Friday, March 20, 2015

GPTS Statement on Biblical Marriage

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, throughout its history, has adopted and subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as its doctrinal standards, in the sincerely held belief that they accurately represent the teaching of Christian Scriptures on major points of Christian doctrine. Among the tenets of faith described in the Westminster Confession (A.D. 1647) is its Chapter 24: “Of Marriage and Divorce.”

This confession states in part:
  1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.
  2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
  3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord….

The Bible itself declares the commandment of God at the beginning of the human race as He instituted human marriage with these words: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Numerous Scriptures condemn homosexual relations, along with other impure and perverted thoughts and actions, as "abominations" before God.

Greenville Seminary thereby seeks to distinguish its long-held beliefs from the position of another Presbyterian body known as the Presbyterian Church (USA) which on March 17, 2015 adopted a change to its historic Book of Order concerning marriage. By this change, the PCUSA took the unbiblical position that marriage is “a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” This new position was set forth as a means of sanctioning so-called marital unions of persons of the same sex.

Although Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is not an official institutional affiliate of any of the several existing Presbyterian denominations, it aligns its beliefs and positions with those of a number of conservative, evangelical, and orthodox churches holding to the absolute authority of the Bible and the teachings of the Protestant Reformation. The following response by this seminary on Biblical marriage is adapted from a statement issued by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in response to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s departure from Biblical requirements for marriage:

We, like other evangelical, conservative, orthodox, and traditional Christians from many branches of the Christian faith, believe that, from creation, God ordained the marriage covenant to be a unique bond between one man and one woman. This biblical understanding is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed. Therefore, we believe that the divinely sanctioned standard for sexual activity is fidelity within a marriage between one man and one woman or chastity outside of such a marriage.

Throughout history, there has often been a conflict between what the Church has believed, taught, and confessed and the society to which the Church ministers. The Church, in contrast to the broader culture, is to base her views and practices on authoritative and timeless divine revelation found in the Holy Scriptures, and not on the changing and frequently subjective social practices within the society. The Church, therefore, has certain unchanging objective standards of biblical ethics.

This is especially challenging in this post-modern era of relativism. We think that the comparatively recent interpretation that biblical prohibitions against same-sex intimacy do not apply to “a same-sex marriage” is based on false premises and faulty reasoning and, therefore, is erroneous – no matter how well-intentioned.
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As we affirm what is sometimes called a traditional view of marriage, which we prefer to call biblical marriage, we seek to follow the apostolic practice of “speaking the truth in love.” We reach out to all persons with the Good News by which we are being saved that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

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NOTE: The GPTS 2016 Spring Theology Conference will explore the subject of Marriage, Family and Sexuality. Plan now to attend during the 2nd week of March.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Public Invited to Free Evening Services at Theology Conference




The public is invited to attend two free evening services during the annual Greenville Seminary Spring Theology Conference, March 10-12. The services will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C. A free-will offering will be received.

If you are unable to attend these evening services, you may listen to them online. They will be streamed live through our SermonAudio page found here. Click on the red WEBCAST icon. You can also access this page from our seminary web site by clicking on the icon that looks like this at the bottom of our home page at gpts.edu > > > >

The theme of this year's conference of "The Law of God in a Lawless Age." On Tuesday evening, Dr. Ian Hamilton, a GPTS trustee and adjunct professor and pastor of Cambridge Presbyterian Church in Cambridge, England, will preach on "What the Law Could Not Do (Rom. 8:3)". On Wednesday evening, GPTS President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. will speak on "The Third Use of the Law."

The issue of the place of the law of God in today's world is a critical  for the contemporary church. The conference will seek to answer such practical and theological 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?

Pre-registration opportunities for the full conference end at 5 p.m. on March 5. It will still be possible to register at the door, beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 10 at the church. On-site registration costs are $120 for adults, $90 for GPTS alumni and $30 for students. Persons unable to attend the full conference may register for one day at $45 ($10 for student, spouse or child).

Full conference information, including speakers and schedule, is available here.

GPTS Summer Institute Set for August 3-7


Find it difficult to grasp any sense of order in the Psalter? Have trouble locating the right psalm for a particular need? Since the time of Augustine until today, the Psalms have been read as individually wrapped treasures that stand alone rather than having inner connections within the book as a whole.

Greenville Seminary's 2015 Summer Institute will provide an in-depth look at "The Flow of the Psalms," with teaching by Dr. O. Palmer Robertson, Aug. 3-7 at the seminary. This week-long seminar is a greatly expanded version of a lecture presented by Dr. Robertson prior to our 2014 Spring Theology Conference. Dr. Palmer's lectures will take place during the morning sessions daily; during the afternoon sessions, Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., will be lecturing on Preaching the Psalms. Pastors attending will be given the opportunity to submit sermons on the Psalms for critiquing.

