Proposed New Seal and Motto


Is it time for a new seal and motto for Erskine Theological Seminary? Below is a copy of the present seal and motto:


​I like this seal and motto. I particularly like the motto: “For Christ and His Church.” Its ring strikes a chord with my heart. It declares Erskine Theological Seminary is “a gospel enterprise.” How I wish Erskine Seminary were “For Christ and His Church” – especially, the ARP Church which gave the seminary life, financially supports the seminary, and supposedly owns the seminary. If only Erskine Seminary were the reality Dr. Mark Ross projects in his Erskine video appearance: “a gospel enterprise.” Indeed, “gospel enterprise” rings rich in gospel faithfulness and gospel longing for converted and transformed lives for Christ.

​As reported in ARPTalk(92), once again, Erskine Seminary administrators have matriculated non-Christian clerics in the DMin program for Army chaplains. In the past, this has also occurred in the regular DMin program. This time, we have a Buddhist and a Mormon student at Erskine Seminary. Previously, we have seen Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, and Unitarian clerics enrolled. Never mind that Erskine is self-described as Christian! Never mind that Erskine is self-described as evangelical! Never mind that Erskine is self-described as Reformed. Never mind that Erskine is self-described as “a gospel enterprise.” Never mind that Erskine is self-described as “the seminary of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.” And never mind that, at the 2012 meeting of General Synod, the Rev. Ray Cameron, then Chairman of the board’s Seminary Committee, apologized for this offense and promised it would not happen again at Erskine Seminary. He said it was a fluke, an oversight. Well, it has happened again, and it only took two years for the seminary administrators to forget the sting of the embarrassment. However, this time it is not a fluke or oversight. It was done on purpose for the sake of ministering to fifteen (15) Baptist chaplains.

​At the Spring meeting of the ARP Church’s Second Presbytery, the Dean of Erskine Seminary, Dr. Jim Meek, made a number of interesting statements. He repeatedly contended that Erskine Seminary is “your seminary,” and “the seminary of the ARP Church.” He also stated he made the decision to enroll non-Christian clerics. He insisted he did so for ministry reasons rather than for the Army’s $300,000 a year in tuition money – he wanted to minister to the fifteen Baptist and the other Christian chaplains in the program.

As Meek explained it, the presence of non-Christian clerics enrolled in the Erskine DMin program is the fault of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Army – not decisions by administrators at Erskine Seminary. First, ATS has modified regulations for enrollment. Formerly, Erskine Seminary’s regulations (as determined by ATS’ regulations) excluded individuals from the DMin program who did not have the MDiv or its equivalent – thereby excluding most non-Christian clerics for they would not have an MDiv degree. Since the changes by ATS, it seems special deference is now given to non-Christian clergy, and non-Christian clerics are now allowed into DMin programs if they have a master’s degree of some kind. Second, since the implementation of the new ATS regulations, the Army can now require Erskine Seminary to accept all chaplains the Army sends. And, according to Dr. Meek, if Erskine is to minister to the Christian chaplains the Army sends, he must matriculate the non-Christians as well. I suppose this is done in order to accomplish the mission of Erskine as “a gospel enterprise.” But I wonder what the explanation would be if the numbers were reversed – far more non-Christian than Christian chaplains!?!

Meek argued the training of non-Christian chaplains at Erskine Seminary equips them to better serve Christian soldiers. And perhaps hoping the assembled presbyters would not notice the suspension of logic, he also said, “We are training men and women first and foremost for the church . . . our primary focus is on the ARP Church.” Indeed, the logic does not work, does it? This does not embrace the imperial and exclusive claims of the witness of Jesus in John 14:6 or the apostolic witness of Acts 4:12. Nor does this embrace the stated witness of the ARP Church which declares Jesus is the only Savior of sinners. And Dr. Meek claims to represent the ARP Church!?!

