Featured Shepherd and the faculty of WTS?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by jwright82, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I know that Van Til approved of Shepherd, but everything I've read says that he was old and his mind was slipping. Where did the rest of the faculty stand? I believe Dr Knudsen disagreed with him.
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

  4. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks BTW.
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    It's a transcript, not audio.
  6. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    You’ll have to provide your own screams. BYOS.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I actually like the Courier Font. Most people don't, though.
  8. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Freshman

    What verse is Van Til referencing here: "Christ said, 'Ye must strike hard. And the world will hate you.'"

    They went for lunch after one page?!
  9. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Raymond Dillard, John Frame, Richard Gaffin, Jr., Cornelius Van Til, and Paul Woolley all signed an initial report of WTS faculty indicating support for Shepherd and belief in his orthodoxy. Edmund Clowney also supported him. Later on, Robert Strimple, Vern Poythress (despite initially raising concerns about the effects, if not the matter, of Shepherd's formulations), Claire Davis, and Harvey Conn joined in what was a majority report of the faculty in support of Shepherd.

    Some of the above later modified their assessment of Shepherd, but at the time of the initial controversy they held Shepherd's position as orthodox.

    W. Robert Godfrey, Philip Hughes, Arthur Kuschke, Robert Knudsen, C. John Miller, and O. Palmer Robertson all opposed Shepherd. Stanford Reid was a board member at the time and one of the foremost opponents of Shepherd. Interestingly enough, Knudsen was engaged in a controversy not long before for being Dooyeweerdian.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    For someone who's mostly unknown today, few realize that there were many Dooyeweerdian controversies, which led to men as disparate as John Frame and Ronald Nash writing rebuttals to Dooyeweerd. Some of Frame's reviews of Dooyeweerdian literature are almost funny.
  11. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sort of like the theonomy observation in the other thread, it is very interesting how quickly Dooyeweerdianism seems to have nearly vanished from the Reformed landscape. I suppose those aspects of Dooyeweerdianism which were most appealing to neo-Calvinists lived on in Van Til.
  12. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Freshman

    Where would one find a good account of the Shepherd controversy?
  13. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    The RCUS has a good synopsis in its report on the controversy:

    Ian Hewitson wrote a doctoral dissertation on the controversy that goes into more detail. The historical narrative is useful, but his own conclusions are far too favorable to Shepherd, especially viewed in retrospect with many of Shepherd's original supporters later coming to judge his views far more critically. He published it as a book but I've had a pdf copy for some time, so it may be somewhere online too.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  14. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Yeah I have his book on the controversy. Your assessment is dead on. Also it doesn't take into account what Shepherd later wrote and taught. Listening to his lectures he completely was teaching what his critics said he was teaching.
  15. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Clowney eventually spoke out against.
  16. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Against what? What people said about Van Til?
  17. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Against Shepherd if I am not mistaken...
  18. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Stormin Norman
  19. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I like that
  20. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    The eventual Clowney position paper was posted here. You can dig for it. I don't have time or much interest any more. ( He was President of WTS).

    The conclusion was that Shepherd was within the confessional bounds on justification by faith. Frankly his detractors sounded like they didn't think James was in the canon and Pauline exhortations to obedience can be ignored. I forget who at this point, but some men ( confessional) said the ones bringing charges sounded antinomian. Shepherd was trying hard to deal with some inerrant inspired scripture in a biblical and confessional way when it comes to the place of obedience and good works.

    However, as Clowney so well lays out the matter, Shepherd ends up being not confessional on Perseverance of the saints. He is a true Christian and brother but because WTS holds to TULIP he was no longer able to be a teacher there. It wasn't eventually about justification, the main problem was about perseverance.

    Having said that, a good seminary teacher must be crystal clear with his high IQ sharp young zealous students who are going to analyze and pick apart every word of every lecture. And his attempts to put together justification and good works and obedience could have been articulated better. He passed the eventual test on justification under examination, but he could have taught things more carefully.

    You need to read the Clowney report before you swallow the story that he was outside confessional bounds on justifcation. Perseverance was a different matter though.

    The idea that the many supporters listed above were wrong is absurd. It was complex and got very heated and there WERE personality conflicts going on as well. ( see John Frame's book with nasty remarks on the "Escondido cult" ie WSC, to get a real feel for how those conflicts go).
  21. Mark Hettler

    Mark Hettler Puritan Board Freshman

    I was a student at WTS in the late 70's. I was strongly supportive of Shepherd at the time, and for decades afterwards. I routinely described him as one of the two main influences on my thinking, along with Gaffin. I got into more arguments than I can count, attempting to correct people's mischaracterizations of his thinking.

    Ironically (given its supportive perspective on Shepherd), it was Hewitson's book that finally convinced me, not so much of his heterodoxy, but that WTS was right to dismiss him. While I still don't believe that Shepherd taught works righteousness, Hewitson provided multiple examples of students coming away from Shepherd's classes not only believing they had been taught works righteousness but having become convinced of it themselves. I concluded that while Shepherd may not have been a heretic, at best he had poor communication skills, and was not someone the church should want to have training up the next generation of ministers of the Gospel.
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  22. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    More than just Perseverance....

  23. UKPuritan40

    UKPuritan40 Puritan Board Freshman

    This doesn't address the issues of which professors fell where, in this (and given Shepherd's later writings which further clarify, if that is a word that could be used, his views, one can only assume that a number of the professors who were one way then, may be another way, or a more nuanced way, today, assuming they are alive and read his most recent works) but I myself found the audio on Sermon Audio of Cornelius Venema, who is/was both a friend and critic of Shepherd, most helpful.

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