Saturday, June 24, 2017

Board of Trustees Adds Four New Members; Promotes Dr. Shaw

The Greenville Seminary Board of Trustees selected four new members during its Spring meeting in May. They are Dr. Kevin Backus, Lt. Cornelius Johnson, Dr. David B. McWilliams, and Rev. Travis Grassmid.

The board also approved the promotion of Dr. Benjamin Shaw from associate professor to full professor of Old Testament and Hebrew. Dr. Shaw's inaugural lecture will be announced at a later date.

In other personnel matters, the board declined to renew an employment contract for Director of Communications Garry Moes, who has relocated to California following major heart surgery.

"I am very appreciative of the work Mr. Moes did. He faithfully served God and the seminary and aided us in continuing to improve our development and recruitment," said President Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr.

* * * * *

Dr. McWilliams is senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Lakeland, Florida.

"I am committed to serving Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary because of its rare combination of Reformed scholarship and piety. To be pointed, what commends Greenville is its dedicated submission to Biblical authority, confessional Reformed theology, and experiential Calvinism, all with the passionate purpose of forming men for Gospel ministry. The Reformed and Presbyterian churches desperately need preachers; preachers who expound God’s Word faithfully, who love Reformed confessional theology wholeheartedly, and who are committed to working through the implications of the Reformed heritage for all of life. We need preachers who prayerfully labor for needed Reformation and revival. These are the sorts of ministers that, with God’s help, Greenville seeks to produce. May the Triune God in His loving sovereignty bless this school that generations of solid, pious preachers will fill the pulpits of our denominations and shepherd the flock purchased with Christ’s own blood."

Lt. Johnson is a chaplain with the U.S. Navy and is an ordained teaching elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

"I graduated from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in May of 2000. This school holds a special place in my heart. The theological education that I received, the instructors that trained me, and the camaraderie I enjoyed with my fellow classmates God used to prepare me for the ministry. Since my graduation, my seminary education has propelled me to a further and deeper study of the Reformed Faith. It has also been a great assistance to me as a military chaplain. Working in a pluralistic environment with a diversity of beliefs, faiths, and practices my seminary education has been an anchor to keep me grounded in the doctrines of grace. It is an honor to be elected as a board trustee, and I look forward to serving this great seminary."

Rev. Grassmid is pastor of Zion Reformed Church in Menno, S.D. He is also an alumnus of GPTS and serves on the board as representative of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS).

"As a graduate of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (2008), I have been blessed to serve my present church for the past five and a half years (having briefly served earlier in the URCNA), GPTS has been used to train me in the fundamentals of the work of the pastorate, a training for which I am always grateful. We keep the seminary always in our prayers, and are thankful that not only our denomination, but also our local congregation has been pleased to support the work of the seminary. It is my prayer, that the Lord would be pleased to use my time as a trustee of GPTS in a way which continues to bless the church, through the seminary's faithful training of new pastors for the work of the ministry of the Word and Sacrament. I look forward to commencing my labors as a representative of the Reformed Church of the United States, for continuing the work of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary."

Dr. Backus is pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Grand Island, New York. He also serves as adjunct professor of biblical counseling at Western Reformed Seminary.

"The public and private proclamation of God's word: that's what ministry is all about. Effectively equipping ministers for that work is the passion of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I count it a privilege to be able to partner with you, albeit in this very small way."

Report from the Chairman of the Board

By Rev. Jeff Kingswood

Our Spring meetings are always a highlight in the work of our board, for they are built around the graduation banquet and ceremony. We get to see the fruit of the many hours professors, students, staff, and supporters have put into the work of the seminary. This year, we conferred one special degree, and we graduated nine men who are heading into ministry. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary produces pastors. That is our calling.

That calling is reflected in the board’s adoption of a new motto for the school, emphasizing what we do: “Equipping Preachers, Pastors, and Churchmen for Christ’s Kingdom.” That motto’s truth is most clearly seen when we look at our graduates, the vast majority of whom go on to serve pastorates throughout North America, but also around the world. Our incoming class has students from the United States, Canada, India, Brazil, Peru, Korea, and Nigeria.

In order to equip men as preachers, pastors, and churchmen, we continue to build our faculty and staff with that vision in mind. We are actively considering faculty additions that could expand our already capable team. Our staff is increasingly proficient, and we are seeking to provide them with technology to improve their engagement with our students and supporters.

