J. G. Princell And The Waldenströmian View Of The Atonement -- By: David M. Gustafson

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 20:2 (Fall 1999)
Article: J. G. Princell And The Waldenströmian View Of The Atonement
Author: David M. Gustafson


J. G. Princell And The Waldenströmian View Of The Atonement

David M. Gustafson

David M. Gustafson is Associate Pastor at Homewood Evangelical Free Church in Moline, Illinois.

J. G. Princell was a prominent figure in the Mission Friends movement in America and the virtual founder of the branch known as the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission.1 He was a forceful preacher, editor, and professor whose view of Christ’s atonement forced him from the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Synod. He eventually became headmaster of the Swedish Bible Institute, the beginning of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.2

The controversy over the Waldenströmian view of the atonement greatly affected the Swedish-American religious community. This was a period of theological conflict, described in most histories of the Augustana Lutheran, Mission Covenant, and Evangelical Free churches. Princell’s adoption of the Waldenströmian view had an impact on the Evangelical Free Church in particular and is still reflected in the statement of faith, as will be shown.

I. Princell’s Background

Johan Gustaf Gummesson was born in Tolg, Småland, Sweden, on September 18, 1845.3 He came with his parents to America in July, 1856. After a year and three months in Chicago, the family moved to Princeton, Illinois, where they lived for eight years. At seventeen years of age, he entered Augustana Theological Seminary in

Chicago. He changed his name to “Princell” at this time in honor of his hometown Princeton, because he had fond memories of his community and church.4 Shortly after his arrival in Chicago he began to teach a class of boys in the Sunday School of the Immanuel Lutheran Church, where Pastor Erland Carlsson became “his father-like friend.”5

When Augustana Theological Seminary moved to Paxton, Illinois, in 1863, Princell continued his studies there. In 1867 he returned to Chicago and worked at the newspaper Hemlandet and the Lutheran Publication Society, becoming associate editor in 1869. He served as Sunday School superintendent at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, a center for several pietistic Lutherans known as Mission Friends. He attended meetings of Mission Friends in Chicago and Princeton.6

In the fall of 1869, Princell took up studies at the University of Chicago. In the fall of 1...

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