Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rev. John Vant Stephens

Rev. John Vant Stephens, who has filled the Murdock chair of Church History in the Theological Seminary for ten years, is a Missourian. He is a graduate of Lincoln University, of the Theological Seminary, and of Union Seminary. In 1901 he was justly honored with the degree of D.D. by Trinity University. Dr. Stephens was for a considerable term of years secretary of the Board of Missions, and was called from a successful pastorate at Bowling Green, Ky., to the position which he how occupies.

His studies in the special line of church history had begun long before the time of this call; his library is extensive, and his collection of books relating to the early history of our own Church large. He is one of the Church's representatives in the Pan-Presbyterian alliance, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Western Section. He never returns to the Seminary from one of this committee's meetings without some trophies in the shape of rare books, discovered in out-of-the-way places. His published works include, besides a number of pamphlets on various subjects, the Following: "Infant Church Membership" (1897), "The Causes" (1898), "Cumberland Presbyterian Digest" (1899), "Elect Infants" (1900), "Evolution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Confession" (1902). In selecting Dr. Stephens to prepare that important work, the Digest, our General Assembly found the man of all our communion most fitted for that important work. Dr. Stephens' works on our church history and on points of doctrinal importance are known without our own bounds as well as within them, as clear and conclusive presentations of the truth.       F. K. FARR.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, December 3, 1903, page 714]

John Vant Stephens, D.D., Professor of Church History in the Theological School of Cumberland University from 1894 to 1909, was born near St. Louis, Missouri, September 16, 1857. In his twenty-third year he entered college, and received the A.B. degree from Lincoln University, Illinois, in 1884. After completing his college course he spent a year in Union Theological Seminary, New York City. he then came to Lebanon, where he completed his theological course in the Theological School of Cumberland University, being a member of the class of 1886, and receiving the B.D. degree.

After graduation he was settled over a mission church in Knoxville, Tennessee. His success in this field led the Oak Street Church in Chattanooga to call him there, which call he accepted. Later he served as Secretary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Missions, with headquarters in St. Louis. While engaged in this service he was the editor of the Missionary Record, improving it and making it a standard publication. His last pastorate, before coming to Lebanon, was at Bowling Green, Ky.

In 1909-10 Dr. Stephens taught in the Presbyterian Seminary of the South, and was its President. In 1910 he became Professor Church History in Lane Seminary, Cincinnati, which service he continued until May, 1932, when he retired, rounding out thirty-eight years of continuous service as a theological teacher. He resides in Cincinnati.

The following books were written by him: Infant Church Membership, The Causes, The Cumberland Presbyterian Digest, The Evolution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith, Presbyterian Government, The Presbyterian Churches, and The Providential Purpose of Our Country. For four years he was the editor of the Teacher's Monthly Sunday School Magazine. Some years ago he was a member of the Committee which prepared the Intermediate Catechism of the Presbyterian Church. In 1935 he published a small but attractive volume, Cumberland University Theological School.

[Source: The History of Cumberland University, 1842-1935. By Winstead Paine Bone, 1935, pages 237-238]

Eulogy for John Vant Stephens | 1946

By Jesse Halsey

Our Mr. Valiant for Truth has crossed the river, and with all the trumpets sounding on the other side, the thoughts of our hearts and their vocal expression are but an echo of that approval that he has earned from our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

I am honored to speak a word at his funeral, especially as relates to his service to the Church at large through his ministry in our own Presbytery. Many who knew him before I did, report the same feeling one sensed immediately in Dr. Stephens, the talent and the spiritual quality that was the man. Long before I met him face-to-face, I had heard from his friends and colleagues concerning the “stuff” that was in him. He never failed; anything that he undertook he carried through to conclusion. With the high quality of mental and spiritual achievement that were his, he knew how to coin in proper phrase or resolution or friendly word, and pass on, his own spirit. He was the embodiment of the law and the gospel; a rare combination. Always, at the expense of himself, he served his Lord and the Church.

He was the leading personality in a relatively small denomination. In the beginning of the century, all his efforts were bent in the direction of union of his Church (The Cumberland Presbyterian) with the mother Church. He stood to lose everything, and like those commended by our Lord, he threw away his life to find it in the joy of a larger service. Having served as the State Clerk of his own denomination he became a clerk in the larger group, and merged his own person ad his own work enthusiastically in perfecting the Digest of our General Assembly (having finished that of his own). To this he devoted days and months of tedious and painstaking and (always with him) joyous labor, a service of love.

We owe to him in this Presbytery and to his colleague, Dr. Parr, a great debt for the spiritual quality that they brought to us from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. With James H. Miller and James Clark, they brought into the U.S.A. church a great heritage of spiritual and intellectual quality that had repudiated one hundred years before some of the ultra strictness of the “second generation doctrines” that were never inherited from John Calvin. They brought back not “something new,” but something older than that which had become accepted tradition in certain sections of the U.S.A. church.

His work as a Stated Clerk in our Presbytery was a reflection of that larger and longer service that he rendered to his denomination in earlier years. When he felt himself slipping, on his own initiative he resigned (and possibly we were not too wise in accepting that resignation.)

He never lost the “spiritual glow” that comes from lasting and deep friendships. He carried on (beyond his physical abilities at times) a correspondence which is unusual as one grows older. You may remember your friends, but to include the younger generations—that is genius; the genius of real friendship!

