B.B. Warfield - Defender of God's Word


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B.B. Warfield playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=FD0C7CA1B7D52171 Thank you to http://reformedaudio.org/ for use of this audio. Please visit their website for many other classic Christian works. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (November 5, 1851 -- February 16, 1921) was professor of theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. Some conservative Presbyterians consider him to be the last of the great Princeton theologians before the split in 1929 that formed Westminster Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was born at 'Grasmere' near Lexington, Kentucky, one hundred and fifty years ago this year on 5th November 1851. He died in February 1921 12 weeks after the death of Abraham Kuyper and 22 weeks before the death of Herman Bavinck. The three were devoted friends. Farming was in Warfield's blood. He loved horses, admiring the racehorse and studying their blood-lines, but his speciality was short-horn cattle. He maintained his interest in them throughout his life being one of the leading authorities on the breed in the world, writing many articles on that subject in the 1880s in the "National Live Stock Journal". The articles are found in one of his scrap-books in the Princeton Seminary library. The Warfield family were notable in America. One distant niece was Wallis Warfield, born in Maryland on June 19 1896. Through her second husband she became Wallis Simpson. Her third husband was the King of England and for her hand in marriage he abdicated and they became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. B.B.Warfield married his wife Annie in 1876 and they left for honeymoon in Germany. He was also studying at Leipzig at that time. On a walking trip in the Harz mountains they were overtaken by a terrible thunderstorm. It was a shattering experience for Mrs Warfield from which she never recovered. She was more or less an invalid for the rest of her life. They had no children and Warfield cared for Annie all her days. The students would see them walking slowly together about the Seminary campus. BBW was always gentle and caring with her. He could never leave her for very long. This was one of the reasons he was rarely present at church courts or heard speaking from the floor of his presbytery. He was not outstanding in debate. His time was spent with his beloved Annie. But he was a champion of confessional Christianity and despised any truce bought at the price of compromise. A lady once met him during the week of the General Assembly. "Dr Warfield, I hear that there is gong to be trouble at the Assembly. Do let us pray for peace." "I am praying," replied BBW, "that if they do not do what is right, there may be a mighty battle." When he and Dr Machen were talking about their denomination at the end of BBW's life Machen expressed the opinion that there might be a split. "No. You can't split rotten wood," said BBW. When BBW was twenty-one years of age he acknowledged the paramount claims of God upon him and entered Princeton Seminary to train for the ministry. He was taught by Charles Hodge. He lectured for nine years at a Seminary in Pennsylvania, but in 1887 he succeeded A.A.Hodge as a professor of theology at Princeton which post he occupied until his death, that is, for over 33 years. Ten large volumes of his collected writings were published in the 1920s, and two volumes of his shorter writings in the 1960s. All of those books plus volumes of his sermons are in print today and are read more widely than those articles were read during his life-time. His favourite approach was a kind of quiz, a sort of Socratic dialogue, in which by question and answer he tested the student's knowledge of the assigned reading and his understanding of it. His style was conversational. Sometimes there was a gleam in his eye and a touch of humour. Warfield preached vividly. He once illustrated the difference between fate and providence telling the story of a little Dutch boy disobeying his father and playing near to a windmill. He went too close and suddenly found himself picked up from the ground hanging upside down and a series of blows were being rained down upon him. What horror, caught into the machine! He was twisted through the air; his end had come. But then he opened his eyes and discovered it was not the sail of the windmill that had taken him up but his own father, and he was receiving the threatened punishment for his own disobedience. He wept, not with the pain but with relief and joy. He learned in that moment the difference between falling into the grinding wheels of a machine and into the loving hands of a father. That is the difference between fate and predestination.