Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology

The heart and soul of a seminary is its faculty. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is proud of its distinguished professors and lecturers, who are recognized not only for excellence in teaching, but also for their commitment to building a vibrant educational community deeply rooted in the Word of God.

Dr. Morton H. Smith, professor of systematic theology (emeritus), exemplifies this excellence and is regarded by the seminary, its students, faculty and alumni as highly worthy of having an academic chair named in his honor. 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.

The GPTS Board of Trustees recently announced the retirement of Dr. Smith, who turns 90 in December, from active teaching.

Creation of the Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology is part of Greenville Seminary’s faculty support and development program. To ensure that Greenville Seminary continues to offer strong academic programs, we seek to honor our distinguished teacher/scholars' commitment to dedicate their lives to the service of Christ in this institution.

Endowed academic chairs are important tools for recognizing and rewarding outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service to the seminary. Our Systematic Theology Program is a vital and fundamental component of our Divinity and Master of Arts studies. For this reason, the seminary is committed to ensuring that the finest theologians and scholars available serve in this discipline and are compensated commensurately.

Excellent teachers model lifelong learning by maintaining active scholarly interests and pursuing creative work. As professors publish their work, they add to the body of knowledge and invigorate their teaching, while elevating the prestige and standing of Greenville Seminary.

A gift of $1 million will fully endow a permanent academic chair, providing a competitive salary and benefits package as well as support for the chair-holder's scholarly research, travel, and professional development.

A special web site has been created with full information about the Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology and options for financial support. Go here.

How to Give

To donate to the Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology, write your check to “Greenville Seminary Smith Chair in Systematic Theology Fund 4085” and be sure to add “Fund #4085” to the memo line or an accompanying note. Mail your contribution to:

GPTS Smith Chair Fund #4085
PCA Foundation
1700 North Brown Road, Suite 103
Lawrenceville GA 30043

Tell the PCA Foundation if you with your gift to be anonymous.

The Greenville Seminary Systematic Theology Program

Building on the work done under Exegetical and Historical Theology, the Systematic Theology curriculum focuses on the great doctrines of the Bible one by one, while at the same time dealing with their inter-relatedness. Whereas in Exegetical Theology, the doctrines are examined in their redemptive-historical context, Systematic Theology deals with the same doctrines in a topical manner, traditionally known as the “Theological Encyclopædia.”

Description: 3 hrs. A survey of the system of Christian thought using the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as the guide to this survey. Readings are required in Calvin’s Institutes as well as catechism memorization.

Description: 3 hrs. A study of the introductory matters of Systematic Theology, including the idea, task, and method of theology. The biblical doctrines of revelation, canonicity, and inspiration of Scripture are examined in detail, as well as the doctrine of God, the Trinity, and the decrees of God.

Description: 3 hrs. The purpose of the course is to teach the doctrines of creation, the creation of man, the imago Dei, the fall, and the effects of sin on creation.

ST 41 Christ and Salvation (Christology)
Description: 3 hrs. The purpose of the course is to teach the doctrines of the plan of salvation, the covenant of grace, the person and work of Christ, and the ordo salutis, with the application of salvation from regeneration to assurance.

Description: 2 hrs. The doctrine of the Church; examination of the unity of the people of God throughout the history of redemption; the nature of the church and its mission; the order of the church and its offices.

Description: 2 hrs. An examination of the biblical teaching on the “last things.” Death, the intermediate state, heaven, hell, judgment, and “the new heavens and new earth.”

Sheep Without a Shepherd

The GPTS International Students Support Program

By Kathleen Curto

In his devotional, Come Ye ApartJ.R. Miller writes on the compassion of Christ. In Mark 6:30 and following, the disciples were gathering around Jesus to tell him of all that they had been doing. Jesus calls them aside to a quiet place and tells them to rest awhile. Soon afterward, Jesus sees a great multitude gathered, and the text says, “He was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep not having a shepherd” (vs. 34). Miller reflects on this, stating:
“It is worthwhile to notice what kind of trouble it was that so stirred the compassion of Jesus at this time. It was because he saw the people as sheep not having a shepherd. It was not their hunger, nor their poverty, nor their sicknesses, but their spiritual need that so deeply touched his compassions. There were no wise, gentle, thoughtful pastors watching over the higher interests of their immortal natures, feeding them with heavenly bread, protecting them from the wolves of sin and lust and leading them in right paths.” 
As I read Dr. Miller’s thoughts on this passage, I was struck by the fact that this truly is the mission of Greenville Seminary. We state in our catalog, “…Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary stands firm in its conviction that the world needs not new methods, but old Truth; the world needs to know the Person and work of Jesus Christ; the world must hear of God’s holiness and His grace and goodness to his people. And so we press on, training men to be gospel preachers, who proclaim with accuracy, authority, and passion the unfailing Word of God.”