There are few living today of his contemporaries and his “fellow soldiers” in other years. We have heard him tell on occasion of how, as a boy, he carried the brunt of family responsibility for his father who espoused the Union cause and went at Lincoln’s first call, and who, years afterwards, came back, not recognized by his own son when he met him at the gate.

It seems as one reviews this wonderful life, that from the first to the last, in every appointment, he has accepted it at the Hand of an always Beneficent Providence, trusting and unafraid. John Stephens was the faithful servant of his Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “It is better to minister than to be ministered unto.” Like his Master, “first he wrought and afterwards he taught.” In all things he adorned the doctrine of God, our Saviour.

This is not the time to recount, except in our own hearts, the debt of gratitude that we feel toward hi and toward God, in the gift of this life. Its blessing, its example, his contagious spirit, his thoroughness in his work that shamed us in our shabbiness; his deep purpose, his unfailing zeal, his enthusiasm, his words of good will and encouragement, and his meticulous care in the performance of every duty—for these we thank God.

We here echo, “Well done, good and faithful servant,”—with all the trumpets sounding for him on the other side!

Let us pray.

Almighty God our Father, in whose hand our breath is and whose are all our ways, we acknowledge Thy great goodness in this finished life. We desire to thank Thee for the friend whom Thou has now called from our earthly fellowship and we rejoice in the hope of immortality.

For this good man who, like his Master, went about doing good, the law of kindness on his tongue, we thank Thee. For his good counsel and brave testimony, for what he was and what he did; the things that he said; the texture of his mind and heart; the touch of his sympathy, his wise and ready help—for all we render our thanksgiving.

O Thou Whose best gifts come to us in human form, Whose love came to us incarnate in Christ, we thank Thee for Thy servant, John Stephens, and we ask that we, in our day and generation, may in some measure, in his spirit, adorn that same doctrine and follow the same Christ.

To God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit ourselves yet again, with the whole family of God in Heaven and on earth: The Lord preserve our going out and our coming in from this time forth and even forevermore. Amen.

Courtesy of The Jesse Halsey Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries, Special Collections.

The Auburn Betrayal

The Presbyterian Guardian
January 25, 1942
By Ruling Elder Murray Forst Thompson


We have seen the origin of the Auburn Affirmation. We have sought to expose its heretical teaching. We have described the efforts of the conservatives to do something about it. What is the standing of the Affirmationists in the church today?

It is hardly necessary to say that they have not withdrawn from the church. Did they not affirm that they “sincerely hold and earnestly preach the doctrines of evangelical Christianity, in agreement with the historic testimony of the Presbyterian Church in the United State of America?” They have not left the church; they have “taken over” the church.

The best method of determining the power and influence of the Affirmationists is to note some of the more important official positions which they hold. A study of their official status in the numerous presbyteries and synods throughout the country would be a herculean task. It is sufficient to see how many signers of the Affirmation are on the various boards and agencies of the church, and on the Permanent Judicial Commission and standing committee of the General Assembly. The results of our investigation have been tabulated, and will be presented in a separate article in an early issue of The Presbyterian Guardian. These statistics will show the extent to which the church has honored the Affirmationistis. They also will indicate that the signers of the Affirmation have not lost influence in the last seven years.

Prior to 1940, Affirmationists had been placed on the most influential standing committees of the General Assembly; they were elected to the mission boards and the Boards of Christian Education and Pensions; they were on the General Council, the central administrative body of the church; they were members of the Department of Church Cooperation and Union, which is becoming increasingly important in the view of the efforts to unite with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (the Southern Presbyterian Church) and the Episcopal Church; they were on the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly, the highest judicial body in the church, next to the assembly itself. But it remained for the General Assembly of 1940 to honor an Affirmationist with the highest office in the church. That assembly elected as its moderator, Dr. William L. Young, President of Park College, Parkeville, Missouri. Dr. Young’s nearest opponent was a fellow-signer of the Affirmation, Dr. J.B.C. Mackie of Philadelphia, and, on Dr. Mackie’s motion, Dr. Young was elected by acclamation. Times had certainly changed. In 1924, the conservatives elected their candidate by a scant majority of 18 out of 910 votes. (It is also worth recording that Dr. Young appointed fellow Affirmationists as chairmen of half of the important standing committees of the assembly. (Bills and Overtures, National Missions, Polity, Nomination of Members of General Council, and Social Education and Action.)

Unquestionably, the Modernists had a “field day” at the General Assembly of 1940. And they made the most of their opportunity. The Presbytery of Arkansas overtured the assembly to reaffirm once more the “Five Points” of the General Assembly of 1923. Dr. Mackie, as the chairman of the standing Committee on Bills and Overtures, had the satisfaction of recommending that the assembly take no action on the overture. The recommendation was adopted by unanimous vote. The signers of the Affirmation had come a long way. In 1924, they were able only to protest against the assembly’s reaffirmation of the “Five Point”: in 1940 they were in a position to insure that the assembly should not make the same mistake again.

Nor did the Affirmations fare so badly in the General Assembly of 1941. The leading candidates for moderator were Dr. Herbert Booth Smith of Los Angeles, and Affirmationist Henry Sloane Coffin of New York City. Although Dr. Smith was elected, Dr. Coffin received 46 percent of the votes cast. Furthermore, Dr. Coffin was nominated by Dr. Jesse Halsey, a fellow-signer of the Affirmation. And a “dark horse” who was “scratched” after the second ballot was another Affirmationist, Dr. William R. Farmer, of Pittsburgh, who had been Visiting Professor of Homiletics at Princeton Seminary in 1937-38.

