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Loraine Boettner
March 7, 1901.,. January 3, 1990
A biographical sketch by one of the ministers
officiating at Dr. Boettner's funeral
L
oraine Boettner was born on
March 7, 1901 at the town of
Linden in extreme northwest
Missouri. His father William was the
Sunday School Superintendent at the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at
Linden; his mother was a member of the
Methodist church. He attended the Lin-
den church until he was 16 years of age,
and at 18 he joined what was then the
Centennial Methodist Church. Because
of the influence of his father, he was
baptized by immersion in a pond that can
still be seen. For the next three years he
continuedattendingtheregularfallreviv-
als that were part of rural church life in
Missouri. Dr. Boettner would never pin-
point his conversion to any dramatic
experience, but said as he heard theW ord
the Lord gradually revealed Himself to
him. "Faith cometh by hearing and hear-
ing by the Word of God."
Education- In 1917 Boettner attended
the University of Missouri, studying in
the field of agriculture. He then trans-
ferred to Tarkio Presbyterian College in
Tarkio, Missouri and graduated cum
laude with a B.S. degree. While at Tarkio
he felt a call to some form of Christian
service. It was here that Professor J.B.
Work influenced him greatly, particu-
larly in his Post-millennia! views which
Boettner adopted. Work also
urged him to investigate the
doctrine of predestination,
which at that time he did not
hold to.
Princeton Years 1925-
1929 Upon his graduation
from Tarkio, Boettner en-
rolled at Princeton Theologi-
cal Seminary in 1925. He
received the Th.B. degree in 1928, and
the Th.M. in 1929.
On his first Christmas vacation while at
Princeton, he "digested" Hodge's Vol-
ume ll, Part III, the Soteriology section of
his Systematic Theology, and embraced
the Calvinistic system. His thirst for
knowledge was insatiable at this point,
and he read everything he could fmd on
the subject. This prompted him to write
his Masters thesis on Predestination.
Summer vacations were spent in serv-
ing as interim pastor; in Sunnyslope,
Alberta, Canada his first year and Ti-
tusville, New Brunswick, Canada his
third year. The second year he spent the
summer working on his brother Clifford' s
farm in Rockport, Missouri.
By his own admission, he was never a
good public speaker, and was never or-
dained or felt a call to the preaching
ministry. His two summers in Canada
more, and more important, itintroduceda
fundamentally different estimate of the
place of authority in religion, and of relig-
ion itself, when it put alongside of the
Scriptures as of equal authority certain
traditions of the church, consisting
mainly of decrees issued by the popes and
by church councils, and declared that the
church alone was to be acknowledged as
confirmed this in his mind.
While at Princeton, Boettner studied
under Casper Wistar Hodge, grandson of
Charles Hodge. He felt that Casper was a
very capable theologian in his own right.
A close friend whom he frequently met
with at Princeton was Samuel G. Craig,
editor of The Presbyterian. Craig invited
Boettner over for dinner frequently to
discuss the latest happenings on campus
in the Modernist-Fundamentalist contro-
versy that raged in the late 20's. Fellow
students at Princeton included Carl Mcin-
tyre and John Murray. The controversy
culminated in 1929 with the resignation
of Oswald T. Allis, J. Gresham Machen,
Cornelius Van Til and Robert Dick
Wilson, and the formation of the new
Westminster Theological Seminary in
Philadelphia.
Pikeville Years 1929-1937 - Upon
graduation from Princeton, Boettner
"the judge of the true sense and interpre-
tation of the Holy Scriptures." This, of
course, puts the final authority for the
interpretation of Scripture in the hands
of fallible and sinful men, and opens wide
the floodgate to all kinds of error.
[This article is reprinted from Studies in
Theology, by Loraine Boettner, Wm. B. Eerd-
mans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1947 .]
lie Church has held quite consistently
ever since. It affirmed the divine inspi-
ration and authority of Scripture, but with
some reservations. It declared that the
Vulgate, which was St. Jerome's Latin
translation of the Bible, and which was
completed in the year 405, was the "au-
thentic" text of Scripture, and that "no
one is to dare or to presume to reject it
under any pretext whatever." Further-
The Counsel of Chalcedon March, 1990 page 13
taught Bible at Pikeville Presbyterian
College in eastern Kentucky. He served
Doctrine of Predestination, Studies in
Theology, Immortality, The Christian.
Attitude Toward War, A Harmony of the
Gospels, The Millennium, Divorce,
Roman. Catholocism, and The Reformed
Faith. Many of these books were trans-
lated into several languages, including
Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese,
in capacity untill937.J932 was ail
important year for Boettner, as he mar-
ried Lillian Hemy from Tennessee, and
published his first book, The Reformed
Doctrine of Predestination, which has
been expanded five times from his origi-
nal Masters thesis. . Japanese and Arabic. He also wrote
numerous articles and pamphlets,
including The Mass, published by the
Banner of Truth Trtist.
