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Edward Freer Hills (1912-1981)

Forgotten Pilgrim of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Introductory Tribute

Because of their history, it is customary for members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to identify themselves as a “pilgrim” people [1] whose experience has in some ways been analogous to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and most certainly that of the New Testament “pilgrims” and travelers. [2]

They also identify with their theological fathers in the faith such as J. Gresham Machen who felt a sense of being “disinherited” [3], Geerhardus Vos who, “was a sojourner and a pilgrim living between two worlds” [4], and they also point to Cornelius Van Til as one who “was a pilgrim for over eighty years in the new world” [5].

While many Orthodox Presbyterians make much of this motif of a pilgrim people, it seems that most of them have never heard of another disinherited pilgrim who was their theological brother: Rev. Dr. Edward Freer Hills (1912-1981); but yet there he is nestled within the pages of the OPC’s ministerial register. Who was he?

Edward F. Hills studied under such OPC pillars as Dr. Machen, Dr. Van Til, Professor Murray, and Dr. Stonehouse (a time when giants roamed the earth) and he graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary. He went on to become a credentialed text critic who would eventually hold four degrees, two of which were from Ivy League institutions (Yale and Harvard), including a doctorate, and with graduate studies at the University of Chicago. He remained a dyed in the wool Van Tillian until his dying day and thus fought the good fight as one of Machen’s Warrior Children [6].

With the fighting spirit of Machen and the presuppositional anti-neutrality of Van Til, Dr. Hills entered the world of New Testament textual criticism and applied the fruit of the thought of Das and Kees (the affectionate names of Machen and Van Til, respectively) to textual criticism as none had ever done before (or have since).

After short professorships, Dr. Hills would go on to pastor a Christian Reformed Church in Iowa. He lamented the fact that he had no fair hearing among many of his Reformed brethren; but he did receive a hearing from other brothers (including men within the Lutheran, Reformed, and Baptist traditions). As many in the OPC would pride themselves as being neither fundamentalist, nor modernist; so Dr. Hills was neither of these, he was a Confessional Presbyterian.

Yet we never hear about the man. Why? Because his view of the New Testament was even more old school than that of Das and Kees. His view was simply not in vogue then and it is most certainly not in vogue now.

Dr. Hills wrote two scholarly books, one called Text and Time (also published under the name The King James Version Defended, an unfortunate misnomer) and Believing Bible Study. In both books, he applies the logic of faith to many topics, including philosophy, theology, and especially text criticism.

In the mémoire below, Dr. Hills reflects upon how he arrived at his enduringly unpopular conviction: that using the Textus Receptus is the most theologically and intellectually consistent viewpoint for Reformed Christians.

His conviction began by observing how Dr. B. B. Warfield departed from the view of the post-reformation dogmaticians when it came to identifying the authentic text of the Greek New Testament. Many of us revere Warfield, and so we should. Warfield was a great gift to the church and many of us regularly read and consult him with much profit.

However, some are starting to see that Warfield brought about something of a Copernican revolution in New Testament studies; analogous to the Copernican revolution brought about in Apologetics by Van Til.

Many Christians (who have not even read Warfield’s writings) echo his opinions about the “inerrancy of the autographs,” but do not realize that the doctrine they are endorsing is entirely different than the Confessional Reformed view of the 16th and 17th centuries.

We live in extraordinary times when we have access to works like Volume 2 of Richard Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics [on Holy Scripture], which substantiates the claim that Dr. Hills’ view of the New Testament was more in line with the Reformed dogmaticians than the view of Warfield. Why does this matter?

Changes are coming to the New Testament through a quiet renaissance in textual criticism called the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM). These changes will make all the modern Bibles presently on the market into museum pieces after 2030 when a new wave of translations, study Bibles, and commentaries, and advertising campaigns arise to sell new translations to every niche of evangelical society.

Some dizzied saints are deciding to get off the ever-changing Bible publishing merry-go-round; noting that seeking the old paths is more of a Christian virtue than seeking novelty.

