Wednesday, February 4, 2015

4 February 2015

"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


A 29 January 2015 article by Czarina Ong titled “ISIS Hacks Westminster Presbyterian Church's Website” reports that on 29 January 2015 the website of Westminster Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) of Johnson City, Tennessee was hacked by ISIS or its sympathizers and modified to contain the words “I love ISIS and Jihad”, a violent video, and vulgar language.

The websites of other churches and entities using the same Internet service provider were hacked in a similar manner.

+WATE, 1306 North Broadway Street, Knoxville, Tennessee 37917, 865-637-6666, Fax: 865-525-4091, Contact Page

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

A 4 February 2015 The Scotsman article titled “Church Leader: Terror Law Should Focus on Islam” reports that Free Church of Scotland moderator elect the Rev. David Robertson is speaking out against the provision in the proposed U.K. Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill that would require all University speakers to be pre-vetted by submitting two weeks prior to the scheduled event a transcript of the speech and any graphics to the authorities.

Robertson said:

“Never mind the staff time and paper trails this will involve, these plans are a dangerous and repressive attack on freedom of speech and civil liberties.

“To require all visiting speakers to submit their talks a fortnight in advance so they can be vetted against political correctness is Big Brother Orwellian stuff.

“The UK government has decided to impose these measures because of the threat from Islamic extremists, so why not focus on that threat?

“The reason is that that would be perceived to be discriminatory, so they have decided to lump everyone together and suppress us all….

“Although it is designed to catch terrorist activity, we all know that it won’t stop there.

“The guidelines are so broad that they could easily be abused by secular or religious people so that events and/or speakers are either censored or banned because officials don’t happen to like them or simply disagree with they are intending to say.

“This would open the door to the curtailment of freedom of speech and the facilitation of intolerance….
“When the state starts getting involved in what is and is not acceptable for Christian worship a very big line in the sand has been crossed and it is simply not on.

“Christian teachings have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. This is an erosion too far. Not only for Christians but for many other groups as well, including moderate Muslims….

“The Free Church of Scotland’s historic founding principle is that it is free from government interference.

“I swore a vow to ‘uphold the spirituality and freedom of the Church of Christ, with Christ as her head and His Word as her only standard’. I intend to keep that vow.

“There is no chance I will be submitting any sermon or talk to any government or university official for prior approval.”

+ The Scotsman, Barclay House, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS, Scotland, 131-620-8620

+ Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, The Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2LS, 0131-226-5286, Fax: 0131-220-0597,

Where has the time gone? Five years ago we were on the cusp of the “Snow” Synod. It was an unprecedented event. It was a “called” meeting of our synod to deal with nagging and longstanding problems at Erskine College & Seminary — problems which are still nagging and longstanding.

At the 2009 meeting of General Synod, an investigatory commission was appointed to investigate the goings on at Erskine. The members of the commission asked then-Moderator Dick de Witt to issue a call for a special meeting of General Synod to deal with their findings. Many cried “Foul!” and accused the Moderator’s Commission and Moderator de Witt of bias. Notwithstanding, Moderator de Witt issued a call for a called meeting of synod. Some said our presbyteries would not vote to approve the meeting. Some said the unpredictable weather in western North Carolina would prevent a meeting. Every session of the meeting began with a quorum count. In spite of the snow and the naysayers, the “Snow” Synod occurred. Now, I think, is a good time to look back, remember, and assess this unique event in the life of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Now is a good time to ask this question: what does it mean to the future of Erskine College & Seminary and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church?

A Short Summary of the Findings of the “Snow” Synod

Findings regarding General Synod’s purposes and objectives for Erskine College & Seminary:

The commission found that in the past 30-plus years the General Synod had been clear in delivering its purposes and objectives for Erskine College & Seminary to both the board and administration. Implied in the nine examples used by the commissioners was the studied unwillingness of both past boards and administrations to follow or apply synod’s purposes and objectives.

