Thursday, October 5, 2017

4 October 2017

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


New Christian Observer articles for October 2017 include:

-- Joy in Hope – by Christian Observer Contributing Editor David Brand – The joy in hope of missionary William Whiting Borden (1887-1913);

-- Education and Cancerous Ideologies - Christian Observer Contributing Editor Dr. Joe Renfro – “There are many ideologies bombarding our world and our nation at this time in history with many of them being ultimately cancerous to our society with much of it taking place or related with to education;”

Plus, links to ReVision devotionals on the Fellowship of Ailbe website by Christian Observer Contributing Editor T.M. Moore.

I am personally appalled at the unethical and really unconstitutional (in the manner the founders wanted) that the millions of dollars from Republicans around the nation would have their donations deferred to the Alabama race for U.S. Senator.  Our nation was established on the principle of local elections by local citizens. Federal-level insiders should not attempt to overwhelm any state election. Alabama-registered voters should and will decide.  But President trump and especially Mitch McConnell should not redirect donations to the Republican party toward personal favorites in local elections. Alabama should decide their next senator.

I am personally appalled at the unethical and really unconstitutional (in the manner the founders wanted) that the millions of dollars from Republicans around the nation would have their donations deferred to the Alabama race for U.S. Senator.  Our nation was established on the principle of local elections by local citizens. Federal-level insiders should not attempt to overwhelm any state election. Alabama-registered voters should and will decide.  But President trump and especially Mitch McConnell should not redirect donations to the Republican party toward personal favorites in local elections. Alabama should decide their next senator.

Please everyone in the USA seeing this, please pray for the man who has proven himself over years of service in civil government. I urge you to appeal to the Lord for His Divine Providence to turn the tide to Judge Roy Moore to serve Alabama, and incidentally all of us In America.

—Gerald Christian Nordskog

+ Nordskog Publishing, 4562 Westinghouse Suite E, Ventura, California 93003, 805-642-2070, Fax: 805-642-1862, Contact Page

An 18 September 2017 The Times article by Marc Horne titled “Struggling Boys’ Brigade to Welcome All Faiths” reports that the traditionally Protestant Boys Brigade is now “welcoming atheists, Catholics, Muslims and girls in a bid to widen its appeal and stop numbers from dwindling further.”

Boys Brigade director for Scotland John Sharp is quoted as saying:

“In an increasingly secular world we are also open to people with no faith.”

“Most of our groups would be attached to the Church of Scotland but we are not a part of the Kirk as an organisation and I think that’s an important point to stress.”

+ The Times, Times House, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1TT, England, 44-0-20-7782-5971,

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scotland, 0131-225-5722

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

20 September 2017

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


The Reformation 500 Commemoration 1517-2017 is scheduled for 30 September 2017 at the Lebanon Presbyterian Church, 29 Lebanon Circle, Goshen, Virginia 24439.

The schedule is as follows, Eastern Daylight Time:

  9:30  Welcome and Coffee
10:00  Historian Bill Potter on Overview of Reformation
10:30  Questions
10:45  Dr. Ron Rumburg on John Wycliffe, the "Morning Star"
11:30  Questions
12:00  Lunch
12:45  Dr. Roger Schultz on the Reformation "solas"
  1:30  Questions
  1:45  Bill Potter on John Knox in Scotland
  2:30  Questions
  2:45  Close

Please RSVP for lunch to Carolyn Byram (

Note – Bill Potter leads heritage tours in Scotland. Ron Rumburg is a pastor and writer of many books. Roger Schultz is Dean of Colleges at Liberty University and a history professor.

For further information, please contact Linwood G. Wilkes, Pastor, at 540-430-2407 or at the church at 540-997-0040.

The Reverend Imre Andrew Bertalan, 67, passed away while surrounded by loved ones on August 29, 2017 at Latrobe Hospital in Latrobe, Pennsylvania after a brief illness. At the time of his death, he was the Executive Director of Bethlen Communities in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Rev. Bertalan was born on October 4, 1949 in New Brunswick, NJ to Margaret Kosa Bertalan and Reverend Dr. Imre G. Bertalan. Imre grew up in Passaic and New Brunswick, NJ, where his parents and maternal grandparents, Margaret Blum Kosa and Rev. Andrew Kosa served Hungarian-American church congregations. He graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1967 (go Zebras!). After high school, Imre attended his beloved Rutgers University for his BA and received his Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1977.

Throughout his life, Imre was deeply dedicated to the American-Hungarian community. He served as a community organizer in the historically Hungarian Birmingham neighborhood in Toledo, OH and was a leading figure in the American-Hungarian communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

A devoted pastor, Imre served Hungarian Reformed congregations in Toledo, OH, Allen Park, MI, and Beaver Falls, PA. In 1999 he accepted the role of Executive Director at Bethlen Communities in Ligonier, PA where he joyfully and faithfully served until the time of his death.

Imre met the love of his life, Magdalene (Baba) J. Ujvagi, and they married in 1980 in Toledo, OH. They were happily married for 37 years and together lovingly raised five children.

Imre is survived by his wife, Baba and his children, Sára (Jeff), Magdi (Jose), Juli (Dylan), Gitti (Brian), and Imre. Survivors also include his sisters, Lillian Bertalan (Dr. Michael De Petrillo) and M. Sarah Bertalan, and five grandchildren, Vince, Alma, János, Jaxson, and Mateo. Imre was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret Kosa Bertalan and the Rev. Imre G. Bertalan.