As we wait to see exactly what changes will be coming to the New Testament after 2030, we do well to ask ourselves in this decade (the roaring 20’s redivivus?) whether the work of Dr. Hills may be more relevant than at any time before. We are convinced that it is.

Dr. Hills ended up walking alone, as most pilgrims do, but he did leave a word of encouragement to those who dare to question the prevailing Warfieldian paradigm within the Reformed world when it comes to textual criticism: namely, Reasoned Eclecticism.

Here, we publish the dying mémoire of Dr. Hills with the kind permission of his daughters: Mary Mueller, Anne Brown, and Margie Kennedy. Anne recollects that it was her great privilege to receive this paper from her father on Christmas Eve, only two days before he entered into his final pilgrim rest in 1981.

Two of Dr. Machen and Hills’ warrior children,

Brett Mahlen (Orland Park, IL)
Christian McShaffrey (Reedsburg, WI)

References

1. History for a Pilgrim People, Charles G. Dennison.

2. A Sabbath Rest Still Awaits the People of God, Richard B. Gaffin Jr. in Pressing Toward the Mark, pages 37-38.

3. History for a Pilgrim People, page 8.

4. The Letters of Geerhardus Vos, edited by James T. Dennison Jr., pages 84-85.

5. Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman, John R. Muether, page 228.

6. See the article by the same name by John Frame, which moniker was not intended to become a compliment, though it has become one nonetheless.

Dr. Hills’ Mémoire

New Testament Textual Criticism

at Westminster 1935-1938

I have been interested in the problem of New Testament textual criticism since my high school days in the 1920s. At that time, I began to read the commentaries of Charles Hodge, books that were a part of my Presbyterian heritage. I noticed that Hodge would sometimes mention variant readings, most however, just to show that he was knowledgeable, for he rarely departed from “the common text” (Textus Receptus) and “our English version” (King James).

Even so, my curiosity was roused, so that in 1931, when I was a sophomore at Yale University I took down C. R. Gregory’s Canon and Text of the New Testament, from a library shelf and began to read. I was dismayed at the large number of verses that, according to Gregory and his teachers Westcott and Hort, must be rejected from the Word of God. Nor was I much comforted by Gregory’s assurances that the necessary damage had been done and the rest of the text had been placed on an unassailable basis.

How could I be sure of this? It seemed to me that the only way to gain assurance on this point was to go to Westminster Seminary and study the question under the tutelage of Dr. Machen, who preached in New Haven rather frequently in those days, talking to Yale students at least twice.

Dr. B. B. Warfield and the Providential

Preservation of the New Testament

When I began to study New Testament textual criticism at Westminster (under Dr. Stonehouse), I found that the first day or so was mainly devoted to praising Dr. B. B. Warfield.

He was lauded for being among the first to recognize the “epoch making” importance of the theory of Westcott and Hort and for establishing the Westcott and Hort tradition at Princeton Seminary, a tradition which was now being faithfully perpetuated at Westminster Seminary. 

To me, however, all this was very puzzling. Dr. Warfield was a renowned defender of the Reformed faith and of the Westminster Confession, yet in the department of New Testament textual criticism he agreed entirely with liberals such as Westcott, Hort and C. R. Gregory.

He professed to agree with the statement of the Westminster Confession that the Scriptures by God’s “singular care and providence” had been “kept pure in all ages”, but it was obvious that this providential preservation of the Scriptures was of no importance to Dr. Warfield when he actually began to deal with the problems of the New Testament.

When he engaged in New Testament textual criticism, Dr. Warfield ignored the providential preservation of the Scriptures and treated the text of the New Testament as he would the text of any book or writing.

“It matters not whether the writing before us be a letter from a friend, or an inscription from Carchemish, of a copy of a morning newspaper, or Shakespeare, or Homer, or the Bible.” 

I may be reading back into my student days some of my later thinking, but it seems to me that even at that time I could see that the logic of Warfield’s naturalistic New Testament textual criticism led steadily downward toward modernism and unbelief.