Findings regarding the board:
The board was too large (with 30 members, four ex officio members, and 23 advisory members).
Often board members failed to be competent, engaged, and independent.
The bylaw that 50% of the board members had to be Erskine College or Seminary graduates furthered a lack of independence.
A climate of secrecy hindered the effectiveness of the board.
A dominant administration hindered board oversight in establishing policy and setting guidelines. The commission found that there were “a number of financial and administrative failures which underscore the lack of oversight by the Board.”
The commission found that “the guiding principles of the Philosophy of Christian Higher Education . . . [had] not been satisfied. . . .”

That the board downsize to 16 members; and that the bylaws be aligned “with Synod’s Philosophy of Christian Higher Education and Erskine’s current missions statements.” Currently, the board has 25 members and two ex officio members. According to the 2014 Minutes of Synod, there are also 23 advisory members who meet with the board at the Thursday meetings.
That the board be dismissed and replaced with an interim board. Before this could be implemented, lawsuits were filed, an injunction was obtained, and the result was a long, expensive, and bitter legal struggle.
That the nominating process be revised.
Criteria for trustees: that trustees be “competent, engaged, and independent”; “subscribe to the mission of Erskine College and Seminary”; and “subscribe to Synod’s definition of an evangelical Christian.”

The ominous warning:

At the rate of the draw on the Erskine endowment, Erskine College & Seminary could not be sustained and was heading to a financial collapse.


As an Erskine board member from 1998 to 2004, the most entertaining (and pitifully sad) moment of the “Snow” Synod was former President Randy Ruble’s explanation of why a million dollars was taken from a designated fund and used in a construction project. If I remember correctly, he said it was not a million dollars, but a mere $900,000, and the borrowed funds would be repaid when possible. Well, the monies were borrowed about 2000 when I was on the board, and, to my knowledge, the monies have not been returned to the fund from which they were drawn. I do not expect to live long enough to see these monies repaid, and the wishes of the donor honored.

From where I sit, this is what I see: (1) the Erskine administration continues in a passive-aggressive resistance to synod’s purposes and objectives for Erskine College & Seminary; (2) the downsizing of the board was accomplished and bylaws have been rewritten — but at a terrible cost; (3) the competency, engagement, and independence of board members is still not apparent to all; (4) presently, the mission and values of Erskine are not clearly promoted; instead, there is pleading, saying, “Don’t quibble with us about mission and values, TRUST US, for, if you don’t help us now, Erskine will die and we lose our jobs!”; (5) the climate of secrecy continues; (6) the financial mismanagement of the endowment has resulted in Erskine College & Seminary being placed on probation; and (7) the past five years have been hard for Erskine College & Seminary as the college has lost her long and noble academic reputation as an outstanding liberal arts college, and the seminary has been reduced to being sustained by the Army’s MEDCOM DMin program.

Probation Status

If you have not heard, Erskine College & Seminary is now on probation status with SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the academic accrediting association). All the violations other than financial have been addressed. Nonetheless, it remains astounding that those violations occurred and had to be remedied. How is it that the “paper work” of surveys, assessments, and reports being made on time was not addressed by academics who have earned advanced degrees that required enormous amounts of “paper work” and deadlines to be met?

As warned and predicted by the members of the Moderator’s commission at the “Snow” Synod, Erskine’s long history of mismanaging the endowment with huge draws in order to buy students has caught up with the administration. A balanced budget with a draw of no more than 5% must be demonstrated by this December. In fact, it must be demonstrated by June for that is when the auditors from SACS arrive. If the auditors are not impressed in June, the December meeting of SACS may see the withdrawal of accreditation by SACS, the end of Federal loans for Erskine students, and, therefore, the end of Erskine. If it were not because President Kooistra had been on the job for only a few months when SACS met last December and because he presented a compelling case for leniency, according to those in the know, Erskine College & Seminary would have lost accreditation last December.