Like an individual Christian, a seminary cannot stand still — we need to be constantly growing and adapting to the challenges and opportunities that God places before us. Toward that end, we have added new board members who represent our growing constituency. The Rev. Lt. Cornelius Johnson, CHC, USN; the Rev. Dr. David McWilliams; the Rev. Travis Grassmid; and the Rev. Dr. Kevin Backus were all elected to our board last month to help us to provide the governance our growing seminary requires. (See separate report for details.)

Seminary Publishes New Book of Faculty Writings

The initial printing of a new book, Equipping Preachers, Pastors, and Churchmen, released by the seminary's publishing arm, Presbyterian Press, has arrived.

The book brings together select articles and book excerpts from the faculty of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to help current and future preachers, pastors, and churchmen.

In this collection, you will find resources on perennially relevant issues in the church.

Contents include:
  • Seminary Education - Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.
  • Pastoral Use of Biblical Languages - Sidney Dyer
  • The Glory of God’s House - L. Michael Morales
  • The Problem of Evil - Benjamin Shaw
  • Piety: Experimental Calvinism - Ian Hamilton
  • Calvin’s Doctrine of Vocation - James McGoldrick
  • The Church’s Evangelistic Mission - L. Anthony Curto
  • Honoring Christ in Church Courts - Ryan McGraw
  • In Thesi Deliverances - C.N. Willborn
  • Confessional Subscription - Morton H. Smith
  • The Diaconate - George W. Knight III
  • Leading in Worship - Joseph A. Pipa, Jr
More than 350 copies were distributed at the 45th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. Physical copies are available for order from the seminary. Contact or call 864.322.2717 for ordering information.

If you'd like to download a free electronic copy now, it is available here.

Stewardship Report for May 2017

As we near the end of our fiscal year, we are thankful that our revenues have remained above-budget, and the net-change in our assets has been positive. As we anticipate growth in our enrollment for the upcoming academic year, we are confident in God’s provision for us. We have high hopes that in the next year, we will not only welcome many new students into our midst (from around the world) and trustees to our board, but also new faculty and staff, as the Lord provides. As American churches gather for their annual assemblies and synods, we are reminded of the unique contribution of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to Presbyterian and Reformed churches around the world. Our graduates enter into the courts of the church, equipped to serve Christ and His bride as churchmen, just as they serve Christ and His bride in their congregations as preachers and pastors.

The tables below indicate our monthly general operating fund financial situation as of the end of May, with one month left in our 2016-17 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Unrestricted donations of $75,956 were $2,044 under the $78,000 budgeted for this month. FY income from all sources through the end of May of $1,183,784 was $77,184 above the budgeted amount of $1,106,600.

Actual Income and Expenses:

Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Total Donations (unrestricted)
Other Income
Total Income
Net Income
Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income
Total Income
Net Income

Income and Expenses at a Glance:

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

To financially support Greenville Seminary, contact Zack Groff at or call the Seminary at (864) 322-2717. You can also make your tax-deductible gift online here. Gifts may be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687.

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.

Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Summer Elective: Reformed Scholasticism

Dr. Ryan McGraw will be offering his elective course on Reformed Scholasticism again from August 17-18 and 21-22. 

This course introduces students to classic Reformed theology from A.D. 1560-1800, most of which is buried in Latin texts. The course treats the international context of the development of Reformed theology as well as how Reformed orthodoxy drew the best material from the entire Christian tradition to add precision, depth, and devotional warmth to theology. In addition, a significant part of the course teaches proper research methodology, which is designed to improve study and writing skills in students. 

"My aims are to help recover classic Reformed thought, to promote good historical method, and to learn how to translate research gleaned from historical ideas into contemporary uses in the church," says Dr. McGraw

If you are interested, then the course is listed on our summer registration form and you can use it to register, or you can sign up through the Registrar Kathleen Curto at or 864-322-2717 ext. 302.

Summer Institute 2017

The 2017 Summer Institute will focus on the preaching of God's Word. Designed as an interactive workshop, Let Your Progress be Evident to All will include examination of the sermons of effective preachers throughout church history. GPTS President Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr. will be the presenter.

Students will read two chapters in R.L. Dabney's Sacred Rhetoric and the new book by Dr. Murray Capill, The Heart is the Target. Students will listen to and evaluate 10 sermons from modern Reformed preachers.

The dates are July 31 to August 4 on the seminary campus in Taylors, S.C. The course is for ministers, elders, and men in the church. Current students may enroll for elective credit. Ordained ministers for enroll may enroll for continuing education credit. To register, contact the seminary registrar at or call the seminary at 864-322-2717 ext. 302, or fill out the brief form here.

