WHEREIN CONSISTS REFORMED SPIRITUALITY?
Greenville Seminary Theology Conference Focuses on 'Communing with
Our Glorious God.'
In Taylors, South Carolina (March 12-14, 2002) Reformed Spirituality
was the theme for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary's Spring
Theology Conference. The three-day event, which focused on "Communing
with our glorious God," challenged the participants with regard to
personal piety, including Sabbath observance; and also witnessed a debate
between an advocate of redemptive-historical preaching and an advocate
of a more traditional homiletic approach.
Communion with God
Delivering the first lecture was the Rev. Ian Hamilton, a minister of
the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales and pastor of
the Cambridge Presbyterian Church. A native Scotsman, Mr. Hamilton utilized
the insights of John Owen, a 1 7th century English churchman and theologian.
Using I John 1:1-7 as his text, the UK pastor spoke of the intimate communion
believers enjoy with each member of the Trinity, as well as the special
sense of communion during the observance of the Lord's Supper. Mr. Hamilton
also emphasized the fullness of the "koinonia" which Christians
enjoy with the Almighty.
The Puritan Practice of Meditation
The opening afternoon also saw the Rev. Dr. Joel Beeke speak on how the
Puritans focused on a diligent use of the means of grace, including meditation.
According to Dr. Beeke, more than 40 Puritans wrote on the art of Biblical
meditation. The basic meaning of meditation is to "muse." The
speaker stated that the word "meditation" is used more in the
Psalms than in any other book of the Bible; and argued that what makes
meditation in the Christian tradition distinct from other forms of meditation
is that it is rooted in the Word of God.
Furthermore, the Puritans "taught that you must meditate in order
to do. He who meditates on God moves his intellect and moves his emotions.
. True meditation penetrates the door of understanding,... the door of
the heart, and . . . the door of practical doing. Meditation was a duty
that gave rise to every other duty. It lubricates all the other means
Two Types of Meditation
Dr. Beeke, who pastors the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church in Grand
Rapids, Michigan, noted that Puritans spoke of two kinds of meditation:
occasional and deliberate. Occasional meditation occurs when one "takes
what one observes with his senses and uses that to climb to heaven."
Biblical examples of this type of meditation include Psalm 8, where the
psalmist meditates on the glory of the Creator in the heavens and the
earth; and John 4, where Christ used the well water to teach the Samaritan
woman spiritual truths. "This type of meditation, the Puritans said,
is really quite easy. A spiritual man can easily spiritualize natural
However, the Puritans were also aware "that there were dangers with
occasional meditation," and were especially concerned lest occasional
meditations go beyond Scripture, perhaps even into the excesses of Ignatius
Loyola. What reigned in the Puritans was a deep commitment to Scripture.
Deliberate meditation, according to the Puritans, is to be done every
day, as a man deliberately sets aside time to meditate upon Christ and
heaven. There were two foci in this type of meditation - dogmatic (or
theological) and practical.
The Duty and Necessity of Meditation
The Puritans argued for the duty and necessity of meditation. The same
God who commands us to believe, commands us to meditate, and provides
numerous Biblical examples of such. "One cannot be a Christian without
meditation," in the view of the Puritans.
Furthermore, without meditation, preaching won't benefit us, our prayers
won't be effective, and we will be unable to defend the truth.
Puritans recommended frequent meditation, ideally twice a day, but certainly
at least once daily. A person should set a particular time for the practice,
and stick with it. The Lord's Day should be used for heavier doses of
meditation, which would help to exclude worldly talk. Special times of
refreshment, and turmoil, and spiritual stirring, should also be improved
The Art of Meditating
How does one engage in meditation? First, by clearing his mind of the
things of this world. Secondly, by cleansing his heart from sin. Third,
by approaching the task with utmost seriousness. Fourth, by finding a
quiet place, characterized by secrecy, silence, and rest (i.e., no motion).
Fifth, by adopting a comfortable body posture.
