Do We Need a New Log College?

Sharon James[1], a friend from London, sent me a podcast by an atheist, James Lindsay, a couple of weeks ago on the topic of Critical Theory. Critical Theory is the Marxist view from which Critical Race Theory is derived. What is interesting about Lindsay’s podcast is that he understands what is happening in the seminaries and churches better than 95% of the pastors. He understands clearly that this is a Marxist plot to destroy the West and to promote the idea of the inevitably of ascendancy of Marxism. Listening to that podcast, I could not get out of my mind the words of a former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia who wrote me and acknowledged that CRT has Marxist roots, but he thinks that is okay as long as the church tries harder to mend racial tensions. The answer to racism is not Marxism. People who naively think that it is have never seen the ugly face of Marxism—as I have. They do not have a file with the KGB/FSB—as I do. What is readily apparent to anyone who thinks about it is that, once again, the greatest threat to evangelicalism in the West are seminaries. Many of the leading Reformed seminaries in the US and West were founded 50, 80 or 100 years ago to combat the form of liberalism/progressivism in those days. 

As I have written before, the approach to destroying the church and seminaries has now changed. Instead of making a frontal attack on the “truth” (which was the typical approach in the past)—now Satan is inciting attacks on the “life.” Yet, truth and life go together. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy cannot be separated. It is impossible for any seminary to “contend earnestly for the truth which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3) without also being zealous for orthopraxy. Orthopraxy is the area which is being attacked today. They tell us that you can be a Christian and hold to the Marxist views of Critical Theory. They tell us that a minister can be a Christian even though he identifies as a homosexual (and calls himself such) as long, supposedly, as he remains celibate. Of course, who is watching to make sure that such ministers are actually being celibate? What is happening before our eyes is a chipping away of the life of holiness which is a necessary part of the foundation of the Christian faith. When orthopraxy falls completely, orthodoxy will be lost also. At present, I feel that the orthopraxy of the church is on ground just as shaky as Vladimir Putin’s standing in Russia after the losses of the last week in the war with Ukraine—or, the special military maneuvers.

What is happening begs the question that is the title of this article: Do we need a new Log College for our day? That is a question that is being asked in many parts of Vanguard Presbyterian Church. Just today, I was contacted by an aspiring minister who asked me if Vanguard had any recommendations or requirements concerning seminaries. There certainly still are options for ministerial candidates in the West, but not nearly as many as there were 20 years ago. I am enclosing a short part of one chapter of my book, Samuel Davies: Apostle to Virginia, with this article. It is about the original Log College. The name, Log College, is used by at least two organizations to my knowledge. With all due respect to anyone who is also using the name, my emphasis on the Log College goes beyond the name. It goes to the doctrines that were taught at the Log College. So, here is a page about that original Log College:  

“The Log College at Neshaminy, Pennsylvania

“The Log College was a school begun by Rev. William Tennent, a native of Ireland, who had come to America in 1716. Tennent was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and ordained in the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland. After his arrival in America, he applied to the Synod of Philadelphia to become a Presbyterian minister due to his rejection of the Arminian doctrines of the Irish Church. The Synod deliberated over his case and asked him to put his reasons for leaving the Episcopal Church in writing. Being satisfied with his answers, Synod voted affirmatively to admit him as a member on September 17, 1718. In 1721, Tennent received a call to a small Presbyterian congregation in Bensalem, Pennsylvania where he remained until he received a call in 1726 to the Presbyterian Church at Neshaminy in Bucks County, some twenty miles north of Philadelphia. At Neshaminy, he erected a small log building next to his house for the education of three of his sons—John, William, Jr., and Charles—as Gospel ministers. While Tennent’s oldest son, Gilbert, was educated by him before the erection of the Log College, he can “without impropriety be classed among the pupils of the institution.”[2] The Log College was located on the main highway between Philadelphia and New York and was observed by numerous travelers between those cities, including such colonial leaders as Benjamin Franklin. One of the best descriptions of it is given by that flaming evangelist George Whitefield: 

“It happens very providentially that Mr. Tennent and his Brethren are appointed to be a Presbytery by the Synod, so that they intend breeding up gracious youths, and sending them out from Time to Time into our Lord’s Vineyard. The place wherein the young Men study now is in contempt call’d the College. It is a Log-House, about Twenty Feet long, and near as many broad; and to me it seemed to resemble the Schools of the old Prophets. . . From this despised Place Seven or Eight worthy Ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth; more are almost ready to be sent, and a Foundation is now laying for the Instruction of many others. The Devil will certainly rage against them, but the Work, I am persuaded, is of God, and therefore will not come to naught. Carnal ministers oppose them strongly; and because People, when awaken’d by Mr. Tennent, or his Brethren, see through, and leave their Ministry, the poor Gentlemen are loaded with Contempt, and look’d upon (as all faithful Preachers will be) as Persons that turn the World upside down.[3]

“Other students who attended the Log College included Samuel Blair,[4] John Blair,[5]Samuel Finley,[6] John Rowland,[7] and Charles Beatty,[8] all of whom became useful and mighty servants of the Lord.”

The men trained by William Tennent became the greatest evangelists of the Presbyterian Church and they, in turn, started other seminaries in their churches. Samuel Blair trained the seraphic Samuel Davies. Davies trained several ministers in Virginia before becoming President of the successor to the Log College—the College of New Jersey (later Princeton College). Whatever the future holds in this respect, I do know that the necessity of a godly education (like those received at the original Log College) is an imperative for the future of the Church. 

Dewey Roberts, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL 


Mailing address: PO Box 1862, Destin, FL 32540. Please send any contributions to Vanguard to this address.    

[1] Sharon is the daughter of Errol Hulse (now deceased) and has written Elizabeth Prentis: More Love to Thee among books. Her husband, Bill, is President of the seminary initiated by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 

[2] Archibald Alexander, The Log College (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), 23. 

[3] Whitefield’s Journals (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 44-45. 

[4] Samuel Blair (1712-1751) was pastor of the Presbyterian congregation at Fagg’s Manor, Pennsylvania. He opened a school for training ministers and Samuel Davies studied under him. There was a remarkable revival in his congregation in 1740-1. 

[5] John Blair (1719-1771) pastored several churches, including Fagg’s Manor, after his brother’s death. Upon the death of Samuel Finley, he became professor of divinity and acting President of the College of New Jersey before the arrival Dr. John Witherspoon.

[6] Samuel Finley (1715-1766) was pastor at Nottingham, Maryland where he taught a classical school. He became the fifth president of the College of New Jersey after Davies died in 1761. 

[7] John Rowland was pastor at the two church field of Hopewell and Maidenhead in New Jersey (1738-1741).  He later removed to a church near Norristown, Pennsylvania. He witnessed revivals in both churches. He died early, but his age at death is unknown. 

[8] Charles Beatty died on August 13, 1771, but little is known about his life. He labored for awhile among the Indians as a missionary. 

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