Muller On The Distinction Between Scholasticism And Orthodoxy

The term scholasticism has a narrower reference than the term orthodoxy: it well describes the technical and academic side of this process of the institutionalization and professionalization of Protestant doctrine in the universities of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. If the doctrinal intention of this theology was confessional orthodoxy, its academic motivation was certainly intellectual adequacy . . . This, moreover is the sense of the term used by the writers of the sixteenth century to describe their own academic, technical, and disputative theology as distinct from other genre and approaches, namely, the catechetical, biblical-exegetical, and simply didactic or ecclesial. Thus, large numbers of the works of the late sixteenth and seventeenth-century Reformed orthodox—including works by the authors of scholastic theological systems—are not scholastic . . . significant elements of the nominally “scholastic” method of the Protestant orthodox derive not from medieval scholasticism but from Renaissance humanism. This mixed heritage of Protestant orthodoxy is an indication of the kind of continuity that developing Protestantism maintained with the Reformation—which itself drew on both the scholastic and the humanist models . . . Since scholasticism is primarily a method or approach to academic disciplines, it is not necessarily allied to any particular philosophical perspective, nor does it represent a systematic attachment to or concentration upon any particular doctrine or concept as a key to theological system.

Richard A. Muller | Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena to Theology, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 34–37.


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One comment

  1. I have had many frustrating discussions with “evangelicals” along the same lines as Muller outlines in this quote. I have come up with an acronym to describe their responses: SLOTH
    S – Stubborn, refusing to listen to anything or anyone outside of their established beliefs.
    L – Lazy, believing it’s too much work to dig into any works beyond what one is used to.
    O – Opinionated, having their own ideas about the interpretations of scripture passages no matter what anyone else might say.
    T – Thick Headed, often incapable of grasping any concept beyond what they “think” is right.


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