Warfield’s Pen, Warfield’s Compassion (Riddlebarger)

The Lion of Princeton: B.B. Warfield as Apologist and Theologian
The Lion of Princeton by Kim Riddlebarger

I just started reading “The Lion of Princeton” by Kim Riddlebarger.  It’s a biography of B. B. Warfield with a special emphasis on his theology and apologetics.  So far I’m really enjoying it.  Today I read about Warfield’s wife Annie, who suffered from some sort of problem with her nervous system.  As the years went by, she became more and more of an invalid.  Although he spent much time teaching and writing, Warfield faithfully stuck by Annie’s side to the end of her life, providing her with care and comfort:

Warfield’s remarkable literary output is due greatly to the frail condition of his wife and his amazing devotion to her. O. T. Allis recalls, “I used to see them walking together and the gentleness of his manner was striking proof of the loving care with which he surrounded her. They had no children. During the years spent at Princeton, he rarely, if ever, was absent for any length of time.”  J. Gresham Machen remembers Mrs. Warfield as a brilliant woman to whom Dr. Warfield would read several hours each day. During his own student days Machen dimly recalled seeing Mrs. Warfield in her yard, but notes that she had been long since bed-ridden. Dr. Warfield almost never ventured away from her side for more than two hours at a time. In fact, he left the confines of Princeton only one time during a 10-year period—for a trip designed to alleviate his wife’s suffering, which ultimately failed. As Colin Brown points out, Warfield’s lectures on the cessation of the charismata, given at Columbia Theological Seminary in South Carolina shortly after her death, are quite remarkable and demonstrate “a certain poignancy [which] attaches itself to Warfield’s work in view of the debilitating illness of his wife throughout their married life.” Although Warfield may have been known as a tenacious fighter, the compassion he directed toward his wife demonstrates his deep capacity for tenderness and caring.

(Riddlebarger, ch. 1)

One of the marks of a good Christian theologian is that his life echoes the theology he teaches.  Warfield’s loving care of his wife was one way he “lived out” the theology he taught.  As others have said, theology is not just theoretical, it is also very practical.  

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015