The first task of meditating is to ask the Holy Spirit for assistance:
Puritans suggested that the one meditating read some Scripture and adapt
a verse or doctrine, picking one subject at a time, usually a subject
that is most applicable td the present circumstances. Memorizing the selected
verse aids one in meditating on it. Indeed, fixing one's thoughts upon
the Scripture without going beyond what God has revealed is key. Other
guidelines included: stirring up one's affections (love, desire, hope,
courage, gratitude, joy); applying the meditations to one's self; turning
personal applications into resolutions, such as the resolve to fight against
temptation; concluding the time of meditation with prayer and thanksgiving
and Psalm-singing; and not breaking too quickly with meditation in order
to go back into worldly activity.
Appealing to historians, Dr. Beeke contended that Puritans were more
diverse in their topics than were the Roman Catholics in their meditations.
Among the numerous theological rubrics on which Puritans wrote with respect
to meditation, "eschatology wins the day," including topics
such as heaven, death, judgment, and hell. Christians must meditate especially
There are many benefits to meditation, including that it helps us focus
on all three persons of the Trinity; it takes the veil away; it augments
one's affections; it hatches good affections; it helps us worship; it
enables us to discharge religious duties; it provides relief in affliction;
and it promotes gratitude and thus glorifies God. It's not the Christian
who reads, but who meditates, most, who will be the most blessed and the
Obstacles to Meditating
The Puritans acknowledged that there were many obstacles to meditating,
among them the following: wandering thoughts; busyness; spiritual lethargy;
worldly pleasures and friendships; and adverseness of heart. But, the
Puritans would remind their listeners that the Christian has a duty to
meditate; that great busyness should move us to greater meditation; and
that heaven is the reward of them who take the kingdom by force.
Self-examination and Meditation
According to Dr. Beeke, "meditation was a comprehensive method for
Puritan devotion." And, meditation always led to self-examination.
For the unbeliever, he must ask himself the question, "Why isn't
God in all my thoughts?" For the saved, the Puritans warned that
"neglecting meditation was dangerous; it will destroy your love for
God, dampen your fervor for Him, and lead you to sin."
Seeing God's Glory
Dr. Beeke also spoke on Tuesday evening, this time from Exodus 33 on
Moses' yearning to see God's glory. "This is Biblical Christianity
yearning for God, declared the preacher. He noted that Moses' request
was circumstantially motivated, and wondrously answered.
"Seeing the glory of God is the essence of what conversion is,"
said Dr. Beeke. "An unbeliever never truly beholds the glory .........
When you can see the glory of God, that glory is far more beautiful .
. . than this drab black and white world."
In the midst of circumstances which drained Moses spiritually, and in
view of what would be a forty-year wandering in the wilderness, Moses
"needed the spiritual strength of seeing God's glory."
What is God's glory? "It is the sum total of all His attributes
as He has revealed them to us," according to Dr. Beeke. Two attributes
in particular He revealed to Moses, as He passed by the Cleft of the rock:
His goodness and His sovereignty.
Referring to his own experience of being mugged in Latvia a few months
ago, Dr. Beeke testified that while he was bound and blindfolded and lying
on the floor, "I saw the goodness of God ...I saw in Jesus' blood
[the goodness of God]."
The preacher averred that "God's goodness without His sovereignty
will give you a truncated view.... Our God is graciously sovereign, our
God is sovereignly good." Making contemporary application, he noted
that "a god of capricious sovereignty is the god of Islam."
Dr. Beeke concluded his message by maintaining that the place of Christ's
crucifixion Golgotha "is God's cleft in the rock."
The Lord's Day and Communion with God
On Wednesday morning, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Pipa boldly proclaimed the
importance and necessity of Sabbath observance for communion with God.
He has already written a book on the subject, "The Lord's Day."
The President of Greenville Seminary began his address by reference to
nineteenth century Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert Lewis Dabney,
who stated that "the sacred observance of one day in seven is God's
appointed means for the cultivation of piety" and "when piety
vanishes, orthodoxy vanishes."
Using Exodus 31:12-18, a text most often employed. by those who believe
that the Sabbath was a ceremonial ordinance only, Dr. Pipa presented three
1. God commands careful observance of the Sabbath;
2. God appoints the Sabbath as a sanctifying sign for the Old Covenant
3. God continues this for the New Covenant.
On the first point, Dr. Pipa stated that "God calls us to a very
careful and precise observance of the Sabbath," as he noted that
the Sabbath is mentioned in every genre of both Old and New Testaments.
