Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Trumpet Call: 500 Years of Gospel Freedom

Mark your calendar now for the 2017 Greenville Seminary Spring Theology Conference to be held March 14-16 next year. The conference will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation under the theme “Trumpet Call: 500 years of Gospel Freedom.” Planned lectures include:

  • Luther’s Providential God (Dr. Robert Kolb)
  • Luther’s Preaching on the Parables (Dr. Robert Kolb)
  • The Law as Friend and Foe in the Theology of Luther (Dr. Michael Whiting)
  • Luther on Life without Dichotomy (Dr. James McGoldrick)
  • The “Solas” of the Reformation (Dr. Michael Morales, Rev. Cliff Blair, Dr. Joseph Pipa, Dr. Joel Beeke, and Rev. Carl Robbins)

"The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers was a fundamental belief of all the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, but none gave it greater emphasis than Martin Luther," according to Dr. McGoldrick, Greenville Seminary's professor of church history. 

In an introductory summary of a 1984 article on "Luther on Life without Dichotomy," Dr. McGoldrick said, "The great German father of the Reformation regarded this doctrine as the basis for a proper understanding of the Christian life. His teaching on this subject stressed the wholeness of the believer's life as a priest before God regardless of his occupation. Luther believed that this doctrine demolished the sacred/secular dichotomy of the medieval church, a false dichotomy which undermined the entire biblical teaching about salvation and its implications for the Christian in the discharge of his social responsibilities. The true Christian life, in Luther's understanding, is the life of service rendered eagerly to one's neighbors, for true faith is always active in love."

As a believer liberated through faith in Christ, Luther never ceased to extol the unity and wholeness of the Christian priesthood, Dr. McGoldrick wrote.

"He contended that all of God's people belong to a single sacred estate in which all have equal access to the Father through Christ. Every form of honest toil performed for God's glory is therefore a divine calling. Luther spoke at times about a weltlicher Beruf (worldly calling), but he meant thereby a place in the world where one could fulfill his divinely ordained vocation. In Luther's understanding, one should serve gladly in the station where God has placed him, and that is to be determined mainly by the gifts of providence. To some God has granted the gifts for the gospel ministry; to others he has imparted talents for ruling principalities, mending shoes, or raising potatoes," he said.

Other conference speakers include:
  • Luther expert Dr. Robert Kolb, emeritus missions professor of systematic theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Luther scholar Dr. Michael Whiting, author of Luther in English, in which he argues that scholars have often oversimplified Luther's theology of Law and Gospel and have thus wrongly diminished his very significant, even principal, influence upon first-generation evangelicals William Tyndale, John Frith, and Robert Barnes during the English Reformation.
  • Dr. Michael Morales, professor of biblical studies at Greenville Seminary.
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr., president of Greenville Seminary.
  • Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Seminary
  • Rev. Cliff Blair, GPTS alumnus; pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, N.C.; and faculty member of Greyfriars Classical Academy, Matthews, N.C.
  • Rev. Carl Robbins, pastor of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, S.C.
Watch this newsletter and the GPTS web site for more details and registration opportunities in early November.

Here's what previous conference-goer Fred Sloan had to say about his family's experience:
In 2003, my wife and I with two of our children attended the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Spring Conference on worship. We had previously come to the doctrines of grace as taught in the Westminster Standards, but we still looked at worship from an Arminian, man-centered point-of-view. What a breath of fresh air to hear so clearly the Regulative Principle of Worship. We have been blessed with this understanding ever since. May God bless you in all your work! We thank God for all you do.


Encounter GPTS 2017

Each year in advance of the seminary’s annual Spring Theology Conference, we set aside some time to welcome and orient prospective students who may be considering GPTS for their theological education.

In 2017, we are again offering activities and opportunities to learn what GPTS is all about. Attending Encounter GPTS on March 13-14 also entitles prospective students to participate in the main conference as our special guests with complimentary registration. This is a unique opportunity to enhance your understanding about a seminary education and aid in your decision-making.

This pre-conference gathering for prospective students includes:

  • Campus Tour and Luncheon 
  • Opportunities to Attend Classes
  • Meetings with Faculty and Students
  • An Informative Panel Discussion – Get your questions answered!
  • Special Chapel Service
  • Complimentary Attendance at the Spring Theology Conference as Guest of the Seminary


Monday, March 13

11:30 a.m. – Welcome Luncheon in the Student Commons
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Attend Classes
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion with Faculty and Leadership
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Evening Class

Tuesday, March 14

9:00 – 10:45 a.m. – Attend Classes
11:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Pre-conference Chapel
1:00 p.m. – Theology Conference at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church Starts

To register, go here

Stewardship Report for September 2016

A Stewardship Message for Our Church Partners

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has always viewed itself as an academy serving the church. We state in our catalog: “Since the Church is the Christ-ordained means for the spiritual growth of God’s people, the Seminary believes it can best serve as an arm of the Church.”