Imre touched many lives with his gentle and encouraging demeanor. He will be greatly missed by all who were blessed to know him. Those who sought his counsel in times of stress or trouble will always remember the comfort of hearing him say, "Everything will be alright."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. in Calvin United Church of Christ, Toledo, on September 23, 2017 where the family will greet friends beginning at 9 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Bethlen Communities, Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Calvin United Church of Christ, or the Hungarian Club of Toledo, Ohio. Assisting with arrangements by Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home (

+ Calvin United Church of Christ, 1946 Bakewell Street, Toledo, Ohio 43605,   419-691-3033

+ Calvin Synod, C/O Rt. Rev. Koloman K. Ludwig, General Secretary, 7319 Tapper Avenue, Hammond, Indiana 46324, 219-931-4321,

Contact: Dr. Frank Wright, 954-334-4343,

ARDEN, N.C., Sept. 7, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- Evangelism Explosion International today announced the transfer of its Capitol Hill-based evangelism and Christian Statesmanship outreach, the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship (CCS), to its sister ministry, Coral Ridge Ministries Media (CRMM), the parent organization of D. James Kennedy Ministries.

The organizational realignment, jointly approved by the Boards of Evangelism Explosion and CRMM—organizations founded by the late D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.—takes place after a detailed review into how best to preserve, expand and amplify the Center for Christian Statesmanship's historic mission of training future generations of Christian statesmen.

"We've always had the welfare of the Center for Christian Statesmanship at heart," said Dr. John B. Sorensen, President of EE. "Because the mission of CCS is so critically important to the welfare of our nation," he added, "we undertook an extensive examination of what leadership structure, what organizational structure, would best serve CCS's future ministry prospects on Capitol Hill. The boards of both EE and CRMM concurred that those prospects would be best served back under CRMM."

Established in 1995 by CRMM, the Center for Christian Statesmanship is a Capitol Hill-based Christian outreach engaged in training and equipping present and future political leaders in evangelism and statesmanship. It came under the organizational umbrella of EE in 2007.

Dr. Frank Wright, Chief Executive Officer of CRMM, who served as the founding Executive Director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship, endorsed the move and praised EE's stewardship of CCS since 2007:

"Each of the many ministries founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy have a profound sense of being part of a family of outreaches that were an expression of Dr. Kennedy's love for Christ and his love for America. Nowhere was that family understanding better expressed than when Evangelism Explosion, at a point of great need, assumed a leadership responsibility for the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship. For the last ten years, under its visionary president Dr. John Sorensen, EE has faithfully and diligently upheld Dr. Kennedy's vision of being a powerful witness for Christ and equipping present and future statesmen."

New CCS Outreach to Dramatically Expand Mission

The organizational transition comes at a time when the Center for Christian Statesmanship embarks on an ambitious new phase of ministry engagement. The forthcoming launch of the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Leadership (CCL), a new CCS outreach, will dramatically expand the historic mission of CCS to train the next generation of Christian statesmen. The new Center for Christian Leadership, Dr. Wright explained, seeks to train 300 leaders per year for each of the next 10 years.

"The Center for Christian Leadership will address the deficit of preparation for Biblical cultural engagement—especially for leadership service in government and the public policy arena," Wright said. "Its training programs will prepare and equip men and women who have a wholehearted commitment to serve Christ by engaging the influential institutions of culture with a well-grounded Biblical world and life view."

Looking to a new era of cultural engagement, the Center for Christian Leadership is led by its president Dr. Linda W. Smith, with the Honorable John Hostettler continuing as Senior Executive Director. Dr. Sorensen will have a continuing relationship with the Center for Christian Statesmanship, serving as a CCL faculty member and as Chairman of the CCS Board of Advisors.

"I am thrilled at God's providence in providing this new (old) home for CCS," said Dr. Sorensen. "I believe that under the wise and seasoned leadership of Dr. Wright and the CRMM Board, the impact of CCS in equipping leaders to share Jesus and bring the mind of Christ to American culture will only expand and grow. And for that I thank God."

+ Evangelism Explosion, 10 Misty Valley Parkway, Arden, North Carolina 28704, 888-567-3543, Fax: 828-687-7494, Contact Page

Date: Friday, 8 September 2017

Author: Rev. David M Blunt

 (On 31 August 2017, the Western Isles Council approved a planning application for the creation of a mosque in Stornoway,[Isle of Lewis, Scotland]. Following this decision, the Presbytery of the Outer Hebrides issued a press release in which they indicated their concerns regarding this development. The text of the press release is below.)

7 September 2017

Mosque in Stornoway

Last Thursday, the Comhairle granted planning permission for the setting-up of a mosque in the centre of Stornoway. The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Presbytery of the Outer Hebrides regard this as a most unwelcome development. Having made a representation on the matter to the Council prior to the determination of the application, we now wish to state publicly the reasons why we object to the creation of a mosque in Stornoway.

Our main concern is with the religion of Islam itself. If a mosque ever opens, Islam will be able to promote itself in our midst through public worship, despite its beliefs and practices being alien to the religious convictions of the vast majority of our community. Islam is wholly inconsistent with the teaching of the Word of God in Holy Scripture, which is the only rule to direct us. It is opposed to the Christian religion as confessed by the Church historically since apostolic times, and as established by law in our land since the Reformation.