Dr. Pipa will offer an abbreviated version in Viterbo, Italy, June 20-22. Contact him if you are interested.

Pipa Reviews the PCA Study on Women in Ministry

By Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.
President, Greenville Seminary

The issue of men’s and women’s respective and complementary roles in the life of the church is one that has invited perennial controversy. Sadly, that integral feature of mankind which God has designed as a great gift to His creation (see Genesis 2:18-25) has been a cause for disruption in the church in our day. The denomination of which I am a part – the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) – has recognized that there is a widespread confusion and dissatisfaction with regards to how gender roles are understood in modern evangelicalism, and rightly so. Evangelicals seem to be confused about what the Bible teaches about the roles of men and women in the life of the church

The 44th General Assembly of the PCA decided to address this confusion by forming an Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church. As we prepare to come together in June to evaluate and discuss the report from this committee, many dear friends and former students of mine have asked me to produce an article with my response. [See full text of the report here.]

I write this article, as many will recognize, as one who was opposed to the appointment of the Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in The Ministry of The Church. I continue to think that the appointment of the committee was wrong on procedural grounds, even if well intentioned.  Nevertheless, I thank the committee for its diligent work and desire to root its work in biblical exegesis and the historical practice of the Church. I also appreciate the pastoral tone of the report.

For the most part, I do not take exception to the committee’s exegetical work. I would, however, like to point out a few concerns. My first concern is with the sections dealing with women in the Old and New Testaments. With regards to the women in the Old Testament, the report draws certain conclusions that do not seem to be warranted by the text. For example, with regards to Huldah (2 Kg. 22:14-20) the report claims: “Huldah did not decree a course of action, but she proposed the course that king and nation followed” (Line 27, 28 page 2410) What evidence is there in the text that she proposed a course of action? Or as the report states with respect to women prophets: “However, they did serve as gifted leaders and teachers. Some had an exceptional ability to navigate situations wisely and train others to do the same. Huldah, Zipporah, Miriam, and Esther testify to the God-given talent and leadership ability of women in the Lord’s church” (Line 18-21 page 2410). Do the references to these women warrant such a broad-sweeping conclusion?

With respect to women prophesying in the New Testament, it would be helpful to note the distinction that John Owen made between the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy (Owen IV.  451, 452). The office of prophet, Eph. 2:20; 4:11, was an authoritative office in the church possessed only by men.  It was only said of women that they prophesied (Acts 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5). If a woman prophesied, she was a receptacle of God’s message and offered no comment. In 1 Cor. 14:29, Paul referred to the office of prophet. Hence, women would not be among those listed in verses 30-33. As to the prohibition in 1 Cor. 14:34, 35 for women to keep silent, the report says the prohibition applies only to preaching or passing judgment on prophecies (line 8 page 2416). The prohibition, however, seems much broader: “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves just as the Law also says (see 1 Tim. 2:13, 14). If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” The word “improper is “shameful” or “disgraceful.” Asking husbands at home does not fit with passing judgment, nor would passing judgment by itself be shameful. Paul seems to prohibit any public speaking in worship apart from prophesying (in which the woman is only a receptacle for the Spirit) or unison speaking or singing.  Paul’s referenced to the law is unpacked in 1 Tim. 2:13, 14. Moreover, one should interpret 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 in light of Paul’s clear prohibition in Timothy. 2:11,12 for a woman “to remain quiet.”

I appreciate the report’s dealing with 1 Tim. 2:11-15. However, line 22,23 page 2418 is unguarded: “Paul sometimes lets women teach men. He permitted female prophets to speak in Corinth and listed female coworkers.” The first part is true, if one distinguishes informal teaching, like Priscilla and Aquila, but where does Paul allow a woman to teach a man in a formal setting? As to the second part, as is pointed out above, the New Testament does not refer to a woman as a prophet.

As to the grounds of Paul’s injunction, I would have liked to see the report deal with verse 14, where Paul gave as his second ground that the woman was deceived. There seems to be a direct correlation between Paul’s injunction and the woman being deceived. (I offer an interpretation of this in another recent article on this site). Moreover, there is a hint in verse 15, reinforced by verse 10, as well as Titus 2:3-5 and Mk. 15:41, that a woman’s primary role in the church is domestic, including teaching women and children, counseling women and children, serving, and assisting deacons.

The report does a very good job with 1 Tim. 3:11, although I wish they did not use the word deacon and women deacons in the narrative for the work of women. A reference to female deacons in the context of this report is not useful (line18 page 2427).  

