The International Character of Protestant Scholasticism

Muller makes a very interesting point on pg. 66: “The interrelationship of the English Reformed with the continental Reformed was such that neither development can be properly understood without the other: specifically, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, British theology was receptive to continental thought, as citations of European thinkers in English works testify.” He goes on to note the many interconnections of British (i.e. Puritan) thinkers with the continental thinkers. The relationship went both ways, by the way, as Voetius’ advice to his students testifies (that they should memorize Ames’ Medulla theologiae).

The importance of this point can be seen in the frequent criticism I have heard of Banner of Truth, that they publish only the Puritans, and badly neglect the Continentals. Now, lest anyone think that I am denigrating BoT, I own nearly every set of Puritan theology that they publish. However, the charge does stick. They need to publish some of these amazing Continental theologians. That would definitely help people over here understand that the Puritans were by no means isolationistic in their theology. Of course, publishing those guys means lots more translating work. So, if anyone is looking for a great way to benefit the church, they should learn Latin and start translating!

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13 Comments

  1. November 21, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    Do you know a good work which shows the varying differences regarding the Sabbath between the continental and puritan reformers?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    November 21, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    As a matter of fact, I don’t know of a good book. I own five works on the subject of Sabbath, and none of them address that issue. I bet Lee would have something, however. Lee?

  3. Lee said,

    November 22, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    I was wondering if you had more proof that the flow went both ways. Ames was as much a Continental thinker as he was a Puritan. After all, he was in exile teaching in the Netherlands. Did Mueller offer any more proof than Ames?

    As for the request about the Sabbath, give me a little bit and I will post again. For now it is lunch time.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Muller cites several continentals who respected and quoted the Puritans. He says “major English thinkers like Perkins, Ames, Whitaker, Gataker, Baxter, and Owen were much appreciated on the continent- as is manifest by the European editions and citations of their works” (66). Then, on page 67, he says this, “Whitaker was cited as late as Mastricht’s Theoretica-practica theologia (1682-89), Perkins’ works were translated into Dutch, Turretin evidenced a profound respect for Owen. Further indices to this interrelationship can be found in the library catalogues of theologians like Gomarus, Owen, and Baxter. A full picture of Reformed orthodoxy cannot afford to omit the English contribution to Protestant scholasticism- nor is it acceptable to attempt to interpret British theology in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries without reference to continental developments.” It should be noted, by the way, that he thinks the majority of influence went from the continent to England, and notes that the English theologians omnivorously read the continental works (66). However, influence the other direction was not lacking.

  5. Lee said,

    November 22, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks Lane. That helps quite a bit.
    As for the Sabbath, the best side-by-side comparison on the Sabbath issue is found in Hughes Oliphant Old’s Guides to The Reformed Tradition: Worship. It is more historical than theological, but does cover the theological ground. Just know before reading it, that it is supposed to be a historical book, not a theological one. The Ten Commandments by J. Douma has a more theological treatment that does some side by side comparison of the Puritan view and the Continental view of the Sabbath. He does take sides in that book, so expect an argument for one and against the other. As a Dutchman, Douma favors the Continental view. The Worship of the American Puritans contains a nice description of the Puritan view of the Sabbath as well as quotes from Thomas Shepard’s The Doctrine of the Sabbath which argues for the Puritan view theologically. All that aside a good book dedicated wholly to the Sabbath question by comparison I do not have, nor know of. Someone should write it, and I would buy it. Dr. Joseph Pipa has a book arguing in favor of the Puritan view called, The Lord’s Day. It is very good. On the other hand, I do not know many books solely dedicated to arguing the Continental view. Michael Horton’s The Law of Perfect Freedom takes a chapter to argue very well for the Continental view of the Fourth Commandment. I wish I could have been of more help.

  6. November 22, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks Lee, you were very helpful. Which view do you hold to Lane?

  7. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    I am Puritan in this regard, a la Isaiah 58:13, which I have yet to see treated in any kind of systematic way by the Continental view. It is on that passage that my understanding (and the Westminster divines’ understanding, by the way) is founded.

  8. November 22, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    Does your church enforce Sabbatarianism then?

  9. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Not at all. I serve two Dutch Reformed Churches, which, right now, are struggling (generation gap is not helping things) with working on the Sabbath, let alone the recreation part of things. There are some who practically amount to Puritans in my church. However, there are many who are actually working on Sunday.

  10. November 22, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Interesting, how does your Puritanical leanings go over in a Dutch Reformed Church? Do you follow Kuyper’s thought in any of your teachings?

  11. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    So far, it hasn’t been too bad. I am a good deal stricter in many ways than my congregation is. However, I realize that change, if it comes at all, will only come slowly. I’m taking things slow. The picture in the back of the sanctuary, for instance, is a picture of Jesus. It’s a great huge picture. I think it is a violation of the second commandment. But am I going to push that right now, when this particular church is having much more fundamental unity problems? No. I’ll get to it, especially when I eventually preach (D.V.) on the Ten Commandments. I’m not a great reader of Kuyper, though I like the idea of a Christian worldview very much.

  12. November 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    I would recommend his Stone Lectures even if you don’t agree with him. I believe his common grace view has merit and I also embrace his view of sphere sovereignty. I’m more in agreement with his original work than that of his students such as Dooyeveerd . Neocalvinist thought today seems to have brought into the PM mindset.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    November 22, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    I’ll have to check those out sometime.


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