The Debate Over Inerrancy: Comparing B.B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell – Part 2: B.B. Warfield

If you are an Evangelical Christian (or you know any) then you know how divisive the debate over the inerrancy of scripture can be. However you might not know that every generation this battle comes up over and over again. In this blog series we will be taking a look at to iterations of this debate, then we will be comparing them. Hopefully there is something to learn from the past…..

In this post I will give a very brief sketch of Warfield’s life.

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The Men

I. B.B. Warfield

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield is one of the most influential theologians in the history of American Christianity. Although most lay people have no clue as to who he is or what he did, his theology has influenced the lives of countless American Christians; specifically his articulation of the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture.

B.B. Warfield was born on November 5, 1851 in Lexington, Kentucky to the Union officer and editor of the Farmer’s Home Journal[1] William Warfield and Mary Breckinridge Warfield, the daughter of a Princeton graduate and the founding president of a Presbyterian seminary in Kentucky.[2] Having growing up in a pious and intelligent family it was not unusual for Benjamin to develop an interest in mathematics and science, as well as a knack for theological studies. At the age of six he would have already completed the shorter catechism, and would have begun to study the larger catechism and memorize large amounts of Scripture.[3]

After graduating from College in 1871 with several awards and recognitions he went to study in Edinburgh and Heidelberg. Eventually he came back the United States, entered Princeton Seminary and began ministering in the Presbyterian Church. Eventually he decided to go back to Europe for further studies, this time in Leipzig, Germany. After his studies he returned to the U.S. to work at a Presbyterian church in Baltimore, but he was shortly contacted by Western Seminary to teach New Testament. He took the job and published many articles. Thus he began to be recognized as an apt scholar.  In 1887 Warfield was called to teach at Princeton Seminary as professor of didactic and polemic theology.[4] He taught at Princeton for thirty-four years and died in 1921.

 


[1] Mark Noll, “Introduction,” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.), 2.

[2] Fred G. Zaspel, The Theology of B.B. Warfield: a Systematic Summary (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010), 32.

[3] Zaspel, The Theology of B.B. Warfield: a Systematic Summary, 28.

[4] Mark Noll, “Introduction,” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, 3.

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