/ Clarence Macartney / Guest Author

50 Cent Hair Cuts and Clarence Edward Macartney

The following article is from Pastor Bob McFarland, a retired minister in the RPCNA.

I was given some barber clippers when I went off to Geneva College. I had never ever given a haircut, but I had watched other dorm “barbers”.  So I advertised on a sign outside my dorm door: “First 50 Haircuts FREE”. With the help of more experienced barbers, I was soon in business. I was the barber on the second floor of Memorial Hall. My sign soon read: “Haircuts – 50 cents”.

At that same time, a 75-year-old pastor was retiring from his church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since his childhood home had been “Ferncliffe” – a beautiful home on the Geneva College campus – he was invited by the college to retire there.

When Dr. Clarence Edward Macartney asked for a student to cut his hair, I was contacted. This started regular visits to Dr. Macartney’s home – Ferncliffe – for his haircut. But it also always involved interesting conversations.

At one of my first visits, Dr. Macartney introduced me to his two cats: Gog and Magog. He explained that he could witness the Battle of Armageddon at least once a day just by watching his cats.

I was always greeted by Dr. Macartney in his large bathroom “barber shop” with the Bible verse: “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.”  I have never forgotten that Scripture verse and the important reminder of this elderly pastor.

During his time at Ferncliffe, Dr. Macartney developed an acquaintance with Fritz, an elderly Geneva College grounds care worker. I noticed that they would even attend the Reformed Presbyterian Church on College Hill together. It was a witness to us students that every person should be our friend and be invited to hear of Christ.

Each day on campus, I saw the beautiful stone library at Geneva College named for Dr. Macartney’s family. His father had been the pastor of the Covenanter congregation in Northwood, Ohio, and had moved his family to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, when Geneva College moved its campus from Northwood to Beaver Falls.

Dr. Macartney had studied at Princeton Theological Seminary under B. B. Warfield, Robert Dick Wilson, and others. He learned “Old School Presbyterian theology” from them.  He went from the Covenanter denomination into the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Seeing a trend, he saw the Presbyterian Church USA become his “mission field”.

Dr. Macartney mentioned his heartfelt dilemma in his decision not to separate from the Presbyterian Church USA with Machen, Woolley, McIntire and others to form a new denomination (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). He believed that the way to revival was revival from within the church, so he stayed.

Early in his ministry, he made this observation:

If men can be received into the presbyteries of the church and installed in the pulpits of our congregations without accepting wholeheartedly doctrines which the church has repeatedly declared must be held by all its ministers, then the Creed has become a scrap of paper.  Of, if the interpretation of the Creed be left so wide and vague that men can deny or “refuse to affirm” many portions of it, in other words, if the Creed is so stretched that it will take in almost any kind of religious view, then the Creed becomes an absurdity. ("The Presbyterian Church at the Crossroads", address delivered at the meeting of Princeton Theological Seminary Alumni in NYC, 1925)

At that time I was not aware that he had authored over fifteen books. However, I still have my copy of his famous sermon “Come Before Winter” from the text in 2 Timothy 4.21. He preached this sermon first on October 18, 1915, and preached it again every fall for the next 37 years.

He died two years after I graduated from Geneva College. Though I have not read all of his fifteen books, I still remember the challenges he repeated for 37 years from 2 Timothy 4:9,21.

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me.
Do thy diligence to come before Winter.

When I am tempted to put off ‘till later important responsibilities (during my time as a pastor for 60 years ), I remind myself: Don’t delay! Do due diligence before Winter!