Without a doubt, probation status will hurt in the retention of quality students who plan on attending graduate school. As the father of five children who are college graduates, I would have counseled my children not to attend a school on probation or return to a school on probation.

Obviously, if the folks at Erskine who are charged with recruiting next Fall’s class of Freshmen, if they are transparent about Erskine’s academic status of being on probation with SACS, they will be met with a near unsurmountable task of recruiting students with high academic qualifications and expectations. This year’s Freshman class has a discount rate of near 80% of a $40,000 per year price tag. Erskine College needs $21,500 per student to be viable financially. With the uncertainty of a school on probation, why would anyone want to pay $21,500 to attend Erskine? Now, here is the question: this summer when recruitment numbers are low, will the coaches be sent out to recruit again with permission to inflate the discount rate?

The landscape at the college presently looks like this: (1) about 70% of the students are on some kind of athletic scholarship; (2) the language department at a historically liberal arts college has been closed; (3) the Bible department of a Christian college has been closed with Bible courses and requirements transferred to the seminary campus (in order, I suppose, for some of the seminary’s classrooms to be used); (4) the academic faculty has been hit hard with financial cuts; and (5) the athletic programs have hardly been touched, making the college something like a four year junior college with a year round sport’s camp for marginal athletes who cannot make the cut athletically at other schools.

The spreadsheet below shows SAT scores from 2012 and is most informative as to Erskine’s academic trajectory as compared to other private colleges and universities in South Carolina.

Reading Math Total

North Greenville       680      Furman                670      North Greenville      1350
Furman                      650      North Greenville 670      Furman                     1320
Wofford                    650      Wofford               670      Wofford                    1320
Columbia Bible        620       Presbyterian        600      Columbia Bible         1210
Converse                  600       Anderson             590      Presbyterian              1190
Presbyterian             590       Columbia Bible   590      Anderson                   1178
Anderson                 588        Converse             570      Converse                   1170
Charleston Sth.        570        Erskine                570      Erskine                      1135
Erskine                    565        Charleston Sth.    530      Charleston Sth.          1100
Claflin                     490        Claflin                 490       Claflin                         980

The Seminary’s Demise

As predicted by the commissioners at the “Snow” Synod, the policies of former Executive Vice President of the Seminary Dr. Harvey N. Gaston have lead to the near collapse of the seminary. Five years later, the cuts are deep. Three professors have been informed they will not be retained: Drs. Robbie Bell, Richard Burnett, and Dale Johnson, and the rest are on three-quarters pay. The salary of Dr. Chris Wisdom, the new VP for the seminary, is paid by outside donors. With no attempt to be critical, I do not understand the calculus used by Dr. Kooistra in choosing professors to be retained and not to be retained.

In previous issues of ARPTalk, I have written that presently Erskine Seminary is the “camp girl” for the MEDCOM DMin program for the Army’s chaplains. This is a perilous place to be, for it violates the stated mission of the seminary. Besides, what business does a Christian seminary have in the training of non-Christian military chaplains? Does not the MEDCOM program take the seminary of the ARP Church dangerously close to the charge of syncretism? Do not seminarians worship together, do they not attend chapel services together, do they not partake in communion services together, do they not learn preaching together, and do they not examine worship models together? Yes, I think the word “syncretism,” as harsh as it is, is the correct word for my question.

A year-and-a-half ago, when former Dean Jim Meek argued for the continuance of the MEDCOM program, the only argument he initially brought to the board was the money argument. In discussions, it was pointed out by members of the board that Dr. Meek had established what Erskine Seminary was; the only thing left was bickering with the Army over the price. Then the argument was adjusted to a gospel motif for its presentation at the 2014 meeting of General Synod. The argument articulated was that the MEDCOM program allowed for the presentation of the gospel to non-Christian DMin students. As pointed out on the floor of synod, that argument is farcical and most surely violates the mission. Well, the argument is still farcical and violates the mission. The program is not about Jesus; it is about money.