Dr. Smith showed his colors immediately by appointing as vice-moderator Affirmationist Norman E. Nygaard of Los Angeles, and by appointing Dr. Coffin chairman of the standing Committee on Bills and Overtures, and another signer of the Affirmation, Dr. Asa J. Ferry of Wichita, Kansas, chairman of the standing Committee on Nomination.

For the second time in consecutive assemblies an Affirmationist was chairman of the Committee on Bills and Overtures and again that committee had an opportunity to prevent the reaffirmation of any of the Christian doctrines contained in the “Five Points.” The Presbytery of Cedar Rapids sent up to the assembly an overture intended to assure the Southern Presbyterian Church of the doctrinal soundness of the Northern Church. The overture asked the assembly to declare that it regarded certain doctrines “as being involved in the ordination vows to which we subscribe.” The doctrines were the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection, and the second coming of our Lord. The text of the overture was rewritten by Dr. Coffin’s committee, and as adopted by the assembly did not affirm a single Christian doctrine. The assembly piously reaffirmed “the fidelity of the church to its doctrinal standards” and declared itself convinced that “its ministers and elders are loyal to their ordination vows.”

The evidence, we believe, shows that the Affirmationists—or the heretical views they represent—control the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. WE do not say that the signers of the Affirmation are the only heretics in the church. We do say, however, that no more significant or influential anti-Christian declaration has appeared in the history of that denomination. It was indeed a dark hour for the church when that infamous document was published. Many even darker hours were to come later, as the protests of the conservatives became more and more feeble and the leaven of unbelief did its work. One of the darkest arrived on May 22, 1941, when the General Assembly, meeting in St. Louis, having been constituted with prayer, received the sacrament from the hands of the Affirmationist moderator of the General Assembly of 1940.

The events since 1936 show that the Presbyterians who then left the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. were right. But many Christians remained. To them we address a final word. Are you going to continue in a church which honors men who reject the Bible as the infallible Word of God and who do despite to the most precious truths of the Christian religion?


May 18, 1936

LATE studies of positions occupied by signers of the modernist "Auburn Affirmation" reveal that as a group they wield a wide official influence in the Church disproportionate to their total number. Recent compilations reveal Affirmationists at the 148th Assembly and in the Boards and agencies as follows:

(Listed with Presbyteries represented)
James W. Bean, Mahoning
C. Carson Bransby, Council Bluffs
Victor Bucher, Erie
George Cleaver, Chicago
John R. Duffield, Buffalo-Niagara
R. Worth Frank, Chicago
Clarence S. Gee, Marion
Bruce J. Giffen, Waterloo
B. A. Hodges, Waco
George C. Hood, Missionary Delegate
Arthur M. Hughes, Jersey City
James A. Hunsicker, Gunnison
Wm. Lloyd Imes, New York
Robert L. Irving, EI Paso
Howard W. Johnston, Chicago
Arthur R. Jones, Grande Ronde
William C. Kerr, Newark
Irving W. Ketchum, Washington City
Alva Vest King, Hastings
John J. Lawrence, Rochester
George O. Long, Sioux Falls
Ward Willis Long, San Francisco
Julius W. Mallard, Kiamichi
D. Alan Martens, Blairsville
Elmer Martin, Bloomington
Francis L. McCauley, Troy
Harry G. McCluskey, Nebraska City
Peter McKenzie, Otsego
Wm. Pierson Merrill, New York
Hugh A. Moran, Cayuga
Fred M. Newlin, Highland
William Owen, Blairsville
Lucian W. Scott, Buffalo-Niagara
Frederick L. Selden, Chicago
Robert S. Sidebotharn, Toledo
Albert D. Stearns, Syracuse
Arthur O. Stockbridge, Providence
David Thomas, Enid
Robert von Thurn, Ebenezer
Emery D. Webster, Rochester
H. W. Wylie, Utica

Philip S. Bird
Henry S. Coffin
William H. Boddy
Robert Freeman
George A. Buttrick
T. Guthrie Speers
R. Thomasen

Paul C. Johnston
Robert G. McGregor

James E. Clarke
George A. Frantz

Andrew Mutch
Jesse Halsey

E. Graham Wilson
William E. Brooks
Vice-Chairman William T. Paterson

Special Committee of Five
C.A. Spaulding
E.L. Douglas

George E. Barnes
Ralph C. McAfee
Edmund B. Chaffee

(There are only seven living ministers on the roll of the Permanent Judicial Commission since the death in Boston on April 25th, of the Rev. Robert Watson, who was not an Affirmotionist.)
Robert H. Nichols
Archibald Cardle
Herbert K. England
Floyd Poe

W. P. Merrill
P. C. Johnston

George E. Barnes
Edward Yates Hill

William T. Paterson

George A. Frantz
Arthur Lee Odell

Chairman Jesse Halsey
Paul W. Gauss

The Report on "Birth Control"

From Christianity Today, May 1931

BOTH the Church and the World have
been stirred by the portion of the report
of the Commission on Marriage, Divorce
and Remarriage which deals with "Birth
Control." The Commission was appointed by
the 1929 Assembly. Its report to the 1930
Assembly was handled somewhat roughly by
that body, but the Committee was permitted
another year of life. The report to the
1931 Assembly has to do with Marriage,
Divorce, Remarriage, Birth Control and
proper sex education both of Ministers and
people. Section II, which deals with Birth
Control, has been widely commented upon.
It is as follows:

"Earnest Christian people are asking for
the Church's guidance on the subject of Birth
Control. This subject demands attention today
as never before. Economic conditions
and a worthy standard of living clearly make
it wrong to bring children into the world
without adequate provision for their nurture
and proper consideration for the health of
the mother.