Fundamentally, Islam utterly denies the divine Person and redeeming work of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to satisfy the justice of God, that He might grant forgiveness to sinners. Since Islam has no Saviour, it offers no hope to guilty and hell-deserving sinners, for we cannot save ourselves by our own works. The Bible declares that, having paid the price for the sins of His people, Christ rose triumphantly from the dead, ascended bodily to heaven, and is now seated at God’s right hand. From there He will return to this world at the end of time as the infallible Judge of us all.

Islam is also incompatible with, and indeed a threat to, our religious and civil liberties, as is very evident from the situation which prevails in those countries where it dominates. The oppression of Christians and the reduced status of women under Islam are well-known, as is the willingness of some of its followers to spread its influence by violent means.

It is a sobering fact that in recent years many militant Islamists or ‘jihadists’  have entered European countries under the guise of being refugees and migrants, when their real intention has been to wage war on the West on behalf of their religion; we are witnessing the tragic results of this deception in the form of regular acts of carnage, including in the UK. We have also seen young men born and brought up in our own country who have been radicalised in mosques and have turned against the society which has hosted them.

We stress that we have nothing against individual Muslims, least of all any who have been forced to flee their homelands because of persecution and suffering. Our desire and prayer for those who have made their way to Scotland and other parts of the UK is that they would hear the gospel of Christ and find the way of salvation, coming to know the love, grace and forgiveness of God.

Finally, we urge the Lord’s people to make this situation a matter of earnest prayer, asking the Almighty that in His kindness He will grant that no mosque will ever appear in Stornoway. Man may propose, but God always disposes. Above and beyond this particular issue, we need to plead with the Lord that in His mercy He would enable us to turn from our sinful and foolish course as a nation, and return to Him. Let us take our confidence from the Bible, which says, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).

The Kingship of Christ by David Silvesides

Does Christ’s Kingship have a bearing on domestic, church, and national life?  On how we are governed, witness, and worship? The topic of Christ’s kingship goes to the heart of Christian hope in the present Kingdom and the fullness that will confirm our faith.  This book by Rev. David Silversides will encourage devotion in the service of Christ the King.
The fact that many people either don’t know or understand that there is a Man, the Son of Man, in heaven who is exercising His absolute rule over everything, is astonishing. That many Christians are largely ignorant of the nature, extent, and goals of Jesus’ mediatorial Kingship is surely not healthy, either for the church or the nation. David Silversides knows this Son of Man, and in this booklet he clearly and succinctly outlines Christ’s rule over all things. Reading it will both inform and challenge.

– Andrew Quigley, minister of Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church

In a day when there is such ignorance and neglect of the Kingship of Christ we are deeply indebted to David Silversides for this thorough presentation of the Scriptural teaching. True love for Christ will be seen in submission to His Kingship in every sphere – the individual, the family, the church, and the nation. What is most enlightening and challenging is the way the author shows the extent of its implications in each sphere. May it lead many to cry again ‘Thy Kingdom come’.

– John J. Murray, retired minister of The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)

David Silversides is from Gateshead in the north of England and studied at the Reformed Theological College, Belfast. He has been minister of Loughbrickland Reformed Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland since 1988.

+ RP Global Alliance, 48 North Bridge Street, Airdrie, ML6 6NE Scotland,

+ Covenant Books, 39 Knockbracken Road, Carryduff, Belfast BT8 6SE, Northern Ireland, 44-28-9081-4110, Contact Page

The Trinity Foundation has recently posted its latest Trinity Review, "What Is It to Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?" written by Luke Miner. Mr. Miner raises many important questions about faith / belief and then looks at Scripture to answer those questions. Luke Miner writes at, and the article is taken from his web site and used with permission. Please visit the web site or click on the links to read the latest Trinity Review.

In addition, our latest book, Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark, edited by Doug Douma, is now available as an eBook. It is available for US$10 as a download.

+ The Trinity Foundation, Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692, 423-743-0199, Fax: 423-743-2005,

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

6 August 2017

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


The 2017 13th issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal is scheduled to be ready for mailing in October. The opening editorial and contents are reproduced below. Subscriptions are available at:

From the Editors: When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg 500 years ago, his concerns were clearly soteriological. He brought into question the Pope’s right to remit sins and the ability of indulgences to spring sinful souls from the coffers of purgatory. But his soteriological concerns did not impact just one or a few loci of Christian theology. But they would impact ultimately—and most importantly—liturgical concerns as well. In fact, it is quite impossible to separate Christian doctrine from Christian worship and still be a responsible theologian.

Hughes Oliphint Old, who has just last year passed into his eternal rest, can be credited with having brought renewed awareness of the reform of worship during the time of the Reformation. It may be said that the Reformed branch of the Reformation is responsible for having consistently applied the principles of the Reformation to the area of Christian worship. Dr. Old’s scholarship has shown how the Reformers explored the depths of the ancient church for insight into the nature of New Testament worship. We have a whole new generation of Reformed liturgists now, thanks to the labors of Dr. Old, who are seeking to continue the process of uncovering treasures from the past for rendering the church’s worship today to be more in keeping with the touchstone of Holy Scripture.

