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space The GPTS Revival of Old School Presbyterianism Marks 25 Years

 

For four years in the early 1970s, TV comedian Flip Wilson satirized a certain segment of the church through his zany character, Reverend Leroy, the con-artist pastor of the Church of What's Happenin' Now. Often, when caught in his questionable ways, Reverend Leroy was quick to protest: "The devil made me do it," a phrase which quickly entered the American vernacular.

 

If Reverend Leroy was irreverently amusing, his "church" has proved to be a sadly prescient portrayal of a vast portion of today's church scene, where fashionably hip young pastors and slick multimedia religious entertainment characterize the 21st century version of the Church of What's Happening Now, bent more on cultural relevancy than historic truth. Other major segments of the mainstream church today have become just plain irrelevant to anything, with weak, inoffensive messages that neither change lives nor advance the true Gospel.

 

There are signs, however, that the emerging empty-suit (no-suit) Churchianity may fall as out-of-fashion as old comic routines. Even as the happening-now churches grow to mega-proportions, a renewed interest in Old School Christianity and historic Calvinism is arising. And Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is poised to respond to that interest. In fact, it has been standing as an oasis in the desert of doctrinal demise for more than two decades.

 

With the advent of the 2011-2012 academic year, Greenville Seminary marks the beginning of its 25th season of "Building on an Old Foundation," to use a phrase employed in its capital construction campaign in recent years.

 

When GPTS was conceived, it was the conscious purpose of the founders to restore the great orthodox theological tradition so brilliantly advanced by the first influential Presbyterian seminary established in the United States in 1812 — Princeton Theological Seminary. As that date indicates, the 25th anniversary of Greenville Seminary coincides with the 200th anniversary of the founding of its prototype  institution in New Jersey.

 

Praised, maligned, and misunderstood, the effects of Old Princeton Seminary have towered over theological discussion for more than a century. From the time God raised up that school in 1812 until 1929, the Princeton theologians were the stalwarts of experiential Calvinistic theology. The founders of Greenville Seminary consciously adopted the Princeton Plan as the foundation of instruction at GPTS.

 

Since its founding, GPTS has been distinctively confessional, "Old School" and Presbyterian in its outlook and philosophy, and because of this, it has placed a strong emphasis on the sufficiency and infallibility of the Word of God, on the faithful, heart-searching proclamation of that Word, and on obedience to the Great Commission as the sole mission of the church. "Faithful ministers and faithful churches": that continues to be our vision.

 

As our 25th freshman class was convened last month, its record size and the testimony of the new students concerning why they chose GPTS were clear evidences that this model is resonating with a new generation of  men called to ministry in today's shallow theological milieu. Throughout the world, GPTS alumni are now bringing to the church their particular confessional emphasis on Scripture-centered preaching and Christ-centered practice learned at GPTS.

 

As their predecessors have done, the new class attending our 25th annual Convocation, took a vow which was adapted from the student covenant contained in the original plan of Princeton Seminary:

 

"Deeply impressed with a sense of the importance of improving in knowledge, prudence, and piety, as I embark upon my course of study, I solemnly promise, in a reliance on divine grace, that I will faithfully and diligently attend on all the instructions of the Seminary, and that I will conscientiously and vigilantly observe all the rules and regulations specified in the plan for its instruction and government, so far as the same relate to the students; and that I will obey all the lawful requisitions, and readily yield to all the wholesome admonitions of the professors and trustees of the Seminary, while I shall continue a member of it."

 

For more on our Old School distinctives, go here.

 

The respective anniversaries of the two institutions provide an occasion to celebrate the powerful biblical traditions of both — and this will be the theme for Greenville Seminary's 2012 Spring Theological Conference March 13-15. Our Silver Anniversary will also be celebrated during a gala dinner on the eve of the conference at Greenville's prestigious Poinsett Club. Stay tuned for details on how you can join us and help ensure the next 25 years or more of GPTS's ministry.

 

By God's grace and the unswerving commitment of our administration and teaching faculty, when we celebrate our bicentennial, we will not have to note the eventual drift away from the faith of our fathers that Princeton experienced in the 20th century.

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"Our Heart Rejoices in Him"

 

Listen to this powerful and timely Convocation Address by Pastor Cliff Blair, based on Psalm 33. Click here.

 

 

 

Pastor Cliff Blair

 

 
 

Annual Book Sale Rescheduled; 'Bookworms' Sought

 
 

For several years, Greenville Seminary has conducted a popular Fall Book Sale to raise funds for the Smith-Singer Library. Librarian Andy Wortman says the next sale will be moved to the Spring of 2012, sometime after our annual Spring Theology Conference. Friends and supporters of the seminary are encouraged to begin now to consider donations of unneeded books, videos and music recordings.

 

The new date provides an opportunity for participants in the Spring Conference who are driving to Greenville to collect surplus books and transport them to the seminary when they travel to the conference.