"The Christian conception of sex clothes
the relationship between husband and wife
with spiritual significance, sanctifying marriage
as a divine institution. Moral control
is the basic essential to a worthy experience
of the marriage relation.

"In expressing its judgment on this subject,
the Church in no sense modifies its
condemnation of sex relations outside of

"Two methods are possible in securing
birth control. The first is continence. The
second is the use of contraceptives. When
this method is adopted in seeking the worthy
objectives stated above, it should only be in
fidelity to the highest spiritual ideals of the
Christian home."

The second general recommendation of the
Commission is as follows: "The Commission
recommends that the General Assembly
adopt the report concerning birth control
contained within this Commission's report
above as expressing the attitude of our
Church upon this intimate and all important

The Presbytery of Philadelphia, at its
April meeting overwhelmingly adopted a
strong memorial to the forthcoming
Assembly concerning this report. The memorial
was moved by the Rev. George B.
Bell, D.D., of the Patterson Memorial
Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, as follows:
"The Presbytery of Philadelphia convened
in its regular monthly meeting May 4, 1931,
desires to express to the General Assembly
meeting in Pittsburgh, May 28 to June 3,
its profound disapproval of that portion of
the report to be submitted to the Assembly
by its Commission on Marriage, Divorce and
Remarriage in which the Commission
endorses birth control by contraceptive

"It is the opinion of this Presbytery that
the adoption of this declaration would bring
deserved criticism and odium upon our be-
loved church."

It will be remembered that a year ago,
when the Commission desired to alter the
Confession so that marriages with Roman-
ists should be allowed by the standards, a
protest was adopted by the Presbytery of
Philadelphia against making any change.
This protest originated with Dr. Bell, who
later carried his point on the floor of the
Assembly. The Presbytery of Philadelphia
has instructed its Commissioners to vote
against approval of the section of the
report dealing with Birth Control.

Lane-McCormick Merger

The petition presented to the courts of Ohio for the privilege of merging the work of Lane Theological Seminary with The Presbyterian Theological Seminry, Chicago, has been granted. This petition has been pending subject to the consent of the residuary legatees, two of whom had refused to join with the seminary up to a recent date.

All these having been satisfied and quit claim deeds to all rights and claims to the property of Lane Seminary having been obtained by the institution, the Court granted the petition for the right to effect the merger.

Lane Seminary has had a faculty of four full time professors, Dr. John Vant Stephens, Dr. Frank Granstaff, President R. Ames Montgomery, and Professor John Adam Garber. Dr. Paul E. Davies of the Chicago seminary has been special lecturer in New Testament literature and Dr. George W. Osmun, instructor in Hebrew.

President Montgomery and Professor Garber will continue their work in the Chicago institution which they have already begun in the field of Religious Education and Sociology. Dr. Stephen, who has been professor of History at Lane for twenty-two years and Dr. Granstaff, professor of Homiletics, will retire with pensions provided by Lane.

The decision of the Court in this case is regarded as of great importance, not only as affecting the program of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., for the consolidation of educational institutions, but for other organizations contemplating similar action.

The Lane Seminary property will be held for the use of the merged institutions. The present policy of the Trustees of Lane contemplate a regular summer session at Lane for the instruction of ministers and lay church workers.

Lane Seminary Abandonment
Blocked by Court

which has been located in Cincinnati, Ohio,
for more than 100 years, will continue t()
function as a seminary, if an opinion handed
down in Common Pleas Court by Judge
Charles S. Bell on April 21, is not upset by

Judge Bell held that as the result of testimony
adduced before him in a hearing, several
months ago, the seminary had not failed'
in its original purpose, and that it had 'not
become extinct, despite contentions to the
contrary. He also ruled that the court had
no jurisdiction to authorize the seminary
trustees to abandon it and endow scholarships
in the Chicago Theological Seminary.

The institution dates back to 1829, when
the Legislature of the State of Ohio created'
the theological institution "for the education'
of pious young men for the gospel ministry ... ·
In December of that year Elnatban Kemper"
James Kemper, Sr., Peter H. Kemper and
David R. Kemper and their wives deeded the'
property to the seminary.

This deed provided that, if the purpose of'
the seminary failed, or if it became extinct,.
the property was to revert to the American
Board Society, the American Tract Company,
the American Colonization Society and the
American Education Society. In the event
that any of these societies) were extinct,
the property then was to revert to any charitable
religious institution selected by the
General Assembly of the Presbyterian

For many years the seminary flourished,
and men who carried the gospel to the four
corners of the world were its graduates. Of
late years the enrollment has fallen off and
bad times have overtaken the school.
About a year ago the trustees filed a petition
asking for instructions as to what they
were to do. They favored abandonment of
the school and the establishment of scholarships
in the Chicago institution which was
formally known as "McCormick Seminary."
It was claimed on behalf of the American
Colonization Society, that the seminary had
failed in its purpose and that therefore the
property should be turned over to the other
societies mentioned in the deed.
Discussing the matters that were brought
to its attention during the hearing, Judge
Bell wrote: "Since the .establishment of this
institution in 1829, there has been a great
increase in the number of theological institutions
available to students preparing for
the Presbyterian ministry, and there has
been a proportionate decrease in the past
twenty-five or thirty years in the number of
enlistments of young men for such training.
A number of such institutions in the country
have become more efficient for the purposes
for which Lane Seminary was created, and
this has been due largely to the fact that certain
other colleges have received large incomes
and generous gifts, which have been
denied Lane Seminary.

