We reproduce the article here. One encounters Wheaton College, early 20th century fundamentalists, Baptists, Presbyterians (e.g. Gordon Clark and J.O. Buswell), Dallas Seminary, premillenialism, Ruth Bell Graham, Calvinism and predestination, and evangelical pietism. The current President of Wheaton College is Mr. (Rev. Dr.) Phil Ryken, the former Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia, PA (see: http://www.wheaton.edu/about-wheaton/leadership/president-ryken ).
By Keith Call | November 23, 2009
It is said that an institution is the lengthened shadow of a man. In a very real sense Dr. Thiessen, the first dean of our graduate school, left an indelible impression upon it…Though dead he yet speaketh. His influence continues through his writings and through the lives which he trained for God’s glad service.
So stated Dr. Enock Dyrness, Wheaton College registrar, eulogizing Dr. Henry Clarence Thiessen.
(For some details on Tenney, see: http://reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/2013/08/merrill-c-tenney-1904-1985-bio-new.html)
Thiessen was a popular but demanding instructor, firmly committed to dispensationalism. Sadly, this brought him into conflict with Dr. Gordon H. Clark, professor of philosophy and equally committed to Covenant theology. For some details on Mr. Clark, see: http://reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/2013/08/9-aug-1944-gordon-haddon-clark-ordained.html . Wary of Clark’s “determinism,” Thiessen warned Buswell that his influence “…will do great, perhaps permanent, harm to many of the youngsters, because few of them are able to reply to his reasoning…” When V. Raymond Edman replaced Buswell as president in 1940, he followed Thiessen’s lead and took steps to dismiss Clark, first eliminating the philosophy major, then prohibiting Clark from teaching Reformed doctrine. Though Clark was tempted to leave, Buswell privately advised him to stay put. Edman then met with faculty and trustees to discuss Clark’s Calvinism and its “…chilling and harmful effect upon many students.”
Clark was a supremely capable teacher of unquestioned piety, much-respected by his students, including young Ruth Bell (Graham) who, awash with the over-gushy pietism prevalent during those years, sought his refreshing “logic” and “…his unemotional brilliance…” Faced with intensifying hostility from the administration, Clark finally negotiated a technical resignation in 1942, moving on to a successful career at Butler University. After his firing, Edman reinstated the philosophy major but hired no trained philosophers to teach it, instead opting for theology professors to lead the course until Dr. Arthur Holmes revived the program in 1957.
Thiessen continued teaching at Wheaton College until debilitated by asthma, which allowed him only an hour or two of sleep each night. Advised by doctors to seek a warmer climate, he accepted in 1946 an invitation to serve as president and dean of Los Angeles Baptist Seminary, placing Wheaton’s Bible Department in Merrill Tenney’s capable hands. Thiessen preached his farewell sermon, titled “Facing the Future with Christ,” at Wheaton Bible Church. After moving to California his condition worsened as he endured numerous nasal operations, and on July 25, 1947, he died. His widow, Anna, requested that Thiessen’s brother complete and publish his classroom syllabus. Lectures in Systematic Theology, in print since 1949, steadfastly advances Dr. H.C. Thiessen’s hope that it might “…set forth the truth more clearly and logically, and that the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be glorified through its perusal.”