Presbyterians of the Past

Joshua Bohannon & Missions to Native Americans

From the very earliest days of Presbyterianism in Colonial America there were ministers involved in evangelism among their Indian neighbors. One missionary was Presbyterian minister David Brainerd who...

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Notes & News

The article on this site, "John T. Edgar, Chrysostom of Kentucky," posted June 6, 2024 has been revised with additional information to clarify the Mar Yohannon presence at the General Assembly of 1842. Search John T. Edgar for the article. [posted 7/6/2024].

John Calvin might be thought by some a tyrant insensitive to the views of others, especially when it comes to interpreting Scripture, but R. Scott Clark makes the case that he was receptive to interpretations of the Bible by other commentators. He shows that Calvin's use of “if anyone prefers” and “I do not object” (as in the English editions by the Calvin Translation Society) shows willingness to accept different interpretations. He also notes that the brevity of Calvin’s insights in the commentaries is because topics are developed more fully in the Institutes. See "Calvin as Exegetical Moderate" on Heidelblog. [Posted 6/17/2024]

In 2016 a review ofPioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill and published by the South Dakota Historical Society was posted on Presbyterians of the Past. The continued interest in Wilder's books and abundant viewings of readily available reruns of Little House on the Prairie keeps her work before the public, and home school parents often include her books in their reading curriculum. Church was an aspect of Wilder's life and Professor of History John J. Fry of Trinity Christian College has published A Prairie Faith: The Religious Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Eerdmans, 2024, to present his extensive research into the religious views of a popular but private person. Author of the foreword, Mark A. Noll, says that the book is, "An outstanding example of how detailed research can supplement, modify, or, in some cases, overthrow what everyone thought they knew about an author whose books are still much read and, by many, much loved." The author's expertise researching the rural American West primarily from period newspaper sources was essential for presenting his case since Wilder wrote for rural periodicals before composing her famous books. Readers may find Dr. Fry's findings surprising. I think reading this book in conjunction with Pioneer Girl would provide a more thorough understanding of Wilder and her work. [Posted 5/22/2024]

The Kentucky Tribune, Danville, Sep. 2, 1853, p. 2, provides a news snippet about Presbyterian of the past Stuart Robinson. "Rev. Stuart Robinson, formerly of Frankfort and now of Baltimore, has declined the honorary degree of D.D. lately conferred on him by Centre College." Unfortunately, the reason he turned down the degree is not given. The Doctor of Divinity is commonly given by educational institutions to honor ministers and professors of note, so knowing the reasoning behind his decision would be interesting. Before earned doctorates became commonly used to confirm the knowledge and ability of a recipient, the D.D. provided the assessment of knowledgeable peers that a recipient had achieved exceptional standing. The D.D. is still given to honor and acknowledge the achievements of individuals, but its use is not as frequent. There must have been a significant issue because his action surely offended some members of the Centre community while making others plain angry. Within a few years he would be teaching at Danville Seminary and the abandoned D.D. might have proved useful since the seminary was a neighbor of Centre College. To read about Robinson see the article, "Stuart Robinson, 1814-1881". [Posted 3/21/2024]

The book reviewed in the post "A Survey of Presbyterian Mission History in Africa, Whytock, 2023" is now available in North America from the usual online general stock book vendors. The prices vary, so check around. Volume 2 is in the works and it will be released later this year.

Commenting on 1 Peter 1:2 , Edmund P. Clowney says of "May grace and peace be multiplied to you," that: "What makes a greeting a blessing? Peter gives the answer in the words that precede his blessing. It is the work of the Spirit. When a minister of God's word pronounces a blessing at the end of a worship service, it is the action of God's Spirit that gives power to his words. Grace, is a gift; God is the giver. Our words of blessing are not magic; they do not communicate grace by their own power, or because we speak them. But when they are spoken in faith to the people of God, God honours them. They are much more than wishes; more, even, than prayers. They declare God's own favour to those who are in Christ." (The Message of 1 Peter, IVP, 1988) [Posted 2/16/2024]

While writing the post, "Review, D.G. Hart, Benjamin Franklin, Cultural Protestant" I was reminded of a story I read about him when I was in the fifth grade. It was about his inventions such as bifocals, a device for retrieving books from high shelves so the need for a ladder was avoided, and his more efficient stove for heating homes that required fewer logs per day. A boy asked Ben why he invented the things he did. He answered, "Because I am lazy." He said he was too lazy to switch from distance to reading glasses; too lazy to get the ladder and climb it to retrieve a book; and too lazy to go out to the wood pile and retrieve logs. Reading Hart's biography will dispel any thought of laziness as Franklin's work ethic is clearly presented. If he had been lazy, what he might have accomplished through more industry would have been staggering. [Posted 2/20/2023]

For a fine chapter about the coming of the Son of God, see William Swan Plumer's "The Incarnation of Christ" transcribed on this site as from The Rock of Our Salvation: A Treatise Respecting the Natures, Person, Offices, Work, Sufferings, and Glory of Jesus Christ, American Tract Society, 1867. A link to a biography on this site is provided in the introduction to the chapter. [Posted 12/2/2022]

Pontius Pilate asked, "What is truth," which was a question Jesus had already answered in the High Priestly Prayer in John 17:17 saying, "Thy word is truth." Dr. Neil Shenvi is the author of Why Believe? A Reasoned Approach to Christianity published by Crossway. He was interviewed on reformation21's podcast dated September 28, 2022 and titled "Why Believe?" He said the following: "If its true it doesn't matter if you like it ... if its true, it's just true." Dr. Shenvi and the interviewers discussed the relationship of natural and special revelation in the course of their brief discussion as well as the author's experiences as a researcher at Yale and Duke apologetically confronting his academic colleagues with Christ. [posted 9/30/2022]

[Previous entries in "Notes & News" have been moved to the "N&N Archive" which is accessed through the "Archives" button on the toolbar. The "General Archive" selection provides the catalog of previous posts.]

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