Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Westminster Confession and Pastoral Care

We live in a broken world and broken lives abound in it. Pastors and church elders are increasingly tasked with providing counsel, and many seek new tools to do so. But are there some old tools that speak to this need? What does the Westminster Confession, for example, have to say about pastoral care?

Greenville Seminary's 2016 Summer Institute, a week-long seminar for pastors and Christian laymen, will delve into this unique topic.

Dr. Chad B. Van Dixhoorn will lecture on "The Westminster Confession and Pastoral Care." The study will be held on the GPTS campus Aug. 1-5.

Pastors who take the course are eligible for continuing education credits. Others may receive credits for an M.Div. degree. Tuition for the institute is $225. Take $25 off additional registrations should anyone from your church attend with you. Designated GPTS presbytery representatives may receive a $50 discount. To become a presbytery rep, contact Garry Moes. Lunch will be offered to any presbytery reps attending the Institute on a day to be announced.

Register and pay individual tuition online here. For Group Rate registrations, call Registrar Kathleen Curto at (864) 322-2717 ext. 302.

Make a vacation out of this trip to South Carolina by tying this institute in with the seminary's course on Southern Presbyterian Theology, Aug. 8-12, which includes exciting excursions to historical sites in beautiful Charleston and Columbia.

Dr. Van Dixhoorn, a Canadian-born theologian and historian, is editor of the five-volume "The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly: 1643-1652," published by Oxford University Press in 2012.

He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div., Th.M.) and the University of Cambridge (Ph.D,). He has taught theology at the University of Nottingham and has held three fellowships at Cambridge, where he researched the history and theology of the Westminster Assembly and taught on the subject of Puritanism.

Dr. Van Dixhoorn has lectured since 2008 at Reformed Theological Seminary - Washington, where he teaches church history and practical theology. He has served as Associate Professor of Church History at RTS-Washington since 2013 and as Chancellor's Professor of Historical Theology since 2015. He has previously lectured at Greenville Seminary.

He served as pastor at Cambridge Presbyterian Church (UK) and then at Grace Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Va. for nine years.

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"A Vacation for Those in Love with Truth"

Summer Theology Course

Historic Johns Island Presbyterian Church, Charleston
Register now for the annual Greenville Seminary Summer Theology Course and "educational vacation" historical tour, Aug. 8-12, open to both GPTS students and the public.

This summer's course again is Southern Presbyterian Theology, taught by Dr. C.N. Willborn.

The course is another opportunity for pastors to gain continuing education credits. The program also includes a fascinating tour of historic Presbyterian sites in beautiful Charleston and Columbia, S.C.

"Enjoy the beauty of South Carolina from the Up Country to the Low Country," says Dr. Willborn, recognized for his contributions to American and Southern Presbyterianism. "We will study some of the great doctrines of the Christian faith as set forth by the Southern luminaries. Consider this a vacation for those in love with truth."

Tuition for taking the course for M.Div. credit is $448 or to audit without credit it is $60. Use this link to register and pay tuition.

If you are a pastor, elder or other person involved in Christian counseling, you may wish to combine this event with the GPTS Summer Institute, the preceding week. Topic: "The Westminster Confession and Pastoral Care."

Dr. Willborn is adjunct professor of church history at GPTS and pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn. He serves as co-editor of The Confessional Presbyterian.

This is a unique course drawing from the contributions of international Calvinists like J. L. Girardeau, Charles Colcock Jones, B.M. Palmer, Stuart Robinson and J.H. Thornwell. Grand topics like Adoption, the Diaconate, Covenant theology, Biblical Theology and much more will be explored. In addition to the classroom lectures (which include generous Q&A times), the final two days will be on location in some of American Presbyterianism’s most historic sites, in Columbia and Charleston. In addition to Dr. Willborn, the course offers time with Dr. John R. de Witt, Mr. Graham Duncan (South Caroliniana Library Archivist), Dr. Pat Mellen (Senior Historian for Charleston Convention & Group Services), and Mr. Alphonso Brown (Gullah Tours).  