For if the providential preservation of the Scriptures was not important for the study of the New Testament text, then it could not have been important for the history of the New Testament text. And if it had not been important for the history of the New Testament, then it must have been non-existent, it could not have been a fact.

Why should the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures be regarded as a fact? Why would God infallibly inspire a book and then decline to preserve it providentially? For example, why would God infallibly inspire the Gospel of Mark and then permit (as Warfield thought possible) the ending of it (describing the resurrection appearance of Christ) to be lost?

Why Dr. Warfield Was So Inconsistent:

His Scholastic Heritage

Why was Dr. Warfield so inconsistent in the realm of New Testament textual criticism? Dr. Van Til’s course in apologetics enabled me to supply the answer to this question.

Dr. Warfield’s inconsistency was part of his scholastic inheritance, an error which had been handed down to him from the middle ages. Let me explain.

During the middle-ages, the schoolmen tried to reconcile the philosophy of Aristotle with the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church by separating faith from reason and praying from thinking.

While dealing with dogma, faith and prayer were appropriate, but the study of philosophy was reason’s province, so the medieval school men contended, and soon this doctrine of the separation of faith from reason became generally accepted throughout the medieval Roman Catholic Church.

The Protestant Reformers were fully occupied with other matters. Hence, they spent but little time combating this medieval, Roman Catholic error of the separation of faith and reason. Hence, this false scholastic doctrine survived the Reformation and soon became embedded in the thinking of conservative Protestants everywhere.

In the 18th Century, Butler and Paley built their apologetic systems on this false principle of the separation of faith and reason, and in the 19th Century, at Princeton and other conservative theological seminaries, this scholastic principle even governed the curriculum and the way in which the several subjects were taught.

Systematic theology, practical theology and homiletics were placed in one box labeled FAITH. All the other subjects, including New Testament textual criticism, biblical introduction, apologetics and philosophy, were placed in another box labeled REASON.

We see now why Dr. Warfield was so inconsistent. We see why he felt himself at liberty to adopt the naturalistic theories of Westcott and Hort and did not perceive that in so doing he was contradicting the Westminster Confession and even his own teaching in the realm of systematic theology. The reason was that Dr. Warfield kept these subjects in separate boxes.

Like an authentic, medieval scholastic, he kept his systematic theology and the Westminster Confession in his FAITH box and his New Testament textual criticism in his REASON box. Since he never tried to mingle the contents of these two boxes, he was never fully aware of the discrepancies in his thinking.

Dean Burgon: His Emphasis on the

Providential Preservation of Scripture

When I began to study New Testament textual criticism at Westminster in 1935, I noticed another thing. Almost as much time was spent in disparaging Dean Burgon as in praising Dr. Warfield. This again aroused my curiosity.

Who was this Dean Burgon? Upon investigation, I found that he had been a British scholar that had not fitted into the usual scholastic mold. He had not kept his theology and his New Testament textual criticism in two separate boxes, but had actually dared to make his theology the guiding principle of his New Testament textual criticism. For this, he was pronounced “unscholarly”.

Actually, however, he was merely following the logic of faith. He believed that the New Testament was the infallibly inspired Word of God. Hence, it had been preserved down through the ages by God’s special providence, not secretly in holes and caves and on forgotten library shelves but publicly in the usage of God’s Church. Hence, the text found in the vast majority of the New Testament manuscripts is the true text because this is the text that has been used by God’s Church.

As soon as I began to read Burgon’s works, I was impressed by this logic of faith and also by the learned arguments by which Burgon refuted the contention of Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott, Hort, etc. Finally, after some years of hesitation, I definitely committed myself to his view in 1952.

But there are problems connected with Burgon’s view. Burgon was a high Anglican who emphasized the role of bishops in the history of the Church. He believed that the New Testament text had been preserved mainly by the bishops of the ancient and medieval Church. Hence, he defended the text found in the majority of the New Testaments manuscripts, but he would not defend the printed Textus Receptus because it had not been produced by bishops. He would, however, defend the King James Version because this had been produced by bishops. Here he was inconsistent because the King James Version is a translation of the Textus Receptus.

