Did you know that two seminaries merged to form Pittsburgh Theological Seminary? Today, Stephen Nichols tells us about several faculty members who taught at these Pittsburgh seminaries through the years.
Welcome back to another episode of 5 Minutes in Church History. I have so been enjoying my time in Pittsburgh being on location that I thought, let’s do one more episode. This is on Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, which is actually a merger of two seminaries that stretch way back to the end of the seventeen hundreds. The first was Pittsburgh Xenia Theological Seminary, which started in 1792. It started with six students and one professor. The other is Western Theological Seminary. It started from two academies, one established in 1785 and the other in 1787. They would eventually merge and form Western Theological Seminary. These academies were Log Colleges modeled after that first Log College established by the tenants over on the eastern side of Pennsylvania. And as you know, the law college became the College of New Jersey, which became Princeton University, and then also later Princeton Theological Seminary. Well, meanwhile, back in Pennsylvania, we’ve got Western Theological Seminary so called because as you remember, in the 1780s, this was the frontier of these United States.
And so, here we are in Pittsburgh and we are on the West. Some of the fascinating faculty at Western Seminary include B.B. Warfield and A.A. Hodge. Now we associate them with Princeton, but both of them got their start here. Hodge, of course, is the son of Charles Hodge. He’s named for Archibald Alexander, that great Princeton Seminary, pioneering professor who was Hodge’s professor, his father’s professor and mentor. And so, Charles named his son after him, Archibald Alexander Hodge. Hodge was joined here by B.B. Warfield and together in 1881, they published their article on inspiration. This was the time of the challenge of inspiration and eventually inerrancy, not only in the seminaries and in the Presbyterian church, but in the other seminaries and in the denominations across America, and even across the Atlantic in Europe and in the British Isles. And this article published in 1881 is a very crucial, a very monumental short piece in the history of theology, in the defense of the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy, and was written here in Pittsburgh.
A 20th century faculty member is John Gerstner. He was at Pittsburgh Xenia and he was part of the merger. So, he’s a professor of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, one of the very, very few conservatives at Princeton. He was a stalwart, convictional and confessional theologian of the 20th century. And one of his star pupils at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was of course, R.C. Sproul. R.C. Sproul was a son of Pittsburgh, his mother’s family, the Yardis were from the other side of the Allegheny River to the north, and they were immigrants from Croatia. The Sprouls were on the Monongahela River side of Pittsburgh, and they immigrated from county Donegal. It was R.C. who once said, “you can take the man out of Pittsburgh, but you can’t take Pittsburgh out of the man.” He loved the Berg. He was an early Pirates and Steelers fan, seeing them play at the old Forbes field, and also was a student at Princeton Theological Seminary.
One of his classmates was the famous Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. And so, we've got that moment from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, but one of the folks we don't often hear about is a professor who was here briefly from 1883 to 1900, and his name was Robert Dick Wilson. He was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, not too far from Pittsburgh, just to the east. And he would go on to be a brilliant scholar of Old Testament and of languages. He taught here at Western Theological Seminary for those seven years. And then he was a professor at Princeton, and then he was briefly a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary. But we will spend time discussing the life of Robert Dick Wilson on next week's installment of 5 Minutes in Church History. Well, that's another Pittsburgh installment. And I'm Steve Nichols and thanks for being my neighbor on 5 Minutes in Church History.