W. Stanford Reid

W. Stanford Reid: An Evangelical Calvinist in the Academy

A. DONALD MacLEOD
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 408
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zw2m
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  • Book Info
    W. Stanford Reid
    Book Description:

    MacLeod's in-depth analysis examines how an observant Christian academic, unapologetically Calvinist, openly articulated his faith in a secular environment and helped convince evangelicals to abandon their ghettoizing anti-intellectualism. His discussion of Reid's international networking serves as a reminder of the way in which Canadian evangelicalism was influenced by and in turn influenced the United States, where Reid's influence was appreciable, both as a trustee of Westminster Seminary for thirty-seven years and as editor at large of the nascent "Christianity Today." "W. Stanford Reid" is a poignant, in-depth investigation of the life of a man whose career spanned academia and church.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7218-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    A. Donald MacLeod
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Pictures
    (pp. xix-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    There is a large pink granite boulder by a deserted gravel byway in northern Megantic County, rural Quebec. The road to the site has always been known locally as “the Concession,” and it lies between the twelfth and thirteenth ranges of the township of Leeds. As one approaches, an inscription on the stone becomes visible. It states simply “This cairn marks the site of Reid’s Church, 1854—1952.” There is a savage beauty to the Palmer River valley below. Scrub grows where once there were fields of grain. With the help of old photographs and a careful inspection of the...

  7. 1 A Passionate Pedigree Robust Reids and Second Coming Stanfords
    (pp. 10-31)

    Stanford Reid is best known as a chronicler and preserver of Scotland’s history. He proudly wore the kilt and traced his lineage back to a Reid sept of the clan MacGregor. But as always with him, the truth was more complex. William Stanford Reid was half English. While the “William” and the “Reid” represented a Scots legacy, “Stanford,” the name by which he was always called, was unmistakably Sassenach. His mother was London born, of working-class stock. His was a dual Scots and English heritage, tempered on his father’s side by three generations in Canada, and seasoned with a clear...

  8. 2 Growing Up Privileged and Presbyterian, 1913–1935 Westmount and McGill Between the Wars
    (pp. 32-46)

    On 13 September 1913, at 619 Victoria Avenue in the prosperous Montreal suburb of Westmount, William Stanford Reid was born. At the ages of thirty-five and forty-eight his mother and father were late to settle into parenthood and domesticity. Daisy, who contributed the “Stanford” by which he would always be known, had given up travel and a missionary career. W.D., to whom Stanford was indebted for the “William” in his name, had given up an itinerant career as Alberta missions superintendent to accept a call to Stanley Street Presbyterian Church just prior to his marriage.

    Stanley Street Church members had...

  9. 3 Defining a Precocious Piety, 1922–1938 Finding God in Unconventional Places
    (pp. 47-65)

    Stanford Reid was nine years old when, on 8 December 1922, he joined Stanley Church as a full communicant member. According to the Presbyterian system, he previously met with the Session (the elders) and then, in front of the entire congregation, answered questions about his personal faith, professing to believe the Apostles’ Creed, which, along with the Lord’s Prayer, he would have memorized. For a son or daughter of a minister, standing up before your father’s congregation in a public ceremony can be a daunting experience. Clergy children often feel the burden of expectations.

    Until the 1960s Quebec’s Protestants, almost...

  10. 4 Setting Course Professionally and Maritally, 1938–1941 Credentialed Academically, Committed Matrimonially
    (pp. 66-80)

    In later life, as Stanford Reid looked back, the summer of 1938 seemed a dark and lonely time.¹ It should not have been. He had graduated from Westminster Seminary with an impressive grade point average and received the Frank Stevenson award given the top student for further post-graduate studies. At the age of twenty-five, he had four academic degrees and was a published author. But his mother’s sudden death in April, which had initially energized him as he rushed back to Montreal to make all the funeral arrangements, left him emotionally drained and depleted.

    In his uncertain frame of mind,...

  11. 5 Young Pastor and Part-time Academic, 1941–1951 Crosscurrents in Quebec and McGill in the Forties
    (pp. 81-91)

    Quebec’s politics in the 1940s were a subject of considerable fascination for Stanford Reid. As a Quebecker himself, he was all too aware of the two solitudes — French and English — described by fellow McGill faculty member Hugh MacLennan in his 1945 novel of that name. He readLe Devoiras well as theMontreal StarandGazette. Not only was he an historian of the past, he set about to take an active part in the history that unfolded before him on his return to Montreal. He did this by writing to the newspapers frequent (and often controversial)...

