Toward A Reformed Marriage Of Knowledge And Piety: The Contribution Of Gisbertus Voetius -- By: Joel R. Beeke

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 10:1 (Winter 2001)
Article: Toward A Reformed Marriage Of Knowledge And Piety: The Contribution Of Gisbertus Voetius
Author: Joel R. Beeke


Toward A Reformed Marriage Of Knowledge And Piety:
The Contribution Of Gisbertus Voetius

Joel R. Beeke

Gisbertus Voetius (Voo’-chess, 1589–1676) ranks among the most influential Dutch Reformed theologians of all time. He represents the mature fruit of the so-called Dutch Nadere Reformatie—a primarily seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century movement that paralleled English Puritanism in both time and substance.

Voetius was to the Nadere Reformatie (usually translated as the Dutch Second Reformation) what John Owen, often called the prince of the Puritans, was to English Puritanism.1 Though largely unknown and ignored by English-speaking scholarship,2 Voetius is nearly as much an in-house name to students of Dutch Post-Reformation orthodoxy as Owen is to students of English Puritanism.3 Nonetheless, little of Voetius’ Latin corpus has been translated into Dutch, and even less into English.4

This article aims to introduce Voetius to an English readership and to show how he wed a Reformed scholastic methodology to a heartfelt piety. Standing at the pinnacle of scholasticism immediately prior to its disintegration, Voetius illustrates how orthodox Reformed theologians used scholasticism as a methodology which, contrary to the oft-repeated caricature, promoted neither a departure from Calvin’s theology nor a dead orthodoxy. Voetius serves as proof that historically the expression “dead orthodoxy” is a misnomer, for such orthodoxy has never been orthodox. Orthodox Reformed scholastics like Voetius have

always resonated with a vital warmth and heartfelt piety.

Voetius’ Life, Ministry, And Professorship

Gisbertus Voetius was born on March 3, 1589 at Heusden, the Netherlands, to a prominent family of Westphalian descent and Reformed persuasion. His grandfather had died in a Spanish prison for the sake of the Gospel; his father narrowly escaped a similar fate the month Gisbertus was born, only to be killed eight years later while fighting for Prince Maurice. Not surprisingly, Gisbertus imbibed Reformed doctrine and convictions from early childhood.

Voetius studied theology at the University of Leiden from 1604 to 1611, during those years when it was the focal point of the Arminian crisis. He was particularly influenced by the lectures of Franciscus Gomarus, a staunch Calvinist. He also attended lectures of James Arminius and other professors whose orthodoxy was called into...

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