For this reason we feature Dr. Old on this year’s cover. We kick off the issue with an original piece by Old on prayer in Strasbourg in the early 16th century, followed by a brief biography of his life and work by his widow, Mary McCraw Old. Dr. Old’s student and friend, Glen Clary, offers a contribution which advances Old’s scholarly legacy on how the Reformed looked to Patristic worship for guiding it in biblical worship. Terry Johnson continues the theme of worship in articulating what a true worship leader is. This part of the articles section is then followed up with a very practical and insightful section containing studies on various 16th century Reformed reformers: Calvin, Bucer, and Oecolampadius. In a day with much confusion about the doctrine of the immanent Trinity, Jim Cassidy provides a piece on the significance of Augustine’s doctrine of the Trinity for today. That is followed by a study on social reform in the RPCNA by Joel Hart. The theme of Calvin’s contribution to the Reformation of worship resumes with contributions by Everett Henes and Timothy Gwin. Our articles section is finally closed out with two essays on Reformed piety, including one by Richard Barcellos on the Sabbath and the other by Nick Willborn on family worship.

As for the rest of this issue, Reviews & Responses presents a number of reviews in a nearly thirty pages section (see titles below), which we trust will be of interest. The issue closes out with our regular recurring departments. In Psallo, Todd Ruddell presents a rendering of Psalm 87. In Antiquary Chris Coldwell and Matthew Vogan present background and details on the exciting discovery of manuscripts spread across several institutions, containing 228 sermons on the Book of Song of Solomon. These sermons were preached in 1651–1654 by James Durham (1623–1658) at the beginning of his ministry in the Glasgow cathedral Kirk. For In Translatiōne, we continue our custom of presenting short to medium length first time translations into English of material of interest to Confessional Presbyterians. This year’s entry is a translation by David C. Noe of two important letters which John Calvin wrote to the ministers of the Reformed church in Montbéliard. The church there was facing the forced imposition of Lutheran worship practices by the civil authorities, including the reinstitution of a number of the old holy days of the church calendar which that church had rejected at its founding. A helpful background introduction covering Calvin’s view of such observances is provided by Chris Coldwell.

Worship is the most important thing a Christian does. If the Reformation was only about reforming our doctrine of justification—as absolutely important as that is—then the Reformation would only have been a whiff rather than a raging firestorm that spread through Europe and beyond, changing the world forever. But Dr. Old has taught us that real and abiding significance of the Reformation takes place in our worship services. In a day and age of fog machines, praise bands and offertory ballet performances, that is no insignificant thing. For these reasons, the editors of The Confessional Presbyterian journal are happy to present this issue in honor of 500 years of being Reformed according to the Scriptures.

The Editors--


3. Daily Prayer in the Reformed Church Of Strasbourg, 1525–1530. By Hughes Oliphant Old
12. Hughes Oliphant Old. By Mary McCaw Old
16. According to the Custom of the Ancient Church: Recovering the Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship. By Glen J. Clary
31. Those Who Lead Worship. By Terry L. Johnson
45. Calvin the Pastor. By Ian Hamilton
50. John Calvin’s Pastoral Theology: An Explanatory Outline. By Marcus J. Serven
67. John Calvin on the Fall and the Imago Dei. By Barry Waugh
81. Martin Bucer’s Eucharistic Development. By Brian H. Nicholson
89. Johannes Oecolampadius: Exposition of Isaiah 53. By Diane Poythress
97. Secundum Substantiam and Relatiuum in Augustine’s De Trinitate: Getting the Trinity Right Then and Now. By James J. Cassidy
109. The Doctrine and Practice of Social Reform in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America: 1930–1945. By Joel Hart
121. Less Outward Glory: An Examination of Calvin’s Reformation of Worship. By Everett A. Henes
129. Let the Families of the Lord Give Praise! Calvin’s Piety of the Psalms as Prayer-Praise Generational Discipleship. By Timothy J. Gwin
145. “A Sabbath rest for the people of God”: An Exegetical Study of Hebrews 4:9–10. By Richard C. Barcellos
160. Family Religion: Adoption in the Reformation Tradition: An Essential Element of the Gospel Message. By C. N. Willborn

167 Reviews & Responses: Ottomar Cypris, Martin Bucer’s Ground and Reason: A Commentary and Translation (Walter L. Taylor) 167 -- Matthew Barrett (ed.), Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary (Harrison Perkins) 171 -- Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, 5 volumes (Lane Keister) 174 -- Frank J. Smith (ed.), Religion and Politics in America: An Encyclopedia of Church and State in American Life (Benjamin P. Glaser) 179 -- Jonathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1–11 (Wes Bredenhof) 181 -- John Witte, Jr. and Robert M. Kingdon, Sex, Marriage, and Family in John Calvin’s Geneva: Volume 1, Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage (Frank J. Smith) 183 -- Doug J. Douma, The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark (Wayne Sparkman) -- Chad B. Van Dixhoorn, God’s Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly and the Reformation of the English Pulpit, 1643–1653 (Jeffrey C. Waddington) --

Psallo: Psalm 87:1–7
In Translatiōne: John Calvin’s Letters to the Ministers of Montbéliard (1543–1544): The Genevan Reformer’s Advice and Views of the Liturgical Calendar
Antiquary: The James Durham MS III: James Durham’s 228 Sermons on Song of Solomon 2–8

+ The Confessional Presbyterian, Post Office Box 141084, Dallas, Texas 75214

A 3 September 2017 The Tennessee Star article by Wendy Wilson titled “Conservative Presbyterian Seminary in St. Louis to Hold Conference Featuring Leftist Teachings on Race” reports that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)’s Covenant Theological Seminary on 1-2 September 2017 is hosting the Leadership Development Resource Weekend “organized mostly by African Americans who are asking white attendees to recognize that their participation “means hearing, repenting and listening more than you speak.””