We not only train men to serve in our own country, but also throughout the world. One of our key goals is to help those who would otherwise be unable to attend GPTS to come and prepare to be shepherds, to watch over, feed, protect and lead God’s sheep in other lands. Will you help us?

We have four students that are planning to study with us in the coming academic year. Two of these students you have heard of before.

Isaac Koko from Nigeria has still not been able to obtain a visa to travel and study here in the states. He has though, with great vigor and faithfulness, taken three classes so far. After his most recent class, Old Testament Introduction, Dr. Shaw congratulated him on fine work with a grade of A. He was quite encouraged and has registered for another class this fall. He is persevering and still hopes to attend on campus when God allows him to travel. We are requesting $5,000 to provide not only for his tuition and fees, but for the books and shipping costs incurred in sending textbooks to him for his studies.

Edward Liu from China will begin his third year of training.  He and his family continue to be a delight to the seminary. They are faithful servants in the seminary community and Edward is a diligent student. He is feeling comfortable enough to take a full load this semester. His home church in Minnesota is assisting with his living expenses, and so we have once again agreed to waive his tuition this year in the amount of $4,500.

Santosh Bardhan is a Master of Arts student from India.  He has studied at Greenville Seminary for a year, and he has one more year to complete. His plans are to return to India to serve in his home church. Santosh was raised in a devout Christian family; his father is a senior pastor in the Utkal Baptist Church in India. His testimony of God’s saving work in his life is quite remarkable, and his testimony states that he desires to “…be well grounded in the word of God to bring the uniqueness of Jesus Christ among Hindus and other religions…and that is my burden to reach India with his love and compassion.”  Santosh is a fine student, and we hope to provide tuition, fees and partial living expenses which would amount to about $10,000.

Dr. Paul Hoole, a medical doctor from Singapore, has applied to Greenville Seminary with a desire to complete a Master of Arts degree. In his own words he says, “I will be very grateful for an opportunity to be trained, and return to see a seminary established that will produce godly and learned ministers of the Gospel while continuing to help the church in preaching and sowing the word of God in the hearts and lives people.” Dr. Hoole plans to be laboring in Sri Lanka and to begin his studies at GPTS in the spring of 2014 as he uses the next few months to finalize plans to relocate with his wife and children. We have agreed to waive his tuition and fees in the amount of $5,000 and to help with living expenses in the amount of $5,000.

Our last need in the area of foreign student support is to help pay expenses for faculty members to minister in churches overseas that are unable to pay the transportation of professors to come to teach. Just this past spring and summer, Dr. Pipa traveled on behalf of the seminary to South Africa and Italy. The value of these trips is critical and we have once again set the faculty travel support at $4,500.

Dr. Miller closes this devotion with the exclamation, “Happy are those people, old and young, who are safe in the Good Shepherd’s keeping!” We pray that Greenville Seminary will continue to have a small part in that great work of the Good Shepherd. Please consider helping us in the training of these young men for Gospel ministry.

To make a tax-exempt donation to our International Student Scholarship Fund, send your check to:

Greenville Seminary International Student Scholarship Fund #4075
PCA Foundation
1700 North Brown Road, Suite 103
Lawrenceville GA 30043

Note: Be sure to designate Fund #4075 on your check. You may request that your donation be marked as anonymous.

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To make an instant one-time donation to our International Student Scholarship Fund,click on the "Pay Now" button.

Field of Dreams: Financial Report for August 2013

Dear Friends and Supporters of GPTS,

The 1989 baseball fantasy film Field of Dreams is built around one of its now-famous lines: "If you build it, he will come." In the movie, novice Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice whispering that line, which he interprets as an instruction to build a baseball field in his cornfield. He understands that if he builds the field, the ghost of his deceased father's favorite baseball player, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, will appear. Shoeless Joe, a member of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox, was banned from baseball for life in 1921 for his alleged part in throwing the World Series that year. In the film, Shoeless Joe and the rest of the team eventually do appear to practice and play on Ray's "Field of Dreams," and Ray sets out on a quest to learn more, eventually discovering that the "he will come" message referred to his own father, who has some advice for his son. (Incidentally, Jackson, who was acquitted by a jury of participating in the so-called "Black Sox" scandal, was a native of Greenville, S.C., and a museum in his honor stands downtown at 356 Field St.)

What's the relevance to GPTS? Let me explain.