"The things that God thinks is important, He emphasizes."
God set forth in the Sabbath ordinance His own pattern of rest. "God
ceased from work. And in that resting, He took a particular delight in
contemplation of that work. We then are to cease from our own work."
All kinds of work are prohibited, including mental and manual. "On
the Sabbath we are to cease from all ordinary work." Even the construction
of the tabernacle was to cease on the Sabbath.
This resting is not merely a negative concept. There is also the notion
of refreshment, and of celebrating the Sabbath. "We are to do, to
perform, certain acts for the due celebration of the day. The Sabbath
is not a time of inactivity, but rather we are freed from other a ctivities
so that we can spend the whole day in private arid public worship."
Dr. Pipa called for the Christians who go out to restaurants on Sunday,
and some ministers who fly home on Sunday afternoon or evening, to change
their practice. Both of these activities involve other people in unnecessary
work and deprives them of a blessing.
A Sign to the Old Covenant People
With regard to the second major point, Dr. Pipa noted that the Sabbath
was one of several signs, including the rainbow, circumcision, and the
Passover, given to the Old Covenant people. "The Sabbath is the sign
that God is their Creator. It's also a sign of the promise of eternal
life. The seventh day in the Garden was an open-ended day, pointing forward
to eternity." Therefore, the Sabbath was on the seventh day for two
reasons: one, to commemorate Creation; and two, to point forward to the
redemption to come.
The Sabbath, which totally set apart the Israelites from the nations
around them, also entailed responsibility. Besides idolatry, Israel was
judged for Sabbath-breaking. "The Sabbath was appointed to be a great
means of grace." It was, to use the old Puritan phrase, "the
market-day of the soul."
Dr. Pipa did not shun away from the traditional understanding of Isaiah
58:13-14 and its proscription of worldly employments and recreations.
If Israel would keep the Sabbath; then she "would have an experimental
enjoyment of the blessing of God," denominated in that passage as
the "heritage of Jacob."
A Sign for the New Covenant, Too
For the third point, Dr. Pipa maintained that the text "teaches
us that the Sabbath is a perpetual, moral obligation." Verse 18 of
Exodus 31 "reminds us of the extraordinary manner in which God gave
engraving the commandments with His finger. And it's ludicrous to pull
one of the commandments out of the middle of the Ten Commandments and
say that it's ceremonial." Furthermore, Christ teaching that the
Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath teaches that the
Sabbath is a means of blessing. The. way in which man enjoys that blessing
is by recognizing that the day is holy to the Lord. In the words of the
Westminster Shorter Catechism, God has a "propriety" in it..
Even the sanction for violation of the Sabbath the death penalty indicates
that the Sabbath is part of the moral law, for "there is no violation
of ceremonial law that led to death."
Even so, there were ceremonial aspects which attached to the Sabbath
in the Old Covenant. One of those ceremonial aspects was the observance.
Of the day of rest on the seventh day of the week. The change to the first
day of the week was in commemoration that "our redemption was accomplished
on the first day of the week.... We need no Easter Sunday. Every Sunday
is 'Easter' for us."
Sabbath and the Gospel
The continuing validity of the Sabbath gives Christians a "great
opportunity to witness" to the world. When unbelieving friends invite
Christians to engage in forbidden activity on the Sabbath, the believers
can use their polite and gracious declining the invitation to speak of
their faith. The world may then clamour: "Introduce, me to a God
who has such a claim on your life."
But the church's "flagrant disregard for the Sabbath is why the
church is impotent today." Dr. Pipa noted that the church had substituted
a humanly-invented list of piety in the place of Sabbath observance: "Don't
drink, don't smoke, don't chew, don't date girls that do... don't go to
"The Sabbath reminds us that we will triumph over sin, Satan, and
death. The Sabbath puts a knife in the heart of our idolatry. The Sabbath
helps us to conform us to the image of Christ. The Sabbath reminds us
that this is a day of communion."