We exist to serve the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We further state as part of our purpose: “…to provide for the Church an adequate supply and succession of able and faithful New Covenant ministers of the Word and sacrament; workmen that need not to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth; reproving, rebuking and exhorting by means of expository, experimental, and applicatory preaching.”

We are thankful for the support given by so many churches this past year. We are supported by churches from a variety of Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. Greenville Seminary from its inception has been involved in the life of many of these bodies. Our graduates are serving in a wide variety of Reformed and Presbyterian congregations throughout the United States and as denominational missionaries at home and abroad.

We are now humbly asking like-minded churches to prayerfully consider placing GPTS in your 2017 budget. As you may know, Greenville Seminary plans its programs on a fiscal-year basis, beginning each July 1st. As we made our plans this year it became evident that in order to meet expenses we needed to see an increase in donations from churches over last year. We also have a need to build a reserve fund to draw on during months when income is low. To meet these two needs, a 24 per cent increase in church support will be necessary this fiscal year. Please consider if you may be able to increase your congregation’s giving by a similar percentage. We certainly understand the challenge of squeezing extra money out of a budget. If there is no room for an increase, please consider the possibility of a special collection from the congregation. We would be glad to send you materials to distribute to your congregation outlining our distinctives and the importance of both individuals and churches investing in the education of future ministers.

Your commitment to us represents a partnership that goes beyond a mere financial transaction. We want to keep your congregation informed about our work and we covet your prayers. We try to keep donor congregations informed about our work via this monthly e-newsletter and our quarterly Foundations Update newsletter. The GPTS Board of Trustees envisions a close partnership with our donor churches which includes not only their financial support but also accountability to them on our part. To that end, we encourage you to consider becoming a GPTS Sponsoring Session or Consistory.

As stated above, our Board of Trustees and Faculty are very clear on our purpose as a seminary. As we seek to serve the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ we desire input from like-minded teaching and ruling elders on how we may better do so. We would particularly like to hear observations from ruling and teaching elders about the quality of ministerial candidates coming up through their Presbytery and Classis. We have developed a survey on the subject (see separate article in this newsletter). If one or more of your Session or Consistory members would be willing to fill out and submit it, we would appreciate it. We will be reporting on the findings in one of our future e-newsletters.

The Lord has used your partnership, as well as that of many other churches, to enable us to continue this work for 30 years. We recently asked several graduates to reflect on their education at Greenville Seminary. Pastor Jim McCarthy, now associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida, had this to say about how his years studying here prepared him for ministry,
What is man’s greatest need? A survey of modern ministerial approaches yields a plethora of conflicting answers, from community to entertainment, from academic enrichment to affirming encouragement. But the Bible is neither confused nor conflicted. “We implore you on behalf of Christ,” urged Paul, “be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). Thus, sinful man’s greatest need is to be reconciled to a holy God; and, like Paul, the minister of the gospel is a minister of that reconciliation. How has God equipped the gospel minister to bring sinners to reconciling faith in Jesus Christ?  Paul asked, “And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). Preaching is the Spirit-wrought agent of regenerating reconciliation! I am grateful to God that Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is neither confused nor conflicted regarding the unequaled significance of gospel preaching. I am grateful to God that my instructors demonstrated and demanded white-hot, Christ-centered, pleading passion from the pulpit, marked by unapologetic, exegetical fidelity to God’s word and reliance upon His Holy Spirit. I pray to one day reach the standard to which, God through them, has called me.”  
A current senior student, Christopher Campbell from Platte City, Missouri, recently called to pastor the Northland Reformed Church in Kansas City, Missouri, shares his experience, saying,

As a student under care within the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS), I very much appreciate the opportunity to attend a seminary that agrees with our denomination on the foundational principles — the authority of Scripture, the necessity of preaching, the centrality of Christ, and the worship of the Triune God. These foundational principles are relevant in every Christian generation. Therefore, every generation must work diligently to train men to passionately and persuasively proclaim the Word of God. During my time at GPTS, I have received both a practical training for ministry and a positive example of ministry. It is my prayer that God will, through the instruction I have received, use me in the service of His Church and unto the glory of His Name.
One other important aspect of our philosophy is the desire to make a seminary education financially accessible to all. Most schools receive about 75 per cent of their income from students. We have reversed that and receive only about 25 per cent of our income from tuition and fees. That means we have to raise annually about 75 per cent of our operating income from individuals and churches.