We solve this problem by substituting the biblical doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers for Burgon’s high Anglicanism. Just as the Old Testament text was preserved by the Old Testament priests, so the New Testament text was preserved by the universal priesthood of believers, that is, by true believers in every walk of life. And this providential preservation did not cease with the invention of printing.

Hence, the true text is found not only in the text of the majority of the New Testament manuscripts but more especially in the Textus Receptus and in faithful translations of the Textus Receptus, such as the King James Version. In short, the Textus Receptus represents the God-guided revision of the majority text.

Burgon mingled his faith with his New Testament textual criticism, urging the providential preservation of the Scriptures as the chief argument in favor of the traditional (majority) New Testament text.

It was for this breach of etiquette that he was regarded as not truly scholarly. But isn’t it possible to escape this stigma and still do a good job of defending the majority text? Isn’t it possible to drop Burgon’s emphasis on the special, providential preservation of Scripture and rely solely on more acceptable arguments?

Hodges, Pickering and Van Bruggen seem to think that this is possible, but in so thinking, they are badly mistaken. The same thing must be said of them that has just been said of Dr. Warfield. In spite of their good intentions, their thinking is pointed toward modernism and unbelief.

For if the providential preservation of the Holy Scriptures is unimportant for the defense of the New Testament text, then it must have been unimportant for the history of the New Testament text and hence non-existent and not a fact. And if the providential preservation of the Scriptures is not a fact, why should we suppose that the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures is a fact? For inspiration and preservation go together.

Hodges and Pickering try to substitute their theory of statistical probability for Burgon’s doctrine of the special providential preservation of the Scriptures. According to these two scholars, statistical probability shows that whenever the transmission of an ancient book has been normal, the best text is found in the majority of the manuscripts. The transmission of the New Testament text has been normal. Hence, the text found in the majority of the New Testament manuscripts is the best New Testament text.

In advancing this argument, however, Hodges and Pickering contradict themselves. For they both claim to believe in the providential preservation of the Scriptures, and if this providential preservation is a fact, then something is true of the New Testament, which is not true of the transmission of other ancient books.

Hence, the transmission of the New Testament cannot have been normal. And even from a naturalistic point of view, their argument is faulty. For the New Testament is a religious book, and the transmission of a religious book is never normal because it is transmitted mainly by believers who do not regard it as a normal book.

Scholasticism Versus The Logic of Faith

Conservative theological seminaries organized on the scholastic model, separating faith and reason, inevitably become modernistic and unbelieving. The area allotted to reason is steadily enlarged and that remaining for faith correspondingly decreased. The box labeled FAITH is emptied, while REASON’S box is crammed to the full.

This process of deterioration cannot be avoided because as soon as we give reason an equal place with faith in our thinking, we have no true faith at all.

God is the Supreme Reality, the Source of all things real, and therefore, we must believe on Him as such. We must allow nothing else to be as real to us as God. If we found even part of our thinking on a set of rational principles which are independent of God, then we are no longer believing but doubting.

We see, therefore, that if Westminster Seminary is to preserve itself from modernism, it must purge itself from all remnants of scholasticism. It must rid itself completely from every tendency to separate reason from faith. And especially must it do this in the department of New Testament textual criticism. In this area particularly it must put away the naturalistic theories of Westcott and Hort and others like them and follow the logic of faith, which runs like this:

Because the Gospel is true and necessary for the salvation of souls, the Bible which contains this Gospel was infallibly inspired and has been preserved by God’s special providence, not secretly in holes and caves, but publicly in the usage of God’s Church. Moreover, this special providence did not cease with the invention of printing.

Therefore, the true New Testament text is found today in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts, in the Textus Receptus, and in the King James Version and other faithful translations of the Textus Receptus. And, therefore this same preserving providence is operating today through the agency of all those true believers, however humble; who retain and defend the King James Version.

