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In 1965 the 142nd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, General Synod, convened at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, on April 2.  On the same date and place the 29th General Synod of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church was convened.  Each of these synods carried on their work until April 6 when the two denominations were united to become the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.  The uniting service was held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 6, 1965, and this service was followed by sessions of the 143rd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.  The business of the united synods was concluded on April 8, 1965.

Paul Woolley, long-time professor of church history at the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, wrote in his foreword to The History Behind the RPCES, 

FOREWORD Three of the liveliest of the smaller Presbyterian Churches in the United States are the children of the action of the General Council of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in determining to demand in the fall of 1933 that the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions be dissolved. Presumably the General Council foresaw that the demand would not be honored. Probably, therefore, it expected to be the father, as it were, of at least one new Presbyterian Church. Whether it counted on triplets is dubious. Its technology was probably not that far advanced.

Population control was not a watchword in the early thirties but it has always seemed odd behavior to find the General Council crying loudly for ecumenicity and at the same time requiring the formation of at least one new Presbyterian Church and, in the event, three: the Bible Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (now a part of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod), and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

This is but one indication of the fact that large Churches are generally much more closely oriented to money and power than Jesus was. It raises the question of whether an increase in the size of a Church is always a blessing. The people who are running things become tremendously interested in their authority and in the means by which they can realize their dreams. Some large corporations have found it advisable to have their divisions compete. Buick and Oldsmobile are each not entirely averse to capturing sales from the other

From Twenty Nine Years of Age to One Hundred and Forty Three Years of Age

A new church was born on this date, April 6, 1965, at ten o’clock in the morning.  Actually, it was not a new church but simply the merging of two historic Presbyterian bodies dating back to the formation of our country.  The Evangelical Presbyterian Church had come out of the stream of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.  The Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod had come out of the Scottish Covenanter  heritage.  Both churches had been courting each other from 1957 to 1964 with continual contact.

Each denomination held dearly to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as being the inspired Word of God, without error in whole and part, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.  Each church body held to the subordinate standards of the Westminster Assembly as being a summary of the teaching of the Old and New Testaments.  They proclaimed the good news of salvation to a lost world as the only  hope of reconciliation with the holy God.  The fundamentals of historic Christianity, being only Scripture, only Christ, only grace, only faith, and only to the glory of God, were part and parcel of their belief structure.

Each church had been weathered by internal divisions in their past history.   In the case of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, they had the experience of coming out of the apostasy of the mainline Presbyterian church in the mid 1930’s, where a stand for the fundamentals of the faith translated out to being deposed by the modernists who had gained control of the church.  Then in 1938 and 1956, further issues over eschatology and Christian liberty as well as independent agencies verses synod control agencies, truth in Christian living, and questions about separation from brethren, brought into existence the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in 1961.

In the case of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod, the issue in 1833 was the relationship of the church to the civil government.  They had no problem supporting the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but the Constitution a dozen or so years later was another matter.  Should its members vote, for example, in a country which did not recognize itself as a Christian nation?  Should they serve on juries, with oaths involved? Should they serve in the armed forces?  Should exclusive psalmody be the standard of  worship services?  All these were questions which were asked, debated, and voted upon by the church.

When the two bodies met concurrently in 1965 at Covenant College, the issues had been faced squarely by godly men for eight years.  Both churches voted to merge with each other, and combining their names into  the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod.  What has been a church of twenty-nine years became a church of one hundred and forty-three years years of age after one meeting!

Words to Live By:  The Psalmist David proclaimed words of wisdom for all church bodies and Christians when  he wrote “BEHOLD, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (KJV – Psalm 143:1)

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In the Cause of Christ, There Can Be No Compromise

youngjml01John Mair Lisgar Young was born on November 7, 1912 in Hamheung, Korea to parents Luther L. and Catherine F. (Mair) Young, Canadian Presbyterian missionaries. John began his education there in Korea and later moved to Kobe, Japan, where he graduated from the Canadian Academy. He received the degrees of B.A. (1934) and M.A. (1935 from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, doing thesis work in the field of the German Reformation. He then attended Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia from 1935 to 1937, before transferring to Faith Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 1938. He was both licensed and ordained to the ministry later that same year.