Essential for Piety and Orthodoxy
Dr. Pipa observed: "Piety is vanishing. And understand from Dabney
that orthodoxy is not far behind." He punctuated his point with powerful
statements: "The Sabbath is not some non- essential . . . as I was
told again just last week." "To rule it as a non- essential
will destroy any church, presbytery, or denomination that declares it
to be such." "There is no 'continental view of the Sabbath'
during the time of the Reformation.... Calvin may not have got there the
same way, but he got there [i.e., to a Sabbatarian position]."
Dr. Pipa concluded by calling for "an exuberantly entering into
the glories and privileges of this day, that you and I may enter into
the joy of the Lord."
Also on Wednesday morning, Ian Hamilton spoke on "experimental Calvinism,
that is, the piety that must characterize every true Calvinist as well
as every true Christian.
The Formative Principle of experimental Calvinism for Mr. Hamilton is
not that of predestination, but that of "the glory of the Lord God
Almighty." The primary question, then, is not, "How shall I
be saved?", but, "How shall God be glorified?"
The Foundational Experience is seen in Isaiah 6, where the prophet was
brought to a deep awareness of his need for God, of his corruption, of
God's forgiving grace, and of his having to yield his life unreservedly
to God. Mr. Hamilton quoted Borden of Yale, the millionaire who had given
up his fortune and committed himself to go to the mission field, as he
dying: "No return, reserve, no regrets." Mr. Hamilton added:
"That's experimental Calvinism."
The Fundamental Features are that it honors God's unconditional sovereignty;
it lives life before the face of God; it shapes all of life by the revelation
of God's unimpeachable holiness; it exercises faith in God being able
to do His will; it loves God's law; it is content and satisfied with Scriptural
worship; and it cherishes God's grace and will seek to emulate God's love.
John Calvin's Spirituality
On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. James McGoldrick, recently retired from a
long tenure as history professor at Cedarville University in Ohio, lectured
on the spirituality of the great Genevan reformer. Currently Professor
of Church History at Greenville Seminary, Dr. McGoldrick distinguished
between piety and spirituality. In the sixteenth century, because the
latter term was associated with Roman Catholic mysticism, the Protestant
reformers preferred the term pietas, a Latin word which signified worship,
then reverence, then charity toward needy people. The Protestants challenged
the Romanist notion of a sacred/secular dichotomy,
which was expressed, for example, in the monastic lifestyle.
But the reformers certainly were deeply interested in genuine spirituality,
or true godliness. For Calvin, true godliness "embraces God's
righteousness and produces a greater desire to die than to displease God."
For Calvin, like the other reformers, "God's revelation is the basis
of true Christian living." Nevertheless, there also must be a subjective
knowledge of God, a topic with which Calvin dealt in Book III of his Institutes
of the Christian Religion. Calvin's magnum opus was not "so much
a summa theological as it was summa pieta." This approach fit well
with Calvin's pastoral side, and his belief that "theology was for
all believers," not for an elite class.
Calvin's practical piety was also reflected in his emphasis on congregational
singing, especially of the Psalms. For Calvin, adoration was the central
feature of worship: "He wanted to avoid liturgy becoming an appeal
to our feelings."
Calvin's theocentric focus led him also to view the love of self as "a
mortal plague that Christians must rip out. What we've been given is to
be given to others."
The Glory and Beauty of God
Joseph Pipa preached on Wednesday evening, from Psalm 93. In his exposition,
he marked out God's majestic reign, the conquering power of the majestic
Christ, and our response to the majestic King.
"There are few things more powerful than flood waters," Dr.
Pipa noted. By means of the figure of a flood, the psalmist "is picturing
for us the tumultuous things of life," both circumstances and spiritual
matters, as well as the rebelliousness of the nations. But the Lord reigns
With regard to our response, President Pipa pointedly proclaimed that
"to refuse to submit at any point is rebellion, and if persisted
in, means that you have no grounds for believing you are converted."
Part of our response to the King is to worship Him. "When the elders
turn the keys, they open the doors of heaven itself, and a mysterious
transaction takes place. We mount up and join With the awesome angels,
and all the departed saints. We have transactions with the King in corporate
worship. With this awareness, worship will not be dull or boring, and
you will not be dull or boring."
