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Dr.  Morton H. Smith

Obituary for Dr. Morton H. Smith

December 11, 1923 - November 12, 2017
Brevard, North Carolina | Age 93


Dr. Morton H. Smith, 93, of Brevard, NC, charter faculty member of Reformed Theological Seminary-Jackson (RTS), founder of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (GPTS), the first Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and one of the world's foremost authorities on American Presbyterian history and theology, passed into glory on Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 10:55 AM.

Originally from Roanoke, VA, he received a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Michigan, Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Free University of Amsterdam, where he studied on a Fulbright Fellowship. He served as a military flight instructor during World War II.

Dr. Smith co-founded Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary alongside of the Session of Second Presbyterian Church (PCA in Greenville, SC) in 1987, taught continuously for 25 years in Greenville, served for 15 years as the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) from 1973 to 1988, taught for 12 years on the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) from 1966 to 1978, spent a year as a guest lecturer in Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) from 1963 to 1964, and taught for nine years at Belhaven University from 1954 to 1963. Preceding his academic and ecclesial career, he also pastored a number of congregations in the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), the predecessor to the PCA.

In 2000, he was elected Moderator of the 28th General Assembly of the PCA. He remains the last bearded Moderator of the Assembly, to date.
Maintaining a keen interest in how best to leverage technology for ministry, he sped up his doctoral research by devising a unique photographic process for recording sources, taught classes on television in the late 1960s, adopted computer and video technology in the 1990s when other men his age simply retired, and even flew his own airplane around the country to tend to ministry engagements.

As a devoted churchman, Dr. Smith not only served the courts of the church in various official capacities, but he also published a number of accessible books, booklets, and articles for scholars, pastors, and the general public. His books include Studies in Southern Presbyterian Church History (1987), How is the Gold Become Dim (1973),Testimony: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (1986), Commentary on the Book of Church Order (2001), Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (1990),The Case for Full Subscription to the Westminster Standards in the Presbyterian Church in America (1992), The Subscription Debate: Studies in Presbyterian Polity (1994),Systematic Theology (1994), Biblical Doctrine of Predestination: A Study of the Sovereignty of God as Reflected in the Five Points of Calvinism (1995). His booklets include Reformed Evangelism (1974), A Call for a Return to Sabbath Observance (1994),The Regulative Principle of Worship: Is It Biblical? (1994), and Holding Fast to the Faith: A Brief History of Subscription to Creeds and Confession with Particular Reference to Presbyterian Churches (2003).

But even in light of these many labors and publications, his family was his greatest delight short of Christ. He is survived by his devoted wife of 73 years, Mrs. Lois Virginia Knopf Smith their daughter, Ms. Suzanne Rochet Margaret Smith Bowers, son Samuel Warfield Smith, granddaughter Sarah Merritt (Brad), grandson Benjamin Warfield Smith (Amanda), and great-grandchildren Gage, Autumn, and Daniel Smith.

"We give praise and thanks to God for Dr. Smith's life and legacy," says Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., President and Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. "We may have lost a friend, mentor, father, and brother, but Dr. Smith has gained heaven. Even now, he stands perfected and filled with joy before his Lord and Savior."

The viewing followed by the service will be at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, November 14 at Cornerstone PCA, 645 Bert Lane Rd, Brevard, NC 28712.

Memorial gifts may be made to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors, SC 29687. In 2013, the Board of Trustees of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary named the Morton H. Smith Chair in Systematic Theology in Dr. Smith's honor. Shortly before Dr. Smith's death, the Seminary's Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Ryan M. McGraw as the first occupant of the distinguished Chair.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
    Post Office Box 690
    Taylors, SC 29687

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Moore-Blanchard Funerals & Cremations

100 N. Country Club Rd
Brevard, NC 28712
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