Throughout most of American Presbyterian history, the prevalent assumption has been that old things are dead and new things are vital and alive. Generally speaking, this was an important dynamic in the controversies between the Old and New Side Presbyterians of the colonial era, and the Old and New School Presbyterians of the nineteenth century.

Oldlife.org challenges this assumption partly because it seems patently disadvantageous for Reformed Protestants to make it. The Reformed faith may not be as old as Rome or Constantinople, but its most reliable guideposts are—to put it bluntly—old. At the same time, many Reformed Protestants consider themselves conservative, a disposition that is also oriented to the past and conserving as much of it as possible. Old life indicates that the old things are actually valuable and capable of sustaining authentic Christian faith, and that historic Reformed Protestantism specifically embodies a piety as vigorous and alive as any of its rivals.

The Old Life Theological Society has existed for over a decade, the creation of D. G. Hart and John R. Muether. Its aim has been to point the way back to the health and vigor of historic Reformed Protestantism. The Society is the sponsor of the Nicotine Theological Journal, a quarterly dedicated to Reformed faith and practice. The idea behind the NTJ was clear in our first editorial. Although the editors, Muether and Hart, are known to enjoy a good cigar and even to smoke bad ones, they remain convinced that you don’t have to smoke to get the NTJ.

D. G. Hart is an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, serving on the session of Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He is the author most recently of From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism (Eerdmans, 2011) and Between the Times: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Transition, 1945-1990 (Committee for the Historian of the OPC, 2011).

John R. Muether is an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Historian for the OPC, and serves on the session of Reformation OPC in Oviedo, Florida. He is the author most recently of Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman (P&R Publishing, 2008) and co-editor of Confident of Better Things (Committee for the Historian of the OPC, 2011).

Together Hart and Muether have written, Fighting the Good Fight: A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (Committee for the Historian, 1995); With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship (P&R Publishing, 2002); and Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Presbyterianism (P&R Publishing, 2007). They are currently writing a contemporary case for being Protestant.



  1. Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Dr. Hart, have you ever thought about getting into doing Machen as a character-persona like Clay Jenkinson does Thomas Jefferson, Merriweather Lewis, Teddy Roosevelt and Oppenheimer for the TJ hour? You could do Machen, Mencken, and others at local libraries where the OPC has a presence. It could be a ministry.

  2. "Michael Mann"
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    MN: but who would do the special music?

  3. Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    MM: Westminster Brass? B-shop Quartet styling the Trinity Hymnal?

  4. Posted November 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    M Napier, if I could actually act, I’d rather be Omar or The Dude.

  5. Roger Corbin
    Posted December 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I recently went to the see the movie J. Edgar and all I could think about was J. Gresham. Many similarities.


  6. Posted January 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart is an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, serving on the session of Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

    My latest New Horizons suggests it’s instead a church in Hillsdale, MI. I’m willing to be corrected here..

  7. David Eaton
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Who would do the special music? Why, DG’s brother, that’s who.

  8. Posted September 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Dr Hart, do you believe Roman Cathlicism is a false relgion? Thank You

  9. Posted September 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Eleni, Not if you judge solely by Nicea. But if you judge by Trent, well, not so good. Even worse is Roman Catholicism post Vatican 2. Do they believe Nicea? Trent? How would you tell from whom they let teach theology at their official universities?

  10. Posted September 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for calling Open Forum. Next question, please.

  11. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted May 31, 2015 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Correction appears unnecessary.


    This is an interesting blog (insert emoticon). I may just keep reading.

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