​To put the matter baldly, the fact is the tithes and offerings of faithful ARPs are now being used to train non-Christian religious professionals to advance their careers, to increase their salaries in the Army, and to equip them to undermine the cause of “Christ and His church.” How is this “a gospel enterprise?” Frankly, I find Meek’s asserting he did not do it for the money to be disingenuous. We now know the seminary is running a $650,000 deficit for this year. That is, if I correctly understand what Meek and others are saying, from the draw on the endowment at budget planning and to the draw on the endowment in order to cover the deficit, the total draw on the endowment for this year exceeds ten percent (10%). If the seminary did not have the contract with the Army, add another $300,000 draw from the endowment and then the draw drifts north of fifteen percent (15%). But Dr. Meek can easily prove the Editor of ARPTalk wrong. Since it is “not about the money,” Dr. Meek should be able to reverse his decision immediately. Or is it really “about the money,” after all?

​By the way, there was something forgotten in the discussion on requirements for the DMin program. Is not Erskine Seminary allowed to establish its own academic standards and requirements? According to the catalog, the MDiv or the equivalent is required for the Erskine DMin program. Like Obama suspending the requirements for Obamacare, it seems the seminary’s requirements are not the requirements for all.

​Dr. Meek also declared to Second Presbytery that Erskine Seminary is “committed to the inerrancy of Scripture in the original autographs.” Has Dr. Meek forgotten about the presence of Dr. Richard Burnett, Professor of Systematic Theology at ETS? Apparently not, because the latest issue of Inside Erskine contains a notice of the recent publication of the Westminster Handbook to Karl Barth, which is edited and partially authored by Burnett ( Meek knows Burnett is not only a Barth scholar but also a passionate proponent of Barth’s heretical view on Scripture. Not only does Burnett reject the ARP Church’s view of inerrancy in the original autographs, he has PUBLICLY MOCKED what we believe ( So how, the Editor asks, is Erskine Seminary “committed to the inerrancy of Scripture in the original autographs” when a FULL professor of Theology openly ridicules that very doctrine?

​But congratulations are due to Dr. Burnett. His new book takes only 272 pages to introduce the world to Karl Barth, whose Church Dogmatics is only about 10,000 pages. Mr. Cliff Smith, the publicity guru at Erskine, must be very proud of Dr. Burnett’s accomplishment. (I would not have publicly acknowledged the publication.) But at Erskine, never mind that Burnett’s theological understanding rejects inerrancy. Never mind that Burnett’s presence at Erskine Seminary compromises the seminary’s claim to be evangelical. (And the seminary of the ARP Church must now be the laughingstock of the evangelical and Reformed world of seminaries!) Never mind that John Carson, Randy Ruble, Neely Gaston, and David Norman’s shenanigans, in hiring Burnett, in granting tenure to him, and in keeping him the past ten years, have created a conflagration in the ARP Church which is still burning.

​At this point, let us not embrace wishful thinking, the reification of things as we might wish them to be; rather, let us embrace reality. The ARP Church affirms the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Karl Barth denied the inerrancy of the Scriptures. One of the three Systematic Theology professors at Erskine Seminary is a confirmed Barthian. He is publicly opposed to the theological position of the ARP Church on the doctrine of the Bible. No presbytery in the ARP Church will receive him as a minister. In a rational world, how is it possible the seminary of the ARP Church has a theology professor opposing its theological standards in the classroom? No wonder evangelicals who are planning careers in ministry choose seminaries other than Erskine Seminary for their theological education. I would choose a seminary other than Erskine!

​In Hosea, the sinful and apostate people of God are described as sliding “back as a backsliding heifer” and “as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn” (Hosea 4:16 and 10:11). Well, the flavor of what Erskine Seminary has become is certainly caught by Hosea’s words.

