When Alan MacRae resigned from the faculty of Westminster Seminary in 1937, the Student Association of the Seminary, led by Robert Nicholas, rushed to defend the school and its faculty against the claims of their former professor.
We, the students of Westminster Theological Seminary, regret the resignation of Dr. Allan A. MacRae, who has been one of our honored instructors. We are at a loss to understand the charges included in his letter of resignation, made public in the press. The following statement was unanimously approved at a called meeting of the student body.
1. Westminster Seminary has not been taken over by “a small alien group without American Presbyterian background.” All members of the faculty are in perfect accord with the Presbyterian faith as represented by Hodge, Warfield, and Machen; in fact, this was the reason for their appointment to the faculty.
2. Since the faculty has always been united in its teaching of the Presbyterian or Reformed Faith, it is absurd to charge that an “alien group” has tried to “enforce their own peculiar notions by crushing the broad evangelical point of view which in its earliest years made the Presbyterian Church in the USA a great Reformed church.” We emphatically assert that Westminster Seminary has consistently sought to teach only that which is set forth in the Word of God.
We wish to express publicly our high regard for the sound, biblical scholarship of the faculty. We rejoice in the humility with which they teach us, and in the freedom of interpretation they allow within the bounds of the “noble traditions which were once characteristic of the Presbyterian Church in the USA.”
3. The attack on “Modern Dispensationalism” was led by O. T. Allis, for many years a teacher at Princeton Seminary and one of the founders of Westminster, who could not possibly have belonged to the alleged “alien group.” This attack has never been intended as an attack on “Premillennnialism.”
4. We hope that no one will be misled by the assertion that “practically every member of the faculty has entered upon a vigorous defense of an asserted right to use intoxicating liquors—a defense occasioned by the fact that certain faculty members themselves use intoxicants.” We as students can honestly assert that the faculty has neither taught nor practised anything out of accord with the historic Presbyterian position as based on the Word of God.
5. Dr. MacRae claims that only the “Premillennial” view of the Second Coming of Christ is biblical. This claim it is his privilege to make, since historically there have been granted the right to hold different interpretations of the events connected with the Second Coming of Christ among Bible-believing Christians in the American Presbyterian tradition. However, we do object to his intimation that certain of his colleagues who hold to another view do not strive to expound the Scriptures in a faithful and scholarly fashion.
It is our earnest prayer that all who love the Word of God and His Kingdom will give heed to this statement, and that the witness of Westminster Seminary may continue faithful to its foundation principles and may rise to new heights of influence, all to the honor and glory of God.
Robert Nicholas, President of the Student Association
Edw. Heerema, Chm, Formulating Comm.
April 26, 1937
Picture: Robert Nicholas (center) and Cornelius Van Til (left) among those at a Phil-mont Christian Academy banquet (1960s).