Whites attendees are expected to attend a one-hour seminar for “intensive training in anti-racism,” according to guidance for whites on the conference website.

The conference website includes a letter from Joel Littlepage, a white North Carolina pastor, to his “white brothers and sisters” in which he explains, “For whites, our position as majority-culture citizens of America grants us privilege and safety that people of color are not afforded. It is good and wise that we have time together, as white people, to have honest discussion and explore the ways that we can expose our own biases and be effective in the fight for racial justice.”

The 2016 conference director was Michelle Higgins, a Black Lives Matter activist who told Religion News Service that “the decentralized movement of Black Lives Matter allows local pastors or local groups to use the phrase to mean all black people are despised systemically in such a way that our country does not hesitate to refuse them proper health care, quality education or fairness in the face of potential arrest.”

Ms. Wilson points out that the PCA 2016 General Assembly chose as moderator Alexander Jun, a progressive academic and co-author of a new book titled White Out: Understanding White Privilege and Dominance in the Modern Age.

+ The Tennessee Star, 2000 Mallory Lane, Suite 103-538, Franklin, Tennessee 37067, 615-538-8526,

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001,

+ Covenant Theological Seminary, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, Missouri  63141, 314-434-4044, Fax: 314-434-4819,

LOUISVILLE – First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York is hosting a two-day symposium on the challenges facing LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers. The church, working alongside several ministries within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will host the gathering entitled “Love Welcome” on Oct. 20–21.

“The symposium will help equip congregations and pastors who wish to be in ministry with LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers and help them understand all of the complex systems they go through,” said Susan Krehbiel, catalyst for Refugees and Asylum with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. “This also gives attendees the opportunity to talk with each other about what this ministry looks like.”

The 221st (2014) General Assembly of the PC(USA) adopted a resolution entitled “the Global Crisis for LGBT People and their Families: A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Response.” The resolution acknowledges that homosexuality is illegal in 81 countries as well as the persecution that people are facing around the world.

“The conference began as a conversation we had with First Presbyterian Church, and as we talked, we began discussing how this issue intersects with so many ministries within the national church including PDA, the Office of Immigration Issues and Office of Public Witness,” said Ryan Smith, director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. “I think the church has spoken very clearly on the need to take action in support of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers and this conference is one way to do that.”

Krehbiel says the persecution doesn’t end when the refugees cross U.S. borders.

“We have found that LGBT persons are at much higher risk of violence in detention centers, not only by guards and detention employees, but also from other detainees,” said Krehbiel. “We’ve heard where some individuals have been placed in solitary confinement for their own protection. The risk of being traumatized is all the higher because not everyone is so welcoming and accepting.”

The symposium will include panel discussions on specific needs of the LGBT community currently in detention as well as testimonials from individuals who have faced persecution in their own countries.

“We’ll also look at physical and mental health challenges and the PC(USA)’s response nationally and globally,” said Smith. “It is important for pastors and congregational leaders to be aware of all of the challenges faced both here and abroad.”

“We are thankful for the leadership of First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York for hosting as well as being the lead organizer of this event,” said Krehbiel. “This kind of event offers a good opportunity for us to engage at the congregational level. Our plan is to use the conference to produce new resources so that those who can’t attend will have new tools that will be useful in ministering to the needs of LGBT persons.”


In addition to First Presbyterian Church, the symposium is sponsored by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Office of Public Witness, Office of Immigration Issues, the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and More Light Presbyterians. Participating organizations include the Organization for Refugee, Asylum and Migration (ORAM), Brooklyn Community Pride Center and International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).  The registration cost is $50.

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

By Chuck Wilson
Emblematic of the failure of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to thrive and grow in a significant manner in the last 40 years is Erskine College and Seminary.

For more than forty years, I have watched and asked, Why? Why have we not experienced significant growth? Why has God withheld His blessing from both the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and Erskine?

For me at seventy-one, the answer is proverbially “a day late and a dollar short.” My analysis is complex and multifaceted; nevertheless, there is one aspect which is a common thread impacting all parts of the story. It is the point I will emphasize: Associate Reformed Presbyterians are uncertain of our brand.

For more than forty years, this has been the mantra at Erskine: “WE NEED TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY.” Publicly, we have written and talked about our evangelical, Reformed, and Associate Reformed Presbyterian heritage, but it was window-dressing, and we did not take it seriously. At Erskine, we attempted to be everything to everybody and expected everyone to embrace us. Few did! Few were satisfied with a bag of musty air. Sad to say, the folks at Erskine were unwilling to be identified as Associate Reformed Presbyterian.

For more than forty years, this has also been the mantra of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. We have often asked, “How can we be Associate Reformed Presbyterians without saying we are Associate Reformed Presbyterian? Don’t you know the present generation hates labels? How can we present ourselves as everything to everybody, offending none, so that everyone comes to us?” Some other ways to put it: (1) How can we be Christian without offending anyone? (2) How can we be Reformed without being distinctive? (3) How can we evangelize without saying Jesus is the only Savior of sinners? and (4) How can we point people to Christ without going to people?

Attempting to be everything to everybody, we discovered few wanted a bag of musty air.

Mulling over our predicament, I have four proposals.

First Proposal – Revisioning Ordination of Ministers

My first proposal involves our presbyteries and how we ordain men to ministry.