​And do not forget this: Erskine Seminary which is self-described as a Christian seminary opens its doors to train non-Christian clerics in its DMin program, and thereby they advance their careers and salaries as chaplains in the US Army. That is, in the name of Jesus, the professors at Erskine Seminary are equipping professional non-Christian clerics to do their jobs better in undermining the cause of the seal and motto of Erskine Seminary, “For Christ and His Church.” And let us just admit this is because of the $300,000 a year the Army pays in tuition. No wonder the classrooms at the seminary are empty and the seminary is running a $650,000 deficit this year. Could it be the judgment of God has fallen on Erskine Seminary?

​Well, I think it is time for a new seal and motto for Erskine Theological Seminary. May I suggest the one below for consideration by the seminary’s administration and the board’s Seminary Committee? I think it appropriately reflects the appalling thing Erskine Seminary has become.


Theological Seminary
For Christ and the Anti-Christs too

These are my thoughts,


Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Robert Lee Smith says:

    Mr. Wilson,

    OK. So you know the nature of the cancer. You know where it is! In one you claim to love! Why exacerbate it? Use your vast learning and discerning insights to minimize the destruction that has been there for a while and persists.

    You have identified Dr. Burnett as destructive. Find ways to isolate him from the students. Perhaps his title could be “Supervisor of Janitorial Services of the Seminary.” Tenured, he will continue to be a financial burden on the Seminary and the denomination. Some burdens have to be borne with the patience of Job for the sake of The Loved One. (I have no idea about Dr. Burnett’s subject competency. However, I have an idea that he does not understand the mission of a teacher, which is to instruct the field as a whole. E.g., if I teach history, I teach what is known, what is interpretation, what is suspected, even the fact of revisionist history WITHOUT advocating the revision. His mistake, i.e., lack of common sense, is to urge his personal preferences on his students, while his preferences are only a brief sentence is the field of systematic theology, as I understand the subject’s content.)

    You speak of the Seminary’s deficit. Since it has one, why not find ways to encourage contributions to remedy the situation? Why is it as bad as it is? Perhaps, you think, because of the bad publicity the Seminary gets from bad ARP talk? Make efforts to suppress that source. Give, without criticism, positive voices an airing.

    If I find naivete anywhere in the current ARPTalk, it is in your venting against the program that serves Army chaplains. An educational institution, seminary or not, has the responsibility to instruct. What people do with their knowledge is their responsibility before God, as with doctors, lawyers, teachers, business persons, computer programmers, ad infinitum. Count it all joy that your Seminary has the opportunity (why not the charge?) to teach the Bible to all kinds of unbelievers: atheists, Muslims, the simply curious, students (not necessarily Christian) of the Bible as literature, and others of non-Christian disposition. If those people are excluded from your outreach, you have no outreach.

    If my wife is ill, I want someone to help her, not someone to continue to analyze the symptoms. The latter is useless!

    May your Seminary survive ALL its obstacles,

    Robert L. Smith

    • Dear Mr. Robert Lee Smith,

      Thank you for your comments. It’s good to hear from you again.

      One, the only thing I can do is report and analyze. Let me use a medical illustration to clarify. An internist spots the cancer; the surgeon removes the cancer. Only the board and administration can remove this cancer.

      Two, I like the title of “Supervisor of Janitorial Services of the Seminary” for Burnett. Your humor will bring a lot of smiles to a lot of faces. However, one can get a janitor for less money than Burnett is paid. To pay him what he is paid for being a janitor is financially irresponsible.

      Three, I don’t want to see Burnett isolated. Therefore, let me use another medical illustration. I am a cancer survivor. I did not want the cancer isolated in my body. I wanted the cancer out of my body. I thank God for a capable surgeon.

      Four, you write, “I have no idea about Dr. Burnett’s subject competency. However, I have an idea that he does not understand the mission of a teacher. . . .” Sorry, not only are you wrong, but you have no idea what you’re talking about!! The problem with Burnett is he does understand – and he understands very well. BTW, Burnett is a Barth SCHOLAR with a PhD from Princeton. They don’t give PhDs to incompetents at Princeton.