The dates and times for the course are as follows:
Monday, August 8: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. 
Tuesday, August 9:  9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesday, August 10: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thursday, August 11: Tour in Columbia and Johns Island, South Carolina
Friday, August 12: Tour in Charleston, South Carolina
Details on Thursday and Friday tour available upon registration.

For more information, contact the Registrar:

For many years, Morton H. Smith taught this course from his widely used textbook, Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology. To learn more of his life work, listen to internationally acclaimed theologian and missionary Dr. O. Palmer Robertson in his recent “Tribute to Morton Smith” at Sermon Audio.

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Be an Extremist: Support GPTS / Financial Report

According to a new survey by the Christian polling organization, the Barna Group, almost 20 per cent of Americans believe you are a religious extremist if you financially support your church or religious institutions like Greenville Seminary.

An overwhelming 60 per cent believe you are an extremist if you try to convert others to your faith. Furthermore, more than half of all Americans surveyed believe you are a religious fanatic if you hold to biblical views of sexuality (as examined during the recent GPTS theology conference), if you pray for a stranger in public, and if you protest government policies that conflict with your Christian faith. Nearly half think you are a religious nut if you quit a good job to become a foreign missionary.

See more details here.

May we be so bold as to encourage you to be an "extremist" by continuing or beginning to financially support the work of Greenville Seminary, which extols the divinely ordained ordinary means of grace as the primary instruments by which God is extending His Kingdom. Knowing that our commitments are increasingly becoming "contra mundum," we press on to the high calling which God has given to us. Our oft-used slogan "An Uncommon School for Uncommon Times" reminds us that we have a unique mission in this increasingly hostile world. We are grateful to those who stand with us in our drive to serve Christ, by serving His church through the education of bold proclaimers of the Eternal Truth.

Financial Report for March 2016

The tables below indicate our general operating fund financial situation as of the end of March 2016 and for the third quarter of our 2015-16 fiscal year. Unrestricted general fund donations from churches and individuals during March totaled $50,861, which was $17,097 below the $67,958 budgeted for such income. Total income for March was $77,342, including $16,667 from a reserve stemming from an unbudgeted bequest. Expenses of $102,263 were $777 above the $101,486 budgeted for expenses. For the fiscal year to date, net income remains on the positive side at $60,964, for which we are grateful.

Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income*
Total Income
Net Income

Donation Income (Unrestricted)
Other Income*
Net Income

*Includes $16,667 monthly draft from 2015 bequest reserve (see graph below).

 Capital Campaign Goal
 Long-term Pledges Outstanding
 Total Received and Pledged
 Outstanding Obligations
 Monthly Payment (Interest Only)
 Remaining Mortgage

Donate to GPTS through the PayPal Giving Fund. Giving through this Fund means 100% of your gift will reach GPTS, without the usual processing fees deducted. You can also support the seminary by buying and selling through the eBay for Charity system.

Gifts may also be mailed to: Greenville Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687.

And don't forget to do your online shopping at AmazonSmile. Log on to and select Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary as your charity. Or click on the AmazonSmile banner at the very bottom of this e-newsletter. 

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable clients: Click here for Donor-Advised Fund direct deposit. Wells Fargo employees: check with your company about matching gifts to GPTS.

Most of all, be fervent in prayer that God would provide all that is needed for us to do what He has called us to do in this ministry which the church so badly needs in these uncommon times.

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. (The tax deduction is reduced by the fair market value of any premium received in return for a donation.) See here for information about planning your last will and testament with the Kingdom of God in mind.

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. (Click the tiny "M" e-mail icon at the bottom of this post.) Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Our Gift for Your April Contribution

As we begin the final quarter of our fiscal year at Greenville Seminary, we are turning once again to our partners in ministry with a request to help us meet our mission. We annually depend on friends of GPTS for 70 per cent of our operating budget, since we purposely keep our tuition very low so as to keep our students from accumulating a burden of debt before entering their ministry.

For your gift of $25 or more this month, we would like to send you an audio disk of your choose of a lecture from our March Theology Conference on Marriage, Family & Sexuality. Our conference speakers this year presented some timely and powerful messages on these subjects so critical to the future of our culture and society.

