Choosing the Good Portion: An Interview with Patricia E. Clawson and Diane L. Olinger

The Committee for the Historian is publishing Choosing the Good Portion, a book telling the stories of many women who have made important contributions to the life of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church over the years. New Horizons editor Danny Olinger here interviews the two editors of that volume, Patricia E. Clawson and Diane L. Olinger. NH: How did the idea for the book come about? Pat: When Grace Mullen was battling cancer, I would visit her. Since she was the OPC archivist and was interested in OPC history, I told her about the vignettes on men and women that appeared in Today in OPC History on OPC.org. One day I mentioned Polly Gaffin. “What a marvelous person Aunt Polly was!” exuded Grace. She then leaned forward and said, “Pat, I think you should write a book on Polly!” I wasn’t confident that I could write a book about her, but her encouragement made me think about the historical information available on OPC women. I wondered if the godly women who helped start our church ... Read more

The Reformation: Then and Now

At the end of this month, many Orthodox Presbyterians will celebrate Reformation Day. October 31 marks the day that Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517. While this has become a common way to date the “birth” of the Reformation, it is rather arbitrary: the thirty-four-year-old monk was not calling for separation from Rome, but simply inviting his academic colleagues to debate the practice of selling papal indulgences (certifications that one’s sins have been forgiven). The events that followed are familiar to many Orthodox Presbyterians. Luther’s concerns drove him to the heart of the abuses in the Roman Church—her perversion of the doctrines of Scripture, denial of the means of grace to all her members, and moral corruption. After efforts to achieve internal reform came to an end when Luther was excommunicated at the Diet of Worms in 1521, Western Christendom was divided into Protestant and Roman communions. Early Reformation celebrations ... Read more

How Calvinism Became a Global Faith

“In a bold act of defiance, comparable to flag burning today, the assembled ate the sausages served by the host.” This is how D. G. Hart begins Calvinism: A History , his comprehensive social history of the branch of Protestantism most familiar to Orthodox Presbyterians, namely the Reformed faith, which takes the biblical teachings of John Calvin and others like him as its guide. The story recounts an act of Lenten rebellion that broke out in Zurich in 1522. The priest Ulrich Zwingli attended this table of discord, and a month later he preached a sermon with the title “On the Choice and Freedom of Foods.” Flowing from the same source as Martin Luther’s first act of soul-searching devotion to the principle of sola Scriptura , Calvinism developed several different emphases. It is therefore significant that Hart begins with Zwingli, in addition to Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito. Although these men and later the Genevans—Farel, Viret, Beza, and Calvin himself—shared with Luther an ... Read more