      Five, I am not responsible for the Erskine Seminary’s deficit. However, I have given my last dime to promote unfaithfulness to Jesus in the name of Jesus.

      Six, thanks for thinking ARPTalk is so influential. What efforts do you suggest to “suppress” ARPTalk?

      Seven, Erskine Seminary is not just an “educational institution.” Erskine Seminary is a Christian seminary, the seminary of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and, in matriculating non-Christian clerics to equip them so that they can better subvert the Church of Jesus Christ, I contend Erskine Seminary has broken faith with its mission as a “gospel enterprise.” Erskine Seminary has no business being the tent-prostitute of the Army.

      Eight, I’m sorry, but if there is naïveté, it is on your part. A seminary is not about “outreach.” A seminary, particularly, at the DMin level is about equipping religious professionals to advance their careers.

      Nine, when my wife is ill, we go to a doc who can help her – who analyzes the symptoms and suggests a plan of treatment or a specialist. All I can do is analyze the symptoms and state what the illness is. As I said earlier, I’m not the specialist who can cut the cancer out.

      Ten, thanks for thinking I have plenipotentiary authority. I don’t. I’m just a voice.


      Chuck Wilson

  2. Dean Turbeville says:

    Mr. Wilson, I am curious as to whether the Board of Trustees has any response to the recent revelations about the Seminary. Have you heard anything?

    • Dear Mr. Dean Turbeville,

      Thank you for your question.

      As I stated earlier, the decision regarding the new Army contract caught the members of the board flatfooted. That is, there was no prior notification from Chairman Conner this would be brought before the board.

      The argument of the administration was the Army gave Erskine a week to make a decision, and an immediate decision had to be made. Seminary Dean Meek said he was responsible for the decision.

      However, as I understand it, the negotiations with the Army began in November, and the contract was signed in January. For the administration to claim they didn’t have time to contact the Moderator of General Synod to see how having non-Christian clerics in the DMin program AGAIN would fly with the church doesn’t hold water. They were aware of the Army’s protocols.

      From my perspective, it looks as though a challenge has been thrown down: “You wouldn’t dare tell us to break the contract with the Army!”

      As reported, the conversation at the February board meeting regarding this was tense. There are trustees who said the following: if the administration fails to deal with this, with the seating of the new board on July 1, at the August meeting of the board, a motion will be made to terminate the contract with the Army. For the outcome of that motion, we will have to wait and see.

      I expect motions and lively discussions at the meeting of General Synod in June. I do not expect anything to come out of the May meeting of the board. The present conservative majority is not strong enough to handle the criticisms that they are not “nice.”

      What are your thoughts?


      Chuck Wilson

      • Dear Mr. Dean Turbeville,

        As I was looking over my reply to you, I saw I left out a relevant point.

        From our days on the board, if you remember how the board’s committees work, I’m sure the decision to renew the chaplain’s contract with the Army was not made by the administration without consultations with Chairman David Conner and Seminary Committee Chairman Andy Putnam. I wonder if a poll was conducted of the members of the Seminary Committee. Whether a poll was conducted or not and, if so, even with the disapproval of the Seminary Committee’s majority, WITH THE ACQUIESCENCE OF CONNER, the Erskine administration did what they wanted to do. That is, bleeding an ocean of red ink, they saw the Army as their bank, and they went to the bank for a withdrawal.

        To stop the administration would have taken an action by the board or the Executive Committee of the board. Most of the board members were in the dark. A meeting of the Executive Committee was not called by Conner. As I said, this is a challenge to board: “We have done what we wanted to do, and we dare you to overturn us.”


        Chuck Wilson

  3. Robert Lee Smith says:

    Dear Mr. Wilson,

    Aren’t you clever!