Redemptive-Historical vs. Traditional Preaching
Thursday morning was given over to a discussion as to what type of preaching,
redemptive-historical or traditional, is the most Biblical.
The Rev. Dr. William Dennison, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary
Studies at Covenant College and a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian
Church (OPC), presented the case for redemptive-historical preaching.
He began by stating that, in his view, there was no longer a peaceful
co-existence between the two positions, but that rather there was a cloud
of suspicion hanging over the debate. He noted that the Biblical theological
approach which he represented had come in for three basic criticisms.
One, Biblical theology has its origin as a specific theological discipline
in the German Enlightenment. Two, the historical-redemptive genre is one
of many genres of Scripture, and therefore the redemptive-historical approach
is not the only legitimate one. Three, Biblical theology fails to apply
the text of Scripture to the lives of God's people. Biblical theology
has been said to be analogous to the way an air plane flies, i.e., never
touching the ground.
Dr. Dennison maintained that both sides in the dispute agree on the necessity
of application, and the reality of progressive revelation. The problem
is the presuppositional grid that informs each perspective. The discussion
needs a dose of Cornelius Van Til's methodology, viz., transcendental
The Covenant College professor then gave an overview of Western thought,
as he spoke of the interrelationship of ethics, history, grammar, and
rhetoric. The classical view of history was to make it subservient to
ethics, and the Medieval church, as well as the Protestant Reformation,
largely adopted the Greco-Roman approach to history.
"The relationship among rhetoric, history and ethics found a home
in the church, especially with respect to preaching. Preaching was viewed
as an application of history." Ethics thus took precedence over history,
with the result that the study of history was appreciated more for the
moral lessons which it teaches than for its own sake.
Professor Dennison applauded the Reformers for helping to turn the classical
world upside down. However, in his view, they like all of us were products
of their time, and so did not fully liberate their world-and-life view
from the liberal arts tradition.
In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, it was Geerhardus
Vos, an Old Princeton scholar, who helped to define the discipline of
Biblical Theology, and in so doing to recapture some of the pristine perspective
of the original Reformers. "Vos saw the focus of history in Christ,
not ethics. The focus of history is on Christ, not on morality."
For Dr. Dennis on, the traditional approach of grammatico-historical
exegesis should be reversed, so that the emphasis is upon history - an
In his opinion, "Good preaching does not apply the text to you,
but applies you to the text. The preacher is not drawing the text into
your world, he is drawing you into the world of the text."
An Opposing Voice
Responding to Dr. Dennison was the Rev. John Carrick, also a minister
in the OPC. Mr. Carrick, who is Assistant Professor of Applied and Doctrinal
Theology at Greenville Seminary, began by stating that the explanation
and application of the text is the traditional approach. After referring
to Robert Lewis Dabney, who said that preaching is "to make men do",
Professor Carrick attacked those who in the Exemplaristic Redemptive/Historical
Controversy in Holland in the 1930s and 1940s eschewed the use of Biblical
characters as examples. The redemptive-historical advocates also charged
the exemplarists with moralism and anthropocentricity.
Professor Carrick, on the other hand, wants to maintain a balance between
the objective and the subjective, or between the indicative and the imperative
- a balance which he believes "is illustrated by Apostolic preaching."
In his view, redemptive-historical preaching has gone astray in its "failure
to note and to implement the indicative-imperative pattern." J. Gresham
Machen, one of the founders of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, "highlights
the fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity by saying
that liberalism has only the imperative, while Christianity has the indicative
as the foundation of the imperative. The Christian preacher begins with
a triumphant indicative." However, Machen does not leave it there,
but goes to application: "Christianity is not always in the indicative
The New Testament reveals a double indicative into which a double indicative
is interwoven. Christ died for sinners (indicative); therefore, repent
and believe (imperative). You are dead to sin (indicative); therefore,
reckon yourself dead to sin (imperative).