  12. 6 A Confessional Canadian Presbyterian, 1941–1951 Ascendant Barthianism and the Limits of Ecumenism
    (pp. 92-113)

    Five years after his return from the United States, Stanford Reid was asked by thePresbyterian Guardian, a paper identified with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (opc), to describe the state of health of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. His two articles in response provide a view of the denomination as he saw it in 1946.

    Reid began with Church Union as an explanation for the theological ambiguities of the continuing Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those opposed to merger with Methodists and Congregationalist had many, often conflicting, reasons for their nonconcurrence:

    … the division did not take place upon clear doctrinal...

  13. 7 Academic and Administrator, 1951–1962 McGill During and After Duplessis
    (pp. 114-125)

    “Two careers will merge into one when Rev Dr W. Stanford Reid returns to teaching duties next session at McGill University, where his promotion from assistant to associate professor of history was announced today.” The June 1951 news item in theMontreal Starcame as no surprise to Reid’s parishioners at the Presbyterian church in the Town of Mount Royal. The congregation was moving to a permanent home at the end of the summer. Their founding minister would remain until a service of dedication had been held. Then both minister and church would go their separate ways and start on...

  14. 8 Staying the Course, 1952–1958 Fundamentalism, Christianity Today and Evangelical Identity
    (pp. 126-141)

    “McGill’s Milk-Drinking Men Must Make Their Own Beds,” the MontrealGazetteheadlined in early October of 1952. The new warden of Douglas Hall had put an end to maid service in Douglas Hall. Each resident would have to make his own bed, or leave it unmade. It was grist for the journalistic mill. TheMontreal Stareditorialized: “On the Making of Beds” asked, tongue firmly in cheek about this “unusual humiliation,” “Will the proud spirit of male McGillians be dashed into mental despair?” “Is the McGill undergrad up to it? We doubt it. Better give the idea a six months’...

  15. 9 Persevering Presbyterian, 1952–1965 Denominational Promoter and Gadfly Journalist
    (pp. 142-163)

    “The Protestant Church today throughout the world is troubled with anaemia … There is a new need for that enthusiasm, self-sacrifice and aggressiveness which characterized the sixteenth century Reformation.” ¹ Stanford Reid might have left the active ministry but he would still have his bully pulpit, for he and several friends were launching a new magazine.Reformation Todaymade its debut in October 1951. “The Protestant Reformers always insisted that the Church must keep close to the Scriptures as the only true basis of Christian knowledge and feeling. It was as a result of their Biblical studies that they were...

  16. 10 McGill’s Unsettling Putsch, 1958–1965 The Loss of a Patron
    (pp. 164-179)

    The eighth congress of the Universities of the Commonwealth was a showcase opportunity for McGill and for its principal. Originally founded as the Universities Bureau of the British Empire, the organization had come a long way from its initial gathering in 1912, when it was described as the First Congress of the Universities of the Empire. Following the Second World War, the organization had to recognize new realities, and thus became the Association of Universities of the British Commonwealth. Meetings had been held in rotation between Oxford and Cambridge, but in 1950 Cyril James had lobbied strongly for holding the...

  17. 11 Heady Years at Guelph, 1965–1970 Constructing a History Department
    (pp. 180-201)

    On 19 February 1965 Stanford Reid returned to his suite in Douglas Hall and “startled [his] wife with the information that [they were] moving to Guelph.” Events had moved quickly since his initial inquiry to Dean Murdo MacKinnon. Looking through the academic vacancies listing of the Canadian University Federation, Stanford had spied an advertisement for staff at all levels for embryonic Wellington College of the new University of Guelph. “For some time now I have been increasingly disturbed by the social and political developments in the Province of Quebec,” his letter of application began. “Although the outsider may at the...

  18. 12 Academic Autumn, 1970–1979 Biographer, Raconteur, and Cognoscente
    (pp. 202-216)

    Throughout his life Stanford Reid was dominated by the figure of John Knox. Defending the Scottish Reformer became an obsession for him. Scots have always had an ambivalent relationship with Knox, who, more than any other, defines their national identity. He remains after almost 500 years, a controversial, even incendiary figure, surrounded by myth and half-truths, inviting revulsion or reverence.