I like, respect, and pray for wisdom for President Kooistra. Nevertheless, good men often disagree. Therefore, it is disappointing to learn that President Kooistra is for the continuance of the MEDCOM program. Since seminary VP Chris Wisdom is a retired Army chaplain and graduate of the program, it is no surprise that he is for the continuance of the program. However, the question remains: how does this program comply with the stated mission of Erskine Seminary that states Erskine Seminary’s purpose is to train persons for ministry in the CHRISTIAN church and that Erskine Seminary is “FOR CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH”? Has the mission been changed?

The reality is starker. The college Bible department has been moved over to the seminary in order to fill classrooms again, and the MEDCOM program is continued in order to provide the necessary funds to keep the doors open in Due West. Erskine Seminary as it is presently configured is no longer viable in Due West — and, honestly, no longer necessary for the ARP Church, for a shift has taken place and RTS/Charlotte is now the primary seminary of the ARP Church. The great vision, mission, and purpose for Erskine Seminary in Due West is lost. In order to keep the campus open, Erskine Seminary has become a “camp girl.” As an alumnus, this is repulsive to me. It is time for a restart! Like drowning men, Drs. Kooistra, Wisdom, and others are floundering and thrashing about in desperation. The only life raft they see is the MEDCOM program. In my opinion, this is too high a price to live. Is it not a turning away from God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” and is generous to those who trust Him and turning to a pagan king for help who steals from the productive to support those who are unproductive?
Money, Money, Money

In the last few days, I have watched the video Due West of Ordinary and read the 2013-14 Annual Report. With regard to the video, it was very well done. An ordinary story about a small college in Due West, South Carolina, was told in a compelling manner. Old alums spoke of their experiences in Due West and of their love for Erskine. But where is the financial demonstration of their love? With regard to the 2013-14 Annual Report, the report reveals that generally Erskine’s alumni are Due West of love in their financial support of Erskine.

From the 2013-14 Annual Report and according to my count, 1112 college grads in classes from 1930 to 2014 gave something and 96 seminary alums contributed something: College President’s Circle ($10,000 or more), 12; College High Towers Club ($5,000 – $9,999), 13; College Towers Club ($1,000 – $4,999), 121; Seminary President’s Circle, 0; Seminary High Towers Club, 5; and Seminary Towers Club, 8. According to what I have been told, Erskine has about 11,000 grads. The above statistics reveal there were 146 college grads who were willing to contribute $1,000 or more to Erskine College last year and 13 seminary grads were willing to give $1,000 or more to Erskine last year.

From all sources, the total number of President’s Circle donors is 28, the total number of High Towers Club donors is 26, and the total number of Towers Club donors is 170.

Last year the ARP Church contributed $422,000 from General Synod’s funds. Of course, individual congregations, Sunday School classes, circles, and clubs in the ARP Church also contributed. However, using the $422,000 given by General Synod to Erskine, this means that all the 175 congregations in the ARP Church can be classified as Towers Club donors. Now, compare the 175 ARP congregations with the 146 college donors and 13 seminary donors who gave $1,000 or more.

“What’s the point?” you ask. The point is there are 10,000 alums who gave nothing. The point is the $1,000-and-plus donors are the financial blood of an institution like Erskine. The point is the fiction of Erskine alums loving Erskine. There were only 146 Erskine alums who were willing to contribute $1,000 or more last year. There were only 146 alums who were willing to love Erskine with a significant love gift. And for those who want to know, Chuck Wilson is one of the 146.

There is a lesson to be learned here, and it has been lost at Erskine. Loyalty and passion for the vision of Erskine College & Seminary as distinctively Christian cannot be bought by a large discount rate or gained from students who are not Christians. Why would a non-Christian want to support an Erskine that has distinctively Christian values? On the other hand, why would a Christian alum want to support Erskine when he feels Erskine recruiters misrepresented Erskine as a distinctively evangelical Christian college when the college was not that at all? As an alum said, “They played bait-and-switch with me.” Once again, loyalty and passion for a great vision is what produces sacrificial giving in evangelical Christians.

