Archive for the 'Historical Theology' Category

Hermann Venema: Definition of Covenant; Covenant of Works

August 8, 2010

A covenant is a voluntary agreement on the part of two or three persons to enter into friendship on certain conditions, or to renew it when broken, and is usually accompanied for the purpose of confirmation by the observance of ceremonies of various kinds.

The covenant of works it is said consisted in the agreement entered into between God and man, according to which the latter by rendering perfect and uninterrupted obedience to the divine commands in his own strength would have secured for himself.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 445-446.

Advertisements

Venema: How to Approach the Doctrine of Predestination

August 3, 2010

It is necessary to prosecute our enquiries on this subject with wisdom and prudence, in sobermindedness and humility, dispassionately, and without violating the spirit of unity and brotherly love.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 294.

The Mystery of Redemption

August 2, 2010

And now let us attend to the relation in which we stand to the Triune Jehovah or to each of the persons of the Trinity. We are bound to admire and adore the three in one, and to celebrate their praise as such. We should see in this mystery the foundation of the work of our redemption. In perfect consistency with his justice and holiness, God is now in Christ the sinner’s God, a way has been opened by the Son by which the sinner may draw near to the Father, and deliverance is offered by the Spirit’s sanctifying work from the power of sin. We should render thanks to God for the great love wherewith he hath loved us, in giving us such a glorious manifestation of himself, and in revealing a mystery which no created being could have discovered or even imagined. We should, moreover keep our eyes fixed on the Trinity as the pattern of our happiness and of the union that should exist among those who profess their faith in this great doctrine.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 266.

Venema and the Hiddenness of God

July 30, 2010

If God were to act arbitrarily, then we must renounce our confidence in his word, in all revelation, and in the whole of religion. For he may promise something to-day and deny it to-morrow. And who could repose reliance on a Being—whatever declarations he may make, whatever promises he may hold out—whatever command he may enjoin—in regard to whom there is a possibility that he may deceive us? We should be continually haunted with the suspicion that as he acts arbitrarily, he may be acting for the very purpose of deceiving us. But if it be said that he cannot so deceive us because he is unchangeably good and holy, we in saying this deny that he acts arbitrarily, for there is a something that limits him. He uniformly acts therefore not according to his mere good pleasure, but in consistency with his wisdom and other perfections.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 190.

Not Absolutely Free

July 29, 2010

For by creation he assumed certain relations towards his creatures—relations arising necessarily from his being their creator, and relations to which all his actions must be conformed. God besides cannot deny himself, and therefore in all his actions towards his creatures he is not absolutely free. For he is possessed of goodness, wisdom, justice, and he must act agreeably to these perfections.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 175.

Hermann Venema: What Reason Can & Cannot Do

July 26, 2010

It plainly declares, indeed, that he is a transgressor, and that he has forfeited the divine favour—that God, who is just and holy, cannot, without a full exhibition and vindication of these attributes, re-admit the sinner into his fellowship. But it breathes not a whisper as to the way in which this manifestation may be made, and how, in consistency with these attributes, a reconciliation can be effected between the parties at variance. This is a problem too difficult for reason to solve. Revelation alone clears up the mystery. It tells us, that that the Son of God was made flesh, in order that he might vindicate the divine holiness and satisfy the demands of divine justice. This wonderful scheme was foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling-block to the Jews.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 28.

This Terrible Glass

July 16, 2010

If we possessed in this life of a perfect faith in Christ, and so of perfect holiness, then I grant the believers should not need this terrible glass of the law, and of the covenant of works. But because unbelief still resteth in this our nature, and the relics of that inherent contagion still abide in us, and for that so long as we live here, neither our faith nor holiness can be perfected; therefore, to waken more and more our unbelief and inherent sin in us, and more and more to increase faith and holiness, we have ever need of this terrible glass, as a continual severe schoolmaster, which, ever casting many fears before us, may drive us to the faith of Christ, and to sanctimony of life.

Robert Rollock, “Treatise of Effectual Calling,” In Select Works of Robert Rollock, 2 vols., ed. William Gunn (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2008), 48-49.

All of Grace

July 15, 2010

First, that the cause wherefore we answer God’s calling, or believe in God, is God’s own grace, which worketh in us this faith by the Holy Ghost, which is given us with his work; for, like as God of his mere grace calleth us outwardly unto himself, so the same—his grace and free love in Jesus Christ—kindleth this faith in us, whereby we answer his heavenly calling.

Robert Rollock, “Treatise of Effectual Calling,” In Select Works of Robert Rollock, 2 vols., ed. William Gunn (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2008), 30.

More Muller

June 16, 2010

No central dogmas, such as predestination, control or organize system. Instead, the structure of system arises out of the careful consideration of the obiectum theologiae. What is more, the issue of the formal character of the obiectum theologiae, the way in which it is to be considered, governs the way in which theological system can be developed following the prolegomena. Here, again, the Reformed orthodox model presses biblical norms, a Christ-centered view of Scripture, and an essentially soteriological view of the body of Christian doctrine. In addition, it draws system away from purely metaphysical interests.

Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725, Vol. I: Prolegomena to Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006), 323.

Muller on the Reformed Orthodox & Pilgrim Theology

June 15, 2010

Not only is Christ’s knowledge of God the mediate prototype for all human knowledge of God, but in addition, the forms of human knowledge of God correspond with the conditions or states of Christ’s person: the Protestant orthodox definition of theology in terms of the theology of Christ, of the blessed, and of the earthly pilgrim, serves to emphasize the christocentric character of the saving knowledge of God, as argued in the concept of the duplex cogito Dei. Human theology, moreover, on the model of the human pilgrimage toward God, reflects Christ’s own pilgrimage of humiliation and exaltation, cross and resurrection. The christological content of the theologia viatorum reminds us of Luther’s theologia crucis, just as the christological reference of the theologia beatorum points to the proper place of the theologia gloriae — in heaven and not on earth. The theology of the blessed, then, belongs to the church triumphant, the theology of pilgrims to the church militant.

Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725, Vol. I: Prolegomena to Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006), 258.