Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Sensing that they are part of a hopeless minority there are evangelicals who would precipitate a new alignment among those of like mind. But some of us feel this could prove a disastrous tactic. ...
A 'rear guard' tactic has won many a battle thought to be lost. In the Church some of us feel strongly that this battle is the Lord's and that through a mighty work of the Holy Spirit all of Protestantism can be reclaimed to preach and live the Gospel in the midst of a lost world.
To amplify: by 'rear guard' tactic we mean that in season and out of season we live our lives in the clear light of God's revealed truth, witnessing to the power of the living Christ and His Spirit, to the Gospel of His cross and the power of His Word.
Then, leave the future in God's hands."
-- L. Nelson Bell, "Looking Ahead," Presbyterian Journal (May 21, 1969), p.13 quoted by cited by Frank J. Smith, The History of the Presbyterian Church in America, 35.

"And now that the Church is so thoroughly infiltrated with and compromised by the world, what should be done? Should we pull out and start a new Church of committed believers? In this writer's judgment that this the very last thing which Christians should do, although we respect the earnest convictions of those who differ with us about it.
The solution is, we believe, to continue to witness where it is so desperately needed -- within the Church, unless or until the individual's conscience is bound or his right to witness is denied. Separation is not the answer, for those who have separated from an organization no longer have either voice or vote in that organization."
-- L. Nelson Bell, "Separation Isn't the Answer," Presbyterian Journal (July 29, 1970), pp. 13,18 quoted by cited by Frank J. Smith, The History of the Presbyterian Church in America, 34.

[When] the Journal Board took its stand [to join the Steering Committee for a Continuing Presbyterian Church] officially, one of the magazine's founders, painfully yet amicably, parted ways. In his last "A Layman and His Church" column, Dr. Bell wrote that there was no doctrinal issue imminently before the church, either in terms of ecclesiastical merger or a watered-down Confession of Faith. Therefore, while he still had the freedom to do so, he believed that he needed to be in the church bearing witness to the truth.
-- L. Nelson Bell, "Regretfully Yours," Presbyterian Journal (September 1, 1971), p. 13 cited by Frank J. Smith, The History of the Presbyterian Church in America, 35.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Those things in men, which, if they were known to others, would be sufficient to convince others that they are hypocrites, will not convince themselves; and those things which would be sufficient to convince them concerning others, and to cause them to cast others entirely out of their charity, will not be sufficient to convince them concerning themselves. They can make larger allowances for themselves than they can for others. They can find out ways to solve objections against their own hope, when they can find none in the like case for their neighbor.
-- Jonathan Edwards, "Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It is forgotten that a part of the Good news is to take a stand; that is part of the Good News in a broken, as well as lost, world. The very preaching of the Good News is taking a stand, but it's forgotten that [...] there isn't a dichotomy between the proclamation of the Word and caring for people's material needs with compassion and love, so also it must be emphasized that there is no dichotomy between preaching the Good News and taking a stand--and in fact, if there is nothing to take a stand upon there is no reason for preaching the Good News.
--Dr. Francis Schaeffer's presentation titled "A Day of Sober Rejoicing" from 16 June 1982 on the occasion of the Presbyterian Church in America receiving into its' body the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod

NOTE: The full text of this address is available at
To really understand the 30 year struggle between the liberal and conservatives in the Presbyterian Church U.S. which finally resulted inthe formation of the Presbyterian Church in America, one must go back to the time when Dr. L. Nelson Bell (Billy Graham's father-in-law), a medical missionary in China, returned to the United States in the late thirties or early forties and started practicing medicine in Asheville, North Carolina.
It didn't take Dr. Bell long to realize that a relatively small group of liberal ministers and seminary professors in the Presbyterian Church in the United States -- the so-called Southern Church -- were engaged in an organized effort to gain control of the church.
These men led by Dr. Ernest Trice Thompson -- a professor at Richmond Theological Seminary -- formed a secret organization which they called "The Fellowship of St. James."
They sought to have the church abandon its belief in the integrity and authority in the Bible, to water down the Westminster Confessionof Faith, and to participate more actively in teh National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Their primary goal, however, was to unite our church with the far more liberal and three times larger Prebyterian Church in the United States of America -- the Northern Church.
These men would get together before meetings of presbytery, synod and general assembly, decide who they would nominate for key positions, what motions would be made and who would present and speak to the motions. In effect they developed a political machine to control the actions of the church.
-- Kenneth S. Keys in "A Brief History of the Developments in the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern) which led to the Formation of the Presbyterian Church in America" from Presbyterian Church in America: A Manual for New Members

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"We must therefore take care that, if we depart from the opinions of those who went before us, we do not do so because excited by the itch after novelty, nor driven by fondness for deriding others, nor goaded by animosity, nor tickled by ambition, but only because compelled by pure necessity and with no other aim than to be of service."
-- John Calvin from a dedicatory epistle to Simon Grynaeus, 8 October 1539 quoted in B. A. Gerrish, The Old Protestantism and the New, 48.
In all these ways, Calvin revealed his consciousness of standing under the Word of God along with others. But perhaps the most striking token of his "pluralistic" attitude toward the Reformation and its theology is the interesting phenomenon of the Genevan "congregations," at which the Reformed pastors from the surrounding territory, together with a handful of devout lay people, gathered together to discuss some prearranged passage of Scripture. Calvin believed firmly that this was the proper manner to carry out the interpretation of Scripture. "For as long as there is no mutual exchange, each can teach what he likes. Solitude provides too much liberty."
-- B. A. Gerrish, The Old Protestantism and the New, 47 (The quote is from John Calvin's correspondence with Wolfgang Musculus, 12 October 1549.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Child:That we place all our trust in God.
Minister:How is this done?
C:When we know him to be mighty and perfectly good.
M:Is this enough?
C:Far from it.
C:Because we are unworthy that he should exercise his power to help us, or for our salvation show us how good he is.
M:What then is needed further?
C:Just that each of us should affirm with his mind, that he is loved by him, and that he is willing to be his Father and the Author of his salvation.
M:Where will this be apparent to us?
C:In his Word, where he reveals his mercy to us in Christ, and testifies of his love toward us.
M:Then the foundation and beginning of faith in God is to know him in Christ? (John 17:3)
C:Quite so.
-- taken from John Calvin's Catechism of the Church of Geneva (1545) translated and printed in J. K. S. Reid's Calvin: Theological Treatises from The Library of Christian Classics

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Reading maketh a full man,' wrote Lord Bacon, 'conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.'
-- Sir Francis Bacon, quoted by John T. McNeill in The History and Character of Calvinism, 101

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It should come as no surprise that when one starts with the view that miracles cannot happen, the conclusion is that the miracles investigated did not happen.
-- Robert H. Stein in Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