"By reason of curtailed revenue, this institution
has reached a financial status
where there is in the neighborhood of about
$20,000 per annum for its upkeep; and because
thereof the institution has generally
deteriorated until the buildings are out of
repair, the professors are underpaid, and the
student body has decreased greatly. At the
time of the hearing, there were less than 20
in the student body at the seminary. The
future prospects of the institution presents a
dismal picture; the institution probably will
have fewer students and less money than at
the present time.

"Disposing first of the disputed fact in the
case, the court has concluded that Lane
Seminary has not failed or become extinct."
Taking- up the second matter before him,
Judge Bell said: "The trustees propose to
sell the property; create a legal entity to be
known as the Lane Seminary Foundation;
with the funds establish proper endowments,
scholarships and fellowships in the Chicago
Theological Seminary.

"After a careful consideration, the court
has concluded that it has no authority -or
jurisdiction to authorize these trustees to
change the name or abandon the theological
institution in Hamilton County," the opinion

Following the receipt of the judgment of
court, it was announced that Lane Seminary
would re·open in the fall as usual.

William Jennings Bryan

from Wikipedia

Bryan was worried that the theory of evolution was making grounds not only in the universities, but also within the church itself. Many colleges were still church-affiliated at this point. The developments of 19th century liberal theology, and higher criticism in particular, had left the door open to the point where many clergymen were willing to embrace the theory of evolution and claimed that it was not contradictory with their being Christians.

Determined to put an end to this, Bryan, who had long served as a Presbyterian elder, decided to run for the position of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, which was at the time embroiled in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy (Under Presbyterian church governance, clergy and laymen are equally represented in the General Assembly, and the post of Moderator is open to any member of the General Assembly.) Bryan's main competition in the [1923] race was the Rev. Charles F. Wishart, president of the College of Wooster, who had loudly endorsed the teaching of the theory of evolution in the college. Bryan lost to Wishart by a vote of 451-427. Bryan then failed in a proposal to cut off funds to schools where the theory of evolution was taught. Instead, the General Assembly announced disapproval of materialistic (as opposed to theistic) evolution.

Lane Theological Seminary

from Wikipedia

Lane Theological Seminary was established in the Walnut Hills section of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1829 to educate Presbyterian ministers. It was named in honor of Ebenezer and William Lane, who pledged $4,000 for the new school, which was seen as a forward outpost of the Presbyterian Church in the western territories of the United States. Prominent New England pastor Lyman Beecher moved his family (including daughter Harriet and son Henry) from Boston to Cincinnati to become the first President of the Seminary in 1832. During this time, the family lived in what is now known as the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.[1]

Lane Seminary is known primarily for the "debates" held there in 1834 that influenced the nation's thinking about slavery. The event resulted in the dismissal of a group of students, a professor and a trustee and was one of the first significant tests of academic freedom in the United States and the right of students to participate in free discussion. Several of those involved went on to play an important role in the abolitionist movement and the buildup to the American Civil War.
Following the slavery debates, Lane Seminary continued as a "New School" seminary, cooperating with Congregationalists and others in mission and education efforts and involved in social reform movements like abolition, temperance, and Sabbath legislation. The seminary admitted students from other denominations and pursued educational and evangelistic unity among Protestant churches in the West.

At the end of the 19th century, Lane Seminary was reorganized along more conservative lines. In 1910, it became affiliated with the Presbyterian Seminary of the South, and the Seminary continued as a small but respected school, though financial pressures continued to increase. Following a brief period of growth in the 1920s, it became apparent that Lane could no longer survive as an independent school. In 1932, it became part of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. While a permanent Board of Trustees for Lane Theological Seminary remained in service until the Seminary was legally merged out of existence in 2007,[3] the faculty, library collections, and students were transferred to Chicago, and the last remnants of the Cincinnati campus were destroyed in 1956.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A “Successful” Church

By Jesse Halsey

The word Church is given nine meanings in Webster. The first is church as a building. That usage does not appear in the New Testament and it is doubtful if a Christian church as building existed anywhere in the first century, though there were numerous “churches” all over the Roman world.

The New Testament Church was a fellowship of believers professing a common faith in one Lord, following His example and teaching, observing ‘the breaking of bread’ as a token of fellowship with HIM and with one another and recognizing baptism as a seal of that faith. Their worship was simple, readings from the ancient Scriptures, the singing of psalms and spiritual songs, prayer, and exhortation. Those Christians were evangelists preaching and living the Gospel. They had their disagreements but they were a brotherhood.

The Church of today with its plant, its budget, its staff, unless with all it has that underlying fraternity and mutual help is not ‘successful’ in the New Testament sense. The Spirit may pervade a wayside chapel or a cathedral housed congregation or it may be absent from either or both. If any church has not the spirit of Christ it is none of His.