The lectures include:
  • God's Design for Marriage — Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., GPTS president
  • *Gay Marriage: Right or Wrong? — Gary Bates, Creation Ministries International
  • The Maker's Instructions — Dr. Ian Hamilton, pastor Cambridge Presbyterian Church (UK), GPTS trustee and adjunct professor.
  • *Nurturing Sexual Intimacy in Marriage — Dr. Joel Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
  • *Free at Last: Counseling Those Dominated by the Sin of Pornography — Dr. Kevin Backus, pastor, Bible Presbyterian Church, Grand Island, N.Y.; Fellow - National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
  • Family Worship in the Reformed Tradition — Dr. Benjamin Shaw, GPTS associate professor
  • God's Nursery — Dr. Pipa. 
  • Biblical Wisdom for Courtship and Dating — Dr. Richard Phillips, pastor, 2nd Presbyterian Church, Greenville
  • Special lecture on The Life and Theology of John Owen: A 400th Anniversary Appreciation — Dr. Ryan McGraw, GPTS associate professor and Owen scholar

* Please note that lectures marked with a * are not recommended for children under age 13.

Donate Now:

To select your gift lecture recording, GO HERE or tap button below.

An Uncommon Interest in an Uncommon School

An old hymn says, "I love to tell the story of unseen things above...." Greenville Seminary loves to tell that story as well, and now we've created a video explaining how we tell that story ... and our friends are helping to tell our story far and wide

The seminary's new informational video, "An Uncommon School for Uncommon Times," premiered last month to positive reviews and widespread sharing via social media.

The full and short versions of the video were posted on the GPTS Facebook page and from there have been shared via viewers' personal networks reaching nearly 20,000 people!

Thanks to the more than 100 friends of GPTS who have helped spread the word about this unique academy of theological education via Facebook alone.

The video explores the Foundation, Framework, and Fundamentals of an education at GPTS through interviews with faculty and narrative about our programs and purposes.

DVD editions of the video were included in gift bags given to guests registered for the seminary's March Theology Conference. If you would like a free copy of the disc to share with friends or at your church, contact us at

Comments about the video have included:
  • "Just watched the new GPTS video on the web site home page. Well done, or 'good job' to all those responsible and involved. Really impressive. Tip of the cap."
  • "It's brilliant. By far the best I've seen."
  • "Excellent overview of an excellent seminary."
  • "We love GPTS. We pray for God's continual blessings on this school."
  • "I thank God for your faithfulness."
  • "A faithful seminary for uncertain times proclaiming a sovereign and holy God."
The full and short editions are available on the GPTS YouTube Channel. A quick-spot "GPTS Welcome" version is available on our SermonAudio page.

If you haven't seen it yet, here is the 12-minute version:

Here is the 2:46 minute version:

Want a really quick-view version? Here it is:

Keep spreading the word! Tell us what you think:

Book & Broadcast Notes: McGraw on the Trinity / New Podcasts

The Trinity is an important doctrine, yet many Christians perceive it as difficult to understand and irrelevant to their Christian lives. Does the doctrine of the Trinity matter in a practical way? What does Trinitarian devotion look like?

Reformation Heritage Books has published another new booklet by Dr. Ryan McGraw, GPTS associate professor of systematic theology, exploring these subjects.

Is the Trinity Practical?, another in RHB's Cultivating Biblical Godliness series, explains that the Trinity is the foundation of the gospel, which we must come to understand as the work of all three divine persons—Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Dr. McGraw shows in practical application the ways that we grow in grace and piety as we learn to apply the truths of the Trinity to our daily walk with God.

Order the booklet on sale now here.

Two new broadcasts featuring book author interviews on the seminary's Confessing Our Hope podcast were aired in March. These included:

  • "Who Shall Ascend to the Mountain of the Lord." Dr. Michael Morales discussed his book on Leviticus by that title. Listen here.
  • "From the Pen of Paul." Rev. Daniel Hyde, pastor of a United Reformed Church in Carlsbad, Calif. discussed his new commentary on I and II Thessalonians. Listen here.

Web Site Note: Under Revision

The GPTS web site at continues to be a source of comprehensive information about the work of Greenville Seminary. With the publication of our new 2016-19 Academic Catalog, however, much of the program and administrative information on the web site will soon be out of date. That's because much of the web site parallels the content of the catalog.

