Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Westminster Wednesday: Is History Important? True, Man!

Dr. Carl Trueman makes the case here.

I haven't finished going through the whole piece, but what I've read thus far has convinced me of its blog-worthiness.


  1. the so-called Reformed Orthodoxy must also be critiqued for its failure to break away from Scholasticism's dualistic and syncretic tendencies (as well as its rationalistic tendencies, as demonstrated in the works of Van Til and Schaeffer). I find it interesting that Trueman cites the work of Utrecht University theologian Antonie Vos without critical comment. If Vos is correct that so much of Reformed theology draws from the work of the Franciscan friar Dons Scotus, then Milbank et al are correct in arguing that the Protestant Reformation, especially the Calvinistic wing, rejected the Thomistic Participation in Being for the nominalistic predilection for the Univocity of Being and for the Arbitrary Divine Will (rather than for the Divine Intellect espoused by Aquinas ) of the Franciscan nominalists Duns Scotus and William of Occam. According to Milbank, this concern for the conatus (the Will) led to shifts in theology that eventually gave birth to an anthropology and an economic theory where Man is both center and creator, divorced from any sense of normativity that an earlier Christianity had espoused.

  2. I claim no expertise in Reformed Orthodoxy, but if by the charge of "rationalism" what is meant is Cartesian/Enlightenment autonomy, then it would be false to level this charge against the Reformed Scholastics. The intellectual refinement brought on by the employment of the scholastic method in Reformed Scholasticism, with its due recognition of the role of reason, is not equivalent to a rationalism of the sort aforementioned. If you've read Van Til, you would know that "rationalism" would be the furthest thing from his thought.

    I haven't interacted with any of Antonie Vos' material, but claiming that "much of" Reformed theology draws from the Medieval period is, I would say, misinformation. In fact, "ad fontes," being one of the driving principles of the early period of the Reformation, in line with the Renaissance Humanism of the day, would pretty much negate this assertion, since the doctrinal formulations erected were actually drawn from the original biblical sources (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) and the Early Church Fathers.

    Also, stating the rejection of "participation in Being" and the acceptance of "univocity of Being" in the same breath is actually contradictory. Thomistic thought espouses the notion of a generic "being" from which God Himself derives His being. This is equivalent to stating univocity. The Reformed system outrightly rejected this notion in its doctrine of the Creator-creature distinction (archetypal-ectypal).


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