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In Memoriam – Arthur W. Kuschke, Jr. 1913-2010

Category Articles
Date September 24, 2010

The Rev. Arthur W. Kuschke, Jr., passed into glory at his home on July 1, 2010 at the age of 96. A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Mr. Kuschke graduated from Wheaton College in 1936, after which he earned the Th.B. and Th.M. degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary.

Ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1940, Kuschke was appointed field representative for Westminster Seminary, where he laboured to increase the enrolment of the Seminary through the challenges of the war years. After stints as assistant librarian in 1945 and acting librarian in 1945-46, he became librarian at the seminary in 1946, succeeding Leslie W. Sloat. Until his retirement from Westminster in 1979, he worked to develop a first-rate theological library that supported the rigorous academic curriculum of the school. During those years, and for thirty years after his retirement, Kuschke was an active churchman in the Presbytery of Philadelphia and at the General Assembly.

In 1951 Arthur Kuschke married Charlotte Milling. They were blessed with three children (David, John, and Margaret) and five grandchildren.

Among his many accomplishments on behalf of the denomination, Kuschke served with distinction on the General Assembly’s special committee that produced the Trinity Hymnal in 1961. In an article in the Presbyterian Guardian, Kuschke explained the relationship between doctrine and hymnody. ‘Doctrine is the basic criterion of hymns,’ he wrote. ‘Devotion always springs from doctrine. True zeal in the singing of hymns can arise only from strong convictions about true doctrine.’ In this way, Kuschke applied to song the principle that J. Gresham Machen championed: Christianity is a way of life founded upon doctrine. Kuschke added: ‘Those who are singing the praise of God should be responding to him in terms of the complete revelation he has given, and must surely seek to follow all the counsel of God. Hymns should therefore be explicit about the great doctrines of the faith and should treat them in an orderly fashion.’

The above obituary by John R. Muether is printed in the September 2010 issue of New Horizons. The last time I had mentioned Arthur’s name was at the Leicester Ministers’ Conference in April talking to Dr. Palmer Robinson. ‘Palmer, here is a name that will gladden your heart . . .’ We both admired Arthur so much. He had been taught by J. Gresham Machen, and like many colleagues of Machen’s on the faculty of Westminster Seminary loved him and held to his theological and ecclesiastical convictions. He was almost 28 when Dr. Machen died of pleurisy in the Dakotas on his visit into the freezing mid-west to encourage a former student seeking to awaken his congregation to the dangers of liberalism.

It was a great blow to Westminster to lose its founder, the man whose trial and excommunication from the PCUSA and Princeton had been the catalyst for the beginning of the Philadelphia Seminary. Would it survive without him? The younger lecturers were largely unknown and had yet to make their reputation, but they has a God-given unity and determination to press on with training men in the old Princeton tradition of the Westminster Standards. Soon Arthur was promoting the Seminary everywhere until he became the Librarian.

He taught part of the course on worship, the significance and importance of hymns. On his mother’s side he was Welsh, coming from that Welsh stronghold in Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre, and he commended the grandeur of Welsh hymn tunes in his course in a way with which I was well pleased. He loved experiential Calvinism. I once preached in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church across the road from the Seminary where he and his family worshipped, and he came onto me afterwards almost in tears. ‘These are the truths that give me life. I love them,’ he said. He spoke at the Seminary chapel every two weeks promoting these convictions. He came to us in Aberystwyth one Sunday with his mother. There they were sitting in our congregation on a visit to Wales. What a surprise. His sister Mary loved the truth as he did. She was in the American Services and was posted during the war to London where she worshipped at Westminster Chapel. She even spent one Christmas Day with the Doctor’s family, and she defended him in the discussions at the mid-week meetings. Details of this are found in Iain Murray’s biography of DMLJ.1 She moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania and was in fellowship at Grace Baptist Church under Walter Chantry for many years until ill health has meant she can no longer attend the public means of grace.

Arthur became involved in the Norman Shepherd case, deeply troubled at the appearance of the new perspective on justification and the theology of the apostle Paul at Westminster. He suffered considerably in his determination that this interpretation should not be taught at the Seminary. Lively, cheerful, earnest, a little eccentric in his manner and appearance – those steel-rimmed spectacles – all of that made him a beloved member of the staff at the Seminary. Another link with Machen is broken. I thank God for every remembrance of him.

Notes

  1. Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1990), pp. 121-122 and 111-112.

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