Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Legacy of Visionaries: A Message from President Pipa

As Greenville Seminary completes her 26th academic year, one thing seems to come into clear focus: the founders of this seminary were visionaries. They foresaw that the church would need an institution to provide theological education for future generations of spiritual leaders to stand against the inroads of liberalism and superficial Christianity.

Some of the denominations we serve are now being infused with these impulses. Greenville Seminary’s founders, trustees, and faculty have staunchly resisted these trends from the beginning, and this resistance is proving to be more and more critical to the survival of confessional orthodoxy. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, along with a few other like-minded faithful schools, is filling a unique niche in theological education and the defense of historic faith in the authoritative scriptures and time-honored confessions that so clearly systematize the inspired Truth of the Bible.  

If you agree that Greenville Seminary is vital to the future of Christ’s church in these days of weakness and theological dilution, we need your support to help ensure our continued growth. You can be an instrument of God’s providence by contributing resources God has given you to underwrite us as we begin our new fiscal year on July 1. Your gifts this month keep us going during the normally meager summer months and provide a solid foundation for the next semester, when we expect record enrollments and new demands on finances.

Our goal  is to receive $95,000 by the end of June ($30,000 from churches and $65,000 from individuals). Whether or not you are able to send a gift at this time, please pray that the Lord will provide for all essentials. Please also pray for our students, including the eight new graduates, and our alumni that they will continue to grow in faithfulness to the Word of God. God uses the prayers and gifts of His people to sustain this work, and we hope that you will continue to participate with us and to rejoice in that work, for which we desire to give Him all glory and honor.

With warm regards, I am yours in Christ,
Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.

Financial Report for May 2013

The preliminary tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of May 2013. For the month of May, contributions totaling $90,216 from churches and individuals were $16,133 above what was budgeted ($74,083). Total income for the month of $99,660 was $4,690 above  the budget of $94,970. Expenses for the month were $9,982 above budget ($90,446). 

The month of June is the final month of our fiscal year, and gifts during this month are crucial to our financial stability as we enter a new fiscal year and for our operations during the summer months. Your support is urgently needed this month as we seek to raise the $95,000 needed by June 30. During the first 10 days of June, responses to our fiscal-year closeout appeal totaled $14,810, well below the target for that period of $31,667. (Expenses during the same period totaled $2,750.) Please consider in prayer what you may be able to do to help meet our June goal. 

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. 

MAY 2013
Donation Income$90,216
Other Income$9,445
Total Income$99,660
Net Income-$767

Donation Income$844,691
Other Income$217,157
Total Income$1,061,848
Disbursed to Capital Fund$135,000
Net Income-$70,559

Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$586,271
Total Received and Pledged$3,845,670
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Interest Payment$3,424
Remaining Mortgage$691,442

*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.

What to Expect from Life

“They seem to think that each proverb is a promise and then become angry with God when things do not work out the way they expected. Ecclesiastes tells the reader of Proverbs, 'That book tells you how to live. My book tells you what to expect from life…There will be times when it all seems meaningless. But fear God, because he is the judge of all things, and the judge of all the earth will do right.'” So writes Dr. Benjamin Shaw in “On Reading Ecclesiastes,” in The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson.

The Book of Ecclesiastes will be the focus of Greenville Seminary's week-long intensive theology course by Dr. Shaw, GPTS Old Testament/Hebrew associate professor. The class will be held July 29-Aug. 2.

The course is entitled "The Breath of Life: Living in an Ecclesiastes World." This will be an exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes based on the Hebrew text. 

"The first class session will be devoted to the discussion of introductory matters: who, what, when, where, and why. The remainder of the class will simply move through the book sequentially, with discussion focusing on preaching the book," says Dr. Shaw. He suggests that students read a couple of Ecclesiastes commentaries and, if possible, do a rough translation of the book for themselves before attending.

The class schedule is as follows: Monday 1-4 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m, and Friday 9 a.m.-12 p.m. See below for registration information and deadline.

The 2013 Summer Institute

Following on the heels of the summer theology course is our annual Summer Institute, this year examining the art and gift of preaching.

The Greenville Seminary Summer Institute was originally conceived as an educational opportunity for pastors. In recent years, topics have chosen with a broader appeal to Christian laymen and professionals. This year's Summer Institute, to be held Aug. 5-9, will again be of particular interest to pastors as we focus on effective preaching. Churchmen of all sorts will find this subject interesting, but if you are a minister of the Word, this five-day Institute will be a source of great inspiration and instruction. 