 

Add your words of tribute for the late Dr. Hills

20 Comments

  1. Margie Hills Kennedy

    My father’s deep and consistent faith in and love for the Lord Jesus Christ was unwaveringly lived before me my whole life. He loved hymns that portrayed in verse and melody the majesty of our Savior and his atoning work on our behalf. His favorite was “Arise My Soul Arise.” His devotion to Christ, his unfailing dedication to the Word of God, and the instruction, love, laughter, and delight he gave to our family forever lives in our hearts. I thank God for this man who I am honored and blessed to call my dad.

    Reply
  2. Ann Hills Brown

    I can easily say that my father was the most influential person in my life. Although stern, he was loving, witty and entertaining. His love was for God’s Word and the truth it reveals.

    Throughout our K-12th grade years, he required us to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism and several selected passages of Scripture. Imagine the discipline it took for him to sit for 45 minutes every Sunday with 3 recalcitrant girls doing this memory work! But I am so very grateful and still go back to the questions on “effectual calling” and “repentance unto life” which so clearly describe the work of God’s grace and His Holy Spirit in our salvation. During my late teen years he spent hours with me discussing, debating and teaching the doctrines of grace! How I love, honor and respect him!

    My mother captures him best in her autobiography where she tells of the most difficult period of their lives: “Your father was a man of strong faith. He was disappointed over the decision which would now affect his entire life and that of his family, but he was not distressed. Assured that God still had a special purpose for his life in spite of this trial, he trusted implicitly in God. He never worried. He was calm and cheerful. This childlike trust gave him the strength, fortitude, courage and determination to proceed with what he had studied and had committed himself to God to do.”

    He was a steadfast husband, father and grandfather faithful to the Lord and to His Holy Word!

    Reply
  3. Mary Hills Mueller

    My father was very consistent in his faith, his beliefs and his lifestyle. His love for Christ defined him. Difficult times and situations never affected him. Calmly and unflappably, he met each challenge, always looking forward.

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  4. Joseph Rolison

    I thank the Lord for Dr. Hills’ labors in the Word of God and for his courageous stand for the divinely given and preserved canon.

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  5. George Grant, Pastor, Parish PCA

    Thank you for this marvelous tribute and powerful memoir of Dr. Hill, a genuine hero of the faith and a prophetic voice for our time.

    Reply
  6. Ginney

    What a wonderful man he was. Assured in his faith and calm in the middle of trouble. Dedicated to God and his word and teaching grace and mercy to his children. Sometimes stern but always ready, with a twinkle in his eye, to enjoy a game of hide and seek with his kids and their friends. I will never forget him.

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  7. Dr. D.A. Vasquez

    When we look at the legacy of ephemeral celebrities, even from the Hollywood Golden Age, we are often smacked with images. These images portray a “look” frozen in time that captures a mood instant. Rightly we call these images “glamorous” because when we part the curtain of deceptive shimmer we often see lives corrupted by works of the flesh and only a thin legacy, notwithstanding the photos. That’s when we realize that those images of the “live fast die young,” or as the Bible calls them “the quick and the dead” (2 Timothy 4:1), lie. And the echoing of those lies reach like tentacles through generations as long as those photos continue being hawked by their purveyors.

    In stark contrast stands a man (in glory) like Dr. Hills. Without images, but through his writings and through the works of his life imprinted in his children, and through the teaching and works of men who God has given the courage to listen, like the Rev. Christian McShaffrey, Dr. Hills continues to charge us to listen to the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13), that comes after the whirlwinds, earthquakes and fires of a life rife ephemerata. Instead Dr. Hills asks us to listen to the voice of quiet power, eternally resounding in the Textus Receptus, which calls and guides those pilgrims from every tribe, tongue and nation ever seeking another country, that of Immanuel’s Land.

    Reply
  8. Chris Myers

    This man has had a profound impact on my life. After reading his book, ‘Text and Time,’ or sometimes entitled, ‘A Defense of the KJV,’ I was encouraged to stand on his shoulders and proclaim with assurance that the Church has always received the Holy Scriptures; and that the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures of the Reformation are identical to the text that the Church has always received as God’s Word.

