About twenty years ago, when George Marsden came out with his history of Fuller Seminary, Reforming Fundamentalism (1987), faculty, administrators, and board members at Westminster Seminary invited the author to talk to them about what the history of FTS might teach them. The general verdict of many who participated in that seminar with Marsden was that Fullerâ€™s break with its founding facultyâ€™s mission â€“ especially on the doctrine of inerrancy â€“ could not happen at WTS.
Sure, Fuller like Westminster had tried to replicate Old Princetonâ€™s commitments to historic Protestantism and first-rate scholarship. But FTS received the Princeton tradition more awkwardly than WTS. Even if Westminster, like Fuller, was a parachurch institution and so free from the oversight of a governing church, WTS was so closely tied to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church â€“ all its faculty were OP ministers â€“ that Westminster is still often confused as the seminary of the OPC. In addition, WTS tried to perpetuate Old Princetonâ€™s pursuit of polemical theology as part of its mission to maintain and defend the Reformed faith; Fuller by contrast hoped to achieve a kinder, gentler Old Princeton as part of its effort to wean fundamentalism from meanness. (Fullerâ€™s kindness would eventually take the form of concluding that Machen too was mean and his polemics unnecessary.) Furthermore, Westminsterâ€™s faculty subscribed the Westminster Standards in their entirety â€“ maybe the name was important, ya think? Fuller could only embrace a modified Calvinism through its own statement of faith. These differences led to the supposition that FTS could not happen to WTS.
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