Fairchild’s “Elements Of Theology” -- By: John Milton Williams

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:201 (Jan 1894)
Article: Fairchild’s “Elements Of Theology”
Author: John Milton Williams


Fairchild’s “Elements Of Theology”1

Rev. John Milton Williams

The theological thought of the Calvinistic world has long been divided between two systems of doctrine, known respectively as Old School and New School,—the former emphasizing the doctrines naturally associated with foreordination; the latter, those associated with free will.

While the preponderance of opinion is largely and growingly on the side of the latter, the theological literature of our times, by some fatality, is largely committed to the former. For the last half-century the American press has been prolific of Calvinistic publications while very few have appeared setting forth New School views. Previous to the publication of the “Elements of Theology,” complaints were heard of the impossibility of finding a text-book of the New School type suited to the need of our theological schools; and a want was felt, by some minds deeply, of a treatise on systematic theology in better accord with the present condition of theological thought. In consequence many eyes were turned to Rev. J. H. Fairchild, D. D., late President of Oberlin College, as the fitting man to supply the need.

Dr. Fairchild, no one knowing him doubts, possesses a mind marvellously equipped for such an undertaking. He is admittedly one of the ripest of American scholars, and the ablest living exponent of the free-will system of theology. The announcement, therefore, that he had consented to give the

world the result of his half-century of patient study was hailed, especially by the large numbers who had enjoyed his instruction, with marked satisfaction. Great expectations were raised which the writer is safe in saying have been fully realized. I question whether any author of our age has made a more valuable contribution to theological science.

In this moderate sized volume, so creditable to its publisher, the author condenses a pretty complete outline of what is termed systematic theology. In no spirit of controversy, resorting in no instance to the argumentum ad invidiam, making but a sparing use of the opinions of others, in language clear, simple, but wonderfully compact and comprehensive, the author sets forth with characteristic modesty what seems to him the teachings of reason and the Word of God. The result is an invaluable repository of great thought, on the greatest themes which can engage human attention.

The design of this article is to present to readers who may not find it in their way to peruse the volume, some of the more important conclusions reached through so many years of patient thought by a mind so thor...

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