NOTE: This post is adapted from Dr. Yarbrough’s editorial in the upcoming spring 2019 issue of Presbyterion, Covenant Seminary’s academic journal, of which he serves as editor.
The spring 2019 issue of Presbyterion, soon to be available, is dedicated to its most prolific contributor ever. The first article in that issue—a stirring account of the life and legacy of George Washington Carver—is by that prolific contributor himself: Dr. David B. Calhoun, professor emeritus of church history.
Over the years, no one has contributed articles and reviews to this journal as faithfully as Dr. Calhoun, who taught at Covenant from 1978 to 2008. To date, Dr. Calhoun has graced Presbyterion with over two dozen articles and nearly as many book reviews. His publications through about 2006, in Presbyterion and elsewhere, are listed in the book celebrating Covenant Seminary’s fiftieth anniversary. His contributions to Presbyterion since that time are listed at the end of this post.
On January 7, 2019, I received an email from Dr. Calhoun. Attached was the George Washington Carver article (way ahead of deadline, as is Dr. Calhoun’s wont). But there was also this bittersweet message:
I am attaching what will be my last submission to the journal. I have published articles and book reviews for Presbyterion for over 35 years. I am thankful for this publication and pray God’s blessing upon it in future years.
How does a journal and its supporting institution, Covenant Theological Seminary, say thank you to a man who since 1978 has poured countless hours into imparting historical knowledge at the podium, in preaching, and in print?
One measure of a man is the respect accorded to him by colleagues. Below are the remarks of several Covenant Seminary professors who responded to an informal request to comment on their appreciation for Dr. Calhoun on the occasion of his (alleged!) final contribution to Presbyterion. May these reflections serve as an encouragement to our emeritus colleague (who not only writes for Presbyterion but reads it faithfully), a testimony to the communion of saints, and a celebration of the Lordship of Christ in the life of his dedicated servant David B. Calhoun.
* * *
When I was a student at Covenant Seminary, I took every possible elective that David Calhoun taught. It was abundantly clear that he loved his students, his study, and his Savior. What was also undeniable was that he treated us as genuine learners—like we were real academics! Personally, he showed me what it meant to embrace my calling to never stop learning my academic field and to keep growing as an instructor.
Dr. Brian Aucker, Professor of Old Testament
I first met David when I began to teach here in January 1989 and I have regarded him as a personal hero ever since, a man to model one’s life after, because of his modesty, humility, graciousness, delight in learning, love for students, and his passionate commitment to the African-American community.
Prof. Jerram Barrs, Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture
Here are two of the many things I could share about David Calhoun: (1) Fully intending to sleep (cf. Mark 4:38a), he trusted me with keeping his passport as we traveled through various countries on a not-so-safe night train from Budapest to Venice in 2004 (while visiting PMI missionaries). During the night, I was tempted to invoke Mark 4:38b. (2) Over and over again, I experience David as a genuine follower of Christ, sorely tested by the fire of sustained and varied Anfechtungen (=afflictions, tests, and trials, cf. 1 Peter 1:6–9).
Dr. Hans F. Bayer, Professor of New Testament
“David has always been that ideal combination of scholarship, piety, and personal kindness; a dedicated servant of the church, especially of the less advantaged.”
Dr. C. John (“Jack”) Collins, Professor of Old Testament
In the best tradition of Calvin, the Puritans, the early German pietists, and many of our American forerunners, David Calhoun consistently wedded scholarship and piety, as a writer, and as a man. Always thoughtful and positive, David was equally adept teaching the big concepts and exploring the way they worked out regionally, at influential schools and churches.
Dr. Daniel M. Doriani, Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology and VP at Large
“I have fond memories of jogging with David through Queeny Park years ago during the early morning hours, and listening as he spoke with such passion about the most recent church whose history he had been commissioned to write—which meant reading hundreds of Session minutes recorded in almost indecipherable handwriting as far back as the 1700s. I also remember when he first told us that he had been diagnosed with cancer, which then led to great numbers of faculty, former students, and friends praying fervently for him and then watching with great admiration as he has fought this disease so courageously through the years.”
Dr. Philip D. Douglass, Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology
David Calhoun blessed Denise and me over these roughly three decades of serving at Covenant’s Library. One example is his mention from time to time, and even in the last few months, of the value he finds in my treatments of commentaries in Presbyterion and of diverse books and periodical articles in Select Items (a monthly 8-pager). As Library Director, it has been a joy to add to our collections each new book he’s written and to see how many articles and reviews he wrote as well. And so many reviews kept appearing of his two-volume history of Princeton Seminary (1994–96)!
Rev. James C. Pakala, Library Director, J. Oliver Buswell Jr. Library
David Calhoun is a beloved teacher and an unfailing encourager. Even when I had the temerity to submit a more-than-90-page paper for his Calvin’s Institutes class, Dr. Calhoun not only read my work and commented on most pages, but also located my offer of supper buried in the footnotes and handed the paper back to me complete with the date and time that he and Mrs. Calhoun would join my wife and me for supper!
