Girardeau, John

John Girardeau



Books  (5)

Calvinism & Evangelical Arminianism  Buy  1890  584 pp.

Evangelical Arminianism is the popular teaching of the church at large today.  It is often hard to pin down in order to analyze carefully.  Here Girardeau carefully articulates it and contrasts it to the Biblical truths of Election, Reprobation and Justification, which fully exposes the inadequacies of Evangelical Arminianism.  An easy to read book, but in-depth with much meat.

Discussions of Philosophical Questions, 1900, 532 pages

A modern title to this book would be “Conflict of Worldviews”

Discussions of Theological Questions,  Buy  534 pages, see the Buy link for the table of contents.

Girardeau’s contribution to the discussion throughout church history regarding the Doctrine of Adoption is worth the price of the book.  Girardeau is persuasive in arguing that Adoption is a distinct act from Justification and that Adam was naturally a son of God by creation (as well as unbelievers), following Thomas Crawford in his prominent Scottish debate with Robert Candlish over the Fatherhood of God.  For a systematic exposition and Biblical defense of Girardeau’s doctrine of Adoption, see this article by Travis Fentiman.

‘The Federal Theology: its Import and its Regulative Influence’  Buy  55 pp.

A discussion of the nature and importance of Federal Headship, Imputation and Covenant Theology.

Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church,  Buy  1888, 208 pages

The classic and best book length Biblical defense against musical instruments in worship.  This was written at a time when the presbyterian churches were capitulating to Anglican worship practices.  Girardeau was one of the last of the faithful ministers to uphold the old historic reformed view and practice.

The Will in its Theological Relations  (1891)  485 pp.

This is Girardeau’s significant contribution to the topic of Predestination.



Chapter out of a Book

Girardeau and the Evolution Controversy  Buy  1916, 54 pp.  by R.A. Webb, from chapter 8, p. 231 of The Life Work of John L. Girardeau ed. by George Blackburn

Here is a chapter length history of Girardeau’s courageous stand against evolution as a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, SC, which divided the faculty.



Zion ChurchThe meeting place for Zion Church, where Girardeau preached every Lord’s Day to hundreds of black slaves.  The building was built by wealthy white men of Charleston for a place for slaves to worship.



Articles  (7)

An Address on Behalf of the Society for the Relief of Superannuated Ministers and the Indigent Families of Deceased Ministers of the Synod of South Carolina, 1858, 24 pages

The Diaconate, 1879, 33 pages

Girardeau was instrumental in reviving the diaconate in the southern presbyterian church.  Read these articles for a solid Biblical view of the office and functions of Deacons.

The Diaconate Again, 1881, 37 pages

The Freedom of the Will in its Theological Relations, 1880, 44 pages, from the Southern Presbyterian Review, vol. 31 (no. 1), Jan., Article 1, p. 1-44.  Girardeau had previously published two journal articles on the same topic (in 1878 & 1879) and was consequently critiqued for it.  Here is Girardeau’s further defense of his position on predestination.  James A. Waddell responded to this article of Girardeau’s here.

A seismic shift occurred on the topic of Predestination and the Will in the early 1700’s with Jonathan Edwards’ treatise Freedom of the Will.

The earlier view of Calvin, the Reformation and Westminster argued that fallen man did not have the power of contrary choice with regard to spiritual things, though Adam did have the power of contrary choice before the Fall, and depraved man still retained the power of contrary choice with regard to external and civil affairs after the fall.  In the pre-modern era, theologians did not believe that the will was necessitated by the laws of nature.

Edwards, being influenced by the developing philosophies of the Enlightenment, including that of John Locke and others, argued that the will was necessitated in the same way as the then newly developed universal laws of nature.  The earlier doctrine of a moral necessity was transformed into a doctrine of natural necessity.  It came to include not just certain spiritual choices of a person, but all the choices of the will and all of nature as well.  This was previously unknown to Reformed theology, and came to be called Philosophical Necessity, or Determinism.

Girardeau argues that this is a departure from historic reformed theology, and demonstrates that it was not the view of Calvin and the Reformed Confessions.  On page 43 Girardeau brings forward two choice quotes from John Witherspoon and James Thornwell which succinctly state the main jist of his arguments.  Richard Muller, the leading reformed historian in the world today, has recently confirmed numerous of Girardeau’s concerns with the shift occasioned by Edwards.

The Importance of the Office of Deacon, 1881, 29 pages

Obituary of Mrs. Eliza Leland, Consort of Rev. A.W. Leland, D.D., Professor of Theology in the Seminary at Columbia, S.C., and Epitaphs from the Burial Place, 1857, 18 pages

Our Ecclesiastical Relations to Freedmen, 1867, 18 pages

Girardeau, a southern white pastor of black slaves, argues that blacks may be elders (governors) in church courts.  For an exposition of what Girardeau is arguing against, see Robert Dabney’s A Speech against the Ecclesiastical Equality of Negro Preachers in our Church and their Right to Rule over White Christians, 1867, 16 pages.  Girardeau’s position came to prevail and was enacted in the southern church a few years later.

