Martin Klauber Speaks at Westminster Seminary California (Updated)

Update 11 March 2010

Marty gave a fine lecture today and we recorded an episode of Office Hours after classes this afternoon. He highlighted the fundamental role that compromise played in the decline of Reformed theology. How, in two generations, did the Genevan theological leadership move from Francis Turretin to Jacob Vernet’s denial of the Trinity? The process began early in the 17th century at Saumur and happened in other compromises along the way to the early 18th century (e.g., refusal to exclude the Remonstrants consistently from the Reformed churches). In other words, the collapse of Reformed theology in Geneva didn’t just happen. It was the consequence of a series of bad decisions made by otherwise orthodox people. One of the crises they faced repeatedly was to choose between getting along and getting it right. Too often otherwise orthodox people chose to get along. The consequences of those choices didn’t appear immediately but they did appear.

We who are facing a variety of challenges whether from the Emergent/emerging church movement(s), the FV movement, the NPP movement(s), Open Theism (or “right-wing” temptations such as theocracy, theonomy, or other such fundamentalisms) need to remember that the choices we make now, perhaps to get along with kin or friends may produce unforeseen consequences.

Original Post 10 Mar 2010

The study of post-Reformation Reformed theology (Reformed orthodoxy or scholasticism) was revolutionized by the research of Richard Muller beginning in the late 1970s. Muller applied the methods and approach of David Steinmetz (who had focused on the Reformation) and Heiko Oberman (who had focused on late medieval nominalism and the Reformation) and Robert Preus (who had focussed on Lutheran orthodoxy) to the study of post-Reformation theology. The results of that work changed the way scholars have seen Reformed orthodoxy. Despite Muller’s pioneering research much work needs yet to be done.  Martin Klauber of the few scholars who has paid much attention to the late period (c. post-1680) of Reformed orthodoxy. You can see a little of Klauber’s work in Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment. Marty will be giving a convocation lecture tomorrow at 10:00AM, in the chapel, at WSC, during which he’ll be speaking to the question of what happened to Reformed orthodoxy in the 18th century.  On Fri morning he’ll be lecturing in the Reformed scholasticism seminar. For that session we’re reading Jean Daille, Right Use of the Fathers. Thanks to WSC student Dan Borvan for setting up this visit and for making the arrangements.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Dr. Clark,

    Following up on your comments, what particular areas/people do you think need the most attention?

    • As far as I know, little has been written (in English at least) on post-17th-century Reformed theology, apart from the Colonial/American context. There’s work on the English church and theology but there are a great lot of European, particularly Dutch writers who are more or less lost. Really, one could throw a dart at a map of Reformed theology in the 17th and 18th centuries and, apart from a few notables, one is not likely to hit anything but virgin territory. I have several volumes on my shelves that I’ve not had time to work through. The list of those who’ve been “covered,” to borrow from the newspaper writers, is much shorter than the list of those who haven’t been.

      • I suppose the language issue is one of the reasons there hasn’t been a lot of work done in those areas. For that reason, I’ve been guilty of primarily looking at British Reformed theology. I’m hoping to pick up ecclesiastical Latin in the next year or two and I have two years of German that I need to brush up on, so I’ve tried to repent of my Anglo-centrism and have a growing interest in German Reformed theology. I realize that’s an area you have done work in. Any particular areas there that you’d recommend?

        • There’s a little more done on the Germans, but not much on the period/writers after the Thirty-Years War. My sense is that German Reformed theology changed significantly (from a confessional pov, I would say declined) after the war. There’s a little work on the period of the restoration of the Reformed to Heidelberg but, again, not much. The folks who were reprinting and editing (and modifying!) Ursinus in early 17th century are interesting.

          Yes, Latin is essential. It’s not that difficult, esp. if one has Greek. It’s better to learn Latin first (no funny letters) but either way the one builds upon the other.

          Take a look at vol 1 of Muller’s PRRD. Hotson’s work on Alsted is very good. That will get you started on the Germans.

