Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
Synthetic Collections :

J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.
Manuscript Collection #003
Boxes 276-291 and 332.

Content Summary: The Papers of J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. includes familial, ecclesiastical and educational correspondence; denominational Minutes and related materials; manuscripts and published works, including book reviews; an important collection of materials related to the Tacoma Secession Controversy; and documents pertaining to Dr. Buswell's work with the Independent Board for Presbyterian Missions for the period 1943 - 1956.

Biographical sketch:
provided at the end of this page.

Span dates: 1916-1968 Size: 17 cu. ft.

Access: This collection is open to researchers.

Preferred citation:
J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. Manuscript Collection, PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Related Collections:
Bible Presbyterian Synod; Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod; Covenant Theological Seminary.

Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.
1895 - 1977

[portrait by Dewitt Whistler Jayne]

Collection overview:  

Collection Highlight: What Happened to Buswell? - A newspaper article from Wheaton regarding the former president of Wheaton and the whereabouts of his papers.

Biographical Sketch
[from the Memorial composed by Dr. Franklin S. Dyrness and delivered before the 155th General Synod (1977) of the Reformed Presbyterian Church]:
On February 2, 1977, Dr. James Oliver Buswell, Jr., was called to his heavenly home. It can truly be said of him, he had fought a good fight, he had finished his course, and he had kept the Faith.
At the age of 82 he could look back upon a life of dedication and service to his Master, Who had endowed him with many gifts, great wisdom and outstanding leadership. He has been taken from our midst, but his labours stand as a testimony of praise to God, Who was pleased to use him in many and varied ministries.
As a seminary student he entered the military service of his country as a Chaplain in the First World War, where he ministered to soldiers even in the thick of battle. He was wounded in the line of duty and was cited in General Orders and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star.
After the war he took up a pastorate in the Perseverance Prebyterian Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - 1919 to 1922. His next pastorate was in the Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. from 1922 to 1926.
In the fall of 1925 he delivered a series of evangelistic messages at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. Shortly after that Dr. Charles A. Blanchard, the President of Wheaton College, died. Dr. Buswell was called to be the third president of Wheaton and was installed in April of 1926. He served there for 14 years in a most effective manner. During his administration the College grew numerically, its financial position was strengthened, new facilities were added, and it became fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities. It was during his administration that the Wheaton Graduate School was established. He remained at Wheaton until 1940.
Following this he taught for a short time at Faith Seminary. In January of 1941 he was called to the presidency of the National Bible Institute of N.Y.C., which, under his leadership became Shelton College. The school also grew and developed under his 15 years of able leadership.
IN 1956 he was called to be Dean of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, where he served for 14 years until his retirement in 1970. At that time he and his wife came to The Quarryville Presbyterian Home as guests but here, too, he continued his ministry of speaking and writing.
He is known for his writings, especially the two volumes of Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, which is widely used today.
In 1936 Dr. Buswell, together with Dr. J. Gresham Machen, Dr. Harold S. Laird, and others, took hi sstand fearlessly for the Word of God in opposition to the forces of modernism in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. There was a great price to be paid from a human standpoint but, like Paul, he counted not his life dear to himself that he might finish the course God had given him. He, with the others mentioned, became the leaders of a new movement committed uncompromisingly to a loyalty to God and the Scriptures.
He helped form the Presbyterian Church of America in June of 1936, which then changed its name to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In the spring of 1937 he was a leader in the group which became the Bible Presbyterian Church. A few years later a large portion of this group constituted themselves as the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod. The name was later changed to The Evangelical Presbyterian Church. In all of this trying and developing experience of the church his leadership was evident and greatly respected.
He served on the Fraternal Relations Committee used to bring about the union of The Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America [General Synod] and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in 1965. This resulted in the formation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.
One of the key issues [in the 1930's] which evidenced departure from the Word of God was that of the Foreign Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Out of this arose the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Dr. Buswell was one of the founders under the leadership of Dr. Machen. In the formation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the same urgency of missions continued under Dr. Buswell's leadership and the Board of World Presbyterian Missions was created and continues to the present as the missionary arm of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Dr. Buswell served on this Board until his death
Dr. Buswell served on many boards, agencies and committees of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. When newly established he had the joy of having a great input to its growth and development. He also served in other organizations including The Quarryville Presbyterian Home Board where he was a faithful member until his death.
A great man has fallen, but God's course continues - "He being dead, yet speaketh". He has left the challenge to those who continue under the same Head of the Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Buswell is survived by his dear wife, a faithful helpmeet for 59 years, and four children, all active in God's work: Jane (Mrs. Philip Foxwell), Ruth (Mrs. Edward Noe), Dr. James Oliver Buswell, III, and Dr. John Buswell. Also ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren as well as a host of friends, both in heaven and in all parts of the world.
As a member of Philadelphia Presbytery, our Synod, numerous boards and agencies, we all join in giving thanks to God for His gift to us of Dr. Buswell, our fellow Christian. We thank God upon every remembrance of him. Our prayers and sincere sympathy are with his dear wife and all the members of his family. Joshua 1:2, 3:

"Moses, my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses".

The challenge is for us to arise and possess that which God has promised us as His people. There remains yet much to be possessed for God's kingdom.

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