05 (May 2013)

Our Southern Zion

Our Southern Zion
Roger March Roger is an elder at Wolverton Evangelical Church
30 April, 2013 2 min read

Our southern Zion
David B. Calhoun
Banner of Truth
380 pages
ISBN: 978-1-84871-172-3
Star rating : 3

This book records the history of Columbia Theological Seminary, South Carolina, from its foundation until it moved to Atlanta in 1927 — a period of almost 100 years. It must indeed be a good thing to record the works of God among his people for the benefit of future generations.

Naturally the professors and lecturers hold centre stage, but there are frequent snapshots of students too. After training at Columbia, a succession of men ministered in local congregations and among slaves and Indians.

A number of others served overseas, in Syria, Turkey, China, Japan and parts of Africa. Of the godly men who taught them, the most prominent and gifted were James Henley Thornwell, Benjamin Morgan Palmer and John Lafayette Girardeau.

Professor Calhoun writes clearly and with obvious affection for the good old days of ‘Our southern Zion’, as the seminary was called by those who knew it. At times, however, I was wearied with the constant introductions to names and places of which I had no previous acquaintance.

Thankfully, there were glimpses of sunshine, when I could appreciate the warm spirituality of God’s servants of a bygone era.

Overall, this is a story of one part of the Presbyterian church, in one of the Confederate states of America, and may be of limited interest to British evangelicals.

Columbia, situated in America’s leading cotton-producing state, was populated with large numbers of black slaves. The author does not try to hide the disturbing attitude of the Presbyterian church towards these slaves and how it gave general support for slavery before the civil war and adopted a policy of segregation afterwards.

The civil war itself was traumatic for the seminary and closed its doors for three years, as students who had studied together left to fight each other in the rival armies of the North and the South.

These matters brought home to me how important it is for the church to be endowed with heavenly wisdom in responding to the major social and national issues in which it is inextricably involved.

Roger March

Roger is an elder at Wolverton Evangelical Church
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