Congratulations to our 2009 MA (Historical Theology) candidates, (Rev) Mr Michael Brown and Mr Joshua Forrest. Last night the latter defended the thesis, “Absolute Dependence or Classical Synthesis?: Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Appropriation of Lutheran Orthodoxy” and the former defended the thesis: “Christ and the Condition: The Covenant Theology of Samuel Petto (c. 1624-1711).” The annual MA (Hist Theol) thesis defense is one of the highlights of the academic year and this year was no exception. The event was well attended. Thanks to all who came out to support the candidates through their last trial. This summer these theses will be bound and then accessioned in our library. For more information about the MA (Historical Theology) program at Westminster Seminary California or for more information about our MDiv program or other MA programs call 760 480 8474 or go to wscal.edu
Update: Here are the thesis abstracts.
This thesis assesses Schleiermacher’s use of Lutheran orthodoxy in 1811. At the newly founded modern Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (1810), Schleiermacher surprisingly selected Johann Gerhard’s Loci Theologici (Theological Commonplaces) and Johann Quenstedt’s Theologia didactio-polemica (Didactical-Polemical Theology) as theological texts to accompany his lectures. After giving an overview of the Lutheran orthodoxy’s prolegomena and the Aufklärung’s (German Enlightenment) discussion of metaphysics for the purpose of setting the context, this thesis narrows in on Schleiermacher’s life and thought—basically showing that Schleiermacher’s life revolved generally around metaphysics and Kantian morality along with their political implications. Among the Romantic circle in Berlin, Schleiermacher decided neither metaphysics (knowing) nor morality (doing) solved the God-world (creator-creature) problem. Instead, he argued that religion was intuition. Schleiermacher, however, did not intend to be a professional theologian, but at the request of the King William III, he was appointed to faculty of theology at Halle (1804). The rationalist theologians believed that theology was primarily either metaphysics or morality or a combination of both, and they wanted to depart from the seventeenth-century’s theology, but the Breslau theologians, wanting to return to old Lutheranism, opposed this point of view. In addition to using Gerhard and Quenstedt to “out-Lutheranize” the Lutherans, Schleiermacher chose Gerhard and Quenstedt because they grounded theology in faith seeking understanding, which Schleiermacher called Gefühl (feeling) in his Glaubenslehre. Nevertheless, like the rationalists, he did not wish to return entirely to old orthodoxy. He received, rejected, and redefined some of Gerhard’s and Quenstedt’s fundamental doctrines.
On the eve of the tricentennial anniversary of his death, Samuel Petto (c.1624-1711) and his work is largely unknown by students and scholars of Reformed orthodoxy and seventeenth century covenant theology. This is true of scholars on both sides of the “Calvin v. the Calvinists” debate, as well as current discussions in Reformed circles regarding covenant theology and the doctrine of justification. This thesis seeks to make a contribution to the ongoing studies of the development of British Reformed orthodox covenant and federal theology by examining Petto’s covenantal thought in its historical context. It demonstrates that he viewed the Mosaic covenant as a republication of the covenant of works for Christ to fulfill as the condition of the covenant of grace in order to uphold and defend his doctrine of justification sola fide.