Thursday, January 8, 2015

Early Bird Conference Registration Deadline Jan. 30



January 30th is the deadline for "early bird" rates when registering for the Greenville Seminary 2015 Spring Theology ConferenceOnline registration is available for the three-day annual program on the timely and much-debated theme "The Law of God in a Lawless Age."

The conference will be held from Tuesday, March 10th, through Thursday, March 12th, at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C. Register by Jan. 20th to take advantage of the early-bird rate of $85 ($115 after Jan. 30). You may also make reservations for a Tuesday evening dinner ($12) and Wednesday lunch ($9), both opportunities to fellowship and renew acquaintances with other conference-goers.

The issue of the law of God is critical in the church today. The conference will seek to answer such questions as: What is the relationship between the Law and the Gospel? What is the place of the Ten Commandments in church and society today? More particularly, what is the role of the law in your life as a Christian? Dr. Mark Jones, one of our conference speakers, addresses the issue of antinomianism, in this excerpt from one of his articles:
There are few theological aberrations more difficult to define than antinomianism. Some simply look at the etymology of the word and conclude that antinomians are against (anti) God’s law (nomos). Others are a bit more specific, suggesting that antinomians are those who deny the third use of the law (the law as a guide for the Christian life; for example, Eph. 6:1) as normative for the Christian believer. Still others contend that we should distinguish between theoretical antinomianism—just described—and practical antinomianism. 
Practical antinomianism may take on two forms. The first group are those who claim to be Christians but openly disregard God’s law in their lives. The second group are preachers who claim that they affirm the need for the moral law in the Christian life, but their preaching betrays this affirmation because there are almost never any exhortations in their sermons.

Speakers and their lecture subjects will include:
  • Dr. Richard Barcellos —  New Covenant Theology and The Law of God
  • Dr. Mark Jones — Antinomianism: The Golden White Devil
  • Dr. Ian Hamilton — What the Law Could Not Do (Rom. 8:3) (Tues. evening sermon)
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr. — Third Use of the Law (Wed. evening sermon)
  • Dr. Pipa — Critique of Klinian Republication
  • Dr. Tony Curto — No Gospel Without the Law
  • Mr. Breno Macedo — Robert Rollock and the Covenant of Works
  • Dr. Sidney Dyer — Paul and Law in Galatians 3
  • Dr. George Scipione — The Principle of Equity and Counseling

Dr. Barcellos is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Palmdale, Calif. He is the author of four books, co-author of another book and managing editor of the Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies. Dr. Jones is pastor of Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church of Vancouver, B.C. His latest book is Antinomianism: Reformed Theology's Unwelcome Guest?

The other speakers are faculty members or adjunct faculty at GPTS. Dr. Pipa is the seminary president. Dr. Curto is associate professor of practical theology in missions and apologetics at GPTS. Dr. Hamilton is a member of the GPTS Board of Trustees and pastor of Cambridge Presbyterian Church in England. Mr. Macedo is a 2011 graduate of GPTS and minister in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil. He is coordinator of historical theology at the Theological Seminary of Nordeste, Brazil. Dr. Dyer is professor of Greek and New Testament at GPTS. Dr. Scipione is adjunct professor of applied theology at GPTS, director of the Biblical Counseling Institute and adjunct professor of pastoral theology at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Penn.


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Prospective Student Open House


A special pre-conference Open House for prospective students will be held on Monday and Tuesday before the main conference opens. For details on this opportunity, see the separate story in last month's e-newsletter. To register for the Open House, go here. If you are a prospective student attending the Open House, you may register for the main conference free of charge using this special dedicated link. (Do not use the regular conference registration form or you will be charged.)

Financial Report for December 2014

The tables below indicate our financial situation as of the end of December 2014 and the first half of our 2014-15 fiscal year. We praise God and thank our faithful supporters for responding so abundantly to our year-end Impact Campaign. Gifts during the comparable campaign in 2013 were, by comparison, $132,000. Unrestricted general fund donations during December of $264,096 from churches and individuals were $200,237 above the $63,859 December budget for these types of contributions.(The $264,096 donation total for December includes a special $100,000 gift not included in the Impact 2014 year-end-appeal total receipts shown in the graph below.) Expenses of $121,214 were $31.326 above the $89,915 budgeted for expenses. In addition, we received $988 toward our Capital Fund in December.


