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B.B. Warfield, The Last of the Princeton Theologians

03 Mar

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (November 5, 1851 – February 16, 1921) was the principal of Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. He is considered the last great Princeton theologian before WARFIELD-Benjamin-B.-Ipsenthe split in 1929 that formed Westminster Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

In 1887 Warfield was appointed to the Charles Hodge Chair at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he succeeded Hodge’s son A. A. Hodge. Warfield remained there until his death. As the last conservative successor to Hodge to live prior to the re-organization of Princeton Seminary, Warfield is often regarded as the last of the Princeton theologians. The post-Warfield Princeton became more liberal and progressive in it’s approach to theology. The once solid conservative seminary began the downward slide like a kid on a freshly waxed amusement park slide.

During his tenure, his primary thrust (and that of the seminary) was an authoritative view of the Bible. This view was held in contrast to the emotionalism of the revival movements, the rationalism of higher criticism, and the heterodox teachings of various New religious movements that were emerging. The seminary held fast to the Reformed confessional tradition — that is, it faithfully followed the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Underpinning much of Warfield’s theology was his adherence to Calvinism as espoused by the Westminster Confession of Faith. It is sometimes forgotten that, in his battles against Modernism on the one hand, and against revivalism on the other, that he was simply expressing the Reformed faith when applied to certain situations.

It was Warfield’s belief that the 16th century Reformers, as well as the 17th century Confessional writers, were merely summarizing the content and application of scripture. New revelations, whether from the minds of celebrated scholars or popular revivalists, were therefore inconsistent with these confessional statements (and therefore inconsistent with Scripture). Throughout his ministry, Warfield contended that modern world events and thinking could never render such confessions obsolete. Such an attitude still prevails today in many Reformed churches and Christians who embrace Calvinism.

For additional resources, I’ve added links to some writings by B.B. Warfeld and a couple of free books offered by Monergism.com.

B.B. Warfield bibliography.

Free books

The Emotional Life of Our Lord

The Power of God Unto Salvation

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