The Theology of B. B. Warfield

Christianity did not come into the world to proclaim a new morality and, sweeping away all the supernatural props by which men were wont to support their trembling, guilt-stricken souls, to throw them back on their own strong right arms to conquer a standing before God for themselves. It came to proclaim the real sacrifice for sin which God had provided in order to supersede all the poor fumbling efforts which men had made and were making to provide a sacrifice for sin for themselves; and, planting men’s feet on this, to bid them go forward. It was in this sign that Christianity conquered, and it is in this sign alone that it continues to conquer. We may think what we will of such a religion. What cannot be denied is that Christianity is such a religion.

—Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
quoted by Fred G. Zaspel in the forthcoming book
The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary

Via: Tony Reinke

Only and Always for Christ’s Sake

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. . . . This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ doesn’t cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His ‘blood and righteousness’ alone that we can rest.

—B.B. Warfield
Quoted by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson in Counsel from the Cross

Via: Of First Importance

Warfield on the Folly of Darwinian Evolution

Aimless movement in time will produce an ordered world! You might as well suppose that if you stir up a mass of type with a stick long enough, the letters will be found to have arranged themselves in the order in which they stand on the printed pages of Dante’s Inferno. It will never happen — though you stir for an eternity. And the reason is that such effects do not happen, but are produced only by a cause adequate to them and directed to the end in view. . . . Assuredly, what chance cannot begin to produce in a moment, chance cannot complete the production of in an eternity. . . . What is needed is not time, but cause.

—Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield

Via: Michael Haykin

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield

Dr. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was one of the most brilliant theologians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was a staunch supporter of the Reformed Faith and Calvinism, and he wrote extensively on the divine inspiration of the Bible.

His wife Annie was nearly killed on their honeymoon and remained an invalid for the rest of her life. Dr. Warfield was passionately devoted to his wfe and was seldom away from her side for more than two hours at any time despite a rigorous teaching schedule. (See this entry for more information).

Here are some brief facts about his life:

  • Born at ‘Grasmere’ near Lexington, Kentucky on November 5, 1851
  • Grandson of the founder of the Theological Seminary at Danville, Kentucky
  • Leading authority on the Shorthorn breed of Cattle
  • Published many articles in “National Live Stock Journal”
  • Graduated with high honors from Princeton University in 1871
  • Licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Ebenezer of Kentucky in 1875
  • Graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1876
  • Married Annie Pearce Kinkead on August 3, 1876
  • Served as the Chair of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary for 34 years
  • Also known as “The Lion of Princeton”
  • Passed away in Princeton on February 16, 1921

Related: Wikipedia entry for Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield.

Related: Index of articles written by Dr. Warfield at Soli Deo Gloria.

Warfield’s Supernatural Patience

It takes supernatural power to be patient. That’s why Paul seems to go over the top in how he prays for our patience:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. (Colossians 1:11, ESV)

But that glorious might makes its way into our attitudes by means of promises that we believe. Like Romans 8:28.

Benjamin B. Warfield was a world-renowned theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary for almost 34 years until his death on February 16, 1921. Many people are aware of his famous books, like The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. But what most people don’t know is that in 1876, at the age of twenty-five, he married Annie Kinkead and took a honeymoon to Germany. During a fierce storm Annie was struck by lightning and permanently paralyzed. After caring for her for thirty-nine years Warfield laid her to rest in 1915. Because of her extraordinary needs, Warfield seldom left his home for more than two hours at a time during all those years of marriage. (Great Leaders of the Christian Church, 344)

Now here was a shattered dream. I recall saying to my wife the week before we married, “If we have a car accident on our honeymoon, and you are disfigured or paralyzed, I will keep my vows, ‘for better or for worse.'” But for Warfield it actually happened. She was never healed.

Unlike the story of Joseph who suffered but then became vice president of Egypt, there was no kingship in Egypt at the end of Warfield’s story—only the spectacular patience and faithfulness of one man to one woman through thirty-eight years of what was never planned—at least, not planned by man.

But when Warfield came to write his thoughts on Romans 8:28, he said,

The fundamental thought is the universal government of God. All that comes to you is under His controlling hand. The secondary thought is the favour of God to those that love Him. If He governs all, then nothing but good can befall those to whom He would do good…. Though we are too weak to help ourselves and too blind to ask for what we need, and can only groan in unformed longings, He is the author in us of these very longings…and He will so govern all things that we shall reap only good from all that befalls us. (Faith and Life, 204)

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

What I Believe

I believe that my one aim in life and death should be to glorify God and enjoy him forever; and that God teaches me how to glorify him in his holy Word, that is, the Bible, which he had given by the infallible inspiration of this Holy Spirit in order that I may certainly know what I am to believe concerning him and what duty he requires of me.