With respect to chapter four, encouraging a robust and gracious complementarian practice, I would have liked the committee to affirm that the wife’s calling is to be a helper corresponding to the need of her husband, with a robust endorsement of a married woman’s unique role in the home and thus her domestic role in the congregation (see 1Timothy 2:15).

Excerpts from the Report's Conclusions

For the sake of Christ and His church, the committee encourages all women in the local church, as an exhibition of their love of God and neighbor (1 John 5:2-3), intentionally to:
  • recognize and honor the authority and rule given to the elders of the church and strive to support, help, and obey them as God has placed these male leaders over them (Heb. 13:7, 9, 17).
  • avoid contempt for or disparagement toward the male leadership (Eph. 4:29; 2 35 Tim. 2:14; Titus 2:3).
  • commit themselves to humble service, doing what is needed in every area of service which Scripture allows, seeking to honor their Master who came "not to be served, but to serve" (Matt. 20:28; Gal. 5:13; James 4:10; 1 Pet. 2:16).
  • develop and utilize their God-given gifts in ways that uphold the structure of the church and the family, express love and unity with others, and undergird the pulpit ministry (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 13:1-14:1; Eph. 4:1-16; Eph. 5:22-24). 

For the sake of Christ and His church (which church includes the women who are committed to fulfill their role in the above exhortation), the committee encourages the elders in each local church, as an exhibition of their love for God and neighbor, intentionally to:
  • recognize and honor the women who are under their authority as vital members of the body of Christ, leading them as shepherds who must give an account (1 Cor.11:11; Gal. 3:28; Heb. 13:17).
  • feed them sound doctrine and provide direction and nourishment for their souls 5 (John 21:15-17; Titus 1:9: Titus 2:1)
  • protect them from false doctrine and false teaching (Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1).
  • neither demean nor discourage them (Rom. 12:10; 1 Cor. 12:26).
  • provide opportunities for the development and utilization of women’s gifts in every area of service that Scripture allows (Eph. 4:15-16).
  • foster an atmosphere of trust and respect for their office under Christ by living trustworthily and honorably, showing true concern and gentle care for those entrusted to them (Titus 2:7-8; 1 Peter 5:2-3). 

Seminary Launches New Web Site and Logo

The web site of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has been redesigned and was launched in early June. The web site and the seminary's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) display the newly designed logo/crest as well.

Alumni Notes

John Miller
Carlisle, Pennsylvania seems to be a magnet for Greenville Seminary alumni. John Miller has received a call to Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle. Grace's Pastor David Campbell was recently called to a church in Preston England. Rev. Miller comes to Carlisle from Clarksville, Tenn. He and his family are expected to relocate to Carlisle in July.

Alumnus Dechard Stevens accepted a call to Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) some months ago. Also in Carlisle is alumnus Patrick Daly, who is serving as lead staff for Banner of Truth USA, a branch of a 52-year-old British-based Reformed publishing house. GPTS students and faculty frequently attend BOT conferences.

* * * * *

Berti Kona
Graduate Albert "Berti" Kona has recently completed his translation of John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion into Albanian. Mr. Kona is a missionary to the once atheist-communist country, which also now has a substantial Muslim population. 

Rev. Kona is a native Albanian who has returned to his homeland after attending Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to plant the first Reformed church in that country—Reformed Church in Durres (Kisha Reformuar Durres). During the Cold War, Albania was dubbed “the most atheistic nation in the world.” 

Along with church planting, Rev. Kona is involved in several other translation works: John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied; Lorraine Boettner’s Doctrine of Atonement and The Reformed Faith; The Westminster Assembly's Directory of Worship; and now, for the first time, bringing to the Albanian language and people the primary textbook of the Reformed Faith, Calvin’s Institutes. This latter project was done with the gospel hope that the Lord of the Church will use this sharp tool in Albania. The Konas mission is a work of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C., where Rev. Kona is a staff pastor. Visit Mission to Albania on the web:

* * * * *
William Castro

Alumnus William Castro served on the Ad Interim Study Committee on Women's issues for the Presbyterian Church in America, whose report was the subject of vigorous discussion at the PCA's June General Assembly meeting in Greensboro, N.C. 

Rev. Castro has recently written an article on the subject of inclusion of women and ethnic minorities in diaconate ministries. His article can be read at the Reformation 21 blog here

He is a church planter of Emmanuel Upstate PCA, in Greenville S.C., a multi-ethnic congregation of Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church and Calvary Presbytery. Rev. Castro has degrees from the University Seminary Evangelical of Lima (B.A., M.Div.) in Peru and from Greenville  Seminary (ThM).