Introduction -- By: Anonymous
It is a great honor to present this issue of the Westminster Theological Journal to Robert D. Knudsen. Professor Emeritus since July of 1995, Dr. Knudsen has taught regularly in the Apologetics Department at Westminster Theological Seminary since 1958. He graduated from the institution in 1947, and went on to obtain the S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary (New York) in 1952, and the Ph.D. from the Free University of Amsterdam in 1958.
While he has seen a good many changes in the world and at the academy since his student days, his own basic commitments were established early in his career, and he never departed from them. They include, at the foundation, the Reformed Faith, with its espousal of a Good and Sovereign God, the Creator of all things, and Redemption in Jesus Christ, fully applied by the Holy Spirit. They also include Reformational Philosophy, which he began to learn under Cornelius Van Til, his own mentor, and more deeply embraced during his years in Amsterdam. They further include his strong view of the family, and of Christian education for covenant children. Finally, they include the church, in its Presbyterian expression, along with the need to reach the unsaved, and a special concern for the poor and destitute.
Professor Knudsen specializes in the relation of Reformed Apologetics to various philosophies. On the one hand, he is a leading expert in the Amsterdam perspective of Stoker, Vollenhoven, and Dooyeweerd. A frequent contributor to Philosophia Reformata and to this Journal, his scholar’s probe explores ideas from the standpoint of the transcendental method. On the other hand, he has developed specific interests in the Existentialists, such as Karl Jaspers and Nikolai Berdyaev, and in the contemporary theologians, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and many others. He is well-versed in adjunct subjects to apologetics, such as the philosophy of history, the theological method of the Reformation, and questions of social action.
Professor Knudsen has not always endorsed the majority view on issues that have arisen at the Seminary. His conscience is equally ardent on matters small or large. At one end of the spectrum, for example, he feels strongly that the studies used by the faculty on campus should not be called “offices,” because that label downplays the scholar’s calling. At the other end, he was deeply involved in the controversies over Herman Dooyeweerd in the 1970s, and over justification in the 1980s. A sensitive man, he nonetheless values principle over popularity.
Two other convictions need to be mentioned. One is that the task of a seminary is not to be primarily practical. Professor Knudsen feels strongly
WTJ 58:1 (Spring 1996) iv
that a student’s few years in theological education should be spent acqui...
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