Building on a rich legacy of faithfulness.
The story of Westminster began with a bold act of vision. This continues to be our spirit today.
The actions and convictions of our founding faculty laid the bedrock on which Westminster has been built. Even today, their legacy continues to be evident in who we are—from the structure of our curriculum to the distinctives that define us.
Over 90 years ago, our founders faced a choice: to stay in place or to boldly go.
The founding of Westminster began in 1929 when J. Gresham Machen—who had spent 23 years as an esteemed scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary—resigned from his Princeton post. Princeton was the preeminent Reformed seminary of the day, but liberalism had been gaining a foothold there.
Machen—and others who soon joined him—felt convicted to oppose theological compromise. Instead, these men chose obedience to the truth of the Bible and centrality of Christ. This came with a cost. Together they sacrificed jobs, status, legacy, and financial security. Machen was even stripped of ministry credentials by his church.
With humble faith in the surpassing power of Christ, Westminster was founded.
Amidst the upheaval of change and uncertainty of the future, these men persevered in faith. Just a month before the Great Crash of 1929, the founders opened the door to Westminster Theological Seminary. It held its first class on the first floor of someone’s home in Philadelphia. The school had few resources, no land, and no name recognition. It had every worldly reason to fail.
“But to Christ, despite all, we hold.” These words were the culmination of Machen’s first convocation address. He extolled the glories of Christ and the truth of Scripture as the cause of their new school. He reminded them that their pursuit meant going against growing trends in culture and even in seminary education.
The legacy of faithfulness of the founding faculty continues to embolden us.
Machen’s faculty and their successors have equipped generations of incisive scholars and bold preachers throughout the 20th century. The scholarship and teaching of Westminster has heavily shaped Christian leaders in America and abroad.
Today, our expert faculty train students with the insight, conviction, and ingenuity they inherited from our founders. Westminster's distinct, robust teaching method empowers students with exegetically grounded systematic theology, biblical counseling, presuppositional apologetics, redemptive-historical hermeneutics, Christ-centered preaching, and extensive historical theology.
meet some of westminster's founders
J. Gresham Machen
When Machen founded Westminster in 1929, he brought with him not only the Old Princeton tradition but confessional fidelity that has shaped our curriculum for over 90 years. Machen created a self-aware and integrated curriculum that is bound together by God’s holy, inspired, and inerrant Word as confessed in the Westminster Standards. Machen’s life's work was centered on the Gospel of God’s Son. His dying telegram reads, “I am so thankful for the active obedience of Christ, there is no hope without it.”
Cornelius Van Til
apologetics & systematic theology
Van Til brought covenantal apologetics to Westminster. He saw how Scripture was the rule of life in biblical studies and pastoral theology—and applied that same methodology to the art of apologetics. For Van Til, apologetics and evangelism were not at odds; the apologetic task was bringing the whole of Scripture to bear on the whole of life with evangelistic fervor.
John Murray was one of the first systematic theologians on faculty at Westminster, however, he is most widely known for his commentary on Romans. According to theologian and pastor John Piper, “no other commentary has surpassed Murray in theological depth and precision than Murray on the book of Romans.” Murray brought an exegetically grounded systematic theology to Westminster. This means that special revelation controls systematic theology, just as it does with biblical theology, pastoral theology, and apologetics.
Edmund Clowney taught practical theology and was Westminster’s first president. He instructed his students to preach Christ from all of Scripture as Jesus models in Luke 24. Clowney equipped his students to use their exegetical, biblical, and systematic theology tools to show that "Christ is the author, interpreter, and substance of the whole counsel of God."
As a student of Geerhardus Vos, Ned Stonehouse emphasized the organic connection of God's one unfolding story of redemption in Scripture. He showed that the best way to understand the New Testament is to understand the Old Testament. Students today are still required to learn both Greek and Hebrew exegesis as prerequisites for all biblical studies classes.
By God’s grace, our humble beginnings have resulted in great impact.
ALUMNI SERVE CHURCHES IN OVER 50 COUNTRIES
ALUMNI TEACH AS PROFESSORS AROUND THE WORLD
ALUMNI HAVE FOUNDED AND LED SCHOOLS AND SEMINARIES
BOOKS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED BY WESTMINSTER FACULTY
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