Old Princeton: Benjamin B. Warfield – a Reminder Not to Reinvent the Wheel

B. B. Warfield is eloquent on the matter of preserving official ecclesiastical precision

“Too often churches are marked by the tread of mavericks racing over them along their eclectic joy rides that prove more eccentric than ecclesiastical.  Warfield cautions us to yield to our more trustworthy systematic theology.”

 

It is not uncommon for our church to receive protests for being careful adherents to the historic Westminster Standards; thus, I have developed a confessional apologetic that boils down to these modern proverbs: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”; and, “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel!”

B. B. Warfield is more eloquent on the matter of preserving official ecclesiastical precision:

The railroad is pushed across the continent by the simple process of laying each rail at the end of the line already laid.  The prerequisite of all progress is a clear discrimination which as frankly accepts the limitations set by the truth already discovered, as it rejects the false and the bad.  Construction is not destruction; neither is it the outcome of destruction.[1]

It is dangerous for a church to entrust her keys with novices who have not first passed a basic confessional driver’s test prepared by the fathers of the faith and administered by presently licensed instructors.  Warfield continues:

… the history of progress in every science and no less in theology, is a story of impulses given, corrected, and assimilated.  And when they have been once corrected and assimilated, these truths are to remain accepted … if the temple of God’s truth is ever to be completely built, we must not spend our efforts in digging at the foundations which have been securely laid in the distant past, but must rather give our best efforts to rounding the arches, carving the capitals, and fitting in the fretted roof.[2]

Too often churches are marked by the tread of mavericks racing over them along their eclectic joy rides that prove more eccentric than ecclesiastical.  Warfield cautions us to yield to our more trustworthy systematic theology (which the Westminster Standards are):

What if it is not ours to lay foundations?   Let us rejoice that that work has been done!  Happy are we if our God will permit us to bring a single capstone into place.  This fabric is not a house of cards to be built and blown down again a hundred times a day, as the amusement of our idle hours: it is a miracle of art to which all ages and lands bring their varied tribute.[3]

Read More