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John Gerstner and the Renewal of Presbyterian and Reformed Evangelicalism

Jeffrey S. McDonald speaks about his book, John Gerstner and the Renewal of Presbyterian and Reformed Evangelicalism in Modern America (Wipf & Stock, 2017). It is published in the Princeton Theological Monograph Series.

John Gerstner (1914–96) was a significant leader in the renewal of Presbyterian and Reformed evangelicalism in America during the second half of the twentieth century. Gerstner’s work as a church historian sought to shape evangelicalism, but also northern mainline Presbyterianism. He wrote, taught, lectured, debated, and preached widely.

Jeffrey S. McDonald is the pastor of Avery Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Nebraska and an Affiliate Professor of Church History at Sioux Falls Seminary, Omaha.


Participants: , ,


Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Benjamin Glaser

4 months ago

This was an informative and as usual excellent episode. As someone who is also a former PC(USA)er and a 2009 graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (now ARP) I can confirm that the erasure of men like Gerstner, Sproul, and Warfield (who taught at Western) is still ongoing. I was in class in 2006 at PTS when a student quoted Sproul and was not only rebuked for it, but the class was told that the seminary had long since been delivered from their kind.

Thankfully I also was delivered by God’s grace from the PC(USA). 😉

David Felts

4 months ago

Benjamin, I am also a former PC(USA)er, having been a Pastor for 14 years. It is very sad that the “Modern” PTS is so closed minded to the Reformed Gospel and its doctrines. It seems that since the onslaught of the South American Process Theology, everything has gone completely emotional and sort of “Neo” Orthodox. I sat under Dr Gerstner for several courses. I can say that he taught me how to think and in the process, he taught my soul how to sing with the praises of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. I am very sad to hear these things. So many people, so many students are being led astray. fear for their souls and their very salvation.PS: All of Dr Gerstner’s papers and books are in the Geneva Colege Library in Beaver Falls, Pa. I want to visit it very soon.

Benjamin Glaser

4 months ago

We (the ARP) recently had our General Synod meeting concurrently with the RPCNA at Geneva College and we got to see the Gerstner collection. I highly recommend seeing it.

John R Wiers

3 months ago

Camden, thanks for this great interview with Jeff McDonald on his bio of John Gerstner. I studied under JG at TEDS where he was an adjunct–I missed discussing his influence on many of us there. 🙂

Jeff and I have had a couple of nice email exchanges and shared Gerstner stories. Eveyone who had him for a prof has a great Gerstner story. He was one of the most intense men I’ve ever met He made the comment once that he and R C Sproul taught the same thing–and the similarities in both style and content were uncanny– but that R C had a sense of humor while he didn’t and thus could be more popular. His knowledge of Reformed theology, of course, was great.

I took apologetics with him, but came out a Van Tillian– just the reverse from his study with VT. Maybe the fact that Kees Van Til went to the same church my grandparents did played a role, but I think there was more than that. 🙂 I’m following the new discussions about classical apologetics in Reformed circles to see if JG’s style of classical apologetics will actually be revived.

BTW, Jeff mentioned JG’s lectures. Perhaps his most famous set is his extended exposition of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Sproul used to say that ever time JG gave that set of lectures, most of the audience would all be convinced that they were not really regenerate. JG really dug deep in that set of expositions.

Again, thanks for the interview with Jeff McDonald.

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