Feast of James D. Smart (January 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Presbyterian Church in Canada

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JAMES DICK SMART (MARCH 1, 1906-JANUARY 23, 1982)

Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

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In Jesus Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  Jesus Christ is God with man.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission.  This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world.  Therefore the church calls men to be reconciled to God and to one another.

–The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Confession of 1967

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James D. Smart comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of the Book of Jonah in Volume VI (1956).  He described that story as a postexilic parable, a position I take for granted.  Based on Smart’s academic analysis of the Book of Jonah, I responded with surprise when I read one source describe him as conservative.  I grew up around many self-described conservatives, who considered such talk heretical.  Smart was a Barthian, a position many fundamentalists (especially hardcore Calvinists) consider heretical.  Smart was Neo-orthodox, a position many fundamentalists consider too liberal.

Words such as “liberal” and “conservative” are inherently relative and of limited value.

Smart, a Presbyterian, grew up in a Presbyterian family.  He, born in Alton, Ontario, Canada, on March 1, 1906, was a child of John George Smart and Janet Dick Smart.  The Smarts raised their son firmly in the faith.  Our saint studied at the University of Toronto (B.A., 1926; M.A., 1927) then at Knox College (Class of 1927).  Smart continued his studies, focusing on the Old Testament, at the Universities of Marburg and Berlin (1929-1930) before returning to the University of Toronto to complete his doctorate (1931).

Smart married and had a family.  He married Christine Mckillop on September 24, 1931.  The couple raised three daughters:  Margaret Jean, Mary Eleanor, and Janet Ann.

Smart became a Presbyterian minister.  He, ordained into the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1931, served the Ailsa Craig Presbyterian Church, Ailsa Craig, Ontario, from 1931 to 1934.  Then our saint was pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church, Galt, Ontario (1934-1941), and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Peterborough, Ontario (1941-1944).  While pastor in Peterborough, Smart wrote a book, What a Man Can Believe (1943).

That volume earned Smart his next job, Editor-in-Chief of the Christian education curriculum in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., from 1944 to 1950.  Our saint’s ability to communicate theology effectively to lay people proved useful in his new position.  He overhauled the curriculum, shifting it away from progressive, secular, student-centered theories of education, especially learning by doing, and to Bible-centered lessons that presented doctrines and Biblical scholarship.  Sunday School enrollment in the denomination doubled and the curriculum helped to strengthen other practical aspects (such as home visitation and the training of parents) of Christian education.

Smart worked in Canada again from 1950 to 1957. He served as minister of Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario; lecturer in Christian education at Knox College (1951-1957) and at Ewart College; Professor of Hermeneutics, Knox College; and Editor-in-Chief of Curriculum Publications for the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  Our saint also found time to write more books, including The Teaching Ministry of the Church (1954).  He linked the recovery of theology to the revitalization of ministry.

Smart was the Jesup Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, from 1957 to 1970.  He also traveled around the world as a lecturer.  Smart’s theological fingerprints were all over The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.’s Confession of 1967, a document to which many self-described conservatives objected strenuously.

Smart spent 1970-1982 in Canada.  He was a collegiate minister at Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, from 1970 to 1974.  He retired from ministry in 1974, but continued to write.  He died at home on January 23, 1982.  Our saint was 75 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [James D. Smart and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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