At this point, let me ask this question: what is President Kooistra’s vision for Erskine? I do not know. Why has he not articulated one? Yes, I know he is consumed with the task of raising money to save Erskine. However, as he drives from one speaking engagement to another, could he not take a few moments and frame a few words for a vision? I would like to know the great vision for which I am being asked to give.

I do not blame President Kooistra for reaching out to the alums for money. Most of them were the recipients of large discount rates. However, why has he not reached out to us in the ARP Church? Are we insignificant? The largest number of actual Towers Club donors are found in the congregations of the ARP Church.

The other day I was thinking: “I am a Towers Club donor. No one from Erskine has ever reached out to me. Am I an exception, or are all Tower Club, High Tower Club, and President’s Circle donors ignored as I have been ignored? There are not many of us! What do the development people at Erskine do?”

Finally, I do not wish to close on a negative note. I applaud President Kooistra for his hard work and skill. The man knows how to raise money. If everything else goes as well as his work with the Annual Fund so far, he will rescue Erskine from demise. He will see the Annual Fund goal of 1.6 million dollars reached. Congratulations, Paul!

Je suis Charlie!

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

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

[Editor’s Notes: The February 2015 issue of Faith in Focus magazine, published by the Reformed Churches of New Zealand, is subtitled The Southern Presbyterians, and contains three articles about the history of the Presbyterian Church in the southern United States. D.V., Presbyterians Week with the kind permission of Faith in Focus editor Walter Walraven, will republish these articles in the next three issues inclusive of this one.

Faith in Focus makes available back issues on line after three months, so the link to the February 2015 issue should become available in May of this year.]

By Jack W. Sawyer

Living through the centennial and now the sesquicentennial of the American War between the States and being native to a region trammeled upon and thoroughly ravaged by the cruel hand of civil war, constrains one to reflect upon the observation of the renowned Mississippi author William Faulkner, who famously wrote that in these parts “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The past certainly rings true in the sound and fury of long ago battles that continue throughout the South as they are reenacted by many civil war aficionados and hobbyists, even here in Central Louisiana scene of horrific battles in 1864. It would be easy to think of the South merely in terms of this late unpleasantness and its root causes, states’ rights, slavery, secession, etc. These are scarred into the American consciousness. No doubt foreigners also think of the South primarily in terms of that war with its subsequent “reconstruction”, Jim Crowe racial tensions, civil rights, and the Ku Klux Klan.

But beyond these images and the even more popular vistas of NASCAR, hillbillies, moonshiners, rednecks, and King Cotton, the serious student of history, particularly the Reformed Christian, will want to take note of the religious dimension so vital to understanding the South. For Christianity pervaded the Old South, helping create all its polite virtues and obvious vices, making it both “a territorial place and a state of mind.” Both territory and mindset were shaped in no small measure by migration of the Scots- Irish across the Atlantic to the frontiers of colonial and post-colonial America. Joined by Highland Scots, Huguenots, Germans, and Swiss, they brought with them a fiercely independent temperament, and a significant percentage of them also brought a commitment to church life as shaped by the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. Presbyterian Elders were important officers in the regiments of George Washington’s victorious army at Yorktown. American Presbyterians were on the forefront of the establishment of educational and political institutions, and Presbyterian Churchmen were some of the most influential public men of their day.

