Archive for ‘Presbyterianism’

January 4, 2018

January Spotlight! Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism

Cover Calvinism and Evangelical ArminianismBook Description

Since the Remonstrants first defended the teachings of Jacob Arminius at the Synod of Dordt, the system known as Arminianism has undergone a number of expressions by its various advocates. In the nineteenth century, it had become apparent to Dr. John L. Girardeau that the form of Arminianism preached by American Evangelical Arminians as influenced by the preaching of John Wesley had not been sufficiently critiqued and answered in print, along with a corresponding defense of the doctrines of Calvinism.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the doctrines of election and reprobation are stated and proven, and two categories of Arminian objections are answered: appeals to the moral attributes of God, such as his divine justice, goodness, wisdom and veracity, and appeals to the moral agency of man.

The second part is divided into four sections, in which Dr. Girardeau states the Calvinistic doctrine of justification and explains the ground, nature and condition of this essential of Protestant theology and contrasts it with the Arminian alternative.

John L Girardeau

Dr. John L. Girardeau   (1825-1898)

About the Author

John Lafayette Girardeau (1825-98) John Lafayette Girardeau was born as Lafayette Freer Girardeau on November 14, 1825 to John Bohun Girardeau and Claudia Herne Freer Girardeau. The parents of young Girardeau were of French Huguenot descent and, by the time of their eldest son’s birth on James Island (across the Ashley River from Charleston), possessors of a rich colonial ancestry, which included at least one Revolutionary War hero. John Bohun (a planter) and Claudia Freer were also solid Presbyterians of the Scottish type. The Holy Scriptures and Westminster Standards were the standard fare for the Girardeau children with both father and mother active in their religious upbringing.

Also important in Girardeau’s formative years were two notable pastors, Aaron W. Leland and Thomas Smyth. Leland was the wee lad’s pastor on James Island and Smyth nurtured him during his early adolescent years in Charleston. Although Leland was of English ancestry, he was of the Scottish persuasion when it came to his theology and ecclesiology. Smyth was of Scotch-Irish background and pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston. The low country Presbyterians had from the first identified with Scotland rather than the Mid-Atlantic Presbyterians. This was no doubt true because of Archibald Stobo, the pioneering Scot who founded the earliest distinctly Presbyterian churches in the South.

Girardeau was educated on James Island and in Charleston, completing Charleston College (now College of Charleston) in 1844 at the age of seventeen. He graduated with first honors (valedictorian) as a Greek and Latin scholar. Upon his graduation, Professor William Hawksworth exclaimed to those around him, “There goes a fine Greek scholar to make a poor Presbyterian preacher.”

After a year of tutoring and teaching on James Island and Mt. Pleasant (to raise money), he matriculated at the Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia (later Columbia Theological Seminary). As a ministerial student at Columbia he studied under his childhood pastor, Aaron W. Leland, and the venerable George Howe. Girardeau supplemented his seminary education by regularly attending the pulpit ministrations of Benjamin Morgan Palmer at the Presbyterian Church (now First Presbyterian), a short walk from both the seminary and South Carolina College. The seminarian also placed himself under the tutelage of James Henley Thornwell at the College (now University of South Carolina). Thornwell was at the time Professor of Moral Philosophy and preached or lectured regularly in the college chapel (Rutledge Chapel). Girardeau and other seminary students attended Dr. Thornwell’s addresses assiduously. Indeed, Girardeau attributed Dr. Thornwell’s chapel addresses with giving “shape and form” to his theology, which was already stoutly Westminsterian.

As a child of Claudia Herne Girardeau, the scion of South Carolina had learned to respect the poor and needy of society. During the latter years of college he had held regular meetings for the slaves on his father’s plantation, exhorting them to believe the gospel and rest upon Christ for their deliverance from sin. In seminary he held evangelistic meetings in a warehouse where the poor, enslaved, derelict, and disreputable attended. Shortly after graduation from seminary in 1848 he was ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament and embarked upon a brief series of pastorates-Wappetaw Church and Wilton Presbyterian Church-that would culminate in Charleston as a famous pastor to slaves.