GPTS President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. will lead an examination of the sermons of 10 great preachers who have been effective proclaimers of the Word of God. The template for our discussion will be sections out of R.L. Dabney's Sacred Eloquence and John Carrick's The Imperative of Preaching. 

Visit our web site (gpts.edu) for details and registration. To read a brochure about both programs, go here. Download a brochure with registration form from here.

Pastors who take either course are eligible for 30 continuing education units. A certificate will be awarded at the end of the course upon its completion. GPTS students taking either course must register and pay tuition and fees at regular rates. Cost for the Summer Institute is $225.Tuition for the summer theology class on Ecclesiastes is $380.00 (tuition and fees), or $60 to audit.

Please register by Friday, June 28th for both the Summer Institute and the Summer Theology Course.

Last Call for GPTS Southern BBQ Dinner During PCA General Assembly

Seminary to Host Campus Tour and Dinner

Greenville Seminary will host a Southern Barbecue Dinner at our campus at 200 East Main Street in Taylors, S.C. for assembly-goers on Wednesday evening, June 19, at 6:30 p.m.

The seminary bookstore will be open during the event as well. So come prepared to shop for unique books.

Shuttle buses will be provided to bring guests to the campus at  from the TD Convention Center GA site. The specially marked GPTS-dedicated buses will be parked separately in front of the Courtyard Entrance of the TD Center. Return shuttles will take guests to a downtown Greenville location from which buses to hotels may be boarded, or guests may be taken directly to their hotels.

The reservation deadline has been extended. To make a required reservation, go here.

If you are driving to the General Assembly, would you consider bringing any books you may have to donate to our Library. For more information about this, contact Librarian Andy Wortman.

On Lamenting the State of the Church

By Dr. Benjamin Shaw

In 1984, Francis Schaeffer published The Great Evangelical Disaster. In 1993, David F. Wells published No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? In 2008, Michael Horton published Christless Christianity. These are merely the tip of the iceberg of jeremiads lamenting the current state of the church. These three are focused on the evangelical church, but dozens of others could be added lamenting the state of the Reformed church, the Lutheran church, the Roman Catholic Church, and any other church you care to name. All of these authors decry the problematic state of the current church.

For some people, it provokes a desire to go back to some period when the church was pure and things were good. For some, that was the seventeenth century, the period of the Westminster divines and the rise of Puritanism in England. For others, it was the previous century, with the rise of the Reformation. For others it was the period of the early church fathers, when such greats as
St. Augustine
Athanasius, Augustine, and Jerome roamed the earth. (Almost everyone agrees that the Middle Ages were a complete mess.) For others, we need to go back to the purity and simplicity of the New Testament church.

But a little historical investigation demonstrates quickly that these are all chimeras—illusions or fabrications of the mind. The Puritan authors consistently decry the problems of the church in their own day. The Reformation writers likewise display the unfortunate difficulties of their time—problems caused by radicals, disagreements among reformers, and lawlessness throughout the land. With the early church fathers, the situation is no different. Doctrinal disputes, theological laziness, rampant antinomianism or legalism among believers. Even the New Testament church is only a testimony of the same set of problems. Consider all the problems Paul dealt with in the church at Corinth, or the serious doctrinal problems among the churches of Galatia. Even Philippians, which reflects no serious doctrinal issues, shows serious relationship problems among the members of the church.

What, then, are we to think about the church? Should we just give up? Should we simply refuse to publish such works as those listed above, since the problems are real, but they are long-standing, and are not going away any time soon? No, we should take a hint from the Old Testament. The Old Testament can easily be read as an ongoing lamentation/critique of the state of the church. The failures of the patriarchs in Genesis; the failures of Israel in the wilderness in Exodus through Deuteronomy. The brief success of Israel under Joshua followed by the woeful collapse recounted in Judges. Then the other books of history, retelling a story of long decline with an occasional bright light here or there. The Psalms are full of lamentations regarding the state of the nation. Then there are the prophets. They decry against the failures of their days, while at the same time proclaiming the hope of their saving God.

That is our work today. Decry the sins of the church. Call both the church and the world to repentance. Show them the beauty of the gospel of God in Christ Jesus. Then trust in God to do his saving work. For it is his purpose “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:10.

