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History of Christian Dogmaby Ferdinand Christian Baur$

Peter C. Hodgson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719250.001.0001

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History of Christian Dogma
Peter C. Hodgson
Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

With the Reformation, a fundamental break in the history of dogma occurs with the attempt to make an entirely new beginning and renew dogma from the primary sources of the gospel. But it is impossible to return to a now-vanished form of consciousness, and the Reformation is in fact a progression to a new principle, the principle of Protestantism, which opposes the principle of Catholicism. Protestantism is as internal as Catholicism is external; its fundamental idea is the unconditional worth of individuals, who are conscious of themselves as being free, self-determining ethical subjects. But Protestants also know themselves to be just as unconditionally dependent on God and divine grace. This internal tension leads to a split into two main forms, Lutheran and Reformed. The first part of this period observes these two in their original formulations and later hardened orthodoxies. Socinianism and Arminianism arose in protest. The major figures are Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Zwingli.

Keywords:   Reformation, Protestant principle, Catholicism, Socinianism, Arminianism, Martin Luther, Phillip Melanchthon, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli

§ 92 The Difference between Lutheran and Reformed Doctrine

As soon as Protestantism had entered into the more narrowly delimited sphere of its own historical course, it divided into Lutheran and Reformed doctrinal systems—into an opposition in which each of the two sides forming the opposition seemed to have equal justification on its own. The first difference in viewpoint between Luther on the one side and Zwingli and Calvin on the other arose over the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. In their opposition to Catholic dogma, the distinction between the two Protestant doctrines initially seemed to consist only in the Reformed side being inclined to go much further than did the other side, where Luther’s representation of the Lord’s Supper, bearing the stamp of his own subjective character, remained closer to the Catholic view. Subsequently, however, Lutherans found themselves increasingly less able to agree with the Reformed doctrine of predestination than had been the case in the beginning; so it now became evident that the reason for the divergent directions they took lay far deeper than merely in a different interpretation of the doctrine of the sacraments. While both sides arose from the same subjective interest in salvation that belonged to the fundamental intuition of Protestantism, each of the systems took on an essentially different character corresponding to [one of] the two elements that are always to be distinguished in the essential nature of Protestantism. In the one system, the main emphasis (p.273) of religious consciousness fell predominantly on the objective side, while the other system believed it possible to hold foremost to the subjective side.

While the Lutherans can find the supreme assurance of one’s salvation only in justifying faith, the Reformed believe, on the contrary, that one cannot be certain of one’s salvation if it is not unalterably decided in the absolute decree of election, and known to be eternally secure. The natural consequence of the Reformed belief is that the entire content of such a system, basing itself on the absolute standpoint of the idea of God, must be shaped differently than would otherwise be the case. Here we have the reason why one of the systems has a subjective character and the other to the same degree an objective character. In the one everything depends on the absolute causality of God, while the other holds to the principle of freedom. Since, however, from the Protestant standpoint the principle of freedom always finds its place only to the extent that it is compatible with unconditional grace, Lutheranism does not form a true antithesis to the determinism of the Reformed system; in fact the Lutheran system instead stands intermediate between the Reformed and yet another possible form of Protestantism, one that leaves still more scope for the principle of freedom, a form that in the Protestant church itself finds its oldest representative in Melanchthon. Seen from this perspective, we classify the systems under consideration here that oppose Catholicism in the following manner.

The distinctively Protestant counterpart to Catholicism is Calvinism, and indeed precisely in the doctrine that from the very beginning was of course the fundamental view common to the Reformers, but that was systematically elaborated only in Calvinism. The entire system in which the individual depends, in volition and deed, on an utterly determining power, a system Catholicism establishes in its doctrine of the church, is the system Calvinism links up with its absolute decree. For Catholicism everything that sanctifies and saves is found in the church, and for Calvinism it is found in the decree. For Catholicism all the means of salvation have as their absolute presupposition the power of the church (and the whole of a person’s salvation is inherently decided by the church), whereas for Calvinism its same absolute decree re-engages in a new form at every stage in the order of salvation. The only difference is that Calvinism relocates the Catholic absolutism of the external, visible church in the essential nature of God; and, in the absolute decree, this absolutism is made into an immanent determination of the divine will.

The doctrine attributed to Philipp Melanchthon (“Philippism”) forms the direct opposite to Calvinism; its principle is ethical freedom. Here the fundamental proposition of Protestantism, that nothing can be of saving efficacy for human beings that is not imparted through one’s own self-activity and self-determination, reaches its full application. Even though this view supposedly surrenders nothing of the unconditional nature of divine grace, the nature of the case is nevertheless inescapably that, the more highly freedom is positioned, the more grace loses its absolute significance. However, despite (p.274) these two opposed standpoints, the two systems think analogously about the doctrines concerning the mediation of salvation by the church. Especially in the doctrine of the sacraments, Melanchthon’s doctrine and Calvin’s concur in such a way that people suppose it possible to designate Melanchthon’s kinship with Calvin on this point as Crypto-Calvinism, even though the two sides arrive at this commonality from completely different standpoints. The more decisively the principle of salvation is posited either objectively, as by Calvin, in the absolute predetermining will of God, or subjectively, as by Melanchthon, in the self-determination of the will and in the energy by which faith grasps the offer of divine grace, all the more certainly can everything that is intermediary [that is, the sacramental elements] have only the subordinate significance of a purely mediating factor. A sacrament can make outwardly sensible, and confirm, only what is already intrinsically present, and it has its saving reality wholly elsewhere than in the external means of grace.

