The Meaning Of Irenaeus In The Phrase “Regenerated Unto God” -- By: Irah Chase

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:24 (Nov 1849)
Article: The Meaning Of Irenaeus In The Phrase “Regenerated Unto God”
Author: Irah Chase


The Meaning Of Irenaeus In The Phrase “Regenerated
Unto God”

Irah Chase

Introductory Note

[Several years ago, my attention was called to the passage embracing the memorable phrase renascuntur in Deum, in the work of Irenaeus against heresies; and the following Article presents the result of an examination, instituted for the purpose of ascertaining the sense in which he there uses that phrase. I was not satisfied with any explanation of it which I had seen; and I resolved to let the author himself furnish an explanation. I examined every page of his work, and was led to a conclusion which, to me, was quite unexpected. I reexamined the whole, and was again conducted to the same conclusion.

Since that time, I have, here and there, met with some brief statements indicating that others have been led to a similar result; as in the History of Doctrines by Baumgarten-Crusius (Vol. II. p. 1209), and in Dr. Krabbe’s Prize Essay on the Apostolical Constitutions (p. 410). Bötringer, in his recent historical work entitled the Church of Christ and its Witnesses, (Vol. I. p. 245-254), assumes substantially the same exposition. What was published on the subject in one of our Periodicals, in 1838, was, in effect, primarily derived from the examination which I have mentioned, and Was confirmed by an independent examination.

Most of those who have written with commendable erudition respecting Irenaeus, have been occupied with discussions which have led them away from examining the particular point which I have endeavored to elucidate. That the impartial and venerable Neander should seem to have acquiesced in an interpretation which I suppose to be erroneous, may easily have arisen from the intensity with which, while he was reading Irenaeus, his mind was attracted to other matters than the one here discussed. Were he to read him with a special view to this, he would, I am confident, come to the result set forth in the subsequent pages.

Respecting the manner in which the subject is presented by the learned Mr. Wall, and by the equally learned Schlosser, who translated Mr. Wall’s History from English into Latin, and enlarged it

with Observations and Defences, more than a hundred years ago, it is unnecessary, I trust, to make any remark. Let every candid and earnest inquirer after truth read, and judge for himself.

Views resembling those of Irenaeus on the relation of Christ to mankind, whether right or wrong, are scattered over the fields of theological literature, ancient and modern. To understand his expressions correctly is desirable, as being connected with the history of opinions, and with an argument from ecclesiastical antiqui...

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