Monday, February 11, 2013

Spring Theology Conference: The Doctrine of Man

It's Not Too Late to Register!

Listen to a one-hour preview with
Dr. Joseph Pipa Jr.
Christians familiar with the Westminster Catechisms revel in the clear and beautiful answer to the opening question, "What is the chief and highest end of man?" ( glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.) What is becoming more and more muddled in the mind of many others are the answers to that and other questions such as, "What is the origin of man?" and "What is his nature?"

These and other questions about the human equation will be examined during Greenville Seminary's 2013 Spring Theology Conference on "The Doctrine of Man." The conference will be held March 12-14 at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, S.C. Although the early-bird rate deadline has passed, registrations are still open for this important conference.

"Man was not created in an indifferent or neutral state, that is, neither good nor bad, without a holy character, nor was he in a state of infancy, a sort of an imbecile, who was slowly to awaken and develop, but he was created a mature man in a state of perfection," M.J. Bosma wrote in his 1927 Exposition of Reformed Doctrine, "The Doctrine of Man," adding, however, that this state of moral perfection did not mean he had reached the highest state of excellence of which he was capable.

"...Had Adam not fallen, there would have been development; Adam was perfectly happy, without any defect, but he could have gained higher excellence, greater knowledge and joy," Bosma said. "Adam had not reached the limit of increase; that would mean stagnation and consequent unhappiness. Adam was not created to stay in one fixed condition. He was at the beginning and not at the end of the way. He could increase, and he could also fall. He was a changeable being, who had the possibility of sinning and of not sinning. ... His life was holy, but Adam was not yet confirmed in the possession of life; he was to undergo a trial in order to be confirmed in his state and gain eternal life."

Adam stood in a two-fold relation towards God: as creature and as covenant head, Bosma said.

"Adam as a creature of God was naturally under obligation to love and serve his Maker, but to this natural relation of Creator and creature God added the covenant relation. As God's creature, Adam had to obey his Maker individually for himself, without any regard to his descendants. As placed under the condition of the covenant of works by God, he acted not alone for himself, but was the representative of the human race...."

Conference speakers will explore a variety of issues related to this original state of man, his fall, his redemption, and his divine commission.

The full roster of conference speakers and their topics is as follows:
  • Dr. Richard Belcher — "The Supernatural Creation of Man" (including examination of modern theories of theistic evolution)
  • Dr. Guy Waters — "The Covenant of Works"
  • Dr. Joel Beeke — "Temptation and Fall" (free Tuesday evening service)
  • Mr. Matthew Holst — "Red in Tooth and Claw? An Exegetical Evaluation of the Doctrine of Death Before The Fall"
  • Dr. Bill Vandoodewaard — "Thomas Boston and the Four-fold State"
  • Dr. Nelson Kloosterman — "Imago Dei – Man, the Image of God"
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa — "Original Sin" (free Wednesday evening service)
  • Dr. Nelson Kloosterman — "The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission – An Integrationist Model"
  • Mr. Gabriel Fluhrer — "Beware Lest Any Man Spoil You: Questioning the Philosophy of Science Used to Question the Bible's Doctrine of Man"

Regular registration rates are now in effect and continue until the registration deadline of 5 p.m. March 7. Higher rates will apply when the registration table for on-site sign-ups opens at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, March 12.

This year's events will include a return to the practice of a preconference chapel on the GPTS campus at 10:30 a.m. Guest speaker for the pre-conference chapel is Dr. E. Calvin Beisner of the Corwall Alliance for Stewardship of Creation. Dr. Beisner will speak on "Making Common Cause Against a Common Enemy in a Multifaceted Spiritual World War."

An Open House Reception in the seminary's Commons will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. A prospective student luncheon will be held in the Commons at 11:15 a.m. Senior students and faculty members will be on hand to greet prospective students and answer questions.

Tuesday and Wednesday evening sessions at the conference site are open to the public and will be broadcast live on the Internet through SermonAudio facilities. In past years, some conference-goers have indicated they had difficulty hearing speakers in the church sanctuary. Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church recently has made significant technical improvements to its sound system. We expect these improvements to enhance listening ability for those with hearing impairments.

We see the Doctrine of Man as an increasingly important topic at this time as the biblical understanding of man's origins, nature and purposes is under concerted attack. It is critical for all believers and especially leaders in the church to examine these issues thoughtfully. We hope to see many turn out for this conference and ask that you encourage your pastors and elders to consider attending.

Register Now!

Charity Towards Us, Benefits for You

Planned Giving Opportunities to Consider

[More Info]
A Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) allows you to realize tax advantages while making an ultimate gift to a Christian ministry such as Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary — yet receive income for yourself or your heirs/beneficiaries from the gift as well!

