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RPTS Renames Main Building
Almost immediately after the formation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, plans were set in motion to establish a denominational seminary. The doors of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary were opened on May 15, 1810. From 1810 until 1923, the Seminary moved from location to location depending on where the current professors were pastoring. In 1923, however, the Seminary moved for, what we believe to be, the last time. The Seminary purchased “The Gables,” former home of Durbin Horne (Horne Department Store) in Point Breeze, Pennsylvania. This building was simply referred to as “the Seminary” for years. In 2008, the Seminary purchased an eight-unit building across Penn Avenue to support a developing Biblical Counseling Institute to offer practical counseling experience for students and local pastors, as well as provide more space for student housing, library resources, and offices. This building was named the Willson Center in honor of five professors who have served RPTS over its first 200 years. All of a sudden, “the Seminary” could refer to more than one location.
Naming a building is not an easy task. You want to pick something meaningful, but also something understandable. After much deliberation, research and discussion, the Seminary Board and Administration have settled on the name Rutherford Hall for the main building. Board member, Keith Wing, said, “In Samuel Rutherford there is much to be commended and his life and work reflect the diligent work of both pastor and professor, shepherd and teacher. Few men, even in the period of the Reformation, had a greater emphasis on the person and work of Christ. Rutherford, who himself was much acquainted with grief, committed himself to making that person and work of our glorious Christ known to all. He contributed significantly to the work of the Westminster Assembly (which is of great value to us these many years hence) with many evidences of his substantial work to create the Shorter Catechism ... The books he wrote have great value even for our day and the turmoil of the church-state lines of authority ... He is known by historians as a ‘Covenanter’ and he is remembered as one who held firmly his convictions in the face of his oppressors, but he did so with grace and hope that they would see Christ in his defense of his beliefs.”
Who Was Samuel Rutherford?
Samuel Rutherford was born in the village of Nisbet, Roxburghshire, Scotland, around the year 1600. He had a true pastor’s heart and was tireless in his work for his congregation. God used great trials and much sadness in Rutherford’s life to enable him to be a comfort to his church. Rutherford published a book defending the doctrines of grace which put him in opposition to the authorities in the Church of England. For this work he was exiled to Aberdeen where he wrote numerous letters to his church, which have been and continue to be a blessing to us. During the struggles between Parliament and the King of England in 1638, Rutherford was able to slip out of Aberdeen and return to his church in Anwoth.
The Church of Scotland restored Presbyterianism to the land and Rutherford was appointed Professor of Theology at St. Andrews University, a position he only accepted after ensuring that he would still be able to preach once a week.
Although unable to vote, Rutherford is said to have had a major influence on the Shorter Catechism. He was one of five Scottish commissioners invited to attend the Westminster Assembly in 1643. It was at this time that Rutherford wrote his most famous work Lex, Rex, or The Law and the Prince, which argued against the idea of the Divine Right of Kings. When the monarchy was restored under Charles II, Samuel Rutherford was summoned to appear in court and charged with treason. In response to his summons, Rutherford said, “I must answer my first summons; and before your day arrives, I will be where few kings and great folks come.” He died shortly thereafter of natural causes on March 30, 1661.
It is clear that Rutherford was a devout man of God. It is our prayer that God gives us the ability to remain faithful and unwavering in the face of trials, sadness and persecution, just as He did Samuel Rutherford.
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