Editorial Aims and Procedures

The purpose of The Westminster Theological Journal is to advance the cause of biblical and theological scholarship within a Reformed confessional framework.

All articles accepted for publication, whether articles or book reviews, become the sole property of the Westminster Theological Journal. The use of our published material must receive permission from the Journal prior to publication. Sometimes a small fee is required for use, depending on a variety of factors.


The first issue, published in 1938, stated the character and goals of the Journal as follows:

The Journal is founded upon the conviction that the Holy Scriptures are the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and of practice, and that the system of belief commonly designated the Reformed Faith is the purest and most consistent formulation and expression of the system of truth set forth in the Holy Scriptures. . . .

We stand today in the Christian Church as debtors to nineteen centuries of Christian history, thought, and experience. It would not only be futile but wrong to try to dissociate ourselves from the great stream of Christian tradition. . . .

But while we cling tenaciously to the heritage that comes to us from the past we must ever remember that it is our responsibility to present the Christian faith in the context of the present. The position we maintain, therefore, necessarily involves the bringing of every form of thought that may reasonably come within the purview of a theological Faculty to the touchstone of Holy Scripture and the defining of its relations to our Christian faith.

The initial editors then proceeded to describe the policy of the Journal in these terms:

1. To maintain the highest standard of scholarship;
2. To publish contributions which will promote the study of theology and the interests of the Reformed Faith;
3. To publish reviews of current literature of importance to the Christian Church and to theological study.

The Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary continues to affirm these principles and to be guided by them in the production of the Journal. Accordingly, in the process of evaluating submissions, the editors give preference to articles that:

1. Show a self-conscious Reformed perspective;
2. Have a specialist rather than a generalist orientation;
3. Seek to develop creative ideas rather than to summarize otherwise accessible views;
4. Are written according to scholarly rather than popular conventions.

We recognize that an article need not possess all of these characteristics to be included in the Journal. Occasionally, for example, an essay that would not be regarded as original or specialized may perform a distinctive educational service by synthesizing previous research.

Our theological commitments, moreover, need not preclude the publication of pieces that fail to advance Reformed thought explicitly. We regard all truth as a friend of Calvinism. Certain technical papers (for example, those dealing with the biblical languages) contribute to Reformed scholarship by uncovering new facts and by presenting valid interpretations of old facts. Contributors, therefore, need not subscribe to the Westminster Standards to have their articles included in the Journal. Indeed, the editors affirm the value of publishing, in some cases, articles that are responsibly critical of our tradition.

These qualifications, however, do not render our journal an open forum for the free exchange of ideas. We cannot publish articles that merely undermine our theological position or that challenge that position without evincing a clear understanding of Reformed thought. Moreover, faithfulness to the truth often requires the exposing of error, and thus we do not apologize for a tone of urgency or even militancy in some of our articles. On the other hand, the fact that a paper supports our theological tradition is hardly sufficient reason to publish it. Our journal is committed to patient, fair, courteous, and scholarly exposition and criticism. Articles that merely dismiss non-Reformed positions, or that use caustic language, or that fail to take into account current scholarship (including foreign literature when applicable) cannot be accepted.

Editorial Process

Articles submitted are first examined for initial consideration. Those that clearly do not conform to the goals of the Journal or that depart substantially from The Chicago Manual of Style orThe SBL Handbook of Style are either rejected at this stage or returned to the author for revision. The rest are referred to reviewers with special competence in the areas covered by the articles through a blind review process. Normally a decision is reached within eight to ten weeks, though in some cases it can take substantially longer, depending on the current workload of WTJ staff and WTJ reviewers. Sometimes revisions are requested; in certain cases, more substantive rewriting is necessary before final acceptance of the article. An article can be rejected at any stage in this process. Once an article is rejected it is permanantly rejected and should not be resubmitted at a later date, even if substantially revised.

Authors are responsible for the accuracy of their articles and for securing permissions when using copyrighted material. They are also responsible for correcting proofs promptly upon receiving them. Articles must be thoroughly documented as plagiarism is never accepted. Authors are also responsible for making sure their articles do not contain any defamatory material. The WTJ does not tolerate libel in any form.

Responses to previously published articles are acceptable in principle. Such responses should be relatively brief, and no longer than the article to which they respond. They should abide by the criteria listed above, as applicable. The original author will have a final opportunity for a counter-response. Since no additional rebuttals will be accepted, the editorial staff will ensure that the counter-response is no longer than the response itself and that it does not introduce new data or otherwise take unfair advantage of having "the last word."

Book Reviews

Rather than attempt to cover theological publications exhaustively, the Journal seeks to review recent books on a selective basis, a process that makes possible substantive evaluations (usually 800-1400 words; some works, such as faculty publications, anthologies, and reprints, are treated in the Short Notices department). The selection of books to be reviewed depends on a variety of factors, such as the intrinsic significance of the book, the distinctive interests of our readership, and the availability of reviewers. In keeping with the character of the Journal, we are especially interested in providing reviews that assess current thought in the light of Reformed theology. For certain works dealing with specialized areas, however, we sometimes enlist the support of scholars who belong to different theological traditions. In either case, our goal is to publish penetrating but courteous reviews. An effort is made to include reviews within two years of the book's publication. 


(rev. date 5/18)