Princeton’s Pastor: A Reconsideration Of Old Princeton’s View Of The Christian Ministry -- By: Allen Stanton
PRJ 4:2 (July 2012) p. 143
A Reconsideration Of Old Princeton’s
View Of The Christian Ministry
As preparations for the bicentennial celebration of Princeton Seminary indicate, the influence of Princeton Seminary upon the Protestant church can hardly be exaggerated.1 This has been sufficiently demonstrated from the resurgence in Princeton studies over the last three decades.2 After all, no other institution trained more clergy in the nineteenth century than Princeton.3 This clerical influence did not simply extend to Presbyterians; although Presbyterians founded the seminary, Princeton’s faculty also trained Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, and Episcopalians. From its earliest years, Princeton boasted a broad ecumenical draw.4 Princeton should be viewed as a
PRJ 4:2 (July 2012) p. 144
significant influence upon nineteenth-century pastoral ministry. It should not be seen as the only voice, but a considerable voice nonetheless. Such influence should, if only for a better understanding of her substantial voice in the nineteenth century, warrant our attention to Princeton’s concept of pastoral ministry. By listening to the voices of the past, the twenty-first century church might likewise profit.
The Founding Of Princeton Seminary
The origins of Princeton stemmed from Presbyterian pastors lamenting the deficient education rampant among their co-laborers. Samuel Miller, a New York City pastor since 1792, grew concerned about educational insufficiency amid aggressive episcopacy. High church priests, led by John Henry Hobart, began proselytizing defenseless Presbyterians, whose pastors proved unable to defend their flock against Hobart’s charge that their ministry lacked the validating stamp of “apostolic succession.”5 In 1805, Miller began intense correspondence with an influential Presbyterian named Ashbel Green proposing a seminary to remedy this deficiency. Green, the son of Presbyterian pastor Jacob Green, had been pastor of second Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia since 1787, and by the turn of the century had earned a reputation as a Presbyterian churchman.6
As Miller continued to persuade Ashbel Green to his cause, he likewise began acquiring a reputation in the Presbyterian Church. In 1803, he published an intellectual history entitled A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century and, by 1805, had earned two honorary doctorat...
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