 GENERAL OPERATING FUND - DECEMBER 2014
fundraising ideas for schools, churches, and youth sports teams
Graph shows results of our
Impact 2014 Campaign
as of Jan.6, 2015

 Donation Income (unrestricted)
$264,096 
 Other Income
$22,036 
 Total Income
$286,132 
 Expenses
$121,214 
 Net Income
$128,714 
 GENERAL OPERATING FUND -  FISCAL 2014-15
Donation Income
$488,296 
Other Income
$148,867 
Total Income
$637,163 
Expenses
$504,143 
Net Income
$133,020 

 CAPITAL FUND
 Capital Campaign Goal
$3,500,000 
 Received
$3,395,126 
 Long-term Pledges Outstanding
$286,321 
 Total Received and Pledged
$3,681,447 
 Outstanding Obligations
$35,000 
 Monthly Interest Payment
$2,876 
 Remaining Mortgage
$580,817 


 

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the "Donate" button above. Gifts may also be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687.


THE GPTS ADVANCEMENT INITIATIVE

From now until the end of 2015, Greenville Seminary urges you to join in our critical-needs Advancement Initiative by donating and enlisting a team of fellow supporters. Here's how it works:

Click on this link and then either select the orange DONATE TO YOUR CHARITY box to make a donation or, better yet, click on the black FUNDRAISE FOR YOUR CHARITY box to start your own peer-to-peer fund-raising campaign on behalf of GPTS. Once you have created your campaign, click on the "Manage Team" tab on your fund-raiser campaign page, then on the "Invite Team Members" box to create an e-mail message notifying your contacts about your fund-raising efforts on behalf of Greenville Seminary. In turn, they will have the opportunity to give or start a campaign of their own.


As you reach out, or even if you do not participate in this Crowdrise.com effort, we would appreciate knowing about your contacts. We are asking you to provide the names of five prospective donors from among your friends and acquaintances. To make your pledge and referrals, please fill out and submit the form here.
  
Most of all, be fervent in prayer that God would provide all that is needed for us to do what He has called us to do in this ministry which the church so badly needs in these uncommon times.

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. (The tax deduction is reduced by the fair market value of any premium received in return for a donation.) See here for information about planning your last will and testament with the Kingdom of God in mind.



Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: Spread the Word! Do you know someone that would be interested in learning more about our organization or supporting us? If so, share a link to this newsletter. (Click the tiny "M" e-mail icon at the bottom of this post.) Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Tuition Waiver and Church Sponsorship Policies Updated

As reported in the September 2014 issue of GPTS Online. an increasing number of students benefiting from Greenville Seminary's unique tuition-waiver program has put pressure on tuition income levels for the seminary. To address this problem, the Board of Trustees at its Fall 2014 meeting adopted changes to the tuition waiver policy.

Currently, the policy says in part that students may have their tuition waived if their sending church supports the seminary at a rate of $15.00 per communicant member per year per student, with a minimum of $750 per year per student. That policy remains in effect for students already enrolled under the program, although their churches are encouraged to increase their support to the new levels approved by the board.

New Support Levels


Effective for new students enrolled on or after July 1, 2015, the rate of support has been raised to $20.00 per communicant member per year per student, with a minimum of $1,000 per year per student.

These thresholds still do not generally rise to the level of the full cost of tuition, so GPTS continues to rely heavily on donations to meet its general operating fund needs.

For a full explanation of our tuition policies, click on the Tuition tab on this page of our web site.

