Friday, August 9, 2013

Dr. Smith Given Emeritus Status

The Greenville Seminary Board of Trustees has granted emeritus status to Dr. Morton H. Smith, professor of systematic theology, one of the co-founders of the seminary, and a legendary stalwart of modern Southern Presbyterianism. Dr. Smith will celebrate his 90th birthday on Dec. 11, D.V.

Dr. Smith will continue as an adjunct professor, teaching his Introduction to Reformed Theology course. The board has asked him to consider some writing projects. Trustees have also authorized the creation of a permanent Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology in his honor. The seminary's Development Office has been asked to create a campaign to endow that chair, with a goal of $700,000 to $1 million. A formal banquet and celebration of Dr. Smith's retirement will be held in the Greenville area on the Monday evening preceding our 2014 Spring Theology Conference. Admirers of Dr. Smith are encouraged to consider long-term endowment of the Systematics Chair by including a gift in their last will and testament or other planned giving instrument.

Dr. Smith has taught Biblical and Systematic theology at the college and seminary level for nearly 60 years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America and served that denomination as stated clerk for 15 years. He was moderator of the PCA General Assembly in 2000. In 1966, he was instrumental in the founding of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., and in 1987 he joined others in creating Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where he served as dean of faculty until 1998. He served as pastor in Maryland in the mid-1950's and later taught at Belhaven College, Reformed Theological Institute, Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary and Covenant Theological Seminary.

He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan, B.D. from Columbia Theological Seminary, and Th.D. from the Free Reformed University of Amsterdam. He did additional graduate studies at Westminster Theological Seminary and the University of Michigan. He has faithfully served the church as pastor, stated supply, guest preacher and teacher. He is widely regarded as an expert in Southern Presbyterian history and has taught a popular summer course on that subject at Greenville Seminary for several years.

He lives in Brevard, N.C. with his wife Lois, whom he married in June 1944. He served as a pilot and flight instructor in the Army Air Corps during World War II and continued his love of flying late into his life. Dr. Smith has had a lifelong love of the outdoors, especially the Southern Appalachians where he lives.

Dr. Smith is the author of nine books, including his two-volume Systematic Theology and his popular works, Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (newly reprinted) and Commentary on the Book of Church Order (out of print). In addition, he has written four booklets, chapters in seven anthologies, and introductions to two works. He has contributed to four religious reference works.

In a 2004 festschrift celebrating his 80th birthday, Confessing our HopeGPTS President Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. wrote:
What does one say about a man like this? One is immediately impressed with his gentleness. Strangers as well as those who know him well comment that he is a true Christian gentleman, always polite and unassuming. He is a quiet man, and by his own admission a shy man. Though he would prefer to remain in the background, because of his responsibilities he does not give place to his natural shyness.
He is a godly man. He has a burning love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a high regard for the Scriptures, and he inspires those around him with such love and regard. His is a simple faith, which has been tested and shaped in the refiner's fire. He has regular daily worship with his wife, reading through books of the Bible in various translations. For private reading he prefers to focus his Bible reading on topics he desires to study in more detail, as well as the passages he will preach and teach on the Lord's Day. It is his custom to consult the original languages as part of his reading. For further edification he reads in systematic theology and church history, as well as biographies.
Dr. Smith's other courses at GPTS for the next academic year will be taught by the following instructors:

  • Prolegomena & Theology: Dr. Pipa
  • Eschatology: Dr. Pipa
  • Ecclesiology & Polity: Rev. Ryan McGraw
Please join us in thanking God for the life and ministry of Dr. Smith, for continued good health and strength for him, and for blessings on those who are taking on added teaching duties in the wake of his retirement.