In January 1854, he and his wife Penelope Sarah (“Sal”) moved from St. John Parish and Wilton Presbyterian Church (January 1849-December 53) to Charleston to assume the work begun by John B. Adger and the session of Second Presbyterian Church. The work was designed to establish a church for and of the slaves. In 1850, citizens of Charleston built a meeting house on Anson Street for the exclusive use of the slaves. After Adger’s health failed, Girardeau was handpicked by Adger and Smyth to lead the work forward. The work expanded from thirty-six black members when Girardeau arrived to over 600 at the time of the American Armageddon. He preached to over 1,500 weekly from 1859 through 1861.

In 1858/59 the Anson Street Mission experienced a marvelous revival and in April 1859 they moved into a new building at the prestigious and prime intersection of Meeting and Calhoun Streets. The black membership was given the privilege of naming their church (which was particularized in 1858) and they chose “Zion.” Zion Presbyterian Church became famous for Girardeau’s preaching-he was called “the Spurgeon of America”-, but it was also noteworthy for its diaconal ministry in the community, catechetical training of hundreds in the city, sewing clubs for the women, and missionary activity. The outreach and influence of Zion was of such public notoriety that Girardeau and the session were often criticized and sometimes physically threatened. For example, the catechetical training and teaching of hymns and psalms was so effective that some Charlestonians believed Girardeau was teaching the slaves to read for themselves (which was contrary to state law).

After the War and before Girardeau could return to Charleston, a number of freedmen of Zion Presbyterian Church beckoned Girardeau to return to “the Holy City” and resume his work with them. They desired to have their white pastor whom they knew, loved, and respected, rather than a black missionary from the North. Throughout the post-War and Reconstruction years, he arduously worked amongst both black and white in Charleston. He mightily labored within the Southern Presbyterian Church to see that the freedmen were included in the church and in 1869 he nominated seven freedmen for the office of ruling elder in Zion Presbyterian Church, preached the ordination service, and with the white members of his session laid hands on his black brothers.

Unfortunately, the pressures of Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the hardened positions of notables like B. M. Palmer and R. L. Dabney brought the church to a pivotal moment. The weight of political and social issues eventuated in “organic separation” of white membership and black membership and the formation of churches along the color line. Girardeau alone dissented against the resolution at the 1874 General Assembly in Columbus, Mississippi, for which he served as Moderator.

In 1875, B. M. Palmer nominated Girardeau for Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology at Columbia Seminary, a position W. S. Plumer had held since 1866. In January 1876 he began his seminary labors which lasted until June 1895. During his academic career he continued as a popular preacher in the Southern Church, defended biblical orthodoxy against the inroads of modernism in the Woodrow Controversy at Columbia Seminary, labored actively against union with the Northern Presbyterian Church, served the courts of the church tirelessly, contributed many theological, ecclesiological, and philosophical articles to academic journals, and wrote several important monographs on theology, worship, and philosophy. He made significant contributions to the doctrine of adoption and the diaconate.

Girardeau and his beloved wife “Sal” had ten children who crowned their forty-nine years of marriage. Seven Girardeau children lived to adulthood while three died in infancy. Three Girardeau daughters married Presbyterian ministers, including the notable theologian and churchman Robert Alexander Webb. This pastor to slaves and theologian of the Southern Church died quietly at his home in Columbia on June 23, 1898, just a few months after his friend R. L. Dabney had passed away. B. M. Palmer wrote of Girardeau that “It will be long before another generation can produce his equal; and those, who have known him from the first to last, feel that we lay him to rest among the immortals of the past.” His body rests just a few short steps from his mentor and friend James Henley Thornwell in Columbia’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Source: PCA Historical Center

