New book unlocks Reformed history

Posted by Wes White

The Westminster Standards and the Reformed Confessions in general are the product of what is commonly called “Reformed scholasticism.” Reformed scholasticism is simply the name for the academic theology of the pastors and theologians of the Reformed Church in the 16th–18th centuries. After the Reformers separated from Rome, the “Reformed scholastics” sought to codify the insights of the Reformation and integrate them with the whole classical Christian tradition. In the post-Reformation era, these theologians defended the truths of the Reformation against powerful opponents and applied the insights of the Reformation into all areas of church and social life. Sadly, this area of church history has been woefully neglected, especially in the English language. Reformation Heritage Books has filled the gap with its forthcoming Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism by Willem van Asselt, et al., a translation of a book originally written in Dutch by the same title. This book fills a real gap in our theological literature, as Carl Trueman writes concerning this book, “This work supplies a long-standing need in the field of early modern studies by providing a basic introduction to Reformed Scholasticism.”

To understand how important this book is, recognize that Reformed scholasticism has received a very negative evaluation from much modern scholarship. Those who have rejected inerrancy, for example, have accused the Reformed scholastics of imposing their “mechanical” views of inspiration on the dynamic views of the Reformers. The Federal Vision was in large part born out of a negative evaluation of Reformed scholasticism. They were simply taking a common view of the Reformed scholastics that they coldly imposed their logic on Scripture, cutting off whatever did not agree with their “system,” who presented lengthy philosophical arguments and polemics in their sermons to impoverished congregations. Men like Willem van Asselt, professor of theology in Belgium and the Netherlands, and Richard Muller, professor of theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, have demonstrated that this is a totally false picture. This book will give you the tools you need to counter the common misrepresentations of the 17th century theologians.

More importantly, this book will serve a positive purpose. It will help you understand the classical Christian context of Reformed theology. It will give you a greater appreciation for our heritage and its catholic nature. You will understand much more clearly how our forefathers came to the conclusions that they enshrined in our confessions. Even if you believe the confessions need to be changed, this will give you a greater appreciation for how they came into being and a better context for your own critique. I do not recommend a lot of modern books, but this is one modern book that everyone who is interested in studying Reformed theology should read. As Richard Muller said in the forward, “It is not merely an introductory survey. It is a significant guide for the further study of the era.” Martin Klauber, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School said, “This work is especially recommended for seminary students and for all who have interest in the development of Reformed theology.”

You can pre-order a copy here. If you would like to sample it before you buy a copy, you can download the introduction here.

Posted by Wes White

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4 Comments

  1. Phil Derksen said,

    February 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Wow! An actual picture on Green Baggins! (I knew something was different with this post right away…)

    On a serious note, this looks quite promising and useful. If finances allow I’ll be ordering a copy soon.

  2. February 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    If one has Muller’s 4-volume set, is there a reason one would need this volume also? In other words, what does this new work do differently (or with a different focus, perhaps)?

  3. Wes White said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Richard, there is a difference between having Muller’s set and actually reading it.:) If you have read Muller’s volumes, you might not find this as useful. If you have not, then you will find it useful.

    On the other hand, I do think that it could be useful because there are aspects of this book that Muller does not touch on. Moreover, even if you have read Muller, this is a good book to codify, collate, and review what you have studied.

  4. February 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks, Wes.


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