When we examine a candidate for ordination, the examination is a pro forma exercise in theological studies. We are interested in the books the man has read. That is, has he learned the pronunciation of the sacred shibboleths? Now, let no one say I am non-theological or anti-intellectual. Indeed, I have a reputation for being theologically and intellectually demanding. I expect a candidate for the ministry to be well-read and conversant in our theology. However, as one who has spent a lifetime as a church planter, pastor, and pastor-theologian, I wonder why we are often remiss to ask questions like these: (1) On a regular basis, do you make opportunities to engage people in conversations on how to become a Christian? (2) Have you ever been blessed to lead someone to a saving knowledge of Christ (and, if so, share the story with us!)? (3) As an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, how do you expect to advance our brand of Associate Reformed Presbyterianism? and (4) If you have never actively engaged in the activities of evangelism or thought about advancing the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, what makes you think you want to be a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church?

In the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (as is the case with all other Presbyterian denominations of which I am acquainted), the path to minister status involves three steps: candidate, licentiate, and minister. A candidate is one who is “under care” of his presbytery as he completes formal studies (usually seminary). A licentiate is one who has undergone and successfully passed an examination and been authorized to preach. Obviously, the next step is ordination which means an individual has successfully completed his formal studies, successfully passed the presbytery’s exams, and has a call to a congregation (or a work approved by the presbytery).

In the past, there was distance between licensure and ordination. Today, in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, licensure and ordination usually occur simultaneously.

I propose we think out-of-the-box. I propose we return to the past when licensure and ordination were distinct. I propose candidates be (1) given specific training in church planting, (2) licensed to preach, and (3) authorized to go to a community for the purpose of gathering and organizing a congregation. I propose a New Testament model. The presbytery in Jerusalem sent Paul and Barnabas out to preach and plant congregations.

Well, why not do this? According to missiologists, ours is a post-Christian era which is similar to the pre-Christian era of the Apostolic Church. Should not the model of Acts inform us how we do church? The traditional idea of preparing pastors to maintain existing congregations is a formula for decline and death. We have bought into and practiced this model of Nineteenth Century  American evangelical churchism, and we are declining and dying in this post-Christian era. And this predicament is not unique to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church; it is Presbyterianism in general in the United States as I view the landscape.

Our seminaries today turn out men who are in love with books, theology, and the past. We need men who are in love with Christ and His Church. We need men who long to see the resurgence of the Church in our day. We need men who are prepared to give their lives in gathering congregations and advancing the brand under which we fly — the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

The ministry is not easy! I do not think it is meant to be easy! A man, after he has been licensed and commissioned by his presbytery, should be sent out to gather a congregation and return to his presbytery with a congregation as evidence of his calling, his fitness, and need to be ordained. We are stuck in the rut of Nineteenth Century maintenance instead of New Testament vision and optimism.

A New Testament model gathers and advances the church of the Lord Jesus and extends the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to new places. Some will complain this is a drastic and unreasonable model. Well, of course! Have you not noticed that legitimate Christianity is hard and the claims of Christ on one’s life are unreasonable?

I am weary of hearing the following story. “Pastor Jim is a good man. He’s a good preacher. He has a beautiful family. But, Chuck, what was he taught in seminary? He thinks his work as a pastor is preaching on Sunday, doing a bulletin, and sitting in his office reading books and waiting for people to come to him. He will visit our people in the hospital, and he will visit us occasionally, but he doesn’t know how to reach out to unchurched people.”

The model I propose is radical and upsetting to the status quo. However, the neo-pagan culture in which we live calls for a thorough shift in our understanding of ministry. The ministry is not for the soft, the lazy, the mediocre, and the uncertain. If a candidate is not prepared to have his work consume his life, he needs to find another line of work. If he is not prepared to pour himself into advancing the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, he needs another vocation. In the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, we need bold, brave, and aggressive men for the ministry. Men who are willing to live and work apostolically in gathering congregations and promoting the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Those unwilling to live such a ministry do not need to apply!


A corollary to the above goes like this: many of us are apologetic for our brand.

Years ago when I worked for Goodyear in Florida, my store sold General Electric and Westinghouse appliances and other miscellaneous items; however my main task (and the task by which I was measured) was selling Goodyear tires. Goodyear was our brand. I was a Goodyear man.

Immediately, I bought and mounted a set of Goodyear tires on my wife’s car and a set for my car. When I worked for Goodyear, I rode on Goodyear rubber with the word “Goodyear” etched in large and bold white letters on the sidewalls.

Goodyear wanted me to know who our competitors were, so I was sent to seminars where I learned about our competitors’ tires in order for me to inform my customers why Goodyear tires were a significantly better buy.

In those days, I lived, breathed, and ate Goodyear tires. I did very well. Because of my savings while at Goodyear, I was able to attend seminary without much financial worry.

I never apologized for Goodyear tires! They were the best! I knew they were the best tires on the road, and I only sold the best!

I have spent my ministry in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. I am not a legacy Associate Reformed Presbyterian. After searching, I became an Associate Reformed Presbyterian by choice; I could not find a better Presbyterian denomination. In active ministry, I lived, breathed, ate, promoted, and advanced the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and nothing has changed.

Are there other evangelical Christian denomination? Of course! However, I am not what they are; I am Associate Reformed Presbyterian — and Associate Reformed Presbyterian is my brand.

Too many of us have an inferiority complex denominationally. Too many apologize because we are small. Too many apologize because we are too conservative. Too many apologize because we once drifted left theologically. Too many apologize because our “Associate Reformed” name is confusing to some who are new to us. Too many apologize because we are not like the “bells and whistles” church down the road.