    I suspect most of your readers skimmed over my comments with the immediate understanding that we were dealing with a figure of speech that identified you as the doctor who detected and analyzed the cancer and that you only analyze the cancer. The image begins and ends the piece. If all you can do is analyze the problem ad nauseum when a solution is needed, you cease to be useful and become a part of the problem, in this case, an exacerbater. I know you are a dodger, as this reply demonstrates, so you will dodge the reality that ministers and congregations are discouraging potential seminary students from attending the ARP Seminary because of your relentless barfing of negatives in your efforts in previous ARPTalks to close doors of Erskine College and Seminary.

    You have provided enough information in your ARPTalks to let readers know that efforts have been made by your Synod and procedures are in place that will likely correct earlier and longtime bad practices and decisions. Here you are, however, continuing to badmouth the institution you say you love (like a man who “loves” his wife but abuses her for his own satisfaction). If the Seminary needs $300,000 to sever relations with the Army chaplain program and restore it to pristine purity, encourage your readers to chip in. If the present has inherited a debt because of (as you have pointed out repeatedly) arrogant, self-serving, egotistical, unwise, insane, ill-equipped leaders (of the Synod’s own choosing and consent, by the way), the present is morally obliged to make corrections – financial, if necessary – in order to keep a heavier burden from falling on a more remote future, for, as ARPTalk has mentioned, many in the present day are at fault in large part, undeniably, for the past and current situation. Did I say it would be palatable or easy? Responsible people take up the challenge. If not you, perhaps nobler souls among your readership.

    Why should an outsider have to spell it out for someone who rejoices in his cleverness, as a superficial reading of your comments proves. I can hear your pleasure in your response, which goes beyond the image to dodge the clear point. That much for your point number one.

    Your point number two: Consider Burnett a cancer that is tenurably inoperable (if the Synod or Board of Trustees is unwilling to take steps to “operate”). That decision needs to be made up or down. At present he is inoperable. Do what you can to render him harmless: keep him isolated = don’t assign him classes, give him innocuous tasks, like supervising Seminary library acquisitions of books recommended only by other faculty or filing records. Use your imagination. I have heard of tenured faculty who were gotten rid of, at an expense, sure, but what is more expensive in the long run, paying him for years or going to court? (This is not a matter of professional competency – your point number four – and that was not my point.) For your point number three: isolating Burnett renders him less harmless to the students, hence to the institution, as long as he remains.

    Your point number five: Your Synod, that includes you, is responsible directly and indirectly for your denomination’s institutional debt. See my remarks above. You here commit to abandoning your “wife” in her time of trouble. You define love ambiguously at least. You have here revealed you are just waiting for your “I told you so” moment! By the way, you have said nothing about “unfaithfulness” that convinces me. Such is your wishing it to be. I stand by my remarks in the previous response to ARPTalk # 93. You THINK you have hit on an irrefutable argument. Sad.

    Your point number six: If ARPTalk were not influential, you would not be continuing to post it or thank your readers for reading – and agreeing. ARPTalk has become the head of the dragon replacing the light shining on Erskine’s dark moment. What do I suggest to “suppress” ARPTalk? Can’t you guess? Have the editor still his pen or use it to become constructive, for a change. You might ask your readers to find and recommend ways to make Erskine College and Seminary the praiseworthy servants of the Kingdom they were established to be by previous faithful visionaries, and were, for many decades. ARPTalk, you say, is for discussing matters dealing with your denomination. Let the construction begin!

    With hope for a renewed Kingdom Serving Erskine,

    Robert Lee Smith

    • Charles W. Wilson says:

      Dear Mr. Robert Lee Smith,

      From this point on, this discussion has nothing to do with Erskine Seminary; it’s about you and me. You don’t like me, and I don’t like you. Is that clear enough?

      OK, Robert, I’m “clever.” Thanks for the backhanded insult.

