The President's Welcome
September 07, 2008
The President's Welcome at the 80th Convocation of Westminster Theological Seminary
Click here to listen to Dr. Peter A. Lillback's Address
At this momentous time of our 80th Convocation, we surely need rhetoric that is appropriate for such an auspicious occasion.
So let me borrow from one of America's greatest statesman and begin by saying, "Four score years ago, our theological fathers from Old Princeton brought forth upon this continent a new Seminary dedicated to the proposition that all theologies and all theologians are not created equal."
Believing that the Bible is true and that it is the written and infallible Word of God and so asserting that it is the only infallible rule for interpretation, these theological fathers, under Dr. Machen's leadership made the front pages of the newspapers of the day.
Eighty years later, we continue to make front page headlines as we stand for the Word of God. But this has not come without a price. Even our friends have said in those articles, "apart from the work of God, Westminster cannot survive."
Such concern is understandable given the major votes of our faculty and Board in recent months, and the dramatic financial impact these circumstances have had. And after all, the Scriptures say of human lives - and perhaps by implication of human organizations, that "the length of our lives are three score and ten, and if by reason of strength, four score."
Indeed, we are gathered today to consider whether a Seminary so conceived to stand for the truth of God's Word can long endure. So I am pleased to declare to you today, the reports of the death of Westminster, theologically, or financially, are greatly exaggerated! Indeed it is as though our Lord has heard the prayers of men and women and even, both "Dudes" and Discontented alumni, to "Save our Seminary"!
As we seek this year once again to live up to our motto, "The Whole Counsel of God" and to pray with Jesus, "Father, Sanctify them through your Word, your Word is Truth" (John 17:17), allow me to encourage you with the following good news.
In this instance, not the good news of the Gospel, but nonetheless good news indeed.
In the past few weeks we have:
Indeed we are grateful and humbled that our Lord has blessed WTS and continues to bless WTS' commitment to the Word of God as His inerrant truth. Remember that Westminster is not named for a cathedral but for our confession of faith ex-animo, to which we as a faculty take a vow.
The apostle Paul said it well, "we have believed, therefore we have spoken." In this context, let me add that it matters not to me how one may have voted on matters, or which documents one may have signed in conformity with conscience. Instead, I call on all of us to stand with our Board as these men seek to guide us with the theological commitments that will guide our Seminary in the years to come.
As we enter this historic year, in that spirit, I call on Professors, staff, and administrators to sit together and visit and encourage our students and one another in the great truths of the Gospel and of our Reformed Faith. In that spirit of unity, I ask you:
1. To rejoice in our continuing strong enrollment for there were predictions of dire consequences for our fall semester given our recent Theological Controversy.
May our consciences, with Luther be bound by the Word of God. May this be true for more than just Westminster's first 80 years or 160 years.
It is only as we remain committed to the truth of Scripture, that our Seminary can hope for eternal significance and a long and spiritually meaningful existence in the earthly kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Dr. Peter A. Lillback, President