          • One more question 🙂 Do you see a need for work on theologians like Robert Bellarmine? I know that many of the Reformed scholastics interacted with him even after his death. It seems like understanding his thought would provide good perspective on the development of Reformed Theology in the later 16th and early 17th centuries. Unfortunately Italian would probably be needed to study him properly.

            • Yes! Absolutely. There’s little English-language scholarship on the later, more mature counter-Reformation/Roman apologists. We can’t really understand Reformed orthodoxy unless and until we understand the sophistication of their critics and opponents. That includes the Socinians, the Amyraldians (I understand that not everyone views them as opponents, but a good number of Reformed orthodox came to that conclusion by the end of the 17th century) the Remonstrants, and the Romanists.

  2. Dr. Clark,
    Regarding the Amyraldian/ Saumur thing, was the Helvetic Consesus Formula written after, during, or before Francis Turretin Elenctic Theology? If I remember correctly, Turretin speaks in “kinder” tones within his elenctic theology concerning some of the Amyraldians. I’m not sure though, all those French names became a bit of a blur for me. It was hard to keep track of who was who in the Van Stamm (?) publication. I think I read something by an Armstrong on that issue too.

  3. “Latin is essential”
    Wow…do I want to learn Latin. I get a quick snort of it every so often when I look up etymologies. As for studying under someone, those who get to do so are profoundly blessed. I am happy for them and I wish I was in their shoes.

  4. Dr. Clark:

    I move in a different direction than the good posts above.

    However, I tie it in with this. You said,

    “We who are facing a variety of challenges whether from the Emergent/emerging church movement(s), the FV movement, the NPP movement(s), Open Theism (or “right-wing” temptations such as theocracy, theonomy, or other such fundamentalisms) need to remember that the choices we make now, perhaps to get along with kin or friends may produce unforeseen consequences.”

    1. I sit and ponder the above internal and external threats to “True Churches” with the true marks.

    2. a) There is a large “wealth transfer” into the coffers of CBN, TBN, Daystar, and Morningstar TV stations. b) I’d love to see the numbers on it, but the books are closed. Senator Grassley, Iowa, has made an effort. c) I’d love to compare the annual budgets combined of Confessional Lutheran and Reformed Seminaries in contrast to TBN, Hinn, Copeland and other false teachers. Copeland alone, for example, has boasted that he is a “billionaire” and is in the “billionaire flow.” I am a witness to that.

    3. I read an article tonight that the various Pentecostal versions combined total 60 million worldwide, making them the fourth largest faith group: a) Romanists, b) Muslims, c) Anglicans and then, d) Pentecostalism.

    Not sure where the Lutherans, Orthodox or Baptists fit. Still working on it. But the articles read are making the claims.

    4. One result is the globalization of neo-Montanism. And from my observations thus far, it is “dominionist” in tone and defense at the leadership levels. On the ground, the same exists.

    5. I understand this is not a problem “in” Confessionally Reformed or Lutheran Churches.

    6. FV, Emergents, Megachurch models, non-Confessionally wide evangelicals, and the therapeutic Deism without Law and Gospel are challenges.

    7. I add to the list “1st, 2nd, and 3rd Wave” Pentecostalism and neo-Montanism going national and global. Their defenders are in no mood to reform their doctrine, worship or piety. They are not taking prisoners either.

    8. I have no strategic answers other than the earnest prayer and “vision” (idea) that there would be a national conference, perhaps led by Dr. R.C. Sproul, and perhaps a five-year project that would assemble Churchmen for a response and rebuttal akin to the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Dr. Boice was the statesman of the day with the courage and credibility to marshal those resources. This neo-Montanism may be one of the greatest global threats in our time.

    I am not asking for a response. I simply sit here staring at your paragraph as well as staring at the wall here.

    The reading goes on.

    Best regards,

  5. Scott
    Wes White’s most recent post on the Federal Vision has a link to our mutual friend Jordon over at his blog ‘sacramentalpiety’ and his eyeopening post -” The FV Isn’t On the Road To Rome,They’re Already There: A Case Example”. This is downright spooky given the way the FV has attempted to position itself within Reformed denominations as being simply another variety of the Reformed faith with their own particular emphasis.

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