Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014 at ETS

I had the privilege of hearing four excellent papers this afternoon related to Old Princeton.

The first was from Annette G. Aubert, titled "Old Princeton and Transatlantic Theology." She dealt with the German connection that Old Princeton had, as several of the Old Princeton faculty studied in Germany, and in the seminary journal introduced many of the German developments to American audiences. For this paper, she focused on the influence of E. W. Hengstenberg. This paper was related to her recently published book, The German Roots of Nineteenth-Century American Theology, which is reviewed here: Anyone who has read Hodge's systematic theology knows how often he references German theologians. This provides a corrective, and new areas of exploration, for those who think Old Princeton's sole connection to Europe was Scottish Common Sense realism. Aubert is a lecturer in church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

The second paper was by Bradley Gunlach of Trinity International University, titled "Adam and Eve at Old Princeton." After dealing to some extent with Hodge and Warfield, he focused on three lesser-known Princetonians: George McCloskey, C. W. Hodge, Jr., and William Brenton Greene. He outlined their struggles with trying to determine what views regarding evolution and the origins of Adam and Eve were allowable within an orthodox doctrine of Scripture. It is clear that while they were more sympathetic to evolution than some of their conservative Reformed descendants, there were yet bounds that could not be crossed. It was also suggested that many of today's Reformed folks who lean toward theistic evolution really find very little to no support from Old Princeton, contrary to what you might read.

The third paper, titled, "Charles Hodge on the Separation of Church and State," was by Gary Steward, a doctoral student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was a helpful presentation, showing some of the difficulties that Hodge had in trying to maintain a "spirituality of the church" doctrine along with a commitment to a Christian America.

The final paper, "Warfield's Doctrine of Scripture Revisited," was by Fred Zaspel, already well-known for his book The Theology of B. B. Warfield. It was a clear and helpful presentation of Warfield's doctrine, sprinkled with plenty of quotes. Zaspel also commented that while Warfield is perhaps best known today for his statement and defense of inerrancy, that was not his primary area of interest. While he published some 1,500 pages dealing with the doctrine, he published considerably more on Christology and soteriology.

All in all, it was a profitable afternoon.

Those interested in copies of the papers (only Steward distributed copies of his full paper) should contact the authors directly.