    Dr. Hills was a man faithful to the providential preservation of Scripture, and he wielded the academic degrees in textual criticism to be able to combat Satan’s assaults against the Received Bible. He stands in the line of men who defended the Received Text, such as, Calvin against Bellarmine, Turretin and the Reformed Orthodox against Walton, Whitaker against the Rationalists, and many others. He was a great man now beholding Christ face to face, and I have no doubt that he was met with the following greeting, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

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  9. Jeremy Huntington

    Thank you for publishing this memoir and tribute!

    Reply
  10. G.I. Williamson

    Amen and amen.

    Reply
  11. Jeffrey T. Riddle

    Thanks for posting this Christian. We are all in debt to Dr. Hill’s faithful work, though its value was not recognized during his lifetime and continues to be ignored by many even in our own times. I am reminded of Paul’s description in the great faith chapter of those “Of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb 11:38). Still, we are seeing that God’s word continues to be preserved and we can give thanks to the Lord that many are rediscovering many of the things that Dr. Hills taught regarding the text of Scripture. SDG.

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  12. Nick Napier

    Thanks for this. It is very good to see Dr. Hills get some of the recognition he deserves. I first read his book (it was known to me as the), “King James Version Defended,” in 2004 or 2005. It made a profound impact on me, and marked a tremendous shift in my understanding. I wish many in our day would give the book the reading it deserves.

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  13. Nick C. Metrakoudes

    Praise the LORD for Dr. Edward F. Hills. His writings helped me enormously in not only understanding where the true word of God is, but also in defending the Byzantine Text against its detractors. The worth of his literature will endure until the LORD Jesus returns. Many thanks, for this tribute.

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  14. Jeffrey Khoo

    Dr. EF Hills walked the strait and narrow. His theological approach to the text, applying the logic of faith, was such a breath of fresh air to me vis-a-vis the modernistic textual criticism that I was taught in seminary.

    When I wrote to him for permission to quote him in my lecture notes (not realizing that he had already been called home to glory), Mrs. Marjorie Hills, his beloved wife, was so kind to reply with these encouraging words, “It is indeed very encouraging to learn that a Presbyterian College is a strong supporter of the KJV. Dr. Hills’ book, ‘The King James Version Defended’, will furnish your students with the facts they will need for its defense. It may interest you to know that Dr. Hills and Dr. [Carl] McIntire were classmates at Westminster Seminary. For years we profited from the Christian Beacon.” (letter, October 28, 1997).

    I am thankful to the late Dr. Hills, and am heartened to see his daughters now continuing in his faithful legacy. 1 Corinthians 15:58.

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  15. Andrew Duggan

    Thank you for posting Dr. Hills’ helpful analysis of the pathology of ignoring the providential preservation of Scripture. I found the discussion on compartmentalizing topics between faith and reason very helpful in understanding Warfield.

    When it is said that the various readings and manuscripts don’t affect doctrine, this is not really the case, since they destroy the doctrine of Scripture. The recovery of the full reformed confessional doctrine of Scripture is an essential foundation to reformation in the church.

    I’m thankful that Dr. Hills provided an ongoing testimony of the confessional doctrine of Scripture especially at a time in the 20th century when so few were.

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  16. Michael Spangler

    Thankful for this man and his faithful testimony to God’s care for his own Word. We should take heed, though, of this historical argument:

    “The Protestant Reformers were fully occupied with other matters. Hence, they spent but little time combating this medieval, Roman Catholic error of the separation of faith and reason. Hence, this false scholastic doctrine survived the Reformation and soon became embedded in the thinking of conservative Protestants everywhere.”

    This is simply not true. The Reformation and post-Reformation protestant theologians, especially the Reformed, were history’s greatest opponents of rationalism, whether Roman Catholic, Socinian (Liberal), or Arminian. They were also history’s greatest defenders the Textus Receptus against its opponents in their own day. Turretin, van Mastricht, Owen, Rutherford, and the whole host of their Reformed contemporaries, if alive today would join arms with Hills in his noble resistance to Warfield’s text-critical revolution.