 

Mr. Wortman also encourages churches to consider designating an interested "bookworm" in their congregations as a GPTS Library Ambassador to collect and solicit book donations for the seminary library and book sale.

 

Contact Andy Wortman by e-mail or phone at 864-322-3717 ext. 308.

 


 
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Alumni Share Their Experiences and Suggestions with GPTS

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Thanks to the many alumni who responded to our survey request last month for feedback about their experiences and their ideas for betterment. Much valuable information was received. But we need to hear from all alumni. If you are an alumnus, please take a moment to update your personal and vocational information. You can also help us improve by evaluating your experience at GPTS. We have already received a number of valuable insights and suggestions for improvement from thoughtful former students answering our survey.

 

Among the comments received are these in response to a question about benefits obtained from studying at GPTS:

 

"The importance of a unified and devout confessional Reformed theology. Homiletics were strong as well as Systematic Theology. ... It was great to study there, the faculty is godly and warm-hearted, the staff is excellent, and the student body was encouraging. I am more indebted to GPTS than I can express in words."

* * * * * 

"GPTS was particularly beneficial in preparing me to preach and shepherd the flock."

* * * * * 

"The personal relationships which I had and still maintain with the professors are undoubtedly the most significant benefit I gained from my time at GPTS. This is, of course, not to diminish the academic training I received. Each man was well-trained in his field of study, and each provided training which was saturated with warmth and affection, not only for the students, but, most importantly, for the Lord."

* * * * * 

"Preaching has repeatedly been noted as a strength, and I continue to appreciate the emphasis and way we were taught."

* * * * * 

"...I benefited very much from:
"1) Clear faculty statements on key issues facing the church.
"2) Confessional standards.
"3) The tuition waiver program. I can honestly say that I would not be where I was and our church ... would now not likely exist without it. I am and will be forever grateful in the Lord for your institution's sacrificial approach to equipping men. Thank you. I hope that I will be a good steward of the investment for the Kingdom that you all made in me.
"4) Easy access to faculty. Understanding how they lived out their lives was almost as important as the instruction they provided in the classroom.
"5) Maintaining a distinct Presbyterian flavour to the seminary with an irenic attitude towards other denominations. As a Reformed Baptist, I appreciated the unapologetic Presbyterianism of the seminary (despite my disagreement with the theology)." 

 

If you are an alumnus and have not already completed the survey, start here.


 
  FINANCIAL REPORT

 

The tables below show our financial condition as of the end of August 2011. We praise God and thank our faithful supporters for making such a favorable report possible, following a difficult summertime financial drought. Although we are blessed at this time with a small surplus, the continuing onslaught of mounting expenses and the vagaries of seasonal cash flows remind us that we are ever-dependant on our provident God and the committed supporters He inspires to give to our growing ministry. Remember us and our needs this month and during the closing quarter of 2011. Thanks so much!

 
 
 
General Fund for August 2011
August Budget August Actual August Actual v. Budget
Expenses $79,338
$82,790
+$3,452
Donation
Income
$60,467
$119,911
+$59,444
Other Income
$18,437
$42,587 +$24,150
Total Income
$78,904
$162,498
+$83,594
Net Income
-$434
+$79,708 $80,142
  Fiscal Year to Date Budget Fiscal Year to Date Actual Fiscal Year to Date Actual v. Budget
Expenses $158,676 $154,016 -$4,660
Donation
Income
$120,933 $152,847 +$31,914
Other Income $36,878 $51,470 +$14,592
Total Income $157,811 $204,317 +$46,506
Net Income -$865 +$50,301 +$51,116
 
 
Capital Fund Update
Goal $3,500,000
Received $2,485,014
Outstanding Pledges $714.532
New Income Needed $300,454
Outstanding Bills $67,511
Monthly Note $6,559
Remaining Mortgage $1,081,794
 
 

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate" button below. Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: 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.

 

 

 
 

Visit our new Amazon.com Seminary Bookstore

 

DR. PIPA ARGUES FOR FIRST-DAY CHRISTIAN SABBATH IN NEW BOOK

 

Perspectives on the Sabbath presents in point-counterpoint form the four most common views of the Sabbath commandment that have arisen throughout church history, representing the major positions held among Christians today.

Greenville Seminary President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa Jr. backs the Christian Sabbath view which reasons that ever since the resurrection of Christ, the one day in seven to be kept holy is the first day of the week.

 

Order this book  and Dr. Pipa's recent book on Galatians from our Amazon store:

 

   
 
 
 

Visit our new online Gift Shop to purchase GPTS golf shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, and travel mugs. All net proceeds help support the seminary.

 

NEW ITEM: The family film More than Diamonds is now being offered on DVD to friends of the seminary. By special arrangement with the producers, each purchase made online through a special web page will generate a donation to GPTS. More info here.

 
     
 

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