Protestant Theology since 1700 -- By: Miner Brodhead Stearns

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:413 (Jan 1947)
Article: Protestant Theology since 1700
Author: Miner Brodhead Stearns


Protestant Theology since 1700

Miner Brodhead Stearns

(Continued from the October-December Number, 1946)

{Editors note: Footnotes in the original were numbered from 58–97, but in this electronic edition are numbered from 1–40, respectively.}

Pietism

H. R. Mackintosh makes out as the opinion of modernists that “the Reformers left their work half done, and the neglected portions must now be overtaken.”1 With this dictum the present writer would heartily agree, though differing radically with the modernists as to what remains to be done and how it should be accomplished. Dorner likewise states, when comparing the post-Reformation period with the post-apostolic era, “There can be no doubt that Holy Scripture contains a rich abundance of truths and views, which have yet to be expounded and made the common possession of the Church, and that the day will surely come when, the necessity and maturity of the Church and the God-enlightened insight being combined, such a result will be attained by means of men of original minds.”2 But Dorner maintains that this could not have taken place immediately after the Reformation. He, indeed, makes the rather questionable assertion that “it was impossible that evangelical truth could be generally and deeply implanted in the heart and intellect of the people during the Reformation era, when Protestants were naturally very dependent upon their spiritual leaders.”3 Hence it was the task of the 17th century theologians “to lead the people by instruction and discipline, by guidance and custom, to an increasingly independent possession and enjoyment of evangelical truth…”4 Of course they also had the

responsibility of maintaining the Reformation principle, on the one hand, and of continuing the controversy with the Roman Catholic church, on the other hand. But while the latter duties were well discharged, the former were performed much less satisfactorily, and this was doubtless due, as Dorner rightly points out, to a lack of “vital and conscious religious appropriation” of the Reformation dogmas.5 These dogmas were received largely on the basis of human authority, though with the confidence that they were entirely Scriptural, however still without the “profound labour and internal conflicts” through which the Reformers themselves had come into possession of them.6

In other words, the fides divina

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