On May 28, 1938 he married Jean Elder in Toronto, Ontario, and together they served as missionaries in Harbin, Manchuria from 1938 to 1941. From 1942 to 1948 he served as the organizing pastor of the Bible Presbyterian church in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The Youngs next moved to Nanking, China to continue their missions work, but were forced to leave China when the communists took over in 1949. A subsequent move to Japan initiated one of his most important periods of ministry. There he served from 1949 until 1966. During this time he helped to plant three churches and was cofounder of the Japan Christian Theological Seminary. At that institution he taught systematic theology and also served as the president of the school from its founding in 1954 until 1966. In that year his wife died of cancer and he returned to the United States with his seven children, arriving to settle in Grand Rapids, MI and work on the Th.M. degree at Calvin Seminary, with thesis work focusing on the topic of Christology. Upon completion of that work, he moved in 1967 to Lookout Mountain, TN to take a position at Covenant College as Missions professor.On February 8, 1968 he married Jane Brooks, a faculty member in the English department. They remained at Covenant until his retirement in 1981, at which time they returned with their daughter to Japan. Work there continued under the auspices of World Presbyterian Missions, the foreign missions arm of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Dr. Young served as president of WPM for three years. Two of his sons currently serve as foreign missionaries in Japan.

During his time in Japan, Dr. Young served for fourteen years as the editior of The Bible Times. His first book, The Two Empires in Japan, was first published in 1958. Subsequent editions were brought out in 1959, 1961 and 1987, and the work has been described as “a valuable contribution to an understanding of the situation with which the Japanese Church is confronted today.” As a record of church-state conflict, it remains a very pertinent work today. In 1961 he was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree by Covenant College and Seminary, St. Louis, MO. Other publications authored by Dr. Young include a series of ten booklets on The Motive and Aim of Missions and a booklet on Karl Barth’s Doctrine of the Trinity, along with numerous articles on missions and covenant theology as the theological basis of missions. Research for his last work, By Foot to China, was begun during the time of his studies in Christology in 1966-1967 as he focused on the history and theology of the Nestorians. [click here to read Paul W. Taylor’s review of By Foot to China.]

Words to Live By:
Matt Filbert, Director of Missions for the RPCNA, in his review of The Two Empires in Japan, wrote:—

“To what lengths are God’s people and His churches prepared to go in order to preserve themselves, avoid persecution, or pursue growth? John M.L. Young understood the dangers of compromise especially when churches would compromise the truth and authority of the Word of God. Mr. Young writes, ‘History has indeed shown that in the time of persecution the church that tries to save its life by compromise with pagan demands will lose its life, while the church that is willing to lose its life in martyrdom, if necessary, will find its life preserved by a host of new believers.’ ”

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the Law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7, ESV)

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A Distinguished Lineage

“If we as God’s people were only more willing to wait for the Lord, how infinitely great would be the things that He in His graciousness would be delighted to do for us and in us and through us to the blessing of others and to the glory of His Name.” — Dr. T. Stanley Soltau.


Through a long, useful life, Theodore Stanley Soltau, D.D. served faithfully and well the Lord he loved.

Theodore Stanley Soltau was born in 1890, of missionary parents in Tasmania, and throughout his life was himself a missionary in every sense of the word. The Soltau family had  originally been Plymouth Brethren.  In fact, Stanley’s grandfather, Henry William Soltau, was born in Plymouth, in 1805. Henry authored works which remain in print to this day: The Holy Vessels and Furniture of the Tabernacle and The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and the Offerings.

Stanley received his early schooling in England, but when Stanley’s parents returned from the mission field to the United States in 1904, he remained stateside to obtain his undergraduate training in Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. His theological work was done at Princeton Seminary under men whose names are familiar to all in our church.

Shortly after graduation from seminary Dr. Soltau began a quarter of a century of profitable missionary endeavor in Korea. During these years he served under the Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., working in pioneer missionary works as well as in the administrative work of the mission in that land. It was while Dr. Soltau was in Korea that the church there suffered much persecution for its faith from the Japanese. Dr. Soltau stood firmly with the Church in resisting the attempts of the government to interfere with its service for the Lord.

Forced, through illness, to return from the foreign field in the late 1930’s, he entered on a new phase of his service. He was pastor in Evanston until 1942 when he was called by the First Evangelical Church of Memphis, Tennessee.

The blessing of the Lord was upon his ministry in Memphis and the church grew in number and service. Dr. Soltau’s life-long interest in missions was reflected in the interest of First Evangelical Church in supporting missions around the world.

After twenty-six years of an active and valuable pastorate, Dr. Soltau resigned in June of 1968. In his “retirement” he was, if anything, more active in his ministry for people and for missions. He traveled extensively in the U.S. and on missionary trips to South America and around the world.

In the early 1950’s, Dr. Soltau united with the then Bible Presbyterian Church. His help in the formation of World Presbyterian Missions was great and he served until 1971 as the president of this missions board. He was for a time on the board of the North Africa Missions agency, as well as that of the Greater Europe Mission and also Columbia Bible College.

T. Stanley Soltau, Christian gentleman, scholar, missionary, statesman, pastor, in the midst of an active life, at the age of 82, stepped into the presence of the Lord on the afternoon of July 19, 1972. “Blessed are the dead, that die in the Lord.”