What is the matter with those who apologize? Did they not know who we are when they came to us? Are they not convinced Associate Reformed Presbyterian is their brand? Did they come to us just for a job and with no intentions of embracing our brand and promoting it? Well, to those who come to us looking for a job: we are looking for those who desire to embrace a vision, so don’t apply!

I am reminded of something I heard a retired Marine say: “we Marines don’t worry about what we don’t have; we get the job done with what we do have!”

Like the retired Marine says: don’t tell me what you don’t have to get the job done; use what you have and get the job done!

Second Proposal – Reviewing Church Attendance in Greenville

Denominational administrators living in Greenville should be expected by their respective boards to support an Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation in the greater Greenville area with their attendance when they are not out-of-town conducting business. If the members of Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations provide the funds which support the salaries of our denominational administrators, it is not too much for them to support our brand. They do not work for the PCA, the Baptists, or any other church group; they are employed to advance the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in all aspects of their lives. If they cannot do this, they should seek other employment.

Now, before someone claims my proposal is unreasonable, I am not referring to secretaries and janitors. I am speaking of key personnel who are entrusted with our identity. If they do not embrace our brand in their local church life, how can they advance our identity nationally?

I am aware the number of Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations in the Greenville area is not large. I also know needs vary in families. I am not unsympathetic to those with extenuating circumstances. However, as a general rule, it is not too much to expect denominational executives to support a congregation of the denomination of which they are employed.

If one cannot find an existing congregation where he and his family are comfortable, let me suggest an option: the population of greater Greenville is large and growing at over 6000 people per month. I do not think anyone is going to complain Greenville is overly represented with Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations. If one is not satisfied with the present options, let him get busy and advance our brand by planting a new congregation. I am willing to bet Second Presbytery is prepared to support such an effort!

Third Proposal – Promoting Brand Loyalty at Erskine

Because the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and Erskine College and Seminary are closely connected, in the future, Erskine must promote the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Only a fully orbed embracing of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church fulfills the mission.

Now, before someone complains, I am not advocating a church-test for cooks, janitors, secretaries, yard-care employees, and the like!

However, why would we employ administrators and professors who are not Associate Reformed Presbyterian or who are unwilling to become Associate Reformed Presbyterian? How does such a practice further the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church?

Some will complain that if we took such a stance we would not be able to find qualified people to fill positions. Listen, there are more PhDs today than there are laboratory rats!

Part of the reason for the nearly 70 year conflict between Erskine and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church is the unwillingness of Erskine to fully embrace the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the unwillingness of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to demand that Erskine embrace the brand of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

We have falsely bought the notion Erskine College is only about undergraduate education for everyone and anyone, and we must become all things to all people.

We have falsely bought the notion Erskine Seminary is only about seminary education for everyone and anyone, and we must become all thing to all people.

Institutionally, we have falsely bought the notion Erskine is about providing jobs for professional academics — and any ole PhD will do.

Erskine, as the educational agency of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, is about the vision of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian in undergraduate and seminary education. Those students (Associate Reformed Presbyterians and non-Associate Reformed Presbyterians) who want to join us in our vision and values are welcome. Those administrators and professors who are willing to embrace our vision and values and join us as Associate Reformed Presbyterians in advancing our mission are also welcome.

It is time for us to cease being a haven for the theological liberals, the philosophical nincompoops, and the academic mediocre who only want a job, despise our vision, loathe the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and refuse to be one of us. We have tolerated behavior which has not promoted our brand, and it is time we ceased doing that which hinders our brand in Due West.

Fourth Proposal – Taking Associate Reformed Presbyterianism to the World

My fourth proposal asks a question: what is wrong with being Associate Reformed Presbyterian?

In the past, Presbyterian denominations have successfully planted Presbyterianism throughout the world in missionary endeavors. I highlight a few of our successes: (1) the old Northern Presbyterians, the PCUS, and Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Mexico; (2) the old PCUS in Brazil; (3) the Church of Scotland in Kenya; (4) the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in Malawi; (5) the old Northern Presbyterian Church and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Korea; (6) various Presbyterian denominations in India, and (7) the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pakistan.

Today, I do not see this taking place in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Why are we no longer focusing on advancing our brand in our missionary endeavors?

Why do we ask Associate Reformed Presbyterians to support brands other than ours? If our brand is worthy of advancing in the United States and Canada, why is our brand not worthy of planting in other locations today? If it is not appropriate to plant Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations in places of missionary effort, why do we keep our brand here?

As an Associate Reformed Presbyterian, I am interested in advancing one brand: the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (throughout the United States and around the world). Certainly, I do not think the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church is the only Christian denomination, but Associate Reformed Presbyterian is the banner under which I lived and worked as a Christian minister, and it is the brand I intend to support.

Concluding Comments

Obviously, I am aware my proposals are controversial and, in some aspects, stringent. They are intended to provoke thought and discussion.

Obviously, I am also aware I have taken aim at sacred cows. However, what we have done in the past has failed and is continuing to fail, and we all know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. What do you propose?

