Dr. Green Retires

June 05, 2014

The Board of Trustees and administration wish to announce the retirement of Dr. Douglas J. Green, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology, beginning October 1, 2015.

Dr. Green’s honorable retirement follows a recent decision by the Trustees.

In December 2009 the Board of Trustees accepted Dr. Douglas Green’s endorsement of the “Affirmations and Denials” and regarded his written statement “as containing acceptable clarifications and allowable exceptions”. However, at the November 2013 meeting of the Board the previous 2009 action was amended. Dr. Green’s response to Section IV of the “Affirmations and Denials” is no longer acceptable. The Board of Trustees regards the particular hermeneutical method of the New Testament use of the Old Testament included in Dr. Green’s response to be inconsistent with the Seminary’s confessional standards.

While Dr. Green respectfully disagrees with this decision of the Board, he acknowledges the governing authority of the Trustees to lead Westminster in fulfilling the institution’s mission as a confessional Reformed seminary.

We thank Dr. Green for twenty-two years of exemplary service as a member of the faculty. His contributions to the life of the seminary and especially his devotion to the students demonstrate his exceptional commitment as a teacher and mentor.

We wish Dr. Green well in his future endeavors to serve the Lord.

Questions and Answers from Westminster and Dr. Green

What is the background to the announcement of Dr. Green’s retirement?
In September 2008, the Board of Trustees adopted a document entitled “Affirmations and Denials Regarding Recent Issues,” which contains 52 affirmations and denials that address various theological and hermeneutical issues. In May 2009, in response to questions raised by Dr. Green concerning the “Affirmations and Denials,” the Board appointed a committee to examine his exceptions to that document. After being examined by that committee, in August 2009 Dr. Green submitted a written statement concerning the “Affirmations and Denials.” In December 2009, by a vote of 18-0, the Board adopted the committee’s recommendation to approve his statement “as containing acceptable clarifications and allowable exceptions.” 

In November 2013, the Board reviewed and amended its 2009 decision concerning Dr. Green’s statement on the “Affirmations and Denials,” specifically with reference to his comments on Section IV (“Original Meaning and NT Meaning of OT Texts”). With respect to this section of Dr. Green’s 2009 statement, the Board concluded that he had expressed agreement with a “christotelic” hermeneutical method that severs the organic link between the Old Testament and the New Testament and that in the Board’s determination this view is inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture found in the Westminster Standards.

After the Board’s November 2013 decision, in the context of a potential further investigation of his hermeneutical approach, Dr. Green was given the opportunity to modify his 2009 statement and to revise and republish his 2010 article on Psalm 23 . Dr. Green declined to make these modifications. Subsequently, he and the Seminary have reached an amicable agreement which will allow him to retire honorably at the end of September 2015.

Where can I find more information about both Dr. Green’s and Westminster’s hermeneutical approaches?
The following two essays are representative of Dr. Green’s approach to Old Testament interpretation:

“‘The Lord is Christ’s Shepherd’: Psalm 23 as Messianic Prophecy,” in Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: Essays in Honor of J. Alan Groves (eds. P. Enns, D. J. Green and M. B. Kelly; 2010), 33-46.

“How to Read Old Testament Narratives” (PDF).

The following article & lecture are representative of the hermeneutical approaches taught at Westminster:

Vern S. Poythress, “The Presence of God Qualifying Our Notions of Grammatical-Historical Interpretation: Genesis 3:15 as a Test Case,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50/1 (2007): 87-103.

Gregory K. Beale, “The Cognitive Peripheral Vision of Biblical Writers,” (paper delivered in 2013 at WTS for the inauguration of the J. Gresham Machen Chair in New Testament).

Is Dr. Green’s position heretical?
Absolutely not. Dr. Green is a faithful brother in Christ, and his position is not heretical. Westminster is a confessional institution and the Board of Trustees has the authority to determine what is acceptable within our confessional boundaries for the faculty.

Why has Dr. Green’s church and/or denomination not been involved in this decision?
Westminster is a non-denominational seminary and therefore has no formal standing in the courts of the church. The oversight of the Board of Trustees applies only to standards for employment at WTS.

What is Dr. Green’s response to the Board’s November 2013 motion?
Dr. Green maintains that his approach to biblical interpretation and specifically New Testament use of the Old Testament does not violate the Westminster Confession, that his views on this subject have not changed since 2009, and that they are consistent with his teaching throughout his time as a professor at Westminster. Nevertheless, he respectfully recognizes the right of the Board of Trustees to interpret the seminary’s confessional standards and in so doing clarify its theological boundaries. He counts it the highest privilege to have taught close to 2,000 godly and gifted Westminster students over the last 22 years and values both the friendship and scholarly interaction he has enjoyed with his colleagues on the faculty during this period.