    Cornelius Van Til, for all his praiseworthy zeal against unbelief, wrongly accused these godly theologians of rationalism, and unfortunately Hills appears to follow him. Thankfully, Hills shows he knows better, because he defends the Westminster Confession’s doctrine of Scripture’s preservation, even though the Westminster Assembly itself represents the very height of the alleged “Protestant scholasticism.”

    Though Hills was inconsistent, it should give us great courage in taking up his cause, to know that we have far more allies in the fight than he himself knew. Text-criticism is a passing modern aberration, and Hills’ doctrine of New Testament preservation represents the universal consensus of classic Protestantism.

    Reply
    • Brett Mahlen

      Thank you, Michael Spangler, for your comment, I believe it is worthy of consideration and I believe you are more qualified than most to make such a comment. I too believed Hills’ unqualified comment about scholasticism needed a bit of attention before we published it but of course I knew we should not change his words. While Dr. Hills held to the historic Protestant doctrine of Scripture and its preservation and the substance of what he said was correct, he also paints with too broad a brush about scholasticism. However, I believe his oversight should be excused for the following two reasons: 1) Dr. Hills did not have access to the same materials to which we have access and 2) Dr. Hills’ primary student and mantle carrier, Dr. Theodore Letis, provided the needed correction.

      1) I believe the reason Dr. Hills speaks the way he does is because he did not have access to the resources we do now. He does not quote Turretin or any other Reformed Protestant scholastics in either Text and Time or Believing Bible Study. While Hills was alive, Turretin was only available in Latin, other than the one English copy sitting in Princeton’s library, translated by Giger, to which we are safe to assume Hills had no access. Hills was a good classicist, with a BA in classics from Yale and an ability to compose in Latin, so he would have been able to read Turretin if he had access but since he never quotes Turretin we are left to surmise that he did not have access. Jim Dennison did not edit and publish Giger’s translation of Turretin’s Institutes, volume 1, until 1992 (11 years after Hills’ death). Furthermore, Muller did not publish volume 2 of his Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics until 1993 (12 years after Hills’ death). So Hills makes the same unqualified statement his teacher, Cornelius Van Til made; and I believe Van Til and Hills should both be excused for that. Of course, Hills had no access to the important work you are doing with Van Mastricht. We have access to more than Hills had and “For unto whomsoever much is given…”

      2) Hills’ primary student, Theodore Letis, provides a helpful corrective in his master’s thesis titled Edward Freer Hills’s Contribution to the Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text. Letis had access to the materials (above) that Hills did not. This is proven by the fact that Letis’ first chapter is on Reformed scholasticism, making use of Beza, Turretin, Owen, and others. The second chapter of the thesis is on Warfield’s Copernican revolution in text criticism and the third chapter is on Hills and his contribution to the Protestant view of Scripture. I think if you were to obtain a copy of this thesis you would be most pleased to see that even Hills’ closest student did not use the term scholasticism as Van Til and Hills did, but rather understood that Hills was the continuation of the Reformed scholastic position of the New Testament.

      Therefore, I believe we should take Hills’ comments about scholasticism with a grain of salt and be assured that such will not hamper the ongoing rediscovery of the Protestant view of Scripture.

      Reply
  17. Joel Ellis

    Thank you for posting this tribute and mémoire and helping many of us become better acquainted with and appreciative of the life and work of Dr. Hills.

    Reply
  18. Joel Pankratz

    I was introduced to Dr. Hills’ work in the early 1990’s and have profited from it. I am very thankful to God for raising him up to help the Church. Yes, thank you for posting this tribute!

    Reply
  19. Andrew Pankratz

    I have always respected Dr. Hills’ firm stand for reasoned faith. So many today divide everything into faith and science/reason, so it always refreshes me to find someone who has not put asunder what God has joined together. I am no textual scholar, so I am very thankful that Dr. Hills was able to leave us a thoroughly Protestant view of the Bible. May God bless his work.

    Reply

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