Guess which of the following are honored at Westminster Theological Seminary with a day off. You may select more than one of course. (Note: you may regard one of the selections as a joke.)
- George Washington
- Gresham Machen
- Stonewall Jackson
- John Calvin
- Cornelius van Til
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Briefly, let’s consider why each of these would merit such an honor.
George Washington was the heroic founder of our country. Gresham Machen was the heroic founder of Westminster Seminary. Stonewall Jackson was a great example of a pious Presbyterian and man of action. Calvin, of course, is the patriarch of the church and theology that Westminster is dedicated to promulgating. Cornelius van Til is the only original faculty member whose outlook is required to be adopted by all subsequent faculty. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the joke — ha ha, just trying to make sure you’re not skimming too fast.
Ready to guess?
While you are guessing, allow me to distract you with a couple tangents. It may seem like changing the subject, but it is not.
Consider one of the academic policies taken so seriously that it is described on the web page: the use of plagiarism. Plagiarism is not tolerated at WTS. Several professors take the matter so seriously, I can testify, that they distribute supplemental material on it with their course syllabus.
A bit of historical background on WTS might also be helpful. The founder, Gresham Machen, was a nationally–known leader of fundamentalism against liberal Christianity in the 1920’s. He wrote a book, “Christianity and Liberalism” that is still in print and still studied. The argument of the book is that Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all: it is a different and alien religion.
Enough stage-setting. Have you guessed yet?
Of course the answer is that (1) only one of the names listed is honored with a day off and (2) that one is, of course, the “joke”: Martin Luther King, Jr.
They honor a man whose rank plagiarism would lead to expulsion from WTS itself, and rescission of any degrees granted.
They honor a man whose chronic and unrepentant fornication would render him unfit to be ordained in the denominations served by WTS grads. Nay, if Martin Luther King, Jr. would return from the dead, WTS would not rationally dare to allow him to stay over in their coed dorms!
They honor a man resistance to whose theology was the very reason for the formation of WTS. Actually that doesn’t capture it: the move was largely anticipatory, and even to this day Princeton Seminary’s theology is not uniformly as bad as Martin Luther King’s.
WTS must believe in racial solidarity. They must believe that guilt and atonement are racial matters – and by that, I don’t mean the Adamic race; I mean the white race. Martin Luther King, Jr. must be functioning as the substanceless symbol of a new atonement; one that Machen did not know about.
Brothers, I beseech you: reconsider this insanity. At the time King-day was instituted, there may have been a partial excuse. But too much is known now. Too much is known. It is shameful. Back out of your mistake!