First President of Westminster Theological Seminary Leaves Behind a Kingdom Legacy

Dr. Edmund P. Clowney, the first president of Westminster Theological Seminary died on March 20 at the age of 87, leaving behind a legacy of valuable writings that displayed the great theme of his life: “Christ’s presence in the whole of Scripture.”

Dr. Clowney, according to the seminary news release, will be “remembered by many as a preacher, perhaps the most gifted proponent and practitioner of redemptive-historical preaching” of this generation. He was unique in his ability to pick up the threads of redemptive history and to weave a rich expositional tapestry that brought Christ in all his perfections and glory before God’s people so that they were drawn to love and worship the Redeemer.”

Quoted by the seminary as “a compassionate counselor; a devoted servant of Jesus Christ, his Word, and his church; a peacemaker; and a true visionary who dreamed for Christ’s kingdom,” Dr. Clowney had engaged in extensive ministry programs not only within the U.S., but across Europe as well.

He had served in ministries including, the Reformed Theological Seminary in Aix-en-Provence, France; Westminster Seminary California; Trinity Church, Charlottesville; the Lausanne Conference; InterVarsity ministries, both in the United States and in England; and “The Westminster Ministerial Institute” -- an inner-city training program for pastors in Philadelphia, out of which the Lord developed the Center for Urban Theological Studies.

He also had a life-long interest in children’s Christian education materials.

The Philadelphia-born native received his B.A. from Wheaton College in 1939, a Th. B. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1942, an S.T.M from Yale University Divinity School in 1944, and a D.D. from Wheaton College in 1966. Ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he served as pastor of several churches from 1942 to 1946 and was then invited to become assistant professor of practical theology at WTS in 1952.

From the time he was installed as the institution’s first president in 1966, he remained there until 1984, when he took a post as theologian-in-residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 1990, he moved to Escondido, California with his wife, Jane, where he served as adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California. In 2001, he took a full-time position as associate pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston, Texas. Two years later he moved back to Charlottesville, where he resumed his role as part-time theologian-in-residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church until the day of his death.

His books include Preaching and Biblical Theology, Called to the Ministry, Christian Meditation, Doctrine of the Church, The Message of I Peter, The Unfolding Mystery, and Preaching Christ in all of Scripture, some of which have been translated in service to the church. His last book, How Christ Transforms the Ten Commandments, is said to have been accepted by his publisher just days before his death.

A man with sense of humor and love for people, Clowney has also left a great number of sermons and lectures, as well as magazine columns such as the humor column “Eutychus and His Pin” for Christianity Today and Bible studies for Tabletalk.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jean Wright Clowney; by his five children: David Clowney, Deborah Weininger, Paul Clowney, Rebecca Jones, and Anne Foreman; by his twenty-one grandchildren; and by his eleven great grandchildren.

Memorial services are scheduled to be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, and at Westminster Theological Seminary's Glenside, Pennsylvania campus.

Dr. Clowney’s family has established a scholarship fund at Westminster Theological Seminary in honor of Dr. Clowney and of his accomplishments called The Edmund Clowney Memorial Fund in support of his “continuing Kingdom legacy.”