrorist groups. They give moral support and money.  Should we support this by our denominational affiliation? We may seem isolated from the results for a time but that is only because we are too blind to see.

I don’t think we have a lot of time.  The hour is very late, but I don’t think it is too late in this country. This is not a day of retreat and despair. In America it is still possible to turn things around.  But we don’t have forever.

Reprinted from the PCA Messenger
© 1980, Christian Education Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Our good friend Rev. Vaughn Hathaway offers this counterpoint:

In my opinion, Schaeffer made a false distinction when he said, “When we go to a town to start a church, are we going there with the primary motivation to build a church which is loyal to Presbyterians and the Reformed faith, or are we going there to build a church which will preach the Gospel which historic, Bible-believing Christianity holds, and then on this side of that chasm teach that which we believe is true to the Bible in regard to church government and doctrine?”

Are they not the same?

He Being Dead, Yet Speaks
by Rev. David T. Myers

You may have noted that several of those featured in this historical devotional guide have been mentioned for more than just one date out of the year. Their birth dates, their death dates, and significant dates during their lives may have been featured. The reason why that is that they, while members now of the triumphant church, were well-known members of the militant church on earth, and so there is much to note about their lives and how the Lord worked through them. Such a one was Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, whose inaugural address we featured this past Saturday, and who we feature again today.

Born in 1851 in Kentucky from good solid Presbyterian heritage, especially on his mother’s side, Warfield was known and still is known as a great defender of the faith. The books he wrote are still readily available in both hard copy as well as on the web.  Yet he had limited experience in the pulpit and pastorate, serving only a few years in that capacity.  Further, he was not interested in  church politics,  either in the presbytery, synod, or general assembly.  His place of ministry was always in the classroom in a seminary setting.

In that sense, he was, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 4:12, an individual who “equipped the saints.”  That word “equip” is used in the gospels accounts to describe the necessary work of the fishermen who later became the apostles of our Lord.  It was said that when that divine call came, they were “mending the nets.”  In other words, they were getting the nets ready for service.  This is what the word “equip” speaks about in Ephesians 4.  And that is exactly what Warfield did as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary with his students.  They were equipped as student saints.   They were prepared for service in the kingdom of God.

No one did a better job in his time there than Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield.  He took over the Chair of Charles Hodge from the son of Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge.  He was therefore a link to the marvelous Hodge dynasty at old Princeton.  When he died in 1921, it was said that Old Princeton had passed away. In God’s providence, a mere nine years later Westminster Theological Seminary  began,  as an effort to preserve and continue something of that tradition of Old Princeton.

And to think all this story was begun officially on April 26, 1879 when Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was ordained to the ministry, being ordained by the Presbytery of Ebenezer (PCUSA).   It was a recognition of the spiritual gifts which he possessed in knowledge and wisdom, in teaching, and in discernment. His ordination was a recognition by the Church of the hope and anticipation of how those gifts might be used in coming years, for the glory of God.

Words to Live By: Warfield is in heaven now, but his words live on in the church on earth.  It will do you, the reader, much good to spend time in reading his books either in book form or on the web.  Those books are not always easy to read, but they are worth the effort, for they still stand ready to equip you for service in Christ’s kingdom. A number of Dr. Warfield’s works can be easily located online, here.

Note: Consulting Robinson’s Ministerial Directory (1898), page 526, we find that Warfield was ordained by the Presbytery of Ebenezer, on 26 April 1879. From the time-line provided in Robinson, it looks like Warfield’s ordination was performed with a view to his installation as professor of Didactic & Polemic Theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He had first served in the summer of 1875 as stated supply in Concord, KY, then in Dayton, OH in the summer of 1876, and from 1877-78 as stated supply for First Presbyterian in Baltimore, MD. He was an instructor in New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Western Seminary, 1878-79. Thus the ordination would have taken place at the end of the academic year at Western, but probably after Warfield had his call to Princeton in hand.

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