Prof. Mark P. Ryan, Director, Francis Schaeffer Institute, and Adjunct Professor of Religion and Culture
David was one of the heroes of the faith to me too. He welcomed us so warmly when we arrived at Covenant and always stood by as an encourager and friend—with such wisdom, biblical understanding, humility, courage in the face of illness, and pastoral care.
Dr. Richard Winter, Professor Emeritus of Counseling
Every kind and deeply heartfelt word my colleagues have said about David Calhoun is completely true, and yet more should be said. But all I know to say is that many years ago, I told my wife that when I die, I want David Calhoun to preach my funeral. I said that to Carolanne because I trust David deeply and completely. To generate such trust is the measure of a man’s greatness. And for me, there is none greater than David Calhoun.
Dr. Daniel W. Zink, Professor of Counseling
* * *
This editor was privileged to teach at Covenant alongside Dr. Calhoun from 1991 to 1996. I have also profited immensely from a close reading of perhaps his greatest published work, Princeton Seminary. I have often said that these volumes should be required reading for every student upon commencement of seminary study. Who remembers today that “Old Princeton” trained and sent out thousands of students as missionaries, among them seven who were brutally murdered on foreign mission fields for their witness? Of the class of 1918, a year of world war and a flu epidemic that claimed half a million dead in the U.S. alone, one-fifth of Princeton’s graduates became foreign missionaries.
There are lessons here not only for seminary students but also for seminary faculty and administrators. We brand and hawk our “product” in the hope of attracting new students in an age of declining seminary enrollment. In a market economy, that is fair enough. But are we offering an education that God can use to make disciples of the quality that Dr. Calhoun’s history of Princeton Seminary describes? Are our seminaries conscious of how easily a noble heritage can be frittered away? Today many seminaries who once affirmed “Old Princeton” convictions no longer send out martyrdom-ready missionaries, having lost faith in the gospel that nurtures such faithfulness-unto-death.
The administration, staff, faculty, and students (past and present) of Covenant Seminary, with this issue of Presbyterion, express gratitude for the godly heritage of an undersung but highly significant church historian who has helped this community uphold its biblical and Reformed heritage these last forty years. May his legacy and prayers help God guide us as we move forward into an era as rich in promise as it is daunting in challenge.
Articles and Reviews by Dr. David B. Calhoun Appearing in Presbyterion, 2006–2019
“George Washington Carver (1864–1943): ‘God Just Came into My Heart One Sunday Afternoon.’” Presbyterion 45, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 6–15.
“William Whittingham (1524–1579): ‘A Man of Ardent, Active Zeal.’” Presby-terion 44, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 77–85.
“The Scots Confession: ‘Craggy, Irregular, Powerful, and Unforgettable.’” Presby-terion 43, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 3–14.
“‘Shepherd and Shepherdess of His Sheep’: Lucy Gantt Sheppard and William Henry Sheppard.” Presbyterion 42, nos. 1–2 (Fall 2016): 54–68.
“‘A Little While’: William Henry Sheppard and Samuel Norvell Lapsley.” Presby-terion 41, nos. 1–2 (Fall 2015): 1–11.
“John Knox (1514–1572) after Five Hundred Years.” Presbyterion 40, nos. 1–2 (Fall 2014): 1–13.
“Bob Childress (1890–1956): ‘The Man Who Moved a Mountain.’” Presbyterion 39, no. 2 (Fall 2013): 65–74.
“Brother Bryan of Birmingham: ‘He Went about Doing Good.’” Presbyterion 38, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 65–73.
Review of Herman J. Selderhuis, John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life. Presbyterion 35, no. 2 (Fall 2009): 122–25.
Review of Herman J. Selderhuis, Calvin’s Theology of the Psalms. Presbyterion 34, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 120–21.
“Poems in the Park: My Cancer and God’s Grace.” Presbyterion 34, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 65–92.
Review of J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, Let Christ Be Magnified: Calvin’s Teaching for Today. Presbyterion 33, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 118.
Review of John Calvin, Sermons on the Beatitudes, translated by Robert White. Presbyterion 33, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 116–17.
Review of Iain H. Murray, A Scottish Christian Heritage. Presbyterion 33, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 54–55.
“Loving the Westminster Confession and Catechisms.” Presbyterion 32, no. 2 (Fall 2006): 65–72.
WHAT IS PRESBYTERION?
Presbyterion: Covenant Seminary Review is a twice-yearly journal that seeks to contribute to better understanding of the Christian Scriptures, theology, church history, and related fields and topics for the health of the church and its leaders, the spread of the gospel and Christ’s kingdom, and the promotion of God’s glory.
This journal is a publication of Covenant Theological Seminary, the seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It features a variety of voices from scholars across denominations and academic disciplines who affirm the journal’s mission.
 See Robert A. Peterson and Sean Michael Lucas, eds., All for Jesus: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Covenant Theological Seminary (Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Mentor, 2006), 379–82.
 David B. Calhoun, Princeton Seminary, 2 vols. (Edinburgh/Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994–1996).
 Ibid., 2:239. Deaths were by being thrown overboard in the China Sea (one man), shootings (two men with their wives and one man separately), a stabbing in India, and mob action in China (one man and his wife).
 Ibid., 2:309.