Forms change and circumstances, but underlying all change in externals that burden bearing that is called “the law of Christ” is essential to “success.”

Accepting the Apostolic Norm, the modern church has in addition a building (few modern congregations long survive without) in which the Lord’s Table, a symbol of fellowship has a conspicuous place, a pulpit from which The Word is proclaimed, and seats for the congregation. These with a tight roof and adequate heat constitute the essentials, organ, stained glass, and much else can be added. The Church must be kept clean and in repair and it will be as elegant and lovely as the devotion of its worshipers can make it. Like David, its people will be restive if they “live in cedar and the Lord in curtains.”

A successful congregation will be considerate of its youth; its teaching ministry will go on and its recreational concern will extend to its neighborhood.

It will be an evangelistic church, not only in its preaching ministry but in its welcoming.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

lost. page from An Old Sea Chest


A log smoldering in its ample bed of glowing embers reflected in the brass andirons, throws a genial heat into the small low ceilinged white washed room where two bewhiskered old men sit in Boston rockers exchanging reminiscences of youthful days. A boy of seven trained to be seen and not heard listens intently from his stool in the corner.

It is late Fall, the wind scurries through the bare treetops chasing the leaves down the dusty main street on which the house faces. The season’s work is all but done on the farm and in the barnyard back of the house a dozen stacks of cornstalks stand regimented in the moonlight like ghostly sentinels ready for the onslaught of approaching winter.


from Old Sea Chest / In the East Riding of Yorkshire

-->By Jesse Halsey
Back to my whalers—and the fireside. Capt’n Guss (Halsey) would come and spend the day. He and my Uncle Will (a real uncle—Father’s brother) were my favorites. (When I was seven Uncle Will drowned before my eyes
one day when we were clamming—I was too young to understand what was happening but not too little to help had I only known.)  Well, Cap’t Guss would come from Watermill two miles away, and once or twice a year father would go and spend the day with Cap’t Guss (and take me with him). Most Cap’ns’ who came would pat me on the head and straightway forget (I caught on to what they were saying to themselves-“poor child, with no mother”). But Captain Guss thought it worthwhile to talk to a boy. So did Uncle Will who lived across the street. He and father had married sisters. I’d go across the street after our early farm breakfast, in time for theirs. My aunt would try to send me home, but I can hear Uncle Will now . . . “Feed him . . . feed him.” Between Uncle Will and Aunt Libbie I was well supplied.

Captain Guss had a story about how a half dozen whalers were caught for weeks in the doldrums of some harbor on the west African coast. At last a breeze stirred and all made sail trying to be first out. Capt. Jerry Jennings neared the narrow opening and started to tack. One of his crew—an Indian—failed to loosen a line and the Captain boomed out so all the harbor heard—“Let go that clew line, you damned painted angel.” That Indian always thereafter went by that nickname, “Painted Angel.”

In our village only two men are now living who have made whaling voyages; when I was a boy every other man in the town was a Captain. Capt. Jethur Rose and his wife used to come to dinner occasionally. (Most people in the town were somewhat related.) I heard him tell father one day that when he first started out on a new voyage that he was always seasick for a few days. That gave me courage when in after years I went to sea.  Always sick and very sick, I thought of Capt. Jethur and would keep at my task if and when I had one.
On the first trip I made to Europe, among my steamer letters marked “first day out” was a package “From Cap’n Hugh (White).” I opened it. The inside box was inscribed—“Sure cure for sea sickness.” I was sick—very sick. With difficulty I opened the box. It was a half dozen pieces of salt pork the size of a quarter, strung on a stout string and with directions “Swallow while you hold the string, regurgitate) (those old fellows, many of them knew the dictionary, the Bible, by heart) “regurgitate and try again until cured.” Disgusted, I threw the contraption out the porthole, but in the box I found a note—a real cure. “Get some soda crackers, eat all you can, when they come up, eat some more and so on—the only cure.” And I have found it works, time on end.

Editorial for Presbyterian Tribune c1949

By Jesse Halsey

“Christmas is coming . . .” and what happens will depend upon where you live. What can Christmas mean to Christians in Korea, south or north? What can Christmas mean to millions in countries like East Germany where it used to be the great day of the year and now, because of religious repressions and economic strictures, little in material ways is possible. What about Yugoslavia with a non-existent harvest and a winter of starvation ahead? How does one keep Christmas without toys for the children and food for the table? It is all very well for us who have so much to be merry at Christmas, but what about the others?

In my last talk with Dr. Robert E. Spear, he said that, the greatest mystery of Divine providence was the fact that America had so completely escaped the judgments of God, abroad in so many parts of the earth. With our superabundance of good things, we are doubly obligated as individuals to share—“We bear the Christian name and mark.” And as churches, the needs of brother Christians in many lands claim our consideration just now for the Christmas—the Christ spirit—must “get abroad” else the whole thing is a mockery!

From a national point of view, we are learning that freedom is expensive. Most of us believe it is worth all that it costs. Uncle Sam is often pictured as Santa Claus by the caricaturists. The Marshall Plan is sometimes dubbed in terms of Kris Kringle beneficence. Just the same, increasingly, the country will bear the burden of rearmament and huge military expenditure. Along with it might it not be that some gestures of hope and goodwill, might be used?