+ Erskine College and Theological Seminary, 2 Washington Street, Due West, South Carolina 29639, 864-379-2131, Fax: 864-379-2167,

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive Suite 127, Greenville, South Carolina 29607, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

Thursday, August 31, 2017

29 August 2017

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive Suite 127, Greenville, South Carolina 29607, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

+ The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 607 North Easton Road, Building E, Box P, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania 19090, 215-830-0900, Fax: 215-830-0350

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001,

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

[Editor’s Note: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) Associate Professor of New Testament Robert A.J. Gagnon PhD is no longer teaching at PTS. The seminary released the following announcement concerning Dr. Gagnon’s departure:

"Dr. Rob Gagnon will be leaving Pittsburgh Theological Seminary effective August 21, 2017. Dr. Gagnon has been a part of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary since 1994, serving since 2002 as Associate Professor of New Testament. The administration at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Dr. Robert Gagnon have mutually agreed to end their relationship. We appreciate the contributions Professor Gagnon has made to our students and the community during his time here and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Dr. Gagnon is an outspoken proponent of the biblical perspective on marriage and sexuality, and has published many books and articles on the subject (]

Dr. Gagnon published the following Facebook article on 25 August 2017:

Here is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announcement of my departure from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

(PPG is a politically leftwing paper and fully supportive of the LGBT agenda, though the article offers some balance given that bias.) It is not surprising, perhaps, that the first person cited for a reaction would be Janet Edwards, a self-professed "bisexual minister" (so several web posts by her) who has been virulent in her opposition to me for well over a decade. She supports what Jesus and the writers of Scripture would have regarded as the enslavement of persons with same-sex attractions and gender-identity confusion to the sinful impulses of their flesh (see Paul's "handing over" remark in Romans 1:24; compare 6:19). Expecting her to give me a fair and decent appraisal is somewhat like expecting a Gnostic to give a fair and decent appraisal of an orthodox Christian.

Since her slander is public, it is necessary for me to note publicly certain facts. She conducted one or more same-sex marriage ceremonies (or equivalent) before it was permissible in the PCUSA to do so and was tried in the Pittsburgh Presbytery once for said action, though something akin to a jury nullification took place (it was ruled that she could not have "married" said persons because same-sex "marriage" was not recognized at the time as marriage in the PCUSA!). It was a mistake on my part many years ago to ever allow this "LGBTQ" zealot to audit a course with me, even an introductory Greek class (so much for trying to be conciliatory), since she was committed to misrepresenting me.

In an introductory Greek class I rarely, if ever, speak about the issue of homosexuality; evaluations for these classes through the years will bear me out. But in Edwards' thinking any mention of the issue from a biblical-orthodox perspective would be a heinous (and thus in her mind "often"-occurring) offense. So obsessed was Edwards that, after the class was over, she arranged a meeting with me, in which she was verbally abusive, then followed up with verbally abusive letters to me. Even former student Dwain Lee, now in a same-sex marriage, acknowledges in the Post-Gazette article my appropriate conduct in the classroom.

Edwards states, "“It was simply not healthy to interact with him and take a course with him.” Let it be known that I am (and have always been) committed in the classroom to making all students safe from any personal disrespect and free at all times to express their own views. I always underscore, repeatedly when discussing "controversial" issues (such as presenting the biblical evidence for the historic-orthodox Christian position on, say, substitutionary atonement or the male-female foundational prerequisite for sexual ethics), that students would never be graded down for disagreeing with me. (When I was a Masters student at Harvard Divinity School in the 1980s I occasionally encountered an instructor who belittled my views or graded me down for said views. I would never repeat that injustice to any student who disagreed with me.)

As a general practice, I request only that students (whether orthodox or not) ought to base their claims about what Jesus or any writer of Scripture allegedly believed (or did not believe) on arguments documented from Scripture assessed in its historical and literary context. Hypothetically speaking, it is not enough to assert solely on the grounds of one's own ideological preferences that "Paul did not believe that Christ died to make amends for human sin" or "Jesus did not believe in a male-female requirement for marriage." One has to make a case. Otherwise one's position is entirely circular: Jesus or Paul can't have believed such and such because this belief is offensive to me.

This is standard procedure for good pedagogical instruction, necessary in order to develop critical thinking in students. Again, taking up the hypothetical examples cited above, I do not believe the safety of a student in the classroom is involved when a Christian professor makes a strong case, after weighing the pro- and con-arguments, that the early church regarded belief in Christ's amends-making death ("Christ died for our sins") as essential to the self-definition of Christians. This is, after all, an empirically verifiable historical position.

Again, hypothetically: Nor can a student rightly complain of being made to feel unsafe if the professor makes a strong case that, historically speaking, Jesus, the apostolic witness to Jesus, and the Old Testament witness foreshadowing him rejected every and any form of same-sex intercourse as abhorrent, comparable in depth of severity to an adult having consensual intercourse with a parent. This too is an empirically verifiable historical position.

Nor does a Christian professor's expression of agreement with such an overwhelming biblical witness, consistent with historic affirmations of the church about essential matters of the faith, create an unsafe learning environment in a seminary classroom. Liberal professors in seminary classrooms throughout the country regularly tell "conservative" students, for example, that substitutionary atonement is not supported in Scripture and/or theologically indefensible; or that Jesus and the writers of Scripture did not condemn "committed" same-sex relations (even that it is hateful to disapprove of such relationships). This has been happening for decades without any issue being raised about making "conservatives" feel unsafe.

I make these comments without any reference to the viewpoints held or practices engaged in by the administration, faculty, and staff at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I reflect merely on my own personal views and practices as regards the question of safety in the classroom.

Incidentally, pertaining to Edwards' claim, I taught six courses this past year at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Every single student evaluation was positive.

+ Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 616 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206, 412-362-5610, Fax: 412-363-3260

+ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222, 412-263-1100

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005