574 Pages
Publisher: Sprinkle Publications

August 1, 2016

August Spotlight! Charles Hodge (Bitesize Biographies)

Status: Checked Out

Charles Hodge CoverBook Description:

Charles Hodge lived during an era of great crisis in the United States. Living for most of the nineteenth century, he would witness the abolition tumult of pre-war America, the bloody War Between the States, and the ongoing struggle of Reconstruction. His own Presbyterian Church would experience its greatest division during his lifetime. Though a peacemaker by demeanor, he understood that there was also a time to take a stand. This he did, battling against a rising tide that was beginning to erode the sacred shorelines of historic Christianity.

About the Author:

S Donald Fortson IIIS. Donald Fortson III is Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Caroline, USA. He is also an adjunct Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte. Dr. Fortson is author of several books and articles on American Presbyterianism.



Source: Back Cover

128 Pages
Publisher: EP Books
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978-085234-927-4

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

December 17, 2015

The Thunder: A Novel on John Knox

The Thunder CoverStatusChecked Out

Book Description

John Knox, the Thundering Scot, lives a life of adventure and danger in turbulent, corrupt sixteenth-century Scotland. Finding himself a wanted man, Knox is besieged in a castle by French soldiers, seized, and made a galley slave. Yet he is unflinching in his stand for the gospel, even in the face of assassins and death, and even when his fiery preaching makes him an enemy of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Told from the perspective of a young student resolved to protect Knox no matter the cost, Douglas Bond’s thrilling biographical novel provides a look at the harrowing life story of a giant of the faith. Discover the fascinating story of a timid man transformed by the grace and power of the gospel into one of the most influential figures in Scottish history. [From the back cover]

Douglas Bond

Douglas Bond

About the Author

Douglas Bond is the author of a number of books of historical fiction and biography. He and his wife have two daughters and four sons. Bond is an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, a teacher, a conference speaker, and a leader of church history tours. Visit his website at

Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: P&R Publishing Company
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59638-214-5

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

November 25, 2015

God Transcendent

God Transcendent CoverStatus: Available

Book Description

J. Gresham Machen ‘was one of the most colourful and controversial figures of his time, and it is doubtful that in the ecclesiastical world of the twenties and thirties any religious leader was more constantly in the limelight’. Machen was a scholar, Professor at Princeton and Westminster Seminaries, church leader, apologist for biblical Christianity, and one of the most eloquent defenders of the faith in the twentieth century.

God Transcendent is a collection of Machen’s addresses. It shows, perhaps more clearly than any of his books, why he was such a great man. In these messages, Machen expounds the greatness and glory of God, the wonder and power of the gospel and the exhilaration of serving Christ in the front line of spiritual warfare.They show why Machen fought so tenaciously for biblical truth against error: ‘It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight’.

This series of popular messages includes Machen’s famous address, “The Active Obedience of Christ,” delivered only weeks before his death on January 1, 1937.

Table of Contents:

1. God Transcendent
2. Isaiah’s Scorn of Idolatry
3. The Fear of God
4. Sin’s Wages and God’s Gift
5. The Issue in the Church
6. The Letter and the Spirit
7. The Brotherhood in Christ
8. The Claims of Love
9. The Living Saviour
10. Justified by Faith
11. The Gospel and Modern Substitutes
12. The Separateness of the Church
13. Prophets False and True
14. The Good Fight of Faith
15. Constraining Love
16. The Creeds and Doctrinal Advance
17. Christ Our Redeemer
18. The Doctrine of the Atonement
19. The Active Obedience of Christ
20. The Bible and the Cross

J Gresham Machen

J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

About the Author

John Gresham Machen was born at Baltimore on July 28, 1881, the middle of three sons born to a southern lawyer, Arthur Machen, whose brother had fought for the Confederates in the Civil War. Some time in his youth Machen came to a personal faith in Christ, but there was no dramatic conversion experience. In later years he was not even able to recall the date (4 January 1896) when he had publicly professed faith and become a church member in Franklin Street Presbyterian Church. He was educated at Johns Hopkins and Princeton Universities, Princeton Theological Seminary and the Universities of Marburg and Göttingen in Germany.

