Professor Park’s Theological System -- By: Frank Hugh Foster

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 061:242 (Apr 1904)
Article: Professor Park’s Theological System
Author: Frank Hugh Foster

Professor Park’s Theological System

Reverend Frank Hugh Foster

The most impressive part of Park’s theological lectures, and the scene of his greatest service to theology, was in the discussions to which the progress of our review now brings us, viz. those upon

The Atonement

The theory of the atonement had already undergone a complete change in the New England Theology in consequence of the controversies which resulted from the introduction of Universalism into America. Twelve years after Edwards’ death, there had appeared in New York a certain James Murray, who soon transferred his principal activity to New England. He derived the doctrine of universal salvation from the premises of a strict Calvinism.1 He argued: Christ’s death procures salvation for all for whom he died, in strict justice, because he paid the exact equivalent of their punishment. But Christ died for all men. Therefore all men are already saved; and all they need is to be brought to the knowledge of this fact. The conclusion of this argument the New England theologians could not accept because it was unbiblical. The minor premise they could not deny, because it was the plain teaching of the Scriptures. Hence they were driven to the revision of the major proposition, which had been generally

accepted among them as among all other Calvinists. In making this revision, they did not go back to the beginning of the topic and start from a new principle, although they had such a principle in the theory of virtue which Edwards had left them, but were led by the particular circumstances of the controversy to redefine the old terms and preserve, in general, the tone and method of the older theology. At many a point the influence of the new theory appeared, as when general justice was explicitly defined by some of them as benevolence. But they still employed chiefly the analogies of earthly governments in the formulation and defense of their positions. And their new theory received the name of “the governmental theory.”

By the time that Park appeared upon the scene the theory of virtue was much better understood. Its application to the character of God, and the development of the system of Christian duties in accordance with it, had given it a new scope and importance. Professor Park had a larger comprehension of its meaning and of the range of its application than any of his predecessors had had. It might have been a question of great interest, when he first began the presentation of his views upon the atonement, what he would do; whether he would reject all idea of atonement in deference to the supposed requirements of the love of God which should...

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