- Princeton Theology
- Princeton Theology is the general term used to encompass the work of several generations of 19th-century theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary. it was one of the most influential conservative schools of theology in America, remaining persistently loyal to the Westminster Confession and its covenant theology.Charles Hodge (1797-1878), one of the founders of Princeton Theology, defined his viewpoint in opposition to the prevailing teaching at Andover Theological Seminary. Andover accommodated Calvinism to American revivalism; it was also the center for the promotion of the Congregational Church's program that extended from world missions to domestic social reform. Hodge founded the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, the main voice of the Princeton faculty; starting in 1825, he edited it for more than 40 years. Hodge's colleagues included Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) and Samuel Miller (1769-1850).The first generation of Princeton theologians were gradually replaced by Joseph Addison Alexander (1809-59), James Wardell Alexander (1804-59), and William Green (1825-1900). The third generation included Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823-1921), Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921), Francis L. Paton (1843-1932), and J. Gresham Machen (1891-1937).The last generation of Princeton theologians attempted to turn back the tide of modernism that appeared to be engulfing the Presbyterian Church, and both Warfield and Machen emerged as defenders of the authority of the Bible against modernist biblical criticism. As early as 1881, Warfield and A. A. Hodge wrote a defense of the inerrancy of the Bible. Drawing on the work of Swiss professor Louis Gaussen (1790-1863), they also referred to the Bible's plenary inspiration and infallibility.By the 1930s, the Princeton themes had been largely exhausted and the majority of theologians had passed from the scene without being able to leave their chairs to like-minded replacements. The last to survive was J. Gresham Machen, who challenged the drift, as he saw it, in the Presbyterian Church in his 1923 volume, Christianity and Liberalism. As debate continued, Machen became identified with Fundamentalism. Following the reorganization of the faculty in 1929, he resigned his post at Princeton to help found Westminster Theological Seminary. Four years later, he founded the independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions to counter the liberalism in church mission policies. in reaction, in 1936 the Presbyterians defrocked him. He then led in the founding of the Presbyterian Church of America (now known as the orthodox Presbyterian Church), with which Westminster and the independent Board eventually associated.in its final stages, the Princeton Theology, which includes a form of postmillennialism, had to contend with dispensationalism and premillen-nialism, which found wide support among Fundamentalists. However, its ideas find a continuing response among post-World War ii Evangelicals, many of whom accepted Warfield's and Machen's explanations of biblical authority.Further reading:■ Darrell Jodock, "The Impact of Cultural Change: Princeton Theology and Scriptural Authority Today," Dialog (1983): 21-29■ Donald K. McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979)■ Mark A. Noll, ed., The Princeton Theology, 1812-1921 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1983)■ Ernest R. Sandeen. "The Princeton Theology: One Source of Biblical Literalism in American Protestantism," Church History 31 (1962): 307-21■ David F Wells, Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development (Grand Rapids Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1985).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.