Web Administrator Christopher Campbell is working diligently to update the dozens of pages which describe our degrees, courses, faculty, tuition rates and policies. This is a substantial undertaking, and we apologize for any confusion which may result before the updating process is complete. Currently, the best way to get the latest information about our programs which becomes effective with the Fall 2016 semester is to view and/or download a copy of the new catalog, which is accessible through our web site at here.

Every three years, Greenville Seminary revises and publishes a new Academic Catalog, reflecting changes in curriculum, policies and administrative details. The new catalog for academic years 2016-19, now in full color, was published in March 2016 and includes new information about full-time resident and adjunct faculty members and major changes in Biblical Studies curriculum and degree programs.

Among the administrative changes reflected in the new catalog is a tuition rate increase to $200 per credit hour, effective July 2016. Thus, for example, a 3-hour course will cost $600. The catalog notes that tuition will increase annually by $10 per credit hour. GPTS tuition still remains among the lowest among comparable seminaries.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to continue using our web site as a tool for connecting to many resources beyond our academic information, such as media & books, church connections, confessions & creeds, articles, events, current and archives news, support ideas and rationale, and much more.

Opportunities for Women and Families at GPTS

Seminary Ladies Fellowship

This group for GPTS women fills the need for a prospective pastor's wife to be prepared for life after her husband's graduation. The faculty wives have created a four-year curriculum that is presented by those who share their experience, insights, and biblical perspective for equipping our seminary wives for their future roles. If you are married to a GPTS student, your time in the seminary community will be greatly enhanced through the program and activities of this group, which meets periodically throughout the school year. The Ladies Fellowship is also open to female students, staffers and other women associated with the seminary.

Chapel Services

Services are held on campus on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The services are designed primarily to assist students, faculty, and staff in their spiritual growth and to expose students to various types of preachers and preaching. These services also provide an excellent opportunity for seminary families to grow spiritually and to be regularly exposed to the great benefits of the Word of God throughout the week, in addition to worship on the Lord's Day. On Tuesdays, Reformed pastors from the community and region offer messages. On Wednesdays, President Joseph Pipa Jr. regularly preaches a series of sermons from the Scriptures. On Thursdays, faculty members and students rotate in the chapel pulpit.

The Master of Arts Degree Program

Greenville Seminary recognizes the benefits of offering a degree program for those who desire a theological education but do not need or qualify for the ministerial Master of Divinity program. The Master of Arts degree is offered, emphasizing Biblical and doctrinal studies, apologetics and personal piety. The M.A. program can be an excellent opportunity for men and women in non-church professions to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith. The program may also be designed to provide a concentration in one of the following areas: Biblical Languages, Church History, Apologetics, and Systematic Theology. The M.A. program will ground the candidate in the content and interpretation of the Bible, allow her or him to deal systematically with the doctrines of the Bible and with the rich history of the church. It pays particular attention to the development of doctrine and to the Reformed tradition. All women registering for courses at GPTS are required to affirm that they will not use credits earned at the seminary in future pursuit of any program leading to ordination to the offices of minister, elder or deacon in any church.

Recreation and Fellowship

A number of opportunities are offered throughout the year for fellowship and recreation for seminary families. Students, faculty and staff of the seminary enjoy a delightful time of fellowship during an annual fall seminary picnic. This is an opportunity for new students and their families to be knit together with the seminary family. There are games, food, and time to sit and talk. Every year the Seminary Student Body Association hosts a winter dinner the first Friday of the spring semester for the seminary community, offering great food and a talent show for entertainment. Special breakfasts have been offered annually during the Fall and Spring Semesters. A wives graduation brunch is offered around Commencement time, and a dinner for new students and their families is held each Fall. A variety of receptions are held from time to time in conjunction with special seminary events such as convocations and graduations. A child-care room is available on the first floor of the seminary building as needed.

Dr. Curto to Speak at Youth Conference

Dr. Tony Curto, Greenville Seminary Associate Professor of Practical Theology, will speak at the 2016 Biblical Worldview Student Conference at Milligan College in Elizabethtown, Tennessee May 30-June 3.