A CRT is funded by a transfer of cash or appreciated assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other appreciated property to an irrevocable trust, which then provides current payments to you or other named individuals, followed by a distribution to a charitable beneficiary at the end of the trust period. The trust can be established so that payments will be received for life or for a set number of years.

The amount of your income payments will be a percentage of the initial value of the trust, in the case of a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust, or a percentage of the value of the trust as of the beginning of each year, in the case of a Charitable Remainder Unitrust.

A federal tax deduction is allowed at the time that you create the CRT.  The amount of the deduction depends on factors such as your age, the payment percentage you select, and the applicable federal rate.

Greenville Seminary's stewardship affiliate, the PCA Foundation, can show you how a CRT might work for you and can also establish your account and serve as trustee of your Charitable Remainder Trust. The minimum amount required to establish a Charitable Trust with the PCA Foundation is $25,000.

If you would like to receive materials about Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT), including documents necessary to establish a CRT, please click here to request information.

Financial Report for January 2013

The tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of January 2013. 

Donation Income$51,261
Other Income$20,108
Total Income$71,369
Net Income-$27,044

Donation Income$477,682
Other Income$162,259
Total Income$639,941
Net Income-$17,136

Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$588,528
Total Received and Pledged$3,644,528
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Note$4,264
Remaining Mortgage$889,794

*Although the formal fund-raising campaign goal has been more than realized, additional funds are needed to amortize the balance of our mortgage.

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate Online" button above. 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, fill out the form here and an e-mail message with a link to our website will be sent to them. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

Sharing in the Advancement of GPTS

Visit the GPTS Development Office web site for information on ways to support and spread the word about Greenville Seminary.

Adopt a Duffer

Sponsors are needed for some seminarians and seminary supporters who will be playing in the First Annual GPTS Golf Challenge, scheduled for the afternoon of March 14, 2013, following the close of our Spring Theology Conference. The GPTS Golf Challenge will be held at The Preserve at Verdae Greens, a prestigious championship course in Greenville, S.C.

Much like the familiar "walk-a-thon," this tournament features golfers backed by sponsors in an athletic effort  to raise funds for the seminary. Sponsored golfers may enter the tournament for free. Another option is for golfers to simply donate an entrance fee ($150 suggested) to join the fun. We are also looking for businesses (or individuals) to sponsor special tournament contests or the tournament in general. Corporate sponsors will receive free advertising for their businesses.

The day's tournament will be followed by a buffet dinner at the adjacent Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort and Conference Center. Guests will have an opportunity to learn more about the ministry and impact of Greenville Seminary. Also at the dinner, prizes will be awarded for top fund-raisers and for various contests which will be featured during the tournament, such as "lowest score," "longest drive" and "closest to the pin."

If you are interested in participating as a Team Captain, Player/Ambassador or sponsor (individual or business), please contact Garry Moes at If you are contacted by one of our Captains or Ambassadors, please give careful consideration to how you might be able to support this "friending and funding" effort.

For conference attendees or other participants who may be coming from a distance, please note that quality golf club sets are available for rental at The Preserve at Verdae.

Let us know whether and how you can participate in or support the tournament. Response form here.

Annual Spring Book Sale

The seminary is now collecting books for our 2013 Spring Book Sale to be held on May 10-11 in the Student Commons. Hours are 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday.

If you will be traveling to our Theology Conference in March by car, please consider bringing some items with you for the sale. All proceeds from this sale will benefit the seminary’s Smith/Singer Library. Donations of theological literature as well as general literature (including children's books, homeschool materials, coffee-table books, etc.) are all welcome. We do not, however, have room for magazines and sets of general encyclopedias (World Book, National Geographic, etc.). 

All donations need to be received by Saturday, May 4th. We plan to make this an annual event, so if you are unable to contribute books at this time, please keep us in mind through the year for future donations. If you are willing to help with the sale (by collecting donations, setting up shelving and moving books the week of the sale, helping with checkout the day of the sale, etc.), please contact Andy Wortman at 864-322-2717 ext. 308 or

In any event, come and shop for some great book bargains!

Dr. Pipa Addresses Paedocommunion

Administering the Lord's Supper to baptized children who are not professing members of the church assumes a wrong understanding of children's membership in the Covenant, writes GPTS President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., in an online article in byFaith, a publication of the Presbyterian Church in America.

A Covenant child is an heir of the promises of the Covenant through his or her baptism, but baptism does not necessarily make the child an heir of salvation, he writes in the Jan. 16 article entitled "Paedocommunion: Wrong View of Membership and Sacrament."