The Necessity of Balance
Professor Carrick, while expressing appreciation for a redemptive-historical
perspective, argued for a balanced approach, and he attacked what he called
the extremes of the redemptive-historical movement. He noted that Dr.
Richard B. Gaffin, generally considered one of the champions of a redemptive-historical
approach to Scripture, has himself been critical of some in the redemptive-historical
camp who have apparently not been willing to grant a legitimate use of
example and of the imperative. With respect to James' use of Elijah as
an example of a man of fervent prayer, Dr. Gaffin, according to Professor
Carrick, "points out that James has seized on an incidental and subordinate
point and turned it into a major point." The Greenville professor
rhetorically asked: "Does
the redemptive-historical school regard James' appeal to I Kings 18 to
be 'atomistic' and moralistic?"
He continued: "The fact that Christ is our Saviour does not mean
that He is not also an example." Atoning value and exemplaristic
side-by-side. Using Gaffin-type language, Professor Carrick declared,
"Christocentricity must not be permitted to
degenerate into Christomonism."
Professor Carrick again appealed to Dr. Gaffin, who has expressed concern
that "some redemptive-historical preaching is one-sided, especially
because it has an eye only for the typological institutions of the Old
Testament. Old Testament figures should be regarded as believers, as well
as types." Furthermore, we must not "polarize by underplaying
the continuity." And, "some so-called redemptive-historical
preaching doesn't do justice to the imperative. There is a concreteness
and specificity about the imperatives of Scripture."
Professor Carrick took to task the overemphasis on eschatology, which
"goes hand-in-hand with an underemphasis on the ethical. It's one
thing to assert that eschatology is prior to soteriology in logical terms;
it's another to assert its priority in terms of importance.
Bill Dennison Replies
Dr. Dennison replied by saying, "I don't see myself in terms of
the Netherlands discussion [i.e., the exemplaristic v. Redemptive/Historical
Controversy, Ed.]. I don't see myself as one who is carrying this battle
cry of being against application."
The college professor professed that he didn't recognize himself in the
critique that John Carrick had presented of the redemptive-historical
school, especially with regard to the lack of the imperative. Dr. Dennison
later made reference to a 1979 article of his in the 'Calvin Theological
Journal' in which he wrote (approvingly) on the indicative-imperative
paradigm. For Professor Dennison, the contemporary controversy is the
result of the redemptive-historical and the traditional approaches operating
on two different paradigms, with the result that application looks differently
to each of the two schools. He agrees that Paul holds up Israel as an
example in I Corinthians 10, but he does so in terms of eschatology. "We
use examples; but they're examples in the sense that you are in the eschatological
drama." In Exodus 32, "Israel was rejecting union with Jehovah
God. If they stayed in union with the God who brought them out of Egypt,
they would not have made idols. The imperatives [of Scripture] are nonsense
Rejecting Professor Carrick's call for "balance," Dr. Dennison
declared, "I'm not interested in 'balance' - that's an Aristotelian
golden mean idea. . . The Christian life is indicative and imperative.
I'm interested in the intimate . . . or existential union. You just don't
have the Christian life [without] ... loving God and keeping His commandments."
He continued: "Your life is found in the Bible. In terms of 'example,'
it's not the example of aspiration but the example of assimilation. Aspiration
is Platonic - 'Jesus is the ideal to which you aspire to be."' Rather,
you assimilate the life pattern. Aspiration is works-religion. "You're
called to suffer in the world, and as you do so, you will be exalted with
Christ. He allows you to live the exact same life pattern. . . . You walk
in the world as a suffering servant. . . . The Platonic model of aspiration
... is nothing but works-righteousness."
John Carrick Responds
Prof. Carrick said that it was reductionistic to attribute the exemplary
or moralistic strain in interpretation uniquely to the classical tradition,
as if the word of God itself did not sanction the use of such a strain.
Despite Dr. Dennison 's protestations, Professor Carrick stated that
Kerux, a journal on biblical theological preaching edited by James T.
Dennison, Bill's brother, "does represent the extreme wing"
of the redemptive-historical approach. Speaking of the sermons found in
stated: "You can count the imperatives on the fingers of your hands.
It's all in the indicative mood."