Dr. Benjamin Shaw is academic dean and associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Greenville Seminary. The preceding is reproduced with permission from his blog, gptsrabbi.

Confessing our Hope: New Podcast Feature

The Confessing our Hope podcast of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is beginning a new monthly feature called "Faith and Practice," in which Greenville Seminary President Dr. Joseph Pipa will answer questions from listeners.

The process is actually quite simple. Just e-mail your questions related to theology, faith, Christian practice, etc. to confessingourhope@gpts.edu, and Dr. Pipa will address that question on the podcast. Those individuals that submit questions we read and deal with on the air will receive a free book from the GPTS Bookstore.

Please be sure to include your question as well as your mailing address in the event we do read your question on the air. There is no limit to the number of questions you may send in. Subjects may be anything of interest to you or something about which you seek clarification in the spiritual realm. Whatever the reason…send them in!

We reserve the right to select those questions that will be handled on the program. Not every question will be addressed immediately, but all questions will be entered into a queue with the potential of being handled on a later broadcast.


  1. Send your question to confessingourhope@gpts.edu or use this form.
  2. Be sure to include your  full name and  mailing address.
So…fire up your theological and practical questions, and let’s interact with them on the program!

Here is the first edition of this podcast feature, featuring answer to questions found here

#36 – Faith and Practice #1

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.

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).

Dr. Pipa's Study Guide Stirring Prison Inmates to Faith

A recent letter to GPTS President Joseph A. Pipa Jr. from a Texas pastor indicated that Dr. Pipa's Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book has become an instrument of spiritual instruction for some inmates at the Texas Correctional Institutions Division's Louis C. Powledge Unit near Palestine, Tex.

Pastor Steven G. Simmons of Fifth Street Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Tyler, Tex. relayed a letter from a prisoner requesting a copy of Dr. Pipa's book to which he had become acquainted through a fellow inmate.

In his handwritten letter to Pastor Simmons, the inmate stated:

I have been attending  your Monday night Bible Study Class at Powledge Unit since I arrived about a month ago. First, let me thank you for your time & energy in your ministry to me and my fellow inmates. I am a 39-year-old first-time offender & also aware that the only reason I was placed in such a "pleasant" unit is by the grace of God. 
I look forward to you and the other teacher's weekly class time. It provides additional instruction & learning to my daily study & meditation in the Word. A fellow classmate ... has also been a great benefit to me in my new road to salvation. He showed me a study book you sent him to complete called the Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book by Joseph Pipa. I guess what I'm really getting at is if you would be so kind as to do the same for me in order in order for me to gain [further] knowledge. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. 
God bless  you.
The Powledge Unit is an 1,100+-inmate prison with a wide variety of rehabilitation and religious ministry programs and a faith-based dormitory. Among the institution's best known and secured inmates is Warren Jeffs, the polygamous sect leader serving a life sentence for sexually molesting one of his child "brides."

Our New Windows on the World

"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" Shakespeare's Romeo asked. GPTS students, staff and faculty have been asking a similar question for the five years since moving into our beautiful campus home. For those on the noonday- and afternoon-sun sides of the building, the glaring light and Southern heat breaking through yonder classroom and office windows have sometimes been highly problematic. As author James Thurber once put it: "There are two kinds of light — the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures." In May, thanks to capital funds from a bequest, most of the seminary's windows were draped with some uniquely functional new window coverings. The glare that obscures was eliminated, allowing the glow that illumines to come forward. The semi-opaque shades allow an outward view but filter the sunlight and provide sufficient darkening for video projection. Note the difference in the glare in the center window of the Board Room as the shade is partially raised. 

Dr. McGoldrick Contributes to Kuyper Book

Greenville Seminary Professor of Church History Dr. James McGoldrick has contributed two chapters to a new book on Abraham Kuyper. On Kuyper: A Collection of Readings on the Life, Work, and Legacy of Abraham Kuyper is published by Dordt College Press. The book provides an introduction to Kuyper's life and thought through the eyes of 28 scholars.

Dr. McGoldrick's chapters are entitled "Every Inch for Christ: Kuyper on the Reform of the Church" and "Claiming Every Inch: the Worldview of Abraham Kuyper."

The 28 authors use the Kuyperian framework to critique and develop Christian perspectives on, among other things, the church, culture, gender, common grace, education, politics, scholarship, fashion, art, science and evolution.

For more information and to order, go here.