At last report, the American Commissioner in West Germany had at his disposal some $50,000 contributed by friends for the relief of refugees and the feeding and housing of those who have managed to escape from the tyrannies of East Germany. Such persons—refugees from the Bolshevik terror—aided and rehabilitated, would be worth in terms of propaganda, the equivalent of many guns.

All through Indiana and Illinois, near hundreds of rural stations, there are great metal beehives of corn. In the western states the superabundance of nature (wheat) is often rotting on the ground for want of shelter. Potatoes in excess—subsidized for destruction—have become almost a national scandal.

Would it not be the very best strategy in the face of the world situation to dispatch some of these surpluses to the Adriatic and to Yugoslavia? If potatoes will not stand the voyage, certainly grain will. The best anti-communist, pro-American propaganda at our disposal is American surplus grain in hungry countries here and there the world around. Communism thrives on starvation. Communism literally goes on its belly. In playing Santa Claus, Uncle Same might be showing good business sense. Twenty or more divisions of Serbian soldiers right on the spot are one of earth’s most dangerous points! Would it not be excellent business for our government to help in the face of Yugoslavia’s famine?

We (editorial plural) have mixed our metaphors, jumbled our idealism with prudential economics in rather characteristic American style; this I confess. But more than ever before, we are convinced that food is akin to friendship, and that gestures of help are the best propaganda. Believing in preparedness, defending right with might, I still would leave no door or help unopened, trusting that friendship is better than ferocity and that the Christmas spirit is not confined to one day in December.

Jesse Halsey Stained Glass Windows at McCormick

Mr. President:

On behalf of the family of our colleague and friend, Norman E. Richardson*, I have the privilege of presenting to the Seminary a window that has been installed in the West Transom. It completes the series showing characters from Pilgrim’s Progress and manifesting the major points of our insistence here at McCormick: Bible exegesis, the pastoral function, missionary and evangelistic enthusiasm, and in this new window, religious education; in which field Dr. Richardson was a pioneer and master.

In completing his series on “The Teaching Evangelist” on the very day before he left us, Dr. Richardson said to the speaker: “I think we liberals have under-emphasized the powers of evil and ignorance.” In this window, Mr. Greatheart is shown contending with Giant Grim, the embodiment of such evil forces. In the background are thumbnail sketches of Comenius, a contemporary of John Bunyan, who influenced the educational systems of half a dozen countries; of Pestalozzi, who came a century later, and Horace Bushnell, the New England Puritan in the last century who gave the initial impulsion to what he called “Christian Nurture.” These great educators whose ideals Dr. Richardson harmonized and followed, emboy the spirit of the Christ-centered type of religious education that the Seminary seeks to emphasize.

During the five years that I was privileged to know Dr. Richardson, he labored under a severe physical handicap when “every breath was a prayer for the next,” yet in spite of this, his enthusiasms never abated. He was working and planning up to the last, and within an hour of his passing completed his “Teaching Evangelist,” saying, “That is finished. Tomorrow we will tackle something else.”
So, I think of him as going on with all his splendid equipment, uninhibited by the limitations of the flesh, in some Other Room of our Father’s House where Christ’s servants serve Him.

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
            Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
            Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
                        Sleep to wake.
                                                --Robert Browning

“I worked on the staff of McCormick Theological Seminary for three years following graduation, before I was ordained to the ministry in 1981. Every morning as I walked up the stairs to my office, I passed a stained glass window made by Jesse Halsey, who had taught at McCormick a generation earlier. The window depicted Bunyan’s Pilgrim, from Pilgrim’s Progress. Seeing the window every morning as I mounted the staircase became a fleeting act of prayer focused on vocation, a pilgrimage I was conscious of delaying. The isolation of the academic community was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for me. I think there is something in the human spirit that seeks to be put on trial, to be tested, to break away into the insecurity of the unfamiliar.

“The song, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, popularly known as Bread of Heaven here in Wales, is a Welsh favorite. They even sing it at rugby matches. Everyone knows it, loves it, and can sing it by heart, Christian or not. Guide me, a pilgrim through this barren land, it sings. The hymn speaks of life as a pilgrimage, being carried safe to Canaan’s side, singing songs of praise against the ever-present reality of death. Singing it brings me back to those early morning glances at Halsey’s stained glass window, and what that window came to mean for me.”

* A Meth­od­ist min­is­ter, Norman E. Ri­chard­son was born on Oc­to­ber 15, 1878, in Beth­a­ny, On­tar­io, Ca­na­da. He was ed­u­cat­ed at Law­rence Col­lege, Bos­ton Un­i­ver­si­ty School of The­ol­o­gy, and Bos­ton Un­i­ver­si­ty. He pas­tored in Wis­consin and Mass­a­chu­setts, taught at Bos­ton Un­i­ver­si­ty School of The­ol­o­gy (1911-19), and was dean of the North­field Sum­mer School of Re­li­gious Ed­u­ca­tion (1919-24). He lat­er served on the fa­cul­ty at North­west­ern Un­i­ver­si­ty and Mc­Cor­mick The­o­lo­gic­al Sem­in­a­ry. He died on Oc­to­ber 25, 1945, in Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois.

Seventh Presbyterian Church Renovation | 1922

The Continent | July 13, 1922
Rev. Jesse Halsey pastor, is planning to make large additions to the church edifice at a total cost of $100,000. The manse also is being reconstructed.

