Petrus Van Mastricht on Scripture and Science

Wes summarizes some recent research on the 17th-century conflict between Reformed orthodoxy and Cartesian rationalism. There’s a chapter on this topic in RRC.

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  1. Thanks for the link. Interesting topic, how the Reformed scholastics handled Descartes/Cartesianism. I’ve read the book (orthodoxy and philosophy), and I’m in a seminar on Descartes’ System. Before the class I wanted to get an understanding of how Reformed contemporaries reacted to Cartesianism (essays in Asselt’s edited Reformation and Scholasticism, Popkin’s Scepticism and Irreligion in the 17th and 18th centuries, and your own edited Protestant Scholasticism, were all quite helpful here). One thing that struck me was Dennison’s (sr.) argument in Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment, about Turriten’s reaction to the various unorthodox threats facing Geneva. Dennison argues that Turriten took Amyraldianism to be a far more dangerous system than, say, Descartes’ method of doubt, for the church in his day and location. I am not sure if I am representing his article exactly right, but in my own reading of the Reformed scholastics I’ve found likewise very diverse reactions to any and every aspect of Cartesianism (from Voetians to the “Cartesian-cocceians”). There is an orthodox position on philosophy–it’s subservient to theology–but I wonder, in general, how much that tells us, Reformed, about particular philosophers like Descartes or systems like Cartesianism. Can one be a confessional Reformed “Cartesian” (or Reformed plus any other philosophical system)? Unfortunately it seems there’s no a priori answer; it depends in large part on the particular philosopher and particular system and what aspects are compatible with the Bible’s theology.

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