Boettner and Dr. Allis were assistant
editors of Christianity Today from 1935.
to 1939. Thismagazineisnotthesameas
today' s Christianity Today; however, in
1957, Dr. Boettnerservedforthree months ,
as editorial associate in the offices of the
present magazine in Washington, D.C.,
working with Carl F.H. Henry andMar-
celiusKik.
In 193 3, Tarkio College conferred upon
Loraine Boettner an honorary Doctorate
in Divinity (D.D.), and a Doctorate in
Literature (LittD) in 1957.
Washington D.C. Years -1937-1948-
These years were marked by his work in
the Library of Congress and the Bureau of
Internal Revenue while he continued to
write. He and Lillian were members of
the New York Avertue Presbyterian
Church where Peter Marshall was pastor.
California Years -1948-1958- In 1948
1n 1965, Boettner became concerned
about the liberalism in the Presbyterian
Dr. Boettner and his wife moved to church, and wrote a letter to a fanner
Angeles, California because of Lillian's Princeton classmate, William Harllee
failing health. Her two sisters helped care Bourdeaux, pastor ofthe Orthodox Pres-
for her until her death in 1958. While byterian Church ofWestchester, Dlinios,
living in Los Angeles, Boettner resided requesting membership in the church.
just a few blocks from where a young Hisapplicationforabsenteemembership
evangelist named Billy Graham get- was accepted, and he remained a member
ting his start in a tent crusade, and he of that church untifhis death.
heard Graham speak for about a third of . Up until his death, Boettner kept a very
his meetings there. . . low profile. Hewas a truiy humble man
Rockport Years - 1958-1990 - After who did not want recognition for his
Lillian's death, Dr. Boettner came pack to accomplishments, and gave all the glory
Rockport and continued his writing and to God for any achievements. He was a
correspondence. In 1962, his book Ro- Christiangentlemanineverysenseofthe
man Catholicism was published which word, kind, loving, and considerate; one
surpassed The Reformed Doctrine of whom God set His grace upon in a very
Predestination as his best seller. special way.
These years were marked by much In1989,Dr.Boettner'sphysicalhealth
correspondence, distribution ofhis books, deteriorated rapidly. He had contracted
and frequent visits from many Calvinistic diabetes, leukemia, and cancer which led
theological students, including this writer. to kidney disease and heart failure. He
I remember numerous times placing a hadreceivedfourbloodtransfusionsafter
tape recorder on his lap and asking hit:\1 of . which he rallied, but each successive
those years at Princeton and his views on transfusion was less effective than the
all phases of Christian doctrine. previous one. Ife refused any. kind of
Loraine Boettnet was best known for artificial mans tb prolong his llie, saying
his books, whiCh include: The Reformed only, "i'm ready to go." In December he
The Counsel of Chalcedon March, 1990 page 14
declined even more, with failing eyesight
that was gone completely the last two
weeks of his life. All during his illness,
his cousin, Mrs. Esther Wold, showed
trueCbristianlove. Aladyinher70's, she
would go to his home to read him his mail
and feeq him. Finally, he had a slight
stroke which affected his voice and his
ability to He received no nour-
ishment except water through a straw,
and later through a syringe. He suffered
much pain, as thecancerhadeatendeeply
into his bones.
How one dies tells much about the
reality of one's life. Dr.Loraine Boettner
went to his everlasting rest at a little past
eight o' clock p.m. on Wednesday, Janu-
ary 3rd, 1990, at the Fairfax Hospital in
Fairfax, Missouri, room That night,
Rockport was blariketed with seven inches
of fresh snow.
The day of his funeral, Friday, January
5th, was sunny with. temperatures in the
40's. The service was held at the Minter
Funeral Home in Rockport because of the
weather. Rev. Carroll Fischer, ordained
Southern Baptist mfuister and pastor of
the Linden Christian Church; and Tony
Mattia, pastor of the Trinity Southern
Baptist Church of Wamego, Kansas of-
ficiated. There was a very sniail crowd of
35 in attendatlce, mostly relatives. Mark
Woita, .. a member of. Sovereign Grace
Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska,
heard ofhis death and drove down to at-
tend.
After the forty minute service, ap-
proximately 20 people continued to the
Linden Christian Church, about seven
miles from Rockp<>rt, fpr his burial. He
was buried about . 3,000 feet from the
house in which he was born almost 89
years before, which is still standing.
CarrollFischer related this story at Dr.
Boettner's funeral. He had visited Lo-
raine in the before his death. His
body was so weak that he couldn't pick
upastrawtodrinkfrom,andcouldbarely
whisper, Pastor Fischer gave him a drink
and stooped over _to talk with him. Dr.
Boettner whispered to him, ''There's a
time to be born and a time to die. My time
has come, so don't feel bad. Just tell
everyone how I loved the Lord and what
I thought an.d riot be sorrowful for me but
to be s ortowful for those that don't know
Jesus Christ."
'
-Tony Mattia, Pastor, S.B.C., Wamego,
Kansas