November 17: W .G. T. Shedd [1820-1894]

A Long Name, With an Influential Theology System

William Greenough Thayer Shedd was born in June of 1820 of a distinguished New England lineage. His father was a minister, though it is not clear whether he was a Congregationalist or a Presbyterian pastor. (In early years, both groups were closely aligned in that region.) When William Shedd was eleven years old in 1831, his family moved to Lake Champlain, New York. This enabled William to later attend the University of Vermont, where a teacher introduced him to philosophy and literature. Graduating in 1839, he began to teach in New York City. It was here that William made a public profession of faith and began to attend a Presbyterian Church.

Sensing the call to the ministry, he attended Andover Theological Seminary. There he met and was influenced by Prof. Leonard Woods, who was a solid Old School Calvinist, albeit a Congregationalist. Graduating from Andover, Shedd became a pastor in the Congregational denomination in Vermont. Even though he was Old School Reformed in his thinking, he taught briefly at the New School Presbyterian institution of Auburn Theological Seminary, from 1852-1854.

When Unitarianism made such inroads among the Congregationalists, decimating the integrity of that association, Pastor and Professor Shedd made his switch to the Presbyterian distinctives of his younger years. Leaving Auburn, he was professor of church history at Andover from 1853-1862, and then for two years labored as co-pastor at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. His life’s primary work occurred while teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was to teach for eleven years, 1874-1892. Just before the end of his teaching ministry,  he wrote his most famous book on “Dogmatic Theology.”

And yes, he took a strong stand against the unbelief of his fellow teacher, Charles Briggs, and Shedd also argued against the revision of the Westminster Standards, which was also being suggested in those days. He died on November 17, 1894.

Words to live by:  When a pastor or professor has something truly substantive to say, and can summarize his thoughts on paper and in published works, that expression of the Gospel message can continue to serve as an influence for righteousness, well beyond the pastor’s immediate sphere and life. Some churches and educational institutions (may their tribe increase) are offering sabbaticals to their pastors and professors for exactly that reason, that is, that they may examine themselves pastorally or professionally in their calling, and set down in writing some lessons for the benefit of the church at large. Support such efforts, if you are a member of a church, or on a board for higher education. They are that beneficial to the wider church.

Tags: , , ,

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

77,528 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

%d bloggers like this: