Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Theological Study in the Reformation and Post-Reformation Years

Models for Study in the Era of the Reformation:
Andreas Hyperius’ massive De theologo, seu de ratione studii theologiae carries on this model for theological study in vast detail. Hyperius understood theological study as a carefully constructed discipline but also as a spiritual or pious exercise, not merely a form of knowing or scientia, but also a wisdom, sapientia.

Study ought to be grounded in the recognition that “the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge (scientia)” (Prov. 1:7) and the student should “prepare [his] soul for the diligent reading of sacred letters” through prayer for personal humility and spiritual illumination. This piety is to be the foundation for a rigorous course of study.

Hyperius’ catalogue of the kinds of study “necessary” to theological training is daunting: grammar, logic, and rhetoric (the trivium), arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (the quadrivium), philosophy, physics, ethics, politics, oeconomics, metaphysics, history, architecture, and agriculture, and above all Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

In theology itself, he distinguishes a series of subdisciplines: Scripture and its interpretation, doctrine as gathered in the loci communes, and practice as identified in the history and governance of the church, its polity, worship, and preaching.

From Catechesis to Academics: Matters of Motivation. For the Reformed Orthodox:
The study of theology was an enterprise intended for all Christians—and the detailed academic study of the subject was to be the practical foundation for sound study on all levels.

Mastricht notes that this theological “knowledge of the truth according to piety” (cognitio veritatis secundum pietatem) is studied by teachers (doctors) and ministers whose office is to understand, teach, interpret, propound, and apply theology.

It is also to be studied by magistrates so that they might be acquainted with the Law, as demanded in Scripture (Deut. 17:18–20; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 19:7–14), that they might rightly order the lives of their subjects, guard the church from its adversaries, and govern wisely recognizing the Lordship of Christ.

Even so, all Christians should study it so that they might have access to Christian truth, and might advance more and more in it, support their lives by it, and make it known to others.

Muller, R. A. (2003). Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise And Development Of Reformed Orthodoxy; Volume 1: Prolegomena To Theology (2nd Ed., Pp. 210–211). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

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