It is probably not a good trait for a fund-raiser to dislike asking people for money. My approach as director of development, instead,  has been a variation of the "Build it, and they will come" theme. It has been my belief that if we at GPTS simply tell our compelling story — our theological distinctives, our conservative Reformed credentials and our program successes — in a compelling way, there will be a natural constituency out there that will appear to provide the support we need to do our work. For the most part, that approach has been productive over the years.

But not always. The time comes, now and again, when anticipated giving drops off to unworkable levels, threatening mission accomplishment, a situation demanding that this reluctant fund-raiser must ASK for help. Such a time has come, as we have experienced repeated months of deficits and have had to rely on lines of credit for cash flow to keep our school going. We do not like operating that way. So we ask you to prayerfully consider sending as large a gift as you can at this time and, more importantly, pledge yourself to become a regular monthly supporter.

Thank you,

Garry J. Moes

Director of Development and Recruiting,

The tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of August. Donations of $32,566 from churches and individuals were $28,907 below the $61,473 August budget for these types of unrestricted contributions. Expenses of $79,161 were $8,841 below the $88,002 budgeted for expenses.

With higher enrollment and higher tuition rates for this academic year, tuition income is up. Still, tuition, by design, is a relatively small portion of our budgeted income because we do not wish our students to acquire debt for their theological education at GPTS. Thus, we continue to rely upon supporters for the bulk of our financial needs. Our annual Fall appeal to churches has just been made. We ask church leaders to prayerfully consider keeping or adding us to their mission or other ministry support budgets.

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. SENIORS PLEASE NOTE information about IRA Charitable Rollovers in 2013, as explained here.

Donation Income (unrestricted)$32,566
Other Income$42,625
Total Income$75,191
Net Income-$3,970

Donation Income$75,842
Other Income$65,985
Total Income$141,827
Net Income-$25,205

Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$571,436
Total Received and Pledged$3,839,093
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Interest Payment$3,259
Remaining Mortgage$691,442

*Although the formal fund-raising campaign goal has been more than realized when combining receipts to date with pledges outstanding, 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. Gifts may also be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687. 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 or our website. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

Reaching a Lost Generation: A Special Message to Our Church Partners

In a recent article on the so-called lost Millennial Generation, young writer Maura Pennington decries what she sees as a resigned emptiness and lack of purpose plaguing her own generation, those born in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Citing Austrian psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and founder of “logotherapy” Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning, Miss Pennington chides her fellow Millennials for willingly living in what Frankl called an “existential vacuum” — which he argued can only be filled by searching for some logos or meaning in life’s circumstances, whatever they may be.

“In a life with logos or meaning, anything can be endured. Without it, a person is lost,” she writes in her article. “The lost ones are smart…. The lost ones went to college. They know about Sisyphus. They could draw the connection between checking and rechecking social media feeds and pushing a rock endlessly up a hill. Yet, perhaps they will not self-identify as lost. That abyss they feel inside is maybe just ‘growing up.’ It’s not. It’s a vacuum.”

Indeed. We at Greenville Seminary know that this “God-shaped vacuum,” to use Pascal’s phrase, can only be filled, not by some generic existential logos,” but by The Logos — Christ, the "Word Made Flesh," revealed in the inspired written Word of God and the Gospel found therein. It is that Word which is the foundation of all we do and teach as we prepare ministers of the Word to touch their lost generation.

We express our thanks to churches that have supported the work of Greenville Seminary in 2013. We pray that you will continue your support in your next budget. The prayers and financial support of your congregation are vital to us. We humbly request other churches to do likewise.

Sessions or consistories of churches that give $15.00 per communicant member per year (with a minimum of $750) are invited to become sponsoring churches of the seminary. Although the role is advisory, these relationships provide accountability for Greenville Seminary as she seeks to serve Christ’s church. Contact us for a copy of our Sponsoring Session Agreement.

One of the ways we partner with churches is to provide tuition waivers for students whose sending churches sponsor them at specified levels. The support levels required of such churches generally do not rise to the level of regular tuition rates. We seek to make up the difference by requiring waiver students to contribute some hours of work for the seminary or by depending on other churches to underwrite the work of the seminary. While student work contributions save on labor costs, they do not create positive income. The number of tuition waiver students this year is 37 percent of the student body, up from 33 percent last year. This 4 percentage point increase in tuition waivers means a greater income gap for the seminary. General support from other churches is one way to help fill that financial gap.

If you cannot place us in your church budget this year, would you consider a special offering on behalf of Greenville Seminary? We would be happy to send materials that you can distribute or use as bulletin inserts. I hope that you will prayerfully consider our request.

Thank you again for your partnership with us in prayer and giving.•

Homosexuality and Hate Crimes: Is America Next?