Paedocommuion is the practice of administering the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to children merely on the basis of their baptism, without a further confession of faith.

"As members of the church and heirs of the promises, our children are legally part of the administration of the Covenant of Grace. In order to become communicant members of the covenant community, they must take the step of owning the covenant for themselves by consciously entering into the covenant," Dr. Pipa writes.

A second error in the practice of paedocommunion, Dr. Pipa argues, is that it assumes a wrong view of the sacrament, namely that there is blessing in the physical eating and drinking.

"The sacraments are visible preachings of the Word of God," he writes. "As such, their benefit is derived in exactly the same way as the benefit of preaching. Being physically present under preaching does not guarantee any blessing. Hearing must be joined with faith (Hebrews 4:2). For one to benefit from the Lord’s Supper, one must understand the meaning and promises (thus the necessity of the Word being preached and promises read)."

For the full article, go here. Dr. Pipa's article is one of two on the subject in this edition of byFaith. A countering view is advanced here.

Intinction Ban Fails in the PCA

A proposal to ban "intinction" within the Presbyterian Church of America has failed. Intinction is the practice of communicants dipping the bread or wafer of The Lord's Supper into a common cup instead of receiving the bread and cup as separate elements of the sacrament.

The PCA's 40th General Assembly in 2012 passed an overture to revise the Book of Church Order to prohibit the practice of intinction. A number of churches within the denomination reportedly have been employing this method of serving communion. Two-thirds of the PCA’s 80 presbyteries were needed to approve the change. 

As of Jan. 23, 41 presbyteries had reported their vote. Twelve presbyteries had voted in favor of the prohibition; 29 had rejected it, making it impossible to reach the two-thirds required. The greatest amount of support for the prohibition within a single presbytery came from South Carolina's Calvary Presbytery, where Greenville Seminary is located. The revision was approved 45-17 (with 5 abstaining or passing) within the Calvary Presbytery. 

GPTS leaders and alumni within the PCA have generally spoken out against the  practice of intinction on grounds, among other things, that it confuses the significance of the two elements of the sacrament and is nowhere authorized in scripture. Although GPTS is not officially affiliated with the PCA, its constituency is largely from the PCA and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, along with a variety of other Reformed, Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist denominations in the United States, Canada and abroad. The only denomination to enter a formal sponsorship/accountability agreement with GPTS is the Reformed Church in the United States. GPTS is governed by its own Board of Trustees, which has members from a number of church bodies. 

Calvary Presbytery is hosting the 2013 PCA General Assembly in Greenville, S.C. GPTS is planning a special dinner event for commissioners at our campus on the evening of Thursday, June 19. To make a reservation, go here. Visit our booth at the G.A. exhibit hall at the TD Convention Center.

New at Katekōmen: "The Benediction in Corporate Worship" and "The Christ of Genesis 3:15"

GPTS Alumnus Ryan M. McGraw shares an excerpt from his Th.M. thesis on a little examined element of corporate Christian worship: the benediction.

"Most people know what it is like to read a book or watch a movie in which the ending seems anticlimactic. The reader or viewer has been absorbed in the story and sitting on the edge of his seat wondering how all of the character’s problems would be resolved and how the story would culminate in a dramatic ending. Yet when the ending comes, he walks away confused and disappointed because what ought to have been the culmination of an exciting story fails to serve its purpose," Pastor McGraw says.

"God has designed the pronouncement of a Scriptural blessing or benediction to be the conclusion or culmination of the corporate worship of his people. By it the people who have gathered together in God’s name and with his presence among them depart with the assurance that God has indeed been in their midst and that he intends to bless his people. Yet in modern worship services, the benediction is often lost by confusing it with a doxology, treating it as a prayer, or omitting it altogether. However, the regulative principle of worship demonstrates that ministers of the Word ought to close corporate worship by pronouncing a benediction upon the congregation from Scripture. This is shown by the origins and purpose of benedictions in the Old Testament, the capacity and manner in which the priests administered benedictions, the example of the apostles of Jesus Christ, and the meaning and significance of benedictions. After demonstrating these things, I ... close with some observations regarding the content and proper use of benedictions in corporate worship."

Read the paper here.

Also new at Katekōmen: Pastor McGraw offers a chapter from his new book Christ’s Glory, Your Good: Salvation Planned, Promised, Accomplished, and Applied.

Genesis 3:15 is the thesis statement of the Bible: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (NKJV). This passage teaches us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the glorious Seed of the woman who both represented His seed and who defeated the serpent and his seed. Rather than merely expounding Genesis 3:15 in context, this chapter will briefly trace its importance throughout the Bible in four parts: first, the prequel to Genesis 3:15; second, the promise of Genesis 3:15; third, the progress of Genesis 3:15; and fourth, the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. In this verse, the covenant of redemption finds historical expression in the first promise of the covenant of grace.

