January 22: Millennial Views in the Early Days at Westminster

While making some bibliographical entries from the Westminster Theological Journal, I came across this tucked in the very back of one issue. Many might have missed it, hidden behind the “reviews of books”:

COMMUNICATION

[Editor’s Note: Vol. 53, no. 2 (Fall 1992) carried an article on J. Gresham Machen that included the following statement regarding the early faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary:

“Allan A. MacRae, professor of Old Testament, was a dispensationalist, while Paul Woolley, professor of church history, was a ‘historic premillennialist’ ” (p. 213, n. 9).

What follows is part of a communication from Dr. MacRae, dated January 21, 1992.]:

This misrepresentation shocked me greatly. I am certain that it would not have been made by any of my colleagues of those days, all of whom, to my great sorrow, have already passed on. I was a member of the Westminster faculty for eight years but until I read this article I never heard anyone say, or even suggest, that there was any difference between Mr. Woolley’s beliefs and my own, either during that time or later . . .

Like Paul Woolley, I agree entirely with the teachings of the Westminster standards. One of those attending the Westminster Assembly said that many of its members, including some of the most honored, were “expressed chiliasts”. . .

I cannot think of any valid ground for anyone to call me a “dispensationalist.” It is disturbing to have an imaginary difference between Paul Woolley and me stated as if it were a fact. I knew Dr. Machen very intimately, and served as a colleague with him and with Paul Woolley for eight years, without ever having the feeling that there was any important difference between them and me. Paul and I were known to be premillennialists, but I never heard that either of us was criticized on that account. We worked together in great harmony. It was only after Dr. Machen’s death that circumstances developed which made me decide to resign from the Westminster faculty.

[excerpted from The Westminster Theological Journal, 54.2 (Fall 1992): 404.]

Words to Live By:
The things we find to divide us!

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