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Dogmen- und Theologiegeschichte


[Asselt, Willem J. van]


Scholasticism Reformed. Essays in Honour of Willem J. van Asselt. Ed. by M. Wisse, M. Sarot, W. Otten.


Leiden/Boston: Brill 2010. IX, 390 S. m. 1 Porträt. 24,0 x 16,0 cm = Studies in Theology and Religion, 14. Geb. EUR 130,00. ISBN 978-90-04-18317-9.


Arnold Huijgen

This collection of essays was published for the occasion of Willem J. van Asselt’s retirement from his lectureship in the history of re­-formed protestantism at Utrecht University. But when the volume was published, Van Asselt had already been appointed as research professor at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of Louvain. This already indicates Van Asselt’s ongoing, enthusiastic engagement, particularly in reformed scholasticism.
Van Asselt and others advocate a newer approach to reformed scholasticism, building on a positive evaluation of Duns Scotus’ idea of synchronic contingency. The adherents of this approach intend to transcend the merely historical evaluation of scholasticism, and to reappraise it as valuable for contemporary theology. Thus the intended double entendre of the title, Scholasticism Re­-form­ed. The variety of essays also reflects both the historical reassess­ment and the theological reappraisal of scholasticism.
The first part of the book treats reformed scholasticism and the Scotist heritage. Martijn Bac and Theo Pleizier give an overview of the new approach to scholasticism and its application in the classroom. Willemien Otten offers a case study of the relation between form and content in Abelard to criticize the idea of scholasticism as a neutral methodology. Antonie Vos and Eef Dekker discuss mo­dalities in Francis Turretin: (im)possiblity, actuality, contingency and necessity. R. A. Mylius argues for Van Asselt’s sense of humor in an essay on the recently discovered scholastic Elleboogius.
In the second part, ›reformed scholasticism at home and over­-seas‹, Andreas J. Beck investigates the relationship between Me­lanchthon and Voetius, arguing for their basic convergence, against earlier scholarship which suggests that Melanchthon and Cocceius were allies, over against Voetius. Frits G. M. Broeyer approaches Voetius differently than Van Asselt and others do, exploring his thought on the marks of the good Christian. Aza Goudriaan argues that justification was at the heart of the controversy at the Synod of Dordt: Arminius’ views on God’s middle-knowledge define faith as an act in which God plays no determinative role. Richard A. Muller writes on Thomas Barlow’s polemic against the new methodologies of his time. Carl R. Trueman devotes his essay to the Scot Patrick Gillespie’s views on the covenant of redemption, whereas Raymond A. Blacketer focuses on the Englishman William Perkins’ »Rhetoric of Reform«.
In the third part, ›scholasticism and modern systematic the­o­logy‹, the evaluations of scholasticism widely diverge, and the discussion is centered on the relation between form and content, and the relation between scholasticism and trinitarian theology, such as Karl Barth’s. Rinse Reeling Brouwer demonstrates that Barth overlooked Polanus’ Ramist method, but argues that under the conditions of modernity, in which the fields of Scriptural exegesis and the sciences have become separate, Barth’s approach is more appropriate. With all due respect to scholastic theology, Reeling Brouwer argues for the progressive character of reformed theology. Maarten Wisse takes an opposite approach, arguing that Barth’s definition of God’s relationship with human beings as de­-fin­itive of His being leads to universalism, losing a fundamental soteriological dupli­city found in Cocceius. Wisse echos the common reproach of Barth’s lacking pneumatology. From the perspective of philosophical theo­logy, Marcel Sarot argues against the traditional view of God’s eternity as timelessness, in favor of God as sempiternal, and Sebas­tian Rehnman elaborates and defends a theodicy from Jonathan Edwards’ work.
Gijsbert van den Brink describes how the trinitarian renaissance questions the validity of reformed scholasticism. He argues that the standard arrangement of subtopics in the reformed scholastic doctrine of God indicates that the doctrine of the Trinity often became a relatively unimportant appendix, and that Barth’s critique of reformed scholasticism holds water in this respect. Luco van den Brom goes the opposite way, accepting the turn to trinitarian the­-ology, but suggesting that Cocceius’ scholastic theology provides clues of relationality and trinitarian theology. In the final essay, Bert Loonstra states that the scholastic method is indispensable to promote and protect theological realism.
The major theological questions on the lasting theological relevance of scholastic method thus remain: whether a scholastic form can exist without substantial consequences, whether its doctrine of God is not insufficient (particularly from a trinitarian point of view), and whether the progressive character of theology does make other approaches than the scholastic one more viable, or even necessary. The debate goes on.