For this reason, we are addressing this to faithful church leaders to ask you to consider placing the seminary in your 2017 budget. If you cannot place us in your church budget this year, would you consider a special offering on behalf of Greenville Seminary?

We are encouraged by Jim’s and Christopher's testimonies and those of other graduates and students. We hope these are an encouragement to you also. The Lord calls His men and equips them, and we are privileged to participate in His Work. We thank you again for your partnership with us.

~ President Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr. and Development Director Garry Moes contributed to this report.

Financial Report for September 2016

The tables below indicate our general operating fund financial situation as of the end of September and the first quarter of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Budget Performance:

Unrestricted general fund donations from churches ($23,591) and individuals ($57,795) through September 27 totaled $81,386, which was $3,386 above the $78,000 budgeted for such income. Expenses of $101,712 in September were $2,860 above the $98,852 budgeted for expenses.

Actual Income and Expenses:

Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income
Total Income
Net Income

Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income
Net Income

 Capital Campaign Goal
 Long-term Pledges Outstanding
 Total Received and Pledged
 Outstanding Obligations
 Monthly Payment (Interest Only)
 Remaining Mortgage

Donate to GPTS through the PayPal Giving Fund. Giving through this Fund means 100% of your gift will reach GPTS, without the usual processing fees deducted. You can also support the seminary by buying and selling through the eBay for Charity system.
Gifts may also be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687.

And don't forget to do your online shopping at AmazonSmile. Log on to and select Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as your charity. Or click on the AmazonSmile banner at the very bottom of this e-newsletter. 

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable clients: Click here for Donor-Advised Fund direct deposit. Wells Fargo employees: check with your company about matching gifts to GPTS.
Do you work for a company that offers matching gifts when you contribute to a charity? Why not ask your employer about whether your gifts to GPTS can be matched. Here is a list of some of the top companies that offer matching gifts or reward your volunteer work for your charity. Many other companies do as well, to support employee charitable giving and extend corporate philanthropy.

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

Winter Term Courses and Continuing Education

The Winter Term intensive instructional program at Greenville Seminary January 2-20, 2017 offers a special opportunity for pastors and others to obtain continuing education credits. The courses in historical and applied theology may be audited ($30 per credit hour) or taken for credit ($200 per credit hour). The courses include:

  • AT20 Introduction to Homiletics, Mr. Breno Macedo, 3 credit hours. An introduction to the biblical, Reformed view of preaching. The course will focus on the primacy of preaching, sermon preparation and delivery, the art of exposition and application, and some necessary emphases and pitfalls in preaching.
  • AT30 Reformed Worship, Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., 2 credit hours. This course equips students to articulate what is biblical in Reformed worship, to develop its principles from Scripture, to critique modern attacks on the Regulative Principle, to trace its development in history, and to apply the principles of worship to the preparation and leading of worship.
  • AT40 Reformed Pastor, Dr. Ian Hamilton, 3 credit hours. A study of the day-to-day responsibilities of a local pastor, covering the role of the pastor as administrator, ruler, teacher, counselor, and friend.
  • HT10 Presbyterian Church History, Dr. C.N. Willborn, 2 credit hours, includes a tour of historic sites in Charleston and Columbia, S.C.
Contact the Office of the Registrar for enrollment information. E-mail: Phone: Kathleen Curto, 864-322-2717 ext. 302. Online registration available soon.

The State of Theology: A Grim Assessment

Do you wonder why a theological school like Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is necessary? With 200-300 or more seminaries, large and small, in the United States, what contribution is GPTS making to theological education?

A recent survey by Ligonier Ministries, "The State of Theology," reveals that vast numbers of Americans, even church-going, Bible-professing evangelical Christians, no longer hold to the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Ligonier President and CEO Chris Larson, an alumnus of Greenville Seminary, and Reformation Bible College President Stephen Nichols have discussed the survey and its frightening implications in an interview with Tabletalk magazine.

"This study demonstrates the stunning gap in theological precision and awareness throughout our nation," Larson said.

"This ongoing survey can be used to focus our aim as Christians as we proclaim the light of God’s truth to a darkened world. We believe it is essential to know the core beliefs of Americans and share those findings freely with pastors and church leaders," he said.