For but one example, the South Carolina Presbyterian, Benjamin Morgan Palmer, was to become esteemed as the first citizen of New Orleans, Louisiana for half of a century. He was beloved by Jew and Gentile, Catholic, and Protestants of all denominations. One does not usually associate a Presbyterian minister with the worldly city of New Orleans, but Palmer was a giant in his day, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans from 1856, with intervals due to Civil War, until his death in 1902. Palmer was noted for his Calvinistic convictions and powerful preaching, but he was especially beloved for his pastoral care during times of dread Yellow Fever epidemics which periodically ravaged New Orleans. Palmer, unlike numerous other clergy refused to leave the city and made thirty to fifty visits a day into homes which displayed any signs of the plague. Hereby he won the hearts and minds of the city ministering the consolation of the Gospel to any and all sick and dying, but particularly to those with no church association. The sweet balm of his ministry shaped New Orleans and Louisiana well into the 20th Century. Palmer, though rarely speaking to politics, was influential in Louisiana seceding from the Union, and later his civic outspokenness dealt the Louisiana lottery a death blow.

Palmer was but one of a number of luminaries in the Southern Church which included the likes of Robert Lewis Dabney of Virginia, the noted biographer of the Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson, and James Henley Thornwell of South Carolina, undoubtedly the greatest theological mind of the South.

Prior to the War Between the States, these Southerners were a part of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America in what after 1837 was called the Old School for its theological conservatism and strict adherence to the Westminster Standards. The Southern Church only took on an independent existence as the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America in 1861 upon the secession of numerous Southern States from the Union, and upon the PCUSA General Assembly of 1861 passing resolutions demanding loyalty to the Federal Government, by now under the Lincoln Administration. After the War, the two churches did not reunite until 1983. From 1865 the Southern Church (the mother church of J. Gresham Machen founder of the OPC) was renamed as the Presbyterian Church of the United States or PCUS.

On December 4, 1861 commissioners from forty-seven Southern Presbyteries met in Augusta, Georgia to organize this new church. One of the most notable acts of this Assembly was an “address to the churches of Jesus Christ throughout the earth.” This document was intended to provide the rationale for the existence of the Southern Church, its character, mission, and particularly its relationship to the institution of slavery. This last issue was to reflect a horrible blind spot in the way of thinking then extant in the South, and much of the North. As one contemporary Southern theologian has lamented, “unfortunately they did not take into serious consideration the fact that the blacks had been stolen from their homeland and that for Christians to buy stolen, kidnapped victims was wrong.” Nor was thought given to the Old Testament idea of the release of the captives and the Jubilee in the calendar of Israel. Still it seems that it is easier for 21st century Christians to criticize the blind spots of erring forefathers than to see and repent of their own.”

These Southern Presbyterians were committed to what is called Jure Divino or divine right Presbyterianism. The idea was that the polity or government of the church was set forth in Scripture as clearly as its doctrine. The doctrine set forth in Scripture was for them of course Calvinism. The form of government just as clearly was Presbyterianism – in which ruling elders were to have parity with teaching elders in the courts of the church, and the missionary and educational functions of the church were not to be delegated to or usurped by independent boards and agencies. These two points had been vigorously debated in the Old School Church in the decades prior to 1861.

“We are not ashamed to confess that we are intensely Presbyterian,” wrote Dr. Thornwell. “We embrace all other denominations in the arms of Christian fellowship and love, but our own scheme of government we humbly believe to be according to the pattern shown on the Mount, and by God’s grace we mean to put its efficiency to the test.” This was to mean to these Southerners that the “great business” of the church in fulfilling the commission of her Lord to make disciples of the nations was to be carried out through the agency of the church itself and her executive committees.

The church in their view was created by Christ a divine institution, with her own spiritual polity. It is “a positive institution, and therefore must show a definite warrant from the Bible for everything that she does. It is not enough that her measures are not condemned. They must be sanctioned, positively sanctioned by the power which ordains her, or they are null and void.” We might call this the regulative principal of church government, or “you can only do what the Scripture commands.” The church is not free to do all that Scripture does not forbid.

