Condition Of Theology In Holland, Especially In The Reformed Church. -- By: B. B. Edwards

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:5 (Feb 1845)
Article: Condition Of Theology In Holland, Especially In The Reformed Church.
Author: B. B. Edwards


Condition Of Theology In Holland, Especially In The Reformed Church.1

B. B. Edwards

Professor at Andover.

Every attentive observer of the religious state of Central and Northern Europe, must be struck with the radical differences which distinguish the theology of Holland from that of Germany. At first view, these differences seem to be unaccountable. The two nations have the same origin; they speak dialects of the same original tongue; they are near neighbors, separated in part only by a river; both have fought the battles of Protestantism, and have, alike, a precious martyrology; both look back with gratitude to the same restorers of learning, the Erasmuses and Reuchlins of the sixteenth century; the students of both countries have been distinguished for laborious industry and accurate investigation; eminent classical and oriental scholars adorn the annals of both; yet how unlike, in many respects, have been, and still are, the theological characteristics of Germany and Holland.

In Germany, the discussion has often turned on the question between Christianity and absolute skepticism. A party, within the church, have attempted to destroy, not only the church system, but Christianity, and even religion itself. This party has not been weak or small. It has had bold, able, and energetic leaders, unable or unwilling to build up theology and the church, but keen in detecting defects, vigilant in seizing on the favorable moment to overthrow an established truth, adroit in imposing their sophisms on the susceptible hearts of the young. Their system is that of negations; their weapons are sarcasm and jeers; they would not reform Christianity, but abolish it, as ill adapted to the times, obsolete, like the ritual system of the Old Testament.

Again, the diversity of views among those who call themselves orthodox, and who may be regarded as real friends of the church, is almost infinitely greater in Germany than in Holland. Not taking into the account the Roman Catholics, and small sects like the Swedenborgians, what wide and diversified modes of thinking

prevail! It is sometimes said that the old rationalism is dead or dying; but it is not so. It still has unwearied and learned champions; it is strongly rooted in a large mass of educated mind. There are still those who make human reason the ground and criterion of religious truth, though they do not consider the Kantian philosophy the basis, but rather rely upon the Hegelian or some other system.

In a general point of view, the German theologians may be divided into three parties, the followers of Hegel, those of Schleiermacher, and the old orthodox par...

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