Memories of Robert Knudsen

Arthur J. Fox

The Rev. Dr. Robert D. Knudsen passed into glory on Monday, February 21, and while I rejoice in his entrance into glory, I am also saddened by the loss of a friend. Having now been in the same presbytery with him for seven or so years, I have seen him as a dear brother in Christ who will be missed.

To appreciate Dr. Knudsen, you have to begin with Knudsen the humble servant of God. He loved God too much to allow Christians to do anything in less than God’s own way. He succeeded Dr. Van Til on the faculty of Westminster Seminary, and maintained Van Til’s desire to glorify God in apologetics.

Then there was Knudsen the pastor—yes, pastor. He is remembered in my congregation (as no doubt in many others) as a gentle preacher who gladly filled the pulpit to the glory of God. His last motion on the floor of the Presbytery of Philadelphia was one intended to help a fellow minister resolve his conflict with others in the presbytery.

There was Knudsen the humorist, who declared that he had finally graduated from seminary, when in reality he had retired from full-time teaching. He was well known and loved for his self-deprecating humor.

There was Knudsen the presbyter. He faithfully attended nearly every presbytery meeting that I am aware of, unless ill or away from the country. He voted out of conviction on every issue. He eschewed unkind words about brothers in the presbytery. He attended every General Assembly that I attended, and he was gladly heard on the floor, though he was never one to speak an unnecessary word.

There was also Knudsen the musician. He was always there to play the piano for hymns at meetings. And he never missed a key or a cue that I can remember. Those who belonged to Trinity OPC in Hatboro will lovingly remember his devoted service in this area.

I will leave it to others to speak of Knudsen the husband and Knudsen the father, though anyone who attended Westminster when I did is aware of a scholarship that was awarded in the memory of a son who died at a young age. He never showed any bitterness over this that his students were aware of.

Finally, there was Knudsen the teacher. His grading system was generous, if somewhat of a mystery. I still have my midterm exam, and I got a B. But he never said why. I am inclined to think he did not want to discourage his students. He told us he graded our finals, but that we would not get them back. A few of us thought he perhaps threw them up in the air and gave an A to the ones that landed in one spot and B to everyone else. No one was sorry they had him for a professor. He was a kind and gracious mentor.

I did not know Dr. Knudsen as well as I now wish I had. These are the impressions of one who cannot think less than kindly and gratefully of a man whose memory deserves to be honored. He loved his God, he loved his family, and he loved his brothers and sisters in Christ. That means he kept the law as God gave him grace to do so. There can be no higher compliment. Thank God for the life and ministry of Robert Knudsen. To God be the glory, forever. Amen.

The author is the pastor of Calvary OPC in Middletown, Pa. Reprinted from New Horizons, May 2000.