Greenville Seminary is blessed to have a faithful supporter from Sweden who provides us with a significant gift every month.  Eighty-three-year-old Joanne Holm regularly listens to sermons and lectures from GPTS sources and follows our progress closely. In response to a recent message of thanks from us, Joanne, after some delightful descriptions of picking late-summer wild berries, including Sweden's famous "cloudberries," added the following sobering thoughts:
Your comments about the new fall semester and the large enrollment was good news. However, it brought a disturbing thought to my mind. Some of these young pastoral students are more than likely heading for persecution and jail time — in America!! — if preaching the Biblical truth about sodomy, based on the recent New Mexico Supreme Court decree. Can't call it a decision; it's a decree from the "gay gestapo." And there's DOMA [the federal Defense of Marriage Act] that was struck down in June. The clergy needs brave men today with the current persecution seeming to roll over us at tsunami speed. At my age of 83, I'm reeling with shock.
Åke Green
In Sweden, the land of both my parents, from back in the 1400's and 1700's, here's what I saw happen in 2004-2005. Have you heard of the Åke Green case? Green preached a sermon in 2003 on whether homosexuality was an inborn trait or from the powers of evil — preached to his own congregation in his own church. He called it a "cancerous tumor on society." 
Though he's Pentecostal — and I'm no friend of Pentecostal beliefs — his sermon on this subject was Biblical. And though preaching in his own church, he was prosecuted under Sweden's law against hate speech, was found guilty and sentenced to one month in prison. He took the case to the appeals court, which overturned the conviction. Then it went up to the supreme court which also acquitted Green. In the decision, the court stated that he was, indeed, guilty of violating the Swedish hate speech law. However, if they had convicted him, the European Court, recognizing a wider degree of freedom of religion than Sweden, would probably not uphold the Swedish conviction. Thus Green avoided prison. 
During the hub-bub and the trials, I translated Green's entire sermon, the editorials and news reports for a pastor in Northern Ireland who was interested in following the case in detail.  I really rather would have translated articles about roses and lavender, being an avid gardener.
In the New Mexico case Ms. Holm cited, Justice Richard Bossan wrote that Christian photographers violated New Mexico's Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph a same-sex "commitment ceremony." The photographers were fined thousands of dollars for their refusal.

Bosson admitted that the Christian photographers are now "compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives." But that's the price of tolerance and non-discrimination as demanded by New Mexico law, he said.

“At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others,” he wrote.

According to Fox News, Bosson said the Constitution protects the rights of the Christian photographers to pray to the God of their choice and follow their religious teachings, but he offered a sobering warning.

“But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life,” the justice wrote. “The Huguenins [photographers] have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

(See an analysis of the New Mexico case here. Another case: U.S. Judge in Uganda Case Declares Anti-Gay Sermon Crime Against Humanity)

We thank God for Joanne Holm and her godly concerns for the future of biblically faithful preachers in America and elsewhere. Let's remember her concerns in our prayers and thank God for her faithful support of uncompromising Bible-based theological education at Greenville Seminary. We encourage many to follow her example.

The Convocation of a New Academic Year

Pre-Convocation New Student Banquet in the Student Commons
The 2013-2014 academic year at Greenville Seminary got under way with festivities and ceremony August 26 and 27. Class registrations and new-student orientation began on Monday of opening week, a day concluded with the traditional banquet welcoming new students to the seminary. More orientation continued on Tuesday, and on Tuesday evening the seminary held its 27th annual convocation. Classes and chapel services began on Wednesday.

Peter Van Doodewaard, an alumnus and now pastor of neighboring Covenant Community Church (OPC) in Taylors, S.C., gave the convocation address, "Courage in Kingdom Endeavors," focusing on King David's "Mighty Men," as described in I Chronicles 11-12 (listen here). A charge to the students following a similar theme was given by Student Body Association President Thomas Van Maanan. The ceremony concluded with the taking of annual vows by students, pledging to remain faithful to the seminary's distinctives and requirements, and by faculty, pledging full subscription to the Holy Scriptures and Reformed theology as set forth in the Westminster Standards.

With the Fall Semester registration, GPTS now has 78 students in all enrollment categories, including full- and part-time resident/distance, bachelor's and master's degree, advanced degree and special students.

Following are some photographic highlights of the new year's kickoff activities.

Peter Van Doodewaard delivers Convocation adddress.
Left, President Pipa. Right, Dr. Shaw & Dr. McGoldrick

Students take vows of fidelity patterned after those 
established at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1812.

SBA President Tom Van Maanen delivers charge to fellow students.
Cake shared during reception following Convocation
Student wife Gwen Hill serves punch to Dr. Sid Dyer.