Jesse Halsey on Photography | c1945

I have had spells of photographic zeal. Most of the boys in my high school group had Premo B8x and took good pictures. Finances did not permit such extravagances at our house. In later years, I made up for it. I had a camera most of the time during the First World War when I went round the world, but most of the film was injured in the developing. One excellent picture of a Laplander’s hut with fireplace reindeer and children all in one room remains. Pictures by my friends of our boy-hood camping are not uncommon. In the years of our travel by Ford back and forth from Cincinnati to Long Island, I took innumerable pictures with a big 5x7 that had a Goerz lens and required focusing with a black cloth, real photographer style. And I made some good pictures trying to relate them to persons of note. For example, Wm. Henry Harrison’s tomb is at Great Bend near Cincinnati, one year as we drove east I planned the route to include his birthplace and other places and buildings connected with his life or that of his family.

We visited and photographed many places connected with Stonewall Jackson—his birth place, the Military Academy in or near Lexington where he taught, his monument in the Lexington cemetery, the house where he died at Guinea Station. We drove out to the Chancellorsville battlefield and in and around the Wilderness (much to the disgust of my children), and at the moment where he was mistakenly shot by his own soldiers, we found the monument surrounded by sand piles and tar barrels for road repair. That night I wrote a letter of protest to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and signed it “Damnedyankee.” When we came back in the fall, the tar barrels were gone and the plot neatly seeded.

Often, we camped out on the Gettysburg field. In the Devil’s Den there was a pump and level place where we could pitch our tent. On one July night, a thunder storm came up, blew down our tent and the three children in their undies were herded under the fallen flapping canvas drug shop in Fredericksburg and his monument on Princeton Battlesfield where he was killed. Places and persons very many—all recorded on good film reposing in my study file. In the last minute haste of moving to Chicago, these films, every one of them, went out with a ton of outer papers from my study—to the junk man; never recovered. 
This was the end of any vigorous photographic interest. One time when I was focusing on the old State House in Corodon, Indiana, a gentleman came along and invited me into a second story room opposite the capitol where I could get a better picture. I had an old camera with me and as I set it up in his window, I apologized for it. He remarked, half to himself—“tere’s many a man makes his livin’ with a poorer box than that!” He was the village photographer.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Labrador Doctor: The Autobiography of Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

A Labrador Doctor: The Autobiography of Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, Boston | Houghton Mifflin | 1919

Presentation copy with original mounted photographs. Inscribed and signed by Grenfell on the half-title, with a mounted photograph of "The Doctor on board the `Stratheona,'" (caption in another hand).

Also, inscribed on the front pastedown, "W.J. Brown, Christmas 1919, Best wishes, Jesse Halsey."

Halsey was an associate of Grenfell's at the Deep Sea Mission, and inserted before the frontispiece of the book is a 4-page illustrated program for "Illustrated Lectures by Rev. Jesse Halsey" at The Players in Boston.

Other original photographs mounted on the front endpaper and flyleaves, all captioned, include "Dr. Grenfell greeted by the school children in St. Anthony"; "Jesse Halsey, Labrador & Northern Newfoundland, 1909 to Nov. 1912"; "The `Boss' and the `Gang' (Boxes of food & clothing from the `States' beng unloaded by U.S. college students)"; "J.H. in Labrador `dickey,"; and "Tuckamne Croft - Charles Henry & Helen I. Halsey" (a woman with dog sled in front of house). 

Grenfell (1865-1940) was a noted English physician who had been the house surgeon at London Hospital and then in 1892 became a medical missionary and resident of Labrador, where he also founded hospitals and orphanages.

Daily Princetonian, Volume 38, Number 29, 4 April 1913


Dr. Jesse Halsey of the Mission's Medical Staff Explains its Nature


In Spite of Hardships, Well-Regulated and Sanitary Community Has Been Developed

Dr. Jesse Halsey, a member of the medical staff of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen at Labrador addressed the regular midweek meeting of the Philadelphian Society last night. His subject was "The Work of Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell in Labrador." Dr. Grenfell's Heroic Work

Passing briefly over the life of Dr. Grenfell, the speaker bent every effort to make clear to all the intensely interesting, as well as heroic, work which is being done under Dr. Grenfell's inspiration among the deep sea fishermen along the barren coasts north of the St. Lawrence. His entire talk was profusely illustrated by lantern slides depicting the surroundings of these people and the mission work which is being done among them.

The purpose of this work is to help these people to help themselves and in order to accomplish this purpose it is essential that sanitary and economic conditions be improved. The average home of the fishermen is no more than a hut and during the long winter months their diet consists of the supply of dried fish which they have collected during the summer. In fact the fish are the most important factor in the life of the native. If his luck deserts him in the fishing season, the winter is one of dire necessity and this is one of the many times at which the mission lends a helping hand to the suffering Dr. Grenfell has built up a community among these people, which is well-regulated and sanitary in every way possible.

His attention has been given to the erection of hospitals, cooperative stores and orphans homes as well as saw mills, and other laborsaving institutions. The various phases of the work are combined under the religious influence exerted by the mission staff. Dr. Grenfell, as his own skipper travels along the coast each, year personally coming in touch with the needs of the fishermen.

The Spirit of the Mission

Dr. Halsey closed with an explanation that the term, mission, should be applied to this work in its larger sense. The workers in this great field are seeking in every possible way to make life easier and more livable for these rough and simple people. The whole spirit is expressed in the motto painted on the Mission hospital. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." *