Presbyterian Church History - Syllabus

Presbyterian Church History - Syllabus

Birmingham Theological Seminary

2200 Briarwood Way

Birmingham, AL 35243


Spring 2015 Professor: Rev. Jim Maples

HT4743 Presbyterian Church History 256-531-6529

Class Hours: 2

Course Purpose

This course is a study of the origins and development of the Presbyterian Church with a particular emphasis on American Presbyterianism and its doctrines and practices.

Course Objectives

1. The student will be able to describe the European origins of American Presbyterianism.

2. The student will be able to describe key events and people in American Presbyterianism.

3. The student will be able to analyze the significant strand of Presbyterian contributions within

the larger church in America.

4. The student will be able to discuss areas of consensus and divisions among the various

branches of American Presbyterianism.

5. The student will be able to discuss the history, development, and doctrines of the Southern

Presbyterian Church (PCUS).

6. The student will be able to describe in detail the events that led to the founding of the

Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

Course Texts

Fortson, S. Donald. The Presbyterian Story. Lenoir, NC: PLC Publications, 2012.

Loetscher, Lefferts A. A Brief History of the Presbyterians. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: The

Westminster Press, 1978, 1983.

Settle, Paul G. “Our Formative Years: The History of the Presbyterian Church in America, 1973-

1993.” Available: Students can print this history from the website of the

PCA Historical Center.

Smith, Morton H. Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and

Reformed Publishing Company, 1987.

Smylie, James H. A Brief History of the Presbyterians. Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 1996.

Course Requirements

  1. Class attendance
  1. Completion of all assigned reading and book critique of Smylie due March 5th.
  1. Write a theological paper of at least 10 pages and not more than 15 pages exclusive of footnotes, bibliography, title page, and table of contents on any of the topics listed below. You may write on another subject with the professor’s prior approval. All papers must be formatted in accordance with Turabian Chicago standards including the title page.

The Scottish Covenanters

Division in the Presbyterian Church over Slavery

The Confessional Revision of 1903

An Analysis of the Differences Between the Old School and New School Presbyterians

An Analysis of the Theological Issues that Led to PCA Separation from the PCUSA

The Princeton Theologians: Alexander, the Hodges, and Warfield, Their Stand Against Liberalism

  1. A mid-term exam made up of short answer, multiple choice, and short essay questions.
  1. A final exam which will lean more to short answer and essay questions.


  1. Completion of assigned reading and book critique 10%
  2. Theological paper 30%
  3. Mid-term exam 25%
  4. Final exam 30%
  5. Class attendance and participation 5%


BTS has made the decision to adopt the Turabian style of writing format for all papers, clinicals, dissertations (DMin) and reports. Also, all papers are to be double spaced, 12-point font and Times New Roman script. This will bring consistency and less confusion for both students and professors. In this technological age, information is readily available; make sure that you understand about giving reference sources the proper recognition.


All course materials must be submitted to the professor at the end of the semester (last day of class). Thereafter, course materials may be submitted for up to six weeks after the end of the semester directly to the office of the registrar with the permission of the professor. If a student submits course materials after the end of the semester but within the six week grace period, the student’s grade will be lowered by one letter grade. The course materials will not be accepted after the six week grace period and a failing grade will be posted to the student’s transcript.

Course Outline

Jan. 22nd – Rev. James, review of syllabus, orientation Read Loetscher 1-36

Jan. 29th – Beginnings in Europe, Reformed Tradition in England and Scotland

Read Loetscher 37-56

Feb. 5th – America – The Early Years Begin reading Fortson, Note: You will be

given more explicit dates on Fortson Jan. 29th.

Feb. 12th – Colonial America and the Great Awakening Continue with reading of Fortson

Feb. 19th – American Revolution and Change Read Loetscher 57-103, Smith 1-35

Feb. 26th – Westward Expansion, Revivals, and Revivalism Read Smith 36-120

Mar. 5th – Mid-term exam, Critique of Smylie, A Brief History of the Presbyterians due

Mar. 12th – Spring Break

Mar. 19th – Second Great Awakening, Slavery, and Civil War Read Loetscher 104-126

Mar. 26th – Reconstruction to WWII, Modernism and Liberalism Read Smith 121-331

Read Loetscher 127-204

Apr. 2nd – No Class, Maundy Thursday

Apr. 9th – Modernism and Liberalism, The Presbyterian Church in America Read Settle

Apr. 16th – The Presbyterian Church in America Have Fortson completed

Apr. 23rd – Final Exam, Paper Due

Further Reading

Ahlstrom, Sidney E. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven, CT: Yale

University Press, 1972.

Balmer, Randall and John R. Fitzmier. The Presbyterians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,


Barrus, Ben M., Milton L. Baughn, and Thomas H. Campbell. A People Called Cumberland

Presbyterians. Memphis, TN: Frontier Press, 1972.

Calhoun, David B. Princeton Seminary: Faith and Learning (1812-1868). Carlisle, PA: Banner

of Truth, 1994.

______. Princeton Seminary: The Majestic Testimony (1869-1929). Carlisle, PA: Banner of

Truth, 1996.

Clark, Gordon. What Do Presbyterians Believe?The Westminster Confession Yesterday and

Today Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1965.

Dennison, Charles G. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Philadelphia, PA: Committee for the

Historian of the OPC, 1986.

Girardeau, John L. Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism. Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle

Publications, 1984.

King, Ray A. A History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Charlotte, NC: Board of

Christian Education, ARPC, 1966.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity. vol 2. New York, NY: Harper and Row,


Loetscher, Lefferts A. The Broadening Church. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania

Press, 1954.

Murray, Iain H. Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism

1750-1858. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002.

Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids, MI: W.

B. Eerdmans, 1992.

Thompson, Ernest Trice. Presbyterians in the South. 3 vols. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press,



HT4743 Presbyterian Church History - Maples