Sponsorship Policy Changes


The board also approved a change in the level of support required of church bodies who enter into formal accountability agreements with the seminary. The rationale for this oversight and sponsorship program has been stated as follows:
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary being committed to the full authority and inspiration of the Bible and to the full subscription to the Westminster Confessional Standards, desires to enter into a relationship of accountability to the courts of the Church who share these positions. Within the modern Church there is often an uncertainty regarding the meaning of such commitment. At present, the Seminary desires to be accountable to presbyteries and sessions, which often have greater unity on such positions.
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Terms of Presbyterial Accountability 
Each Presbytery (or Synod or General Assembly) that desires to participate in an accountability relationship with Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary shall express by a resolution spread on its Minutes and sent to the Seminary:

  1. Its full commitment to the Bible as the infallible and inerrant Word of God, as originally given; and to its total sufficiency as the only infallible rule of faith and life.
  2. Its wholehearted commitment to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as held by the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as the system of doctrine taught in the Scripture.
  3. Its intention to support Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as an institution committed to providing theological instruction necessary for preparing men for the ministry of the Word. This support first of all shall consist of a commitment on the part of the Presbytery to pray regularly for the Seminary, that she would remain true to her stated goal of providing theological instruction for preparing men preparing for the gospel ministry under the full authority of the Bible, and with a full commitment to the full system of doctrine set forth in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. Second, the Presbytery will support the Seminary by commending her to candidates for the ministry as a place for their theological education. Third, three-fourths of the churches in the Presbytery will support the Seminary by giving $7.50 per communicant member, or that the Presbytery will give $7.50 per communicant member for three-fourths of its entire membership with a minimum sponsorship level of $1,500.
At its last meeting, the board approved changes to the support levels listed in the final sentence of numbered paragraph 3 above. The sentence now reads:
Third, three-fourths of the churches in the Presbytery will support the Seminary by giving $10.00 per communicant member, or that the Presbytery will give $10.00 per communicant member for three-fourths of its entire membership with a minimum sponsorship level of $2,000.
For complete information on church sponsorship, visit this page on our web site.


Canada Revenue Rejects GPTS Application

For several years, GPTS Trustee Bruce Vrieling, a resident of Canada, and Development Director Garry Moes have been seeking ways to have Greenville Seminary recognized as a charity to facilitate tax deductions for Canadian supporters. Canadian law requires tax-exempt charities to have a physical presence in the country, and all efforts on our part to receive recognition by the Canada Revenue Agency failed.

More recently, Mr. Vrieling, who is an alumnus of the seminary and serves as information technology director, tried another approach by seeking to have GPTS recognized as a "prescribed university" under Canadian income tax regulations.

Last month, Canada Revenue rejected our application for such status, stating:
  • We cannot confirm that Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary ordinarily includes Canadian students in the student body because the student information provided:
  • did not cover a ten year period; and/or
  • was not sufficient to establish that there was more than one Canadian student enrolled each year during the ten year period under review.
The information provided indicates that for 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2014 there was only one verifiable Canadian student enrolled. 
The information provided did not confirm that Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is empowered, in its own right, to confer degrees of at least the baccalaureate level, according to the academic standards and statuary definitions prevailing in the country in which the school is located.
GPTS currently has three Canadian students, Tom Van Maanen, Adam Harris, and Martin Dendekker. Mr. Van Maanen is a senior student, Mr. Harris is a third-year student, and Mr. Dendekker is a first-year student. In addition to Mr. Vrieling's board membership, Rev. Jeff Kingswood, a Canadian pastor, serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees.

GPTS is authorized to grant degrees under South Carolina law, which does not require a formal application to do so from theological schools. However, it is not accredited by any government-recognized accrediting agency, although its academic program is accredited by the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries, which is seeking recognition by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.




Ten Facts About and Five Trends Among the Unchurched

Note: The following is an excerpt from an article by The Barna Group.

"Fewer Americans are attending church. So, who are these new churchless Americans? Are there significant demographic or psychographic differences among those who attend church and those who don’t?

"Since 1984, Barna Group has collected data and provided insight about the intersection of faith and culture, including exploring the behaviors and attitudes of those unconnected to churches. During the past three decades, Barna has conducted tens of thousands of interviews with unchurched people. Based on those interviews and the resulting 'tracking data,' here are 10 facts about the 'churchless' in America.
  1. The number of unchurched people in America would make the 8th most populous country in the world.
  2. In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada.
  3. The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church.
  4. While the churchless are primarily men, the percentage of women in their ranks is on the rise.
  5. The unchurched in America tend to be less educated than the churched.
  6. The Pacific Coast is home to the largest percentage of churchless per capita.
  7. The unchurched are more likely to be unmarried.
  8. The younger a person is, the less likely he or she is to attend church.
  9. Unchurched adults are more likely to be white.
  10. The majority of the churchless in America claim Christianity as their faith."
For a complete explanation of these points, read the full story here.