The covenant of grace and the gospel rest upon the covenant of works in the garden of Eden. In order to understand Genesis 3:15, it is necessary to understand the implications of Genesis 2:15–17 and 3:1–8. These verses present the introduction to the covenant of works, as well as the breach of this covenant by Adam and Eve. Although the term “covenant” is not present here, it is proper to refer to this arrangement as a covenant in the same manner as the covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son. Unless we understand the importance of this covenant and the manner in which it relates to the human race, we can grasp neither why redemption was necessary nor how it should be accomplished.

Read the full excerpt here.

Classrooms Get Video Upgrade

GPTS Student and Resident Information
Technology Specialist William Hill
prepares to mount one of three new
high-definition TV monitors for our
classroom video conferencing system.
Thanks to a generous donation, the seminary's three classrooms are getting an upgrade to their video conferencing equipment.

Greenville Seminary is blessed to have an innovative video conferencing system allowing our distance learning students to participate in class sessions in real time. Remote students can access the classes they are taking live via the Internet. Each classroom is equipped with a ceiling-mounted television camera and high-quality microphone carrying the classroom proceedings to the remote student's computer. The system allows the student, the professor and on-campus students to interact much as if the remote student were actually in the classroom.

Until now, the remote student, using a webcam on his computer, appeared on a small computer monitor in the classroom. The new equipment upgrade comes in the form of 40-inch, high-definition, flat-screen television monitors which are mounted on the classroom walls. These will provide the professor and classroom students with a greater sense of the presence of the remote students. At this writing, one classroom has been retrofitted, with two more to be completed shortly.

The system was engineered by Bruce Vrieling, an alumnus living in Canada, who now serves as the seminary's information technology director. Mr. Vrieling, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees, monitors and controls the system from his location in Ontario. He is assisted by on-site IT Specialist William Hill, who deals with immediate on-campus technical issues. Mr. Hill also serves as host of the seminary's podcast, "Confessing our Hope." Student Jeff Downs, the seminary's media director, digitally records all classes and uploads them to our servers for the benefit of remote students who are not able to participate in classes in real time. Such students are able to download the classes and hear lectures at times convenient to them. This is especially helpful for students living in other world time zones.

While this state-of-the-art system makes it possible for students who are not able to move to South Carolina to take classes in pursuit of a theological degree, the seminary still stresses the great advantages of an on-campus educational experience. Being an integral part of the learning community of professors and fellow students provides seminarians with greatly enhanced preparation for their future ministries.

Confessing Our Hope Podcast

Listen to the GPTS Web-based radio broadcasts, with new interviews weekly as we resume our schedule for 2013! New programs are now available for listening or download. Among them:

#31 - A Puritan Theology. Dr. Joel Beeke was our guest as we discussed hi magnum opus: A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. Listen here.

Our GPTS "app" for smartphones and tablets provides a new avenue to access our podcast on the go. Get the app here or go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play from your device (not compatible with Amazon Kindle devices). Available also through RSS (for instance, iTunes or Google Reader).

Visit Host William Hill's Confessing Our Hope Blog for news and information about the broadcast as well as access to all program recordings. Podcasts can also be accessed through our mobile web site.

GPTS Students Contribute to Hurricane Relief

The home of a family of Franklin Square OPC
who was blessed by the ministry of OPC Disaster
Response efforts after Hurricane Sandy 2012
The Greenville Seminary Student Body Association recently sent a gift of $500 to relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the New York and New Jersey area.

In a letter of acknowledgment, Long Island, N.Y. Pastor William Shishko, an adjunct faculty member at GPTS, offered these words of thanks:

"We are so humbled by this generous gift. We know this is sacrificial giving on each student's part.  
"We give thanks to God for the generosity of His people. Many and seen and experienced the love of Christ through the gifts and labors of God's people. It has been and continues to be a testimony of Christ's love to the watching world. 
"We 'give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever' (Chronicles 16:34)"
Rev. Shishko is pastor of Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which has been a focal point of relief efforts in the heart of the storm devastation area.

Book Notes

GPTS Alumnus Ryan McGraw's latest book was scheduled to be available this month at Reformation Heritage Books. The book, Christ's Glory, Your Good: Salvation Planned, Promised, Accomplished and Applied, "aims to unfold the gospel simply in terms of the glory of Christ," says Rev. McGraw, pastor of First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Learn more and reserve this book at the Reformation Heritage Books web site. Paperback: $9.00.