    Stanford Reid not only spent a lifetime attempting to set the record straight about John Knox. He also set out — consciously or unconsciously — to copy him. James Douglas Morton’s final assessment of Knox at his funeral holds true...

  19. 13 Embattled Mainline Evangelical, 1966–1981 Testing Denominational Limits
    (pp. 217-238)

    The fourteen years of Reid’s active career as an academic at the University of Guelph overlap a fifteen-year period in which dramatic changes took place for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Reid always had a foot in both camps: the university world with its broad perspectives and secular certainties and the narrower (and narrowing) world of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Reid’s ecclesiastical connection represented a faith community rich in tradition but with a future increasingly challenged. As an academic Reid had the opportunity of witnessing first hand the death of Christendom. Many within the church seemed oblivious to the...

  20. 14 Interpreting Calvin Among Calvinists, 1953–1987 Who Speaks for John Calvin?
    (pp. 239-256)

    Throughout his life, Stanford Reid established himself as both a Calvin scholar and a Calvinist He recounted in his contribution toJohn Calvin: His Influence in the Christian Worldthat the entire Reid family, and indeed the whole Quebec Scots émigré community of Leeds in which they were nurtured, owed everything to the legacy of John Calvin and “the Calvinist drive to obtain an education.”¹ At Westminster Seminary, a Calvinist bastion, he took an elective in Calvin’s theology and was introduced to the way in which Cornelius Van Til related Calvinism, via the Dutch school of Abraham Kuyper and his...

  21. 15 A Painful Parting, 1977–1983 Justifying Justification
    (pp. 257-279)

    In January 1977 Stanford and Priscilla Reid arrived in Philadelphia. He had arranged to spend his sabbatical from the University of Guelph as visiting professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary. Sabbaticals are supposed to be a time of quiet reflection and scholarly pursuit. Instead, Reid found himself thrust into the centre of a controversy that would consume him for the next seven years and cast a long shadow over the rest of his life.

    From the time he had come to Westminster Seminary in the autumn of 1935, the school had defined who Reid was. It was more...

  22. 16 Church Union Redivivus, 1980–1984 Among Australia’s Continuing Presbyterians
    (pp. 280-294)

    It was both fortunate and fortuitous that Stanford Reid in retirement was able to move onto a new challenge that, as a senior citizen, kept his mind engaged and his gifts fully utilized. Invitations from the continuing Presbyterian Church of Australia, and the four journeys that followed between 1980 and 1984, represented, for the Reids, a coda to their active lives: an unexpected and harmonic conclusion. “Down Under,” Stanford Reid made a positive and valued contribution in completely new surroundings. Their Australian experience concluded happily his professional and ecclesiastical career. “We both look back to our times in Australia as...

  23. 17 Lengthening Shadows, 1989–1996 Coping With Age, Blindness, Loneliness
    (pp. 295-298)

    In March 1992, at the age of seventy-nine, Stanford Reid wrote an article titled “Loneliness and the Christian.” He claimed that, of everything he had ever written, this essay received the most response. The reason for that reaction was obvious: it was not only the closest thing to autobiography he had ever penned, it was also Stanford Reid at his most vulnerable and self-revealing.

    “When my wife was confined to a nursing home, I experienced a deep sense of loneliness. I have also encountered a number of men and women in our church having difficulty in dealing with their loneliness....

  24. Epilogue
    (pp. 299-302)

    What will the verdict of history be on the historian W. Stanford Reid? This is a question that he reflected on frequently during the final years of his life. So much of what he left behind him seemed hurried, incomplete, unfinished. Manuscripts – some rejected by publishers, others incomplete – were piled up in the double room he shared at the end of his life with another nursing home resident. They were taken away by his executor and form a collection of papers and other documents still to be catalogued and sorted.

    He was anxious to preserve all of his...

  25. Appendix: Bibliography of the Writings of W. Stanford Reid
    (pp. 303-324)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 325-382)
  27. Bibliography
    (pp. 383-392)
  28. Index
    (pp. 393-402)