      OK, Robert, you don’t like my physician’s analogy, and I’m an “exacerbater” and “dodger.” BTW, I’m not dodging “the reality that ministers and congregations are discouraging potential seminary students from attending the ARP Seminary because of [my] relentless barfing of negatives. . .” Aren’t you clever! You have found the obvious, Robert. You can now get on the roof of your house and shout “Eureka!” until the cows come home!

      OK, Robert, as you say, I “badmouth” the institution. I like to think I’m warning. However, Robert, your opinion is your opinion.

      OK, Robert, you want to talk “love.” I have sent students to Erskine Seminary. I have given thousands of dollars. Besides, as a self-described “outsider,” why are you meddling in this affair, and, being one who so easily speaks of money, Robert, what have you given? Are you going to give? Robert, are you all mouth and no show? You have taken up this cause, haven’t you?

      OK, Robert, you want to talk about “palatable or easy.” I have been involved in this matter for 40 years. Presently, ARPTalk has been in business for 6 years. Robert, I have never said anything about the task being “palatable or easy.” Where did you get such a notion? Are you delusional?

      OK, Robert, why are you as an “outsider” spelling out the obvious on so many points? Do you think us to be illiterate?

      OK, Burnett is “tenurably inoperable.” Robert, does that mean the cancer is terminal to Erskine Seminary?

      OK, you think the ARP Synod is responsible for Erskine Seminary’s debt. Robert, you’re dead wrong – again! That responsibility lies at the door of the Erskine board. Robert, this means Erskine College and Seminary is an independent entity; therefore, the ARP Synod is not responsible for Erskine’s debt.

      OK, Robert, you don’t like my “irrefutable argument” re. “unfaithfulness.” Robert, I don’t like a meddling “outsider.”

      OK, Robert, when did I say ARPTalk is “not influential?” I know ARPTalk is influential. Whether readers like what I say or not, people read ARPTalk. You’re one of the readers. BTW, Robert, I find it fascinating you don’t accuse me of not telling the truth.

      OK, Robert, what other suggestion do you have for suppressing ARPTalk? I didn’t get into this not to speak out. Do you have any other ideas?

      Finally, Robert, I agree with these words of yours: “With hope for a renewed Kingdom Serving Erskine.”

      Robert, if you feel I have been disrespectful to you in these comments, I have. I really don’t like you. Nevertheless, I’ll let you continue your conversation with me. It will make for interesting reading; however, it doesn’t add a fig to the points of the article. I enjoy this silliness with you – always have. I’m amazed such an insightful man hasn’t figured this out!


      Chuck Wilson

      • Robert Lee Smih says:

        Dear Mr. Wilson,

        If, as you say, “From this point on, this discussion has nothing to do with Erskine Seminary; it’s about you and me. You don’t like me, and I don’t like you,” there are no grounds for continuing this discussion. You have closed your mind. (Don’t think that was not my original conclusion. You’re the type.)

        Where did I, to use your type of questions, ever say I do not like you? Or when did I ever accuse you of not telling the truth. I assumed you were truthful. Is truth-telling your only virtue? Is it a fetish for you?

        In this response to me, you have revealed yourself once again (as with many others) to be unable to sustain a discussion. You have attacked your discussant personally. I conclude, therefore, with reason, that you are NOT as clever as you perhaps think, for you have just conceded defeat. I further conclude that many other of your readers are likely reluctant to engage you in debate because you would end up abusing them as you have me, without any provocation except disagreement.

        Sayonara for this ARPTalk,

        Robert Lee Smith

        • Dear Mr. Robert Lee Smith,

          Thanks for the comment.

          I must have really upset you. You misspelled your name: “Smith.” That’s why we were slow in posting your comment. It had to be approved by hand.

          I really don’t like you. Every time I have had a conversation with you, I have come away from it feeling like I have been slimed.

          Nevertheless, I will allow you to converse with me anytime you want. It’s fun to watch the workings of a fool’s mind.

          BTW, I didn’t say you accused me of not telling the truth. I said I was surprise you didn’t. Good grief!!


          Chuck Wilson


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