Recently I have been cleaning out some old files and papers to free our new house from an invasion of useless clutter. During this process I’ve discovered once again what an amazing benefit modern technology is for those of us who hate to get rid of anything we’ve read or written. Rather than simply chunking all my old papers and research, I’ve been scanning them in as PDF documents and using Google’s storage in Gmail to store and sort them. That way, they take up no space in the house, are infinitely reproducable (if I ever see a reason to reproduce any of it) and are available for random things like this blog post.
Which brings me to my example of “Old-Time Reformed Thinking.” When I was writing my senior thesis in college, one of the figures I cam across was the Rev. Arnold DeWelles Miller, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte NC in the late 19th century, and a man who was instrumental in the establishment of Presbyterian missions in Western North Carolina. Miller is a very good example of the scholarly sort of pastor that was (and is still in some cases) the Presbyterian ideal. During his ministry he corresponded with numerous people on various issues, addressing their questions and concerns about the faith. On one such occasion he responded in a note to a lady from Asheville (my home town), who’d evidently asked him about the legitimacy of Easter. Here’s Miller’s response:
(Written for a Lady in Asheville, in 1879)
The Popish festival of Easter, designed as a continuance of the abrogated Jewish festival of the Passover, recieved in English name from a Pagan Festival in honour of the Goddess Eostre which, having been celebrated at the same season, was eventually merged into the other.
This, then, is its geneology: Jewish, Pagan, Popish. And what place has this ecclesiastical illegitimate in a Presbyterian Church? The Apostle forbids us to “observe days and months, and times and years”, and says of those who do, that “he fears he has bestowed labour upon them in vain”, (Gal. 4:9-11) and bids us resist the observance of “holydays”, as a mere shadow which has now passed away. (Col. 2:16,17.) And yet, thre are so called “Presbyterians” whio pride themselves upon being the Ape-ists of Ape-ists of Papists!
From all such, “Good Lord, deliver us!”
A.W.M. (a.w. miller)
Now that, my friends, is some impressive polemic. And I say that as an Ape-ist of Papists (I’m sure he had Episcopalians/Anglicans in mind).