The conference seeks to train young men and women (age 15 to college seniors) to grow in the faith and be better equipped to face the challenges of an increasingly hostile world. 

Dr. Curto is a missionary evangelist and teaches missions, evangelism, and apologetics at GPTS.

Other speakers include Dr. E. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, a Christian environmental organization; Dr. Jorge Klajnbart, retired Army colonel and bio-ethics expert; Sy Ten Bruggencate, a biblical apologetics lecturer and debater; and musician Gregory Wilbur.

"Christian students know life is more than fun and games. They need and welcome access to answers to life’s issues through God’s wisdom," BWSC organizers say. "Increasingly the favorite sport of many college professors and those speaking loudest in society is to ridicule the Christian faith and its application to all of life.

"Through the Biblical Worldview Student Conference, Christian young people will be better trained to be discerning and thoughtful, ready and able to handle the intellectual warfare of a culture increasingly hostile to Christianity. God’s Spirit is working to prepare the next generation to use God’s Word toward building God-honoring change in the world."

GPTS has perennially recommended this conference and frequently contributes speakers. To register, go here.

Order 2016 Spring Theology Conference Media

Audio and video sets of all lectures from the 2016 Spring Theology Conference on "Marriage, Family and Sexuality" are now available for purchase. These resources would be an ideal addition to your church or home library.

Speakers and their topics for the main conference were:
  • God's Design for Marriage — Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., GPTS president
  • *Gay Marriage: Right or Wrong? — Gary Bates, Creation Ministries International
  • The Maker's Instructions — Dr. Ian Hamilton, pastor Cambridge Presbyterian Church (UK), GPTS trustee and adjunct professor.
  • *Nurturing Sexual Intimacy in Marriage — Dr. Joel Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
  • *Free at Last: Counseling Those Dominated by the Sin of Pornography — Dr. Kevin Backus, pastor, Bible Presbyterian Church, Grand Island, N.Y.; Fellow - National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
  • Family Worship in the Reformed Tradition — Dr. Benjamin Shaw, GPTS associate professor
  • God's Nursery — Dr. Pipa. 
  • Biblical Wisdom for Courtship and Dating — Dr. Richard Phillips, pastor, 2nd Presbyterian Church, Greenville
  • Special lecture on The Life and Theology of John Owen: A 400th Anniversary Appreciation — Dr. Ryan McGraw, GPTS associate professor and Owen scholar

* Please not that lectures marked with a * are not recommended for children under age 13.

Order these timely resources here (free shipping):

Select Media

Online digital audio files of the conference lectures for personal listening are available here.

To receive a disk with your choice of one of the above lectures for a gift to GPTS in April of $35 or more, go here.

Breakfast in Mobile: Reserve a Seat Now

Friends of Greenville Seminary attending the 2016 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America are cordially invited to join us for breakfast on Wednesday, June 22, at 7 a.m.

The General Assembly will be held in Mobile, Ala. at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center June 20-24. The breakfast will be held in the East Ballroom on the Concourse Level.

This annual breakfast is a great time to get updated on the ministry of Greenville Seminary and to meet with like-minded friends and associates.

The breakfast is free, but reservations are required.

If you would like to help us host this event by making a donation to help defray the substantial cost of this event, you may do so by tapping the button below.

We hope you will join us for this time of food, fellowship and friend-raising. Also plan to visit our booth in the exhibit hall all week.

Breakfast at Sandy Cove: OPC General Assembly

Commissioners attending the 2016 General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church are invited to have breakfast with Greenville Seminary on Friday, June 10.

The General Assembly will be held at Sandy Cove Conference Center on Chesapeake Bay in North East, Maryland, June 8-14. Watch for announcements during the assembly for information about where the breakfast will be held at Sandy Cove.

No reservation is necessary, but it will be helpful to know how many guests we should expect in order to plan logistically. You may use the form here to let us know whether to expect you. Breakfast attendees will go through the breakfast food line with all other commissioners, but they will be directed to the room designated for the GPTS breakfast.

Come for fellowship and an update on the progress of our ministry presented by seminary personnel.