The Flow of the Psalms explores the fascinating structures of psalm groupings that will enable you to place as many as 80 per cent of the psalms in their relationship to the whole of the book. Discovering groupings that feature psalms celebrating creation, psalms of corporate praise, psalms of the innocent sufferer, psalms of the guilty sufferer, psalms anticipating prosperity and long life, psalms of personal and national disaster, will enable you to “find your way” to the right psalm for a specific occasion. Understanding these inherent connections can only enrich the understanding of each individual psalm.

Throughout the whole, the promised Messiah and his universal reign provide a unifying focus. Charts displaying the structure inherent in each of the five Books of the Psalter make it possible to visualize the progression in redemptive truth from Psalm 1 to Psalm 150.

Registration opportunities will be available soon. Watch this newsletter for further announcements.

Campus & Community Life at GPTS

Greenville Seminary, founded in 1987, is blessed with a beautiful and functional campus in Taylors, a residential suburb of Greenville, South Carolina. The seminary's quiet and gracious home, opened in 2007, is on the campus of a once-abandoned public high school on Taylors's Main Street. In this brick and colonnaded home, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary seeks to realize our founders' vision to see an institution that focused on the historic Reformed faith without forcing men to incur debt in the process. The first is accomplished through our theological and historical distinctives, the second through our low-cost tuition program.

Greenville Seminary is set apart by both curriculum and style. We are committed to upholding the authority of Scripture and doctrinal integrity as well as the Westminster Confession. In addition to a strong focus on the original languages of Scripture, we also stress Christ-centered preaching and the preservation of our Christian heritage. We accomplish these goals by offering a classical curriculum (to form a strong learning foundation), an emphasis on preaching style and intense theological courses. The Board of Trustees has also set a cap on the number of resident students so that instructors can have a clear, mentoring relationship with future ministers.

Fellowship Presbyterian Church, Greer, S.C.
The Church Community
One of the most frequent questions asked is, "What are the churches like there?" Greenville is blessed to have over 20 Reformed and Presbyterian churches in the Upstate area. This provides good opportunities for our faculty and students to worship, serve, and be involved. These local churches provide a vital backbone to support our students during their stay at Greenville Seminary. 

The Local Community
GPTS is blessed to be in the heart of a delightful region of America's "Bible Belt," where traditional values are a way of life and religion is part of the public conversation. Close to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the area is rich in historical sites, museums, art galleries, great universities, lakes, parks and world-class dining and entertainment opportunities. For more information about the Greenville area, go here.

Student Conduct
Student Body Association planning for the Spring Conference
All degree candidates at Greenville Seminary are expected to conduct themselves at all times as mature Christians. The seminary believes the Westminster Standards to a sound exposition of the biblical principles of conduct as well as of faith and doctrine. The Seminary reserves the right to refuse or dismiss students whose conduct fails to meet the ethical principles set forth in the Bible and the Westminster Standards. Admission to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as a degree candidate assumes the desire on the part of the student to learn the Reformed Faith as understood by the Seminary. The candidate's conduct is expected to conform to this assumption at all times.

Housing
Since the Seminary has very few housing facilities, students are responsible for arranging their own housing. A number of apartments and affordable homes in the Greenville area are within a reasonable driving distance from the Seminary. As far as is possible, the Seminary office will provide information about housing opportunities. More information on housing in the Greenville area is available here.

Chapel
Chapel is held Tuesday through Thursday each week during the semester. Attendance is required for all students. The local community is invited to share in these chapel services, held from 11:15 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Those who attend find them a great help in spiritual development. Guest ministers from the area generally preach on Tuesdays; President Joseph Pipa, Jr. usually preaches on Wednesdays; a faculty member or advanced student preaches on Thursdays.

Bookstore confab
Bookstore
The Seminary operates a small campus bookstore and is able to make available most textbooks to the students. Most of our bookstore operations are now based on Amazon.com.

Library
GPTS Library
The Seminary houses a select collection of materials, including approximately 7,000 volumes, that will meet most of the student's academic needs. In addition, a local university library, 10 minutes away from campus and with approximately 300,000 volumes, has extended full lending privileges (including access to Interlibrary Loan) to GPTS students. The Department of History of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Montreat, North Carolina, is approximately two hours from the Seminary and houses a large collection of books, periodicals, and manuscripts relating to Presbyterian history. Those interested in historical research are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. The South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, SC is 1½ hours from Greenville. Housed in its collection are several manuscripts related to the study of J.H. Thornwell, South Carolina, and American Presbyterian History.