Nichols added, "Faithful Christians can look at these survey results and lament and decry the state of theology in America. Or, we can look at these results and engage our Great Commission work with a renewed urgency and purpose. ... It is easy to get caught up in trends and apply our resources to chasing after current news cycles. This survey reminds us of the necessity of teaching the foundational truths, of teaching on God’s holiness, on Christ’s person and work, on humanity’s true need to be saved from the wrath of God, and on the Bible’s authority—even in the twenty-first century."

Greenville Seminary was founded to help restore the church to the foundations of the Christian faith, based on the authority of the Bible and the confessions of the historic confessions of the Reformation. This emphasis makes GPTS poised to effectively address the stark revelations of the Ligonier survey results as the seminary seeks to reform the church by restoring its ministry through the ordinary means of by which God extends His grace — preaching, prayer, biblical worship and the sacraments.

Greenville Seminary's distinctives include unswerving commitments to:

  • The absolute authority of Scripture.
  • Doctrinal integrity through subscription to and teaching of historic Reformed confessional standards.
  • Emphasis on learning the original languages of scripture so that the Word of God can be thoroughly and precisely understand and communicated in the preaching of the Word.
  • Christ-centered, heartfelt, passionate preaching, born in the personal piety of the preacher and communicated skillfully in life-changing ways to the hearers of the Word.
  • The preservation of our Christian heritage through knowledge of church history and theological development through the ages.
For more on our distinctives, go here.

Survey on Theological Education

Greenville Seminary seeks to determine the needs of the church regarding the preparation of ministers and church leaders. This survey is designed to assess the church’s perceptions about the state and health of theological education generally and the degree to which Greenville Seminary is or should be meeting the needs of the church in the realm of theological education. Our goal is having an open ear to the needs of Christ’s church — we are “servants of the servants of God.” Our Stewardship Report in this month's e-newsletter explains more about our partnership with the church.

If you are an officer in a church, we would appreciate your input.

Complete the Survey Online Here

GPTS Alumni Addressing Spiritual Needs in Corrupt Brazil

As the eyes of the world were focused on Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the nation continued a long fall into political, spiritual, moral and economic crises, with widespread corruption plaguing all of the nation's social structures. Shortly after the Olympics, Marxist President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office by impeachment, an effort which was backed by many evangelicals in the country.

In the background, the largely Roman Catholic country's evangelical and charismatic churches are experiencing new growth, and Greenville Seminary graduates there are laboring in a mix of true spiritual growth, religious chaos and cultural corruption.

As reported last month in World news magazine, "The growth of both churches is part of a Protestant wave sweeping across the most populous — and still predominantly Catholic — nation in South America. Beyond numerical increases, Brazil’s Protestants — including evangelicals — are experiencing success on another front as well: They’re wielding considerable influence on Brazil’s unwieldy political process."

Breno and Roberta Macedo and their twins
Among the Protestant leaders cited in World's report is Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary graduate Breno Macedo, now adjunct professor of homiletics at GPTS. Pastor Macedo is one of four GPTS alumni serving in the well-established Presbyterian Church of Brazil. Rev. Macedo is associate pastor of a small Presbyterian Church in the capital city Brasilia. He also serves as coordinator of historical theology at the Theological Seminary of Nordeste.

"Here [in Macedo's church], you won’t find flashing lights, and you won’t hear about exorcisms or promises of financial prosperity in exchange for donations," World reported.

"Most Sundays at the small church include a simple service of hymns, prayers, preaching, and sacraments. It’s a stark contrast to the far more charismatic model in many other congregations, but Breno Macedo says steady church growth has come from Brazilians eager to hear sound teaching rooted in biblical doctrine."

Here is a further excerpt from World's article:
As politicians wait to see where such investigations take them, Christians across the spectrum are pondering their place in politics: What do Brazil’s minority of non-Pentecostal Protestants think about the church and politics, and how do Christians with major theological differences work together? 
BRENO MACEDO, the Presbyterian pastor in Brasília, is helping his flock engage politics by educating them. A graduate of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina, Macedo says he’s led studies of works such as Wayne Grudem’s writings on a biblical view of politics. 
While some church members still think Christians should stay quiet about political matters, Macedo says it’s critical to teach biblical principles in a culture still saturated with Marxist ideas. 
“We teach our young people that you can’t wear your Christian hat on the Lord’s Day and your secular hat at the university,” he says. “We’re trying to teach them how to think biblically.” 
What about some of the evangelical legislators pressing conservative ideas in government but promoting problematic theology in church? Macedo says he can separate the two. He doesn’t agree with pastors using religious leverage to obtain a political position, he says: “But it’s exactly those guys that are a stone in the shoe of the Marxists.” ...
The ongoing exposé of Brazilian government corruption suggests at least a temporary victory on the political front. But like some of the Olympic contests in Rio, these battles in politics and church call for long-term endurance. It’s the kind of work, says Breno Macedo, that could last a lifetime: “Either we need to see a revival, or it will take a hundred years.”
When he graduated from GPTS in 2011, Mr. Macedo noted, "Studying at Greenville Seminary was a privilege and a great honor. It is a school where theology meets piety, where theory meets practice, where communicating the word of God through preaching is the chief end of our studies."

