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Title: The justification controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary : the years 1974-1982
Author: Hewitson, Ian Alastair
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 6601
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of the Highlands and Islands
Date of Award: 2010
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This work examines the historical details and the theological implications of a controversy that took place at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The controversy began when Associate Professor Norman Shepherd’s teaching on James 2:14-21 came under intense scrutiny. He was dismissed from his teaching post despite repeated exonerations by the seminary’s board, faculty and by his own presbytery. He taught that the formula justification by faith alone does not appear in Scripture or in the Westminster Standards and that Luther’s insertion of the particle alone in the formula justification by faith alone is exegetically indefensible.  The view of Calvin, and not that of Luther, has been given confessional standing in the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Calvin’s independence from Luther is essential for understanding this controversy. Part One explicates the administrative and procedural history of the controversy, and it identifies the major points of disagreement.  It details the processes and approaches that were used, neglected, or abused: interpersonal communications, group discussions, committee meetings, etc.  These data are evidence that the board did not have “adequate grounds” to dismiss Shepherd. Part Two examines the theology and the integrity of a document titled “The Commission on Allegations Regarding Professor Shepherd: Summary of Allegations”.  This document is examined for three reasons: it represents the mature theological expression of Shepherd’s opponents; the commission’s hearing is the last forum in which Shepherd was examined by the seminary; and the judgement of the commission is a matter of record. Shepherd’s repeated exonerations by the seminary and by his presbytery affirm that his understanding of justification by faith, his exegesis of James 2, his teaching on baptism, and his understanding of the “covenant dynamic” do not represent departures from historic Reformed theology; his formulations are orthodox.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, Pa.)