Computer Use

Students are encouraged to obtain a computer for use during their seminary career. Laptops are welcome in classrooms. Library computers are available the Media Room. We encourage students to have an active e-mail account to facilitate Seminary/student communications. Our classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment allowing distance-learning students to "attend" classes remotely.


Financial Report for February 2015

The tables below indicate our financial situation as of the end of February 2015 and the first eight months our 2014-15 fiscal year. Unrestricted general fund donations from churches and individuals during February totaled $24,223, which was $39,636 below the $63,859 budgeted for such income. Expenses of $78,810 were $11,105 below the $89,915 budgeted for expenses. In addition, we received $1,163 toward our Capital Fund in February. The seminary also repaid a long-standing $35,000 capital fund loan during February.


 GENERAL OPERATING FUND - FEBRUARY 2015
fundraising ideas for schools, churches, and youth sports teams
Graph shows February
contributions vs. Budget 
(upper number)

 Donation Income (unrestricted)
$24,223 
 Other Income
$35,266 
 Total Income
$59,489 
 Expenses
$78,810 
 Net Income
–$19,321 
 GENERAL OPERATING FUND -  FISCAL 2014-15
Donation Income
$526,830 
Other Income
$150,145 
Total Income
$695,950 
Expenses
$590,619 
Net Income
$98,331 

 CAPITAL FUND
 Capital Campaign Goal
$3,500,000 
 Received
$3,397,007 
 Long-term Pledges Outstanding
$285,738 
 Total Received and Pledged
$3,682,745 
 Outstanding Obligations
$0 
 Monthly Interest Payment
$2,968 
 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.

Have Breakfast with GPTS at the PCA General Assembly

Reserve a spot for breakfast at the annual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Greenville Seminary is hosting a morning get-together on Wednesday, June 10, at 7 a.m. in Banquet Room H of the Chattanooga Convention Center, site of the 2015 GA. If you're a commissioner or guest, we cordially invite you to join us for breakfast, fellowship and an update on our ministry.

The breakfast is free, but we need reservations. You may submit a reservation online here: bit.ly/gptsbreakfast. The reservation form has spaces for you to indicate guests who may be attending with you.

We hope you will join us in June!


GPTS at Ligonier Bay Area Conference


Greenville Seminary will have a presence at the Ligonier San Francisco Bay Area Regional Conference in Walnut Creek, California, March 13-14. We look forward to an opportunity to share with our West Coast friends about our ministry. Look for our table in the exhibit area. GPTS will be represented by Development Director Garry Moes.

The conference on "Pilgrims in Progress" will be held East Bay area at Northcreek Church, 2303 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek. Speakers include Drs. R.C. Sproul (via live video streaming), W. Robert Godfrey, Derek Thomas, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. They will talk about what heavenly citizenship means for our earthly pilgrimage, our pursuit of truth, and our future hope, among other topics.

GPTS Welcomes New Staffer

Darren Brown
Greenville Seminary welcomed new maintenance supervisor Darren Brown in February, replacing custodian John Jolly who has been unavailable for some time.

Darren has lived in the Taylors, S.C. area for two and a half years and is a member of nearby Covenant Community Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Although his father was a native of South Carolina, Darren was born and raised in Houma, Louisiana, and graduated from St. Amant High School in St. Amant, La. He is the second youngest in a family of eight children. Darren and his wife Janet have been married for 21 years. Prior employment in South Carolina was as a crane operator at Allied Steel in Taylors.

Darren says he greatly enjoys his work at Greenville Seminary. His supervisor, Property Manager Doug Watson, says Darren is "doing a fantastic job. He seems so eager and happy doing what he does. He seems eager to please."

Mr. Jolly returned March 26 to part-time contract employment at the seminary. Mr. Brown will be on campus Mondays through Wednesdays, and Mr. Jolly will work on Thursday, Fridays and during any weekend activities on campus.

Confessing our Hope: The GPTS Podcast

New programs are now available at Confessing Our Hope, the web broadcast of Greenville Seminary, hosted by William Hill.

New editions include:

"Faith and Practice #11" — GPTS President Joseph Pipa Jr. answers listeners' questions the Covenant of Works, the Lord's Day, Presuppositional vs. Classical apologetics, Lutheran vs. Reformed views of the Lord's Supper, examining individuals for the Lord's Supper, the Parish model, and others.

"Robert Rollock and the Covenant of Works" — Breno Macedo of Brazil previews his lecture at the 2015 Spring Theology Conference.

"Ruling Elders" — Pastor and GPTS Lecturer Bill Shishko discusses the office of ruling elder, especially the identification and training of these men in Christ's church.