Mr. Macedo holds a Th.M. Systematic Theology/Historical Theology from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, 2012; M.Div., Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 2011; B.A. Engineering-Telecommunications, University of Pernambuco (Brazil), and studied at Agnes Erskine Presbyterian College (Brazil).

Other GPTS alumni serving churches in Brazil include Paulo Brasil e Sousa, organizing pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Recife and teacher at the Presbyterian seminary there; Rodrigo Brotto, First Presbyterian Church in Recife; and Emilio Garofalo Neto in Brasilia. GPTS currently has a new student from Brazil, Felipe Cortial from Salvador, Bahia, where he and his wife Daniele were members of Memorial Presbyterian Church. GPTS maintains close ties with these and other ministries in Brazil, including frequent ministry visits by President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.

"Christ Reigns Supreme" — Sermon by Breno Macedo

Calvin History Tour and Reformation River Cruise

Two events significant to Greenville Seminary converge on the 2017 calendar — the 30th anniversary of the seminary's founding and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, whose doctrines form the framework for our ministry.

The seminary is considering a unique event to celebrate these two landmarks in our institutional life — a river cruise along Europe's Rhine River through areas of importance to the Calvinist Reformation. The "Calvin History Tour and Rhine River Cruise" would take guests from Amsterdam, through Germany, France, and on to Switzerland on a river longship, with fascinating land tours all along the way. The proposed dates are April 15-22, 2017.

In addition, time would be set aside while on board for teaching on the precious truths of the Reformation.

The seminary leadership is seeking to determine whether there is sufficient interest to warrant such an event. About 36 guests (18 couples) could be accommodated. The double-occupancy cost would range from $2,800 to $4,500 per person, depending on level of accommodations, with a portion of the proceeds going to GPTS.

To help us with our planning, please complete the survey here.

Meanwhile, mark your calendar also for another GPTS observance of the Reformation anniversary — the 2017 Spring Theology Conference: "Trumpet Call; 500 Years of Gospel Freedom." Dates: March 14-16.

New Look for Katekōmen

Greenville Seminary's online scholarly journal Katekōmen has a fresh new look. The new appearance has a white background for the text of articles, making it more readable. The style is a blend of contemporary and traditional. And the layout has a visual kinship to the seminary's e-newsletter, GPTS Online, that you are currently reading.

Journal content is updated regularly, with book reviews among the most frequent features, most often by Katekōmen's book reviewer and most prolific contributor, Dr. Ryan McGraw, professor of systematic theology. Also featured are articles, essays and papers by GPTS students, faculty and other contributors. The journal includes a sidebar with a monthly table of contents and a listing of topical categories and authors for articles on a wide variety of subjects. By clicking on a category tag, the reader will find all articles which in some way relate to the tag.

* * * * *

The journal's title is taken from a Greek word meaning "to hold fast," as included on the seminary's logo citing Hebrews 10:23 — "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering." The motto reflects the seminary's commitment to biblical confessionalism.

We hope you enjoy the new look and visit the journal often.

Podcast News: Federal Vision Exposed and Dismantled

New broadcasts are regularly aired and posted at Greenville Seminary's Confessing Our Hope podcast.

Pastor Dewey Roberts was the latest guest as he discussed his book Historic Christianity and the Federal Vision. Listen here.
The book was written as a response to a new twist on the old problem of legalism and to defend the unchanging gospel. The "Federal Vision" perspective teaches salvation by both moral works and ceremonial works. Pastor Roberts argues that it is leading the church back into Catholicism and the views opposed by the Protestant reformers. He carefully exposes and dismantles the views of the Federal Vision in twenty-two chapters. The false teachings of the Federal Vision on regeneration, grace, baptism, justification by faith, perseverance, election, and several others are assessed.
Dewey Roberts is pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Destin, Florida. He is a retired military chaplain with the rank of colonel. He is executive director of Church Planting International.