Friday, July 06, 2007

Against letting standards slip

Fathers and brothers: It is without doubt a very wise provision by which, in institutions such as this, an inaugural address is made a part of the ceremony of induction into the professorship. Only by the adoption of some such method could it be possible for you, as the guardians of this institution, responsible for the principles here inculcated, to give each newly called teacher an opportunity to publicly declare the sense in which he accepts your faith and signs your standards.

Eminently desirable at all times, this seems particularly so now, when a certain looseness of belief (inevitable parent of looseness in practice) seems to have invaded portions of the Church of Christ--not leaving even its ministry unaffected--when there may be some reason to fear that "enlightened clerical gentlemen may sometimes fail to look upon subscription to creeds as our covenanting forefathers looked upon the act of putting their names to theological documents, and as mercantile gentlemen still look upon endorsements of bills."

I declare that I sign these standards not as a necessary form which must be submitted to, but gladly and willingly as the expression of a personal and cherished conviction; and, further, that the system taught in these symbols is the system which will be drawn out of the Scriptures in the prosecution of the teaching to which you have called me--not, indeed, because commencing with that system the Scriptures can be made to teach it, but because commencing with the Scriptures I cannot make them teach anything else.

B. B. Warfield, inaugural address at Western Theological Seminary 1879

Quoted in David Calhoun, Princeton Seminary: The Majestic Testimony 1869-1929, p. 118-9

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