  1. Secularization Is on the Rise
  2. People Are Less Open to the Idea of Church
  3. Churchgoing Is No Longer Mainstream
  4. There Are Different Expectations of Church Involvement
  5. There Is Skepticism about Churches' Contributions to Society



Spring Semester Courses


Spring Semester classes begin January 27. Courses offered this semester include:

OT12, Hebrew I – Dr. Shaw
OT14, Old Testament Introduction – Dr. Shaw
OT22, Hebrew Exegesis I, Dr. Shaw
OT32, Old Testament Biblical Theology – Dr. Morales

NT12, Beginning Greek II – Dr. Dyer
NT22, Introductory Greek II – Dr. Dyer
NT24, New Testament Introduction – Dr. Dyer
NT32, Greek Exegesis II – Dr. Dyer

ST11, Introduction to Reformed Theology – Dr. Pipa
ST32, Man and Sin – Dr. Pipa
ST41, Christ and Salvation – Dr. Pipa
ST42, Ecclesiology and Polity – Dr. McGraw
ST44, Eschatology – Dr. Pipa

AP14, Logic – Dr. Curto
AP22, Advanced Apologetics – Dr. Curto

AT32, Homeletics Practicum II – Dr. Pipa
AT44, Missions – Dr. Curto
AT46, Pastoral Counseling (intensive) – Dr. Scipione

HT22, Medieval Church History – Dr. McGoldrick
HT32, Modern Church History (intensive) – Dr. Willborn

Chapel services are held each Tuesday through Thursday, 11:15-12:00 p.m., Room 209. The public is invited to attend.

A class schedule can be viewed/downloaded here.



Confessing Our Hope Podcast & SermonAudio

Listen to the GPTS Web-based radio broadcasts, with new interviews by host William Hill periodically! Read more about this broadcast ministry at the Confessing Our Home web site. Recent programs are now available for listening or download at ConfessingOurHope.com. Newest among them:
  • #72 – Confessing the Faith. Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn was our guest as we discussed his book Confessing the Faith: A Readers Guide to the Westminster Confession of FaithA Canadian by birth, Chad Van Dixhoorn is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM) and the University of Cambridge (PhD). He has taught theology at the University of Nottingham, and has held three fellowships at the University of Cambridge, where he has researched the history and theology of the Westminster assembly and taught on the subject of Puritanism. A former British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, in 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in recognition of his five-volume work on the Westminster assembly, published by Oxford University Press. Van Dixhoorn has lectured at RTS DC since 2008 where he teaches church history and practical theology.
  • #73 – Faith & Practice, Session 10 — Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr, GPTS president, answers listeners' questions, including some dealing with the Sabbath, church-state relations, church offices, heavenly rewards, church discipline, and more.
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The popular and informative "Faith and Practice" segments feature answers by GPTS President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. to questions submitted by listeners. You may submit your questions by using the form on the podcast web site here or by emailing your question to confessingourhope@gpts.edu (include your name, address and email address).

You can access all of these newly released broadcast on the website at confessingourhope.com or through RSS (iTunes, an RSS reader, etc.) or through the GPTS Mobile App.

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You'll be blessed by sermons available on our SermonAudio channel. Check out our chapel service messages there, along with many other resources. Among the excellent chapel sermons offered recently was "The Ordinary Means of Overcoming Spiritual Dryness" by GPTS alumnus, Pastor Nick Napier of Boyce Memorial Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Kings Mountain, N.C.


Seeking Grace for 2015


O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me
Except the days are passed in thy presence,
In thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour
that I may not be a moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise;
testify thy love
Advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, as my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy call,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.
May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

Amen


– From the Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers