Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spring Conference One Month Away!

We live in times of great uncertainty. One of the comforts of the Bible is the truth that God is in control of all things. We call this His providence. The Westminster Larger Catechism Answer 18 gives a succinct definition of providence: "God's works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to His glory."

Greenville Seminary's 2014 Spring Theology Conference will explore the profound subject of "God's Works of Providence," examining biblically what providence is and such topics as its relation to evil, sin, suffering, and prayer. See the program here.

The conference is just weeks away. Do not miss the opportunity to attend this popular and edifying conference to be held March 11-13, 2014. A distinguished roster of speakers has been compiled for this conference focusing on the Christian's assurance that all things are under the control of a loving, provident God. Click here to register now!

The conference will be held at a new location, Grace Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C. The church is located only a few miles from the seminary at 5020 Old Spartanburg Road. For many years, the conference has been held at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C. Due to building renovations which will extend into our usual conference dates, WRPC will not be able to host the 2014 conference.

View a conference brochure here.

The roster of speakers includes:
  • Dr. Derek Thomas, distinguished visiting professor of systematic and historical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. Topic: "Providence and the 'Middle Knowledge': A Question of 'Now You See It, Now You Don't."
  • Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. Topic: "The Heidelberg Catechism: Its Gripping History and Teaching on Providence." Dr. Beeke will also preach during Tuesday's free public evening service on the subject, "The Definition and Beauty of Providence."
  • Pastor Benjamin Miller, 2005 GPTS graduate and pastor of Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Huntington, N.Y. Topic: "Beautiful in Its Time: A Preacher's Journey through the Mists of Providence."
  • Dr. James N. Anderson, associate professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary–Charlotte. Topic: "Calvinism & the Origin of Sin"
  • Dr. Joseph A. Pipa Jr., president of Greenville Seminary. Topic: "The Devil Made Me Do It." Dr. Pipa will also speak during the Wednesday evening free public service. Topic: "Providence or Fatalism." 
  • Dr. James McGoldrick, professor of church history at GPTS. Topic: "Calling All Christians: Calvin's Doctrine of Vocation."
  • Dr. Benjamin Shaw, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at GPTS. Topic: "Just a Lot of Noise: Providence and the Problem of Evil."

Due to the change of conference location, it is anticipated that only one official meal will be available during the conference period, the Wednesday night barbecue dinner to be held in the Seminary Commons, 200 E. Main St., Taylors, S.C. Conference guests will be responsible for other meals.

Two evening sessions will again be open to the public to attend free of charge. The Tuesday and Wednesday evening services will also be streamed live on Listeners may click on the red "Live Webcast" icon near the top of the page at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern time) each day.

Visit the seminary's web site at for information about registering for this exciting conference. The cost will be $110 per person, spouses $35, and youths over age 12 for $20. GPTS graduates may attend for $80.

Your registration must be received by 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 6th. After that, registration will be available only on-site: Regular $115, Graduate $85, and Student $30. Those unable to attend the entire conference may register on-site for one day for $40 (student, wife and/or child $10).

Conference goers and other members of the public also have a special opportunity to hear two pre-conference lectures by Dr. O. Palmer Robertson on Tuesday morning (Mar. 11) at the seminary. Dr. Robertson will deliver both lectures on the subject of "The Flow of the Psalms." Lecture times: 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. The lectures which will be held in a second-floor classroom at the seminary, 200 E. Main St., Taylors, S.C.

Another major event associated with the conference is a gala banquet to be held on the eve of the conference, Monday, March 10, commemorating the retirement and 90th birthday of GPTS co-founder Dr. Morton H. Smith. Dr. Robertson will be speaking at that event as well. A silent auction will also be held at the banquet. Check out the items which have been donated so far.

Pre-Conference Lectures Open to the Public

Greenville Seminary's annual Spring Theology Conference will feature two special pre-conference lectures this year.

The public is cordially invited to attend these free lectures by Dr. O. Palmer Robertson on the subject of “The Flow of the Psalms.” The lectures will be held at 9:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 200 E. Main St., Taylors, S.C.

Dr. Robertson is a widely recognized Christian theologian and biblical scholar. He taught at Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Knox Theological Seminary, as well as at the African Bible Colleges of Malawi and Uganda. He also served as principal of the latter institution. He is perhaps best known for his book The Christ of the Covenants. His definition of a biblical covenant being "a bond in blood, sovereignly administered" has been widely discussed.

Dr. Robertson will also be the keynote speaker at a banquet on the eve of the Spring Conference on March 10 honoring retiring GPTS Co-founder and Professor Dr. Morton H. Smith. The banquet will be held at the Westin Poinsett Hotel in Greenville, beginning at 7 p.m. Reservations are required.

Dr. Morton H. Smith: Emeritus

For the first time in many years, no GPTS classroom is hosting a lecture by Dr. Morton H. Smith. Dr. Smith retired from teaching at the end of 2013, shortly after his 90th birthday. The seminary which he helped to found will honor him at a formal banquet on March 10 in Greenville.

Reservations are now being accepted for the banquet celebration of Dr. Smith's long service to the seminary and the Church. The fest will be held March 10 on the eve of Greenville Seminary's annual Spring Theology Conference. The event will be held in the elegant Poinsett Ballroom at the historic Westin Poinsett Hotel, 120 S. Main St., in downtown Greenville, S.C. (See the menu and other details here.)

Deadline for reservations is Feb. 20.

A silent auction will be held to benefit the new Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology. A number of items have already been donated, including some exquisite diamond jewelry and some historic books. To preview the auction items donated so far, go here. To donate an item, fill our the form here.

Veteran theologian and missionary Dr. O. Palmer Robertson will be the keynote speaker at a banquet and celebration in honor of Dr. Morton H. Smith, professor of systematic theology (emeritus), to be held on March 10, 2014.

Dr. O. Palmer Robertson
Dr. Robertson is principal and director of African Bible College in Uganda and Malawi. He has served pastorates in several states, spoken at many conferences, taught at several seminaries and lectures in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America. His books include Christ of the Covenants, The Genesis of Sex, The Israel of God,and Understanding the Land of the Bible.

A book of tributes will be published for the occasion. Friends, acquaintances, colleagues, students and especially alumni of Dr. Smith's classes are encouraged to submit tributes and remembrances by Feb. 15 to Development Director Garry Moes at For a preview of the many tributes already given, go here.

To make a reservation to attend the March 10 banquet, complete the form here. The cost is $40 per person. After making your reservation, you will receive a confirmation message with a link to a payment page, using the individual or table sponsor options listed. You may choose to be a table sponsor for a contribution of $600. Indicate on the reservation form if you wish to sponsor a table for 10 of your guests or for guests chosen by the seminary. Table sponsors will be acknowledged; this is a good opportunity for advertising your business or organization.

If you wish to donate a high quality item to be sold during the silent auction, please fill out a donation form here. Or contact Garry Moes at or 864-322-2717 ext. 319. Quality artwork and crafts, jewelry, rare collectibles, travel and vacation opportunities, quality books, special gift baskets, and similar items are sought. (No discards or rummage sale items please.) Visit local merchants to request donations. Anyone interested in serving as auction coordinator should contact Mr. Moes.

Dr. Smith, who turned 90 on December 11, is a co-founder of Greenville Seminary and a recognized authority on Southern Presbyterian history and doctrine. 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 was a long-time pilot and served as a flight instructor during World War II.

The GPTS Board of Trustees recently announced the retirement of Dr. Smith from active teaching, although he continued to teach one course, Introduction to Reformed Theology, during the 2013 fall semester.

January 2014 Financial Report

The tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of January 2014. Unrestricted general fund donations in January of $40,497 from churches and individuals were $20,976 below the $61,473 January budget for these types of unrestricted contributions. Expenses of $103,240 were $15,238 above the $88,002 budgeted for expenses. 

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. SENIORS PLEASE NOTE: The IRA charitable rollover expired on December 31, 2013. The rollover has historically been part of the "extenders package" that Congress renews for one or two years at a time. Congressional leaders indicated that an extenders package would not be passed prior to 2014. As a result, the IRA charitable rollover has not been reauthorized for 2014 and beyond. See here for information about planning your last will and testament with the Kingdom of God in mind.

Donation Income (unrestricted)$40,497
Other Income$53,238
Total Income$93,735
Net Income-$9,505

Donation Income$464,732
Other Income$167,588
Total Income$632,320
Net Income$19,497

Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$570,330
Total Received and Pledged$3,844,137
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Interest Payment$3,560
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

Why We Exist

Digging through archives can be fun and often tells us something about our roots. Recently, a staff search of archived documents included Greenville Seminary's original charter, and some words written there were instructive about why this seminary came into being.

James Henley Thornwell
Preliminarily, we noted that the April 17, 1986 charter approved by the State of South Carolina revealed a fact which many have forgotten or never knew: that this seminary was originally called James Henley Thornwell Theological Seminary. That name was commemorative of the great Southern Presbyterian theologian whose work is reflected in our present distinctives. The charter was amended in December of 1986 to change our name to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. As Dr. Morton H. Smith mentioned during our 25th Anniversary celebration in 2012, this was done because another nearby institution, Thornwell Home for Children (formerly Thornwell Orphanage) in Clinton, S.C., used Thornwell's name and objected to our use of it. The orphanage, which opened in 1875 to care for children orphaned during the Civil War, remains open as a home and daycare center today. An associated school was closed in 2007.

More importantly, the seminary's original charter is noteworthy because of the purposes for our existence enumerated there.
"The purpose of the said corporation is to organize and maintain for religious purposes a school or schools, seminary or seminaries, or other places of instruction, and to undertake or promote Scripturally-directed learning, education and scholarly enterprises and, in particular, to establish, control and develop an institution of theological studies perpetually dedicated to the Reformed Faith as expressed in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. Further, the said institution or institutions shall be dedicated to the promotion of Biblical and Confessional Orthodoxy."
We are well aware of other institutions that began well with similar goals but strayed in later years from their biblical and confessional foundations. Some now give only lip service to those foundations; some even make no pretense of allegiance to them. To avoid this, our trustees, faculty, students and staff diligently pray and proactively strive to be "perpetually dedicated" to our founding purposes. Formal faculty subscription to the Westminster Standards as the true statement of the doctrines of the Bible is part of that commitment to orthodoxy. These vows give no quarter to unorthodox innovation or deviation.

As President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. stated during his 1998 Inaugural Address, “We do not view ourselves as theological innovators, but rather as guardians and defenders of the truth delivered.”

Today, nearly 28 years later, our current Academic Catalog begins with Founding Principles in three sections (beginning on p. 5) outlining our dedication to these concrete commitments. Read or download a copy of the Catalog and study the introductory sections entitled: "Theological Commitments," "Statement of Belief & Covenant," and "Statement of Purpose."

Pray with us that GPTS will be "perpetually dedicated" to the orthodox doctrines and practices of the Reformed Faith and Confessions and the Scriptures from which they spring. "This is what the LORD says, 'Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls'" — Jeremiah 6:16.

New Law Boosts Religious Liberty Safeguards for Military Chaplains

New provisions of federal law governing the Defense Department have significantly increased protections for religious freedom in the military, an official of the Presbyterian & Reformed Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel told GPTS students recently.

Retired Army Chaplain Col. Mack Griffith, associate director of the PRCC, outlined the new provisions during a post-chapel missions lunch at the seminary on Feb. 5. A number of former GPTS graduates are serving in military chaplaincies and at least one current student plans to do so. GPTS is authorized by the Defense Department to train military chaplains.

The most significant amendments to the Defense Authorization Bill passed by Congress and signed by the president in December safeguard actions, expressions and practices as well as the formerly protected beliefs of military chaplains and service members, Col. Griffith said. Under the new law, prayers in Jesus' name, refusal to perform same-sex marriages, displaying a Christian cross and similar overt actions would be protected as well as personally held inner beliefs. The changes were made to Section 533: Protection of Rights of Conscience of Members of the Armed Forces and Chaplains of Such Members, subsection a) Protection of Rights of Conscience.

The new provisions on religious "Accommodation" in that section, once vigorously opposed by President Obama, include this language (new wording in italics):
Unless otherwise compelled by cases of military necessity for good order and discipline, the Armed forces shall accommodate the expressions of belief of a member of the armed forces reflecting the sincerely held conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such expressions of belief as the basis of any adverse personnel actin, discrimination, or denial of promotions, schooling, training, or assignment.
Col. Griffith acknowledged that some hostile unit commanders and liberal chaplaincy officers may find creative ways to circumvent the new safeguards. He said, however, that in recent meetings with the head chaplains of all of the military service branches, chaplains were assured that they would do all in their power to enforce the new religious practices safeguards. Furthermore, other new provisions of the law require implementation of new regulations supporting the law within 90 days of passage. And the new law requires the secretary of defense to "consult with the official military faith-group representative who endorse military chaplains." The consultation provision may have been designed to thwart what some Christians have viewed as the behind-the-scenes stealth influence on the Pentagon of vehemently anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein.

The PRCC is one of the "endorsing" organizations. Col. Griffith pointed out that required consultation with endorsing groups is significant because beliefs and actions of military chaplains are evaluated, not on the basis of personal beliefs or denominational standards, but on the basis of the published statements of doctrine and practices of the chaplain endorsing groups. The PRCC is a coalition of seven conservative Reformed and Presbyterian denominations, including the Presbyterian Church in America, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, the United Reformed Churches in North America, the Korean American Presbyterian Church, and Korean Presbyterian Church in America-Koshin.

Previous law did not prohibit discipline when religious actions or speech "threaten" good order and discipline. The new law keeps that language as the compromise bill rejected language in the House version that changed the word "threaten" to "actual harm." Under the House version, military discipline officials would have had to show that the speech or actions caused "actual harm" rather than a mere "threat" to good order and military discipline. "'Actually harm' is all after the fact. Under the House proposal, the Nidal Hassan shooting [at Ft. Hood] would have had to take place before the military could act," a PRCC fact sheet noted.

The new safeguards for religious freedom come on the heels of a spate of recent reports of crackdowns by commanders and Pentagon officials against mostly Christian servicemen and chaplains who take conscientious stands on their religious positions. High on the list of newly suspect positions is opposition to same-sex marriage. Actions have also been taken to ban specifically Christian prayers, crosses, and Bibles in a variety of settings both on and off the battlefield. Retired Chaplain Brig. Gen. Doug Lee, head of PRCC, recently told a gathering of chaplains in Greenville, S.C., "You are in the military in a new era."

Col. Griffith said that despite the news reports, religious freedom is still very strong within the military services, especially on the battlefield, where even non-religious commanders recognize the value of spiritual guidance. He said the new law strengthens those freedoms in the face of recent persecution of Christians in the military.

GPTS alumni and students serving in chaplain capacities include: Cornelius Johnson, Air Force, 2000; Kyle Brown, Army, 2004; Steve Scott, Navy/Coast Guard, 2005; Mike Myers, Army Reserve, 2013; senior, Ross Fearing, Army Reserve; and Steve Walton, 2012, reservest, church plant in Stuggart, Germany outside Army fort.

Confessing our Hope Podcast

Listen to the GPTS Web-based radio broadcasts, with new interviews by host William Hill periodically! Read more about this broadcast ministry at the Confessing Our Home web site. New programs are now available for listening or download at Among them:

  • #51 – Reformed Church in America report In this broadcast we speak with Rev. Ben Kappers, a minister in the Reformed Church in America. We discuss the current state of the denomination and other related issues and topics. 

  • #52 – Faith and Practice, segment #4 In this fourth edition of the “Faith and Practice” segment Dr. Joseph Pipa interacts with questions from our listeners. Questions in this edition deal with dialogue between Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists over infant baptism, entering seminary with a load of previous debt, Sabbath observance, and head coverings for women in worship.

  • #53 – United Reformed Church Report Dr. Cornelis Venema was our guest as we discussed the issues and topics of interest in the United Reformed Church. Dr. Venema serves as President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary. While studying at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1979 to 1981, Dr. Venema was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theology. He served as pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Ontario, California, for six years before coming to Mid-America. 

  • #54 – Housewife Theologian Mrs. Aimee Byrd was our guest as we discussed her book Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary. This was a very informative and thought-provoking broadcast. About the book: This book is for women—for all women who want to explore beneath the superficial and get to know God, and themselves, better. 

 You can access all of these newly released broadcast on the website at or through RSS (iTunes, an RSS reader, etc.) or through the GPTS Mobile App

Volunteers Needed

Small, nonprofit organizations like Greenville Seminary often depend heavily on help provided by work-study students and the gracious services of volunteers. Our small paid staff has always been supplemented by a corps of dedicated volunteers to provide essential staffing services.

We currently have a need for more volunteers to staff our reception desk. It is a relatively simple operation involving answering phones, directing campus visitors, or sometimes cataloging library materials. We provide all the training.

If this is a service you might be able to perform, please contact Administrative Assistant Emily Fearing at or 864-322-3717 ext. 307.

Many other opportunities for volunteer service at GPTS are also available. For more information, go here. One immediate need is someone with a "cherry picker" basket/boom crane to pressure-wash upper portions of the exterior of our seminary building. If you have such equipment and would be willing to contribute it and/or your services, please contact Garry Moes at or 864-322-2717 ext. 319.

Smile. You're on's Charity Site.

You shop at, right? Of course, you do. Who doesn't?

Next time you do, go to instead.

It's exactly the same as regular, only you can select a charity to receive 0.5% of the proceeds of your purchase.


Remember, you have to start at to make this work.

And don't forget to make Goodsearch your default web search engine. Already 192 friends of the seminary have signed up as GPTS supporters using Goodsearch (powered by Yahoo). Every web search you make using Goodsearch generates a small donation to Greenville Seminary. Nearly $450 has been raised so far, with one user raising more than $300 alone. To sign up, go here and make Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary your charity beneficiary.

And that's not all. You can also sign up for GoodDining and GoodShop

Thousands of stores have teamed up with Goodshop, making a donation to Greenville Seminary with virtually every purchase (at no additional cost) and offering our supporters exclusive coupons.

Use Staples Coupons and 2.5% of your purchase will go to our cause! 
Use Expedia Coupons and up to 6% of your purchase will go to our cause! 
Use 1800Flowers Coupons and 7% of your purchase will go to our cause!
Use Walgreens Coupons and 4% of your purchase will go to our cause!

Pray With Us

"The power of prayer is not resident in the prayer itself or in those praying, but in the eternal purpose of God that incorporates our prayer for His ends. Prayer does work, not as an outside influence but in purposed congruence in God's eternal plan." — Stanley D. Gale, in byFaith.

  • Thank God that a new semester has begun, and ask Him to fill the students and faculty with His Spirit as they pursue their studies and teaching.
  • Give thanks to God for senior student Jeff Downs's appointment to a pastoral internship at Covenant Church (OPC) in Orland Park, Ill. upon his anticipated graduation. Ask God to prepare the way for other senior students who are seeking internships, pastoral calls, and other avenues of ministry following their 2014 graduation.
  • Pray that God will abundantly supply the seminary's financial needs in 2014 and bless and prosper all those who may be led to give in support of this work in God's Kingdom.
  • Pray for blessings on the 2014 Spring Theology Conference scheduled for March 11-13. Pray that many would come to learn anew of the mighty providences of God.
  • Continue to implore God to open the final steps of the way for the wife and children of one of our foreign students who have managed to make their way out of danger in their native land, travel through three neighboring counties and are soon to embark on their journey to the United States. 
  • On-going health concerns: Remember GPTS custodian John Jolly in prayer as he continues to struggle with knee pain. Please continue in prayer for Betty McGoldrick, wife of Professor James McGoldrick, as she continues to deal with her pain and disabilities.

Books for African Pastors

A typical pastor in Africa has nine books in his library. You can help increase that number and become a blessing to pastors, and through them, to fellow believers in Africa.

Greenville Seminary and Reformation Heritage Books have teamed up to solicit book donations for needy African pastors. Three books in particular have been selected which we believe would greatly benefit these brethren.

  • Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones ($24 per copy, including shipping)
  • The Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book by Joseph Pipa, Jr. ($10 per copy, including shipping)
  • The Glorious History of Redemption by James O. Boyd and J. Gresham Machen ($5 per copy, including shipping)
To make a book donation, download, print and return one of the forms located here:

Return the form with your indicated payment to: Greenville Seminary, Attn: Librarian, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687

If you are attending the GPTS Spring Theology Conference March 11-13, visit the RHB / GPTS bookstore to shop for these and other books.