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]

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