William G. T. Shedd

William G. T. Shedd (1820–1894), one of the eminent theologians of his era, was a thoroughgoing Calvinist and church historian. As an Old School Presbyterian he held fast to the Westminster Standards. Shedd appropriated many of the leading intellectual trends of the nineteenth century without sacrificing his commitment to Reformed orthodoxy.

"His speculative interests in Romanticism, historical consciousness and evolution made him remarkably sensitive to the powerful new thinking of his century. Yet Shedd did not create any controversy, for his firm Calvinist faith was never altered by his novel speculations." [1]

"While a student at the University of Vermont, Shedd was profoundly influenced by his philosophy professor, James Marsh. Thereafter his thinking reflected an intimate familiarity with the leading luminaries of European Romanticism. Upon his graduation from Andover Theological Seminary, Shedd served a Congregational church in Brandon, Vermont, and later a church in New York City. But his pastoral labors were brief, less than four years in all. The greater part of his career was devoted to teaching. His diversified appointments included seven years as professor of English literature at Vermont, two years as professor of sacred rhetoric at Auburn Theological Seminary and eight years as professor of church history at Andover. In 1863 he accepted a position at Union Theological Seminary (New York), beginning an affiliation with that institution which would continue for twenty-eight years. After 1874 he served as professor of systematic theology, succeeding Henry Boynton Smith." [2]

As a systematician he was steeped in the patristic, medieval, and reformation periods and was especially influenced by Augustine and Calvin. His crowning work was Dogmatic Theology (3 vols., 1888-1894). Shedd's writings were direct, logical, and lucid; for him theology was a science, understood in Baconian terms, as interpreted by Scottish commonsense realism. His other well known works include History of Christian Doctrine (1863), Literary Essays (1878), and Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (1893).

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  1. Reid, D. G., Linder, R. D., Shelley, B. L., & Stout, H. S. (1990). Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
  2. Reid, D. G., Linder, R. D., Shelley, B. L., & Stout, H. S. (1990). Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

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