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Dr. David C. Lachman (27 October, 1939 - 27 August, 2023) went to be with the Lord at the age of 83, after a period of slow decline beginning in 2018. He died peacefully in his own bed at his home of 41 years in Wyncote, PA, surrounded by his wife and three children. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, three children, and 12 grandchildren, his sister and brother, and relatives.
David was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the late Charles Jr. and Anna E. Lachman. He was the oldest of their three children. His parents moved out of the city to North Hills when he was two. Apart from his periods of study in upstate NY and Scotland, a brief stay in L’abri, and a lengthy overland trip from Switzerland to Singapore and back, he lived in the Philadelphia area his whole life, turning down teaching opportunities in other parts of the world to stay near and care for his much beloved widowed mother.
David was an academic and a highly respected scholar in the field of Scottish church history. He obtained a B.A. at Houghton College, a B.D. and Th.M from Westminster Seminary, a M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews. His painstakingly researched dissertation on the Marrow Controversy was the first scholarly treatment of the subject and remains the definitive work on it. He was a skilled editor, which combined with his expertise in Scottish Church History, led him to become an editor of the Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology and Worship in the Presence of God, as well as many smaller projects. He wrote scholarly introductions to a number of modern reprints of old Scottish Presbyterian works.
David was a committed Bible-believing Christian, having been led to the Lord by his Grandma Lachman at the age of six. He was firmly committed to “the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Inspired by men such as J. Gresham Machen, John Bunyan, and David Hay Fleming (a careful historian), he aimed to emulate them in standing valiantly for Biblical principles (1 Thessalonians 5:21). After careful and protracted study, he was principled and consistent in resolutely holding fast to what he understood the Bible says is true and right.
He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America for many years, and cared for the weakest and most vulnerable in his local congregation. He served as parliamentarian of the Philadelphia presbytery, and faithfully attended the General Assembly virtually every year. As moderator of the Presbytery, his reputation was one of meticulous even-handed leadership, such that no one could discern his personal opinion on the topic at hand. His zeal for truth and righteousness led him to take the role of editor of the Presbyterian Advocate, a whistleblower magazine seeking reform in the church. It also contributed to his zeal to see the best old books put into the hands of Christ’s people, by recommendations for study, selling antiquarian editions, and encouraging the republication of quality theological works.
David was an antiquarian theological bookseller, as he often said “specializing in books printed before 1700.” He started selling books while studying in Scotland, when he realized that if he could sell one book for a profit, he could buy several more for his own library and to support his growing family in the process. While he was a bookseller, he was always a book buyer - a treasure hunter and preserver of history - who sold so that he could search for more good books to collect! On his return from Scotland, he taught part-time at Westminster Theological Seminary for a brief period, but soon turned to full-time bookselling, as he disliked academic politics. He built up his business from nothing by diligent hard work. Over more than 30 years and countless trips to the UK, he transported innumerable books across the pond from Great Britain to the USA. In a quiet, behind the scenes way, the books he sold, combined with his deep knowledge of church history and love for the Lord, impacted countless ministers, theologians, book publishers, seminaries, and professors on a personal, spiritual, and academic level.
His business dealings brought out his godly character, as he was scrupulously honest in his treatment of his customers. He tried to set fair prices for his stock and would never intentionally sell anything for more than it was worth. He would often sell a book on commission instead of buying it, to get the most he could for his customer. He was righteously indignant at dealers who would cheat customers and had a special heart for generous treatment of widows, many of whom turned to him to sell their husband’s libraries. Over decades this earned him a sterling reputation for being trustworthy, as he exhibited the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) in all his dealings.
David was also a family man and a good friend to many. He was committed to caring for his mother in her old age. His children were deeply influenced by his commitment to family worship and faithfulness to the church. They fondly remember going on many business trips all over the USA as a family and individually to the UK. His house was always open, and he often invited his customers to the home and always allowed his children to sit, listen, and talk to them (often deep into the night), which led them to have friendships with many of those who came. Often the lines were entirely blurred between customer, ecclesiastical colleague, and dear friend.
All are invited to his funeral service on Friday, 1 September, at 6:30PM (EST) at Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church, 220 E Norristown Rd, Warminster, PA 18974. It will be live streamed at https://www.facebook.com/ChristCovenantPresbyterianChurch.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Reformed Presbyterian Mission in Sri Lanka. Checks can be made out to “Free Presbytery of the United States of America”, earmarked for Sri Lanka, and mailed to Greenville Presbyterian Church, PO Box 295, Taylors, SC 29687-0005. Online memorial contributions can be made at: https://tithe.ly/give_new/www/#/tithely/give-one-time/300452 with “Sri Lanka Congregations” selected.
Those who would like to share their memories or appreciations of David are asked to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.