Machen taught at Princeton Seminary from 1906 until its reorganisation in 1929. Then he left to help found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he served as professor of New Testament until his death from pneumonia on New Year’s Day, 1937. In 1936 Machen was instrumental with others in founding what became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and was its first Moderator.

[See also Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Banner of Truth, 1987); Geoffrey Thomas, ‘J. Gresham Machen’, The Banner of Truth, No. 214 (July 1981), pp. 12-20 and Nos. 233-238 (February-July 1983) .]

Source: Banner of Truth Trust

Paperback, 206 pages

Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust

Publication Date(s):

1949 (Wm. B. Eerdman’s Edition)
1982 (First Banner of Truth Edition)
2002 (Banner of Truth Edition Reprinted)

ISBN: 0-85151-355-7

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

July 10, 2015

Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Presbyterianism

Seeking a Better Country CoverStatus: Available

Publisher’s Description

Seeking a Better Country is a readable and lively survey of American Presbyterianism since its founding in 1706. Its aim is not to celebrate but to understand how Presbyterians formed one of the largest and most influential denominations in the United States, and those historical developments that led to their decline.

Darryl G. Hart

Darryl G. Hart

About the Author

D. G. Hart (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University) directs the honors programs and faculty development at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and serves Westminster Seminary California as adjunct professor of church history. He has written or edited more than fifteen books, including Defending the Faith, a biography of J. Gresham Machen. He is coeditor of the American Reformed Biographies series.

Book Details

288 Pages
Publisher: P&R Publishing Company
Publication Date: June 2007
ISBN 13: 9780875525747

Source: WTS Books

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

April 27, 2015

Lest We Forget: A Personal Reflection on the Formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Lest We Forget CoverStatus: Available


Robert King Churchill was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada on September 11, 1903. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States during his first year as a student at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1936 he graduated from that institution and soon thereafter was one of a group of young men ordained to the gospel ministry by the First General Assembly of the newly formed Presbyterian Church of America (later named the Orthodox Presbyterian Church). He served in that church until the time of his sudden death on September 20, 1980.

Churchill labored as missionary pastor in Berkeley and Sonora, California; Roswell, New Mexico and Amarillo, Texas. He pastored Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin from 1948 to 1959. He was always interested in young people and conducted off-campus classes with university students during his years in Berkeley and was also active in working with young people at various camps and conferences. He served on the board of trustees of Westminster Seminary for more than 30 years and represented the seminary for almost two years as field representative.

In heart and life Churchill echoed the cry of the apostle: “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” He delighted unceasingly in the “Marvelous grace of our loving Lord—grace that is greater than all our sin.” He was zealous for the whole cousel of God and had to proclaim it. But his awe before the majesty of our sovereign God did not stop at the wonders of redeeming grace: he heard the heavens declare the glory of God and reveled in the display of his handiwork in nature—in ocean, clouds, trees, hills, the green earth and its fruit. He heard the whole creation shouting “Glory!” But most of all he rejoiced in the songs of Zion and loved to lead the people of God in singing his praises.

All praise to God, who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of wonders, power, and love,
The God of our salvation!
Trinity Hymnal

Robert K. ChurchillAbout the Author

Robert K. Churchill was ordained in 1936 at the First General Assembly of what was to become the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. His life spanned more than four decades in the new denomination. As a pastor, missionary, and youth-worker, he was vitally involved in the inner workings of the OPC and a passionate defender of its cause. Thus his reflections on the formation and history of the church are a treasure that we should not soon forget.

Book Details

135 Pages
Soft Cover
Publisher: Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Publication Date: 1986 (Third Edition, 1997)

Source: Orthodox Presbyterian Publications