The Lord blessed Dr. Soltau and his wife with children who grew to place their trust in Christ. His daughter Eleanor served in Jordan as a medical doctor; daughter Mary worked with a ministry for the handicapped; George was engaged full-time with prison ministry and Addison served as a professor at Covenant Theological Seminary and currently serves as an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Coral Springs, Florida.

Words to Live By (once more, for effect):
“If we as God’s people were only more willing to wait for the Lord, how infinitely great would be the things that He in His graciousness would be delighted to do for us and in us and through us to the blessing of others and to the glory of His Name.”

A memorial for Dr. Soltau was published in the 1973 Minutes of Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Our account above is based on that text. An obituary was also published in the RPCES newspaper,  The Mandate, and there is a Memorial for Dr. Soltau in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 15.4 (Fall 1972) 256. But thus far, the primary work on Dr. Soltau’s life remains the biography by Charles Turner, included as chapter nine in Chosen Vessels.

Korea, The Hermit Nation.  London, New York : World dominion Press, 1932. 123 p. [Includes “The Bible in Korea, by Rev. R. Kilbour, D.D. [1867-1942], on pp. [79]-89.]

“Mission Survey,” in The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Korea Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., June 30-July 3, 1934, Rhodes, Harry A. and Richard H. Baird, editors.  Seoul, Korea : Y.M.C.A. Press, 1934. pp. 216-233.

Straight Road to Christian Living : Valuable Helps for Young Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1942. 63 p.

Christ is the Son of God. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1944. 48 p.

The Everlasting Gospel. Memphis, TN : The Mid-South Bible Center, 1946. 65pp.

That They Might Have Life. Memphis, TN : The First Evangelical Church, 1947. 29pp.

Lo, I Am With You Always.  Memphis, TN : The First Evangelical Church, 1949.  31pp.

Who do men say that I am?  Wheaton, IL: Van Kampen Press, 1949.  112 p.

A Straight Road to Christian Truth [Seoul] : Presbyterian Publication Fund, 1956), Korean language.  65 p.

“The High Priesthood of Christ,” serialized in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 1958-1959.

Facing the field; the foreign missionary and his problems.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959.  135 p.

Missions at the Crossroads: The Indigenous Church—A Solution for the Unfinished Task. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Book House, 1959.  188pp.

“Reformed Theology and Missions,” in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 5.4 (April 1960): 15-16.

“Paradoxes of the Cross,” Part I – The Place of Defeat and Victory, in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 5.4 (April 1960) 7-8;  Part II – Man’s Sin versus God’s Love, in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 5.5 (May 1960) 11-12; Part III – God’s Identification of Himself with Man, in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 5.6 (June-July 1960) 5-6.

“How Often Should We Observe the Lord’s Supper?,” in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 5.5 (May 1960) 10

“The Two Empires in Japan,” in The Bible Presbyterian Reporter, 5.6 (June-July 1960) 15 [review of John M.L. Young’s book]

The Standard Bible Commentary on Acts. Seoul : Committee on the Bible Commentary of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Korea, 1961. 456 p.

“Committing the Message to Faithful Men,” – Convocation Exercises at Covenant College and Seminary, St. Louis, MO, 27 September 1963.

The God-pointed Life: Lessons from the Life of David.  Chicago : Moody Press, 1966.  127 p.

In the Enemy’s Territory.  [s.l. : s.n.], 1969.  137 p.

Yin Yang, Korean Voices.  Wheaton, IL: Key Publishers, 1971.  147 p.

Liberalism versus Historic Christianity.  Lincoln, NE : Back to the Bible, 1977.  15pp.

Jesus, man or God?  Memphis, TN: Time for Truth, 1970-1979?  55 p.

Our Sufficiency.  (s.l. : s.n., n.d.  20pp.

The Reality of Christ’s Promises : A Series of 10 Broadcasts by Rev. T. Stanley Soltau, D.D., over Station WMC.  Memphis, TN : First Evangelical Church, n.d. [1940s]), pb, 51pp.

See also—
While Charles Turner, in his biography of Dr. Soltau [chapter 9 in the volume Chosen Vessels (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1985), pp. 159-183] states that Dr. Soltau “…kept no journals, no copies of his correspondence…”, nonetheless the PCA Historical Center is blessed to have some of the Soltau correspondence preserved among some of its other collections:

Robert L. Rayburn Papers:

Rayburn, Robert G., Correspondence, Soltau, T. Stanley, 1959 – 1961 8 30

Frank Fiol Papers:

Correspondence, 1956: Frank Dyrness, T. Stanley Soltau, John G. Crane, Kenneth Horner, Carl McIntire, R. Laird Harris, J.E. Krauss 359 7

At the Covenant College archives—
“For to Me to Live Is Christ,” [Final Message at Covenant, 6 pages].

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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.

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