I believe that God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and incomparable in all that he is; one God but three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Sanctifier; in whose power and wisdom, righteousness, goodness and truth I may safely put my trust.

I believe that the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, are the work of God hands; and that all that he has made he directs and governs in all their actions; so that they fulfill the end for which they were created, and I who trust in him shall not be put to shame but may rest securely in the protection of his almighty love.

I believe that God created man after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, and entered into a covenant of life with him upon the sole condition of the obedience that was his due; so that it was by willfully sinning against God that man fell into the sin and misery in which I have been born.

I believe, that, being fallen in Adam, my first father, I am by nature a child of wrath, under the condemnation of God and corrupted in body and soul, prone to evil and liable to eternal death; from which dreadful state I cannot be delivered save through the unmerited grace of God my Savior.

I believe that God has not left the world to perish in its sin, but out of the great love wherewith he has loved it, has from all eternity graciously chosen unto himself a multitude which no man can number, to deliver them out of their sin and misery, and of them to build up again in the world his kingdom of righteousness; in which kingdom I may be assured I have my part, if I hold fast to Christ the Lord.

I believe that God has redeemed his people unto himself through Jesus Christ our Lord; who, though he was and ever continues to be the eternal Son of God, yet was born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that are under the law: I believe that he bore the penalty due to my sins in his own body on the tree, and fulfilled in his own person the obedience I owe to the righteousness of God, and now presents me to his Father as his purchased possession, to the praise of the glory of his grace forever; wherefore renouncing all merit of my own, I put all my trust only in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ my redeemer.

I believe that Jesus Christ my redeemer, who died for my offences was raised again for my justification, and ascended into the heavens, where he sits at the right hand of the Father Almighty, continually making intercession for his people, and governing the whole world as head over all things for his Church; so that I need fear no evil and may surely know that nothing can snatch me out of his hands and nothing can separate me from his love.

I believe that the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ is effectually applied to all his people by the Holy Spirit, who works faith in me and thereby unites me to Christ, renews me in the whole man after the image of God, and enables me more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness; until, this gracious work having been completed in me, I shall be received into glory; in which great hope abiding, I must ever strive to perfect holiness in the fear of God.

I believe that God requires of me, under the gospel, first of all, that, out of a true sense of my sin and misery and apprehension of his mercy in Christ, I should turn with grief and hatred away from sin and receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation; that, so being united to him, I may receive pardon for my sins and be accepted as righteous in God’s sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received by faith alone; and thus and thus only do I believe I may be received into the number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

I believe that, having been pardoned and accepted for Christ’s sake, it is further required of me that I walk in the Spirit whom he has purchased for me, and by whom love is shed abroad in my heart; fulfilling the obedience I owe to Christ my King; faithfully performing all the duties laid upon me by the holy law of God my heavenly Father; and ever reflecting in my life and conduct, the perfect example that has been set me by Christ Jesus my Leader, who has died for me and granted to me his Holy Spirit just that I may do the good works which God has afore prepared that I should walk in them.

I believe that God has established his Church in the world and endowed it with the ministry of the Word and the holy ordinances of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Prayer; in order that through these as means, the riches of his grace in the gospel may be made known to the world, and, by the blessing of Christ and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them, the benefits of redemption may be communicated to his people; wherefore also it is required of me that I attend on these means of grace with diligence, preparation, and prayer, so that through them I may be instructed and strengthened in faith, and in holiness of life and in love; and that I use my best endeavors to carry this gospel and convey these means of grace to the whole world.

I believe that as Jesus Christ has once come in grace, so also is he to come a second time in glory, to judge the world in righteousness and assign to each his eternal award; an I believe that if I die in Christ, my soul shall be at death made perfect in holiness and go home to the Lord; and when he shall return to his majesty I shall be raised in glory and made perfectly blesses in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity: encouraged by which blessed hope it is required of me willingly to take my part in suffering hardship here as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, being assured that if I die with him I shall also live with him, if I endure, I shall also reign with him. And to Him, my Redeemer, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, Three Persons, one God, be glory forever, world without end, Amen, and Amen.

—Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
A Brief and Untechnical Statement of the Reformed Faith