The Suffering Seaboard of South Carolina, 1876, 29 pages

A chronicle of the sufferings of Charleston, SC, “our Southern Zion”, after its occupation by the Northern army during the War between the States.  Peer here into the sufferings of a part of Christ’s church, and the labors of her faithful pastors.

What is a Miracle?  A Reply to Dr. Martin, around 1888p. 57, 8 pages, an Appendix to Dr. Girardeau’s Anti-Evolution: the Logic of his Reply, from the Christian Observer.  Dr. Girardeau had originally written an article in the Presbyterian Quarterly on the supernatural character of miracles.  Martin criticized this work in four successive articles in the Southern Presbyterian.  Here is Girdeau’s reply to Martin’s criticisms.  Girardeau’s Anti-Evolution: the Logic of His Reply is Martin’s response to this piece by Girardeau.



Conscience and Civil Government: an Oration  1860, 28 pp.

‘Eulogy on Professor George Howe’  31 pp.


Book of Sermons

Sermons  Buy  1907  412 pp.

Girardeau was known as a powerful preacher.  Read here to find out why.


Individual Sermons

The Discretionary Power of the Church, Matt 28:20, 1907, extracted from Sermons, ed. Rev. George A. Blackburn. The editor of these sermons says, “This is not the most eloquent, but it is the most valuable and the most timely sermon in this volume. It was preached before the General Assembly, at St. Louis, May 20, 1875. The author called it a testimony.”

What is the discretionary power of the church?  It is that she only has the authority given to her by Christ and no more, “she can utter no new doctrine, make no new laws, ordain no new forms of government, and invent no new modes of worship.”

Individual Liberty and Church Authority, Rom. 14:12, 1889, 18 pages



Dr. Girardeau’s Anti-Evolution, 1889, 56 pages, by James Martin, with an 8 page appendix by John Girardeau entitled, What is a Miracle? A Reply to Dr. Martin.  Girardeau had originally written an article in the Presbyterian Quarterly on the supernatural character of miracles.  Martin criticized this work in four successive articles in the Southern Presbyterian.  What is a Miracle? was Girardeau’s reply to those criticisms.  Girardeau’s Anti-Evolution: the Logic of His Reply is Martin’s response to Girardeau’s What is a Miracle?

John L. Girardeau’s Doctrine of Adoption: a Systematic and Biblical Defense, 2014, 20 pages, by Travis Fentiman

The Life Work of John L. Girardeau,  Buy  1916, 428 pages, by George Blackburn

The standard history of Girardeau’s life and character.  A collection of 14 essays by various authors from Girardeau’s time.

A Memorial for Rev. John L. Girardeau, 2012, by W. T. Thompson, 13 paragraphs 

“Presbyterians in the South and the Slave: A Study in Benevolence,” in The Confessional Presbyterian, vol. 3, 2007  Buy  by Nick Willborn

An excellent historical article chronicling Girardeau’s efforts to minister to the black slaves.  Written by one who did his dissertation on Girardeau and is, Lord willing, coming out with the first full length biography of Girardeau.

“Presbyterians in the South and the Slave: A Study in Benevolence,” by Nick Willborn, in The Confessional Presbyterian, vol. 3, 2007  Buy  

An excellent historical article chronicling Girardeau’s efforts to minister to the black slaves.  Written by one who did his dissertation on Girardeau and is, Lord willing, coming out with the first full length biography of Girardeau.

Re-Examination of Dr. Girardeau’s Views of the Freedom of the Will1880, 26 pages, by James A. Waddell, from The Southern Presbyterian Review, 31.4, Oct., 1880, 690-716.  Girardeau initially wrote two articles regarding the Fall of Adam in 1879 for The Southern Presbyterian Review.  Waddell then responded with criticisms in the same journal.  In two issues of the journal in 1880 Girardeau responded to Waddell (one of these articles is here).  Here is Waddell’s response to Girardeau’s defense.

This article takes up the very interesting and somewhat complex issues regarding the nature of the decree of sin, whether it was permissive or not, and in what sense, the nature of its certainty, the relation of the decree to God’s foreknowledge, and Calvin’s interpretation of all of these things.

Review of Dr. John L. Girardeau’s Instrumental Music in Public Worship, HTML, 1888, by Robert L. Dabney

A positive review of Girardeau’s book by another major southern presbyterian


girardeau's grave

An open Bible preached from the pulpit to a dead world: the grave of John L. Girardeau, in Columbia, SC, within 15 ft. of the grave of his admired teacher, James H. Thornwell