Prof. Carrick also rejected Bill Dennison's assertion: "When Christ
died, I died with Him. There is no imperative beyond that paradigm."
Carrick noted that it was wrong so to highlight definitive sanctification
that one neglected the imperatives of progressive sanctification with
which the New Testament literally teems.
He maintained that "we do believe in Biblical theology; but, we
don't want to emphasize Biblical theology to the exclusion of systematic
theology and the grammatico-historical approach."
[As in past years, Greenville Seminary is making plans for publishing
a book based on the lectures at the conference. Previous volumes include
Did God Create in Six Days? (l~99), Written for Our Instruction: The Sufficiency
of Scripture for All of Life (2000), and Sanctification: Growing in Grace
(2001). For ordering information, call 864-322-2717 or visit the seminary's
web site at www.gpts.edu.]
HEARD AT THE CONFERENCE
They Said It...
"I was shaken by one thing in my talk and that is that I have seven
points. But when I heard that Ian had nine, I took fresh courage."
"When I meet people with the lines of their the theology clearly
and neatly demarcated, I try to avoid them." Ian Hamilton, speaking
on the reality of seeing through a glass darkly.
"You ask, why do you consider A. A. Hodge to be a Southern Presbyterian?
Because he wrote his systematic theology while at Fredericksburg, Virginia."
Morton H. Smith.
"He was part of the group that came from Belhaven [College] over
to Reformed Theological Seminary. That particular group believed what
we were teaching at that time." Morton H. Smith, speaking of Joseph
Pipa, one of his students in the early days at RTS.
"It has been a learning experience to come to the South. I have
learned that there was no Civil War it's the War of Northern Aggression."
"A woman asked me what a Calvinist is. [After explaining it,] she
looked at me somewhat puzzled and said, 'But isn't that what a Christian
is?"' Ian Hamilton.
"Coming from the Church of Scotland,... I thought that they would
be a little more rigorous and heart-searching than they were." Ian
Hamilton, on being examined for licensure by Mississippi Valley Presbytery
"The drift [of seminaries] begins not because they adopt a different
hermeneutic, but when the heart is not gripped with the glory of Christ."
"'And Isaiah got up and did a holy dance."' Ian Hamilton, with
tongue-in-cheek regarding Isaiah 6 after Isaiah saw the glory of God.
"'Lord, we are worms.... And he paused and he prayed, 'Lord, make
us glow worms. "' Ian Hamilton, speaking of the late (and idiosyncratic)
William Still in a prayer meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland.
"A proud Calvinist is a theological oxymoron." Ian Hamilton.
"God, save us from a church that is obsessed with programs."
Ian Hamilton. "People... like to portray John Calvin as a semi-human
being.... Few people in history have suffered from misrepresentation as
much as has John Calvin." James McGoldrick.
"So often our piety is marked by this sterility of missed expectations."
- Joseph Pipa.
"Nebuchadnezzar's confession [in Daniel 4] is more sound than a
lot of evangelicals today." Joseph Pipa.
"When you pick up the newspaper in the morning, you are reading
of the work of the King." Joseph Pipa.
"Some of us grow weary in our struggles within our denominations.
But it's not our church. It belongs to the King." Joseph Pipa.
"I have become convinced that this is not a fruitful discussion
- and yet, here I am today." William Dennison.
"Eschatological this, eschatological that-at times I feel eschatologized
to death!" John Carrick, speaking of the emphasis in redemptive-historical
preaching on eschatology.
"It was he who did introduce me to the duties of Sabbath keeping.
I did used to watch the Super Bowl. I used to rationalize doing things
with youth after service in the evening. He's ruined me-I'm not fit for
today's church and it's all his fault." - Joseph Pipa, affectionately
referring to Morton H. Smith.
"One or two had heard that Joey [Pipa] has horns. I assumed then
they were well hidden. People warmed to Joey and Sissy as a couple when
they came to Cambridge. They realized they were normal people." Ian
PRESBYTERIAN AND REFORMED NEWS VOL.8 NO. 1 January March 2002, PO Box
Coeburn, Virginia 24230 Web Site www.presbyteriannews.org