The constitution of the church, the Bible, provides the divine warrant for her doctrine, government, offices, mission, and worship. Where there is no biblical warrant, the church may not speak or act. Thus was deduced the cardinal principal for the Southern Church that the Church, as a Spiritual body may not as a rule intermingle with politics for she has not received such a mandate from her Lord and His Word. Thus is explained, even in the crucible of the Slavery controversy in the United States, the reticence of the Southern Church to call slavery per se sinful (as one still finds in the writings of men such as the late Prof. John Murray of Westminster Theological Seminary). In a similar fashion J. Gresham Machen refused to call the use of alcohol sinful per se, even during the height of the American Prohibition movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

For those who revere the words of the Heidelberg Catechism Question 96, that we may not make graven images nor worship God in any other way than He has commanded in His word the following will ring true. “In the Worship of God the church is bound by the written word, in the sense that she is not only to do what God has enjoined in the matter of His worship, but to abstain from doing what he has not enjoined. God is absolute dictator in the affair of worship, and, consequently ... every invention of man therein is a grand impertinence and wickedness.” The founders of the Southern Church were deeply committed to what we call the regulative principle of worship, being extremely reticent to introduce liturgical excess and innovative music. Even instrumental music and especially organs were rejected in some quarters.

The guns of the American War Between the States of 1861-65 have fallen silent. In one sense the old South is gone with the wind, and yet Faulkner is still correct about the past. Not because of sesquicentennial reenactments, or commemorative volumes, or fresh historical assessments in newly published books. Not even because of continuing disquiet about race relations in America. But the past is not past for the Reformed Christian, because timeless principles were at stake in the Old Southern Presbyterian Church. For the confession that she would be an Intensely Presbyterian Church governed in her doctrine, polity, mission, and worship by the positive sanctions of the Word of God alone still bear careful scrutiny and are rich with potential application to any church, anywhere that still humbly desires to bear the yoke of Jesus. Here is that yoke,” the church is permitted to act only by divine command. Our doctrine, our discipline, our worship are all divine and revealed things, to which the church can add, from which she can take away, nothing.”

The once thriving, vibrant church of Dr. Palmer in New Orleans is no more. Its vitals were devoured by his own successors, men of another spirit, shepherds who in their desire to be relevant and contemporary introduced strange, foreign ideas into the doctrine, government, and worship of the PCUS. The old paths of the past which had marked the Church’s fidelity to its constitution rooted deeply in the infallible Word of God were rejected. For these modern false prophets, the past was past and dead. But for the wise, the truths that governed the Southern Church in its heyday, are still
not past or dead. Though only a tiny remnant of the former Southern Zion
still heeds the voice of the fathers, their confession still speaks in the words of the Prophet and says To the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the Earth, “Stand by the way, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls.”

Mr. Sawyer, a native of Alabama, was ordained and served as a Pastor in the RCNZ from 1984-1994. For the past fifteen years has served as an OPC pastor in Louisiana. His ancestors fought in the Confederate army. Quotations are from the Bible; Presbyterians in the South by the late Professor Ernest Trice Thompson; and Preachers with Power, by Prof. Douglas Kelly of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Published by the Banner of Truth.

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+ Personal Liberty Digest, Post Office Box 1105, Cullman, Alabama 35056, 256-727-5353, Fax: 800-941-6987,

Articles from the past week regarding kings and rulers setting themselves against the LORD and against his anointed:

+ Family Research Council, 801 G Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, 202-393-2100, Fax: 202-393-2134, Contact Page

+, Incorporated, 4 Family Life Lane, Front Royal, Virginia 22630, 888-678-6008, Contact Page

+ Godfather Politics, 457 Nathan Dean Boulevard, Dallas, Georgia 30132

Articles from the past week about the religion of peace:

+ The Sons of Liberty, P.O. Box 1126, Annandale, Minnesota 55302, 866-233-0747,

+ Assyrian International News Agency (Nineveh Software Corporation, 2317 West Farwell, Chicago, Illinois 60645, 773-575-5863, Fax: 773-761-8534)

+ Assist USA, Post Office Box 609, Lake Forest, California 92609, 949-380-1558,

+, 149 South Barrington Avenue #401, Los Angeles, California 90049