As to the Lutheran doctrinal system and its relationship to the other two systems, those of Calvin and Melanchthon, just as it stands indeed between Calvinism and Catholicism, so too it can be assigned a position intermediate between Calvin and Melanchthon. In this middle arena, which lies between Calvinism on the one side and Philippism on the other, human freedom—which, at least minimally, Lutheranism will not abandon—has its limit in the unconditional nature of divine grace, just as grace has its limit in the inalienable right of human freedom and subjectivity. For there to be such a limit to each side, however, this middle position must have the internal firmness and consistency that enable it to maintain its mediating significance with respect to both sides. It can do this only because of the objectivity of the means of grace, which—only insofar as these means contain the divine not merely for subjective representation but inherently, objectively, and substantially—make the divine so accessible to human beings that it stands in an immediate relationship to them, and yet limit and moderate God’s absolute causality in such a way that people do not relate to it simply passively. For Lutheranism, the sacraments are, on the one hand, just as much a guarantee of the immediate presence of divine grace, as they are, on the other hand, a protective medium against the all-consuming power of the divine causality. Because the Lutheran system allows the subjectivity of the human being only enough scope first to obtain its own bearing and firmness in relation to the objectivity of the means of grace, this system is limited to itself, as opposed to the [Calvinist] concept of God, and is turned within itself. However, in this abstraction from everything in which the subject does not have pure consciousness of itself, it attains an even more intensively held subjectivity—and this is what distinguishes the Lutheran system from the Reformed. This is the Lutheran concept of faith. On the one side faith is said to be a working of divine grace, just as, on the other side, in the innermost act of a human being’s own activity, the divine and the human interfuse in the manner of a real unity. This kind of unity likewise is (p.275) generally characteristic of Lutheran doctrine, just as the Lutheran doctrine of the person of Christ especially, in distinction from the Reformed doctrine, also constitutes such a central point of the unity of the divine and the human, the finite and the infinite.

The more the Lutheran system introduces elements of a real process of mediation into the relationship between God and human beings, the more characteristically it distinguishes itself from the Reformed system with its absolute decree seeming to render any real mediation of salvation superfluous. Certainly, for the Reformed system everything is already decided in advance, so that what in the executio decreti aeterni, the execution of the eternal decree, nevertheless appears for the sake of outward appearance, is a process that intrinsically happens all at once, or is in fact intrinsically a process not needing to run any external course at all. Nevertheless, we cannot claim that the [Reformed] system, in the form of something accomplished once and for all, completely suspends any real mediation. Although the whole series of actions and arrangements for human salvation cannot have the objective of first bringing salvation about in this way, surely because God’s decree already inherently involves the full reality of salvation, nevertheless what God accomplishes must also become known by human beings, and what subsists in itself [the divine decree] must also be something known subjectively and thus also be mediated for consciousness. This is the meaning of the whole of the history of revelation and salvation for Calvinism; no other system places such great emphasis on the doctrine of the certainty of salvation. This is the most inward and most subjective point with which the system of absolute predestination comes to terms. It is not simply that what subsists in itself must also be something known subjectively. If the Protestant principle of subjectivity is not to retreat overly in face of the pure objectivity of the divine decree, independent of all human cooperation, then this knowing on the subjective side can correspond to the absoluteness of predestination, as an all-the-more-intense certainty of salvation within the consciousness of the subject who is one of the elect. In this regard too the Reformed system forms the direct antithesis to the Catholic system, a system that, by yielding at no point to the self-consciousness of the individual, by placing it, without qualification, under the tutelage of the church, even greets the absoluta et infallibilis certitudo of the donum perseverentiae, the absolute and infallible certainty of the gift of perseverance, with an anathema.1

With its confident faith in the historical fact of redemption, the Lutheran system here too assumes an intermediate position between the other two, between the transcendent idealism of the one and the external realism of the other. Thus when we trace all these systems back to the principles that underlie (p.276) their differences, we are presented with fundamental theological intuitions that are as essentially varied as the systems themselves.2

§ 93 Socinianism

Socinianism, named for Lälius (Lelio) and Faustus (Fausto) Socinus, also emerged from the same soil of the self-consciousness emancipating itself from the authoritative power of the old traditional system of belief.3 However, as close as it stood in its origin to the Reformation and the two Protestant systems, Lutheran and Reformed, Socinianism was still not regarded to be of equal lineage since it sprang from a completely different point in religious consciousness and directed its opposition against dogmas that, even in the view of the Reformers, still retained their old and unshakable authority. The main thing in the ecclesiastical system they objected to were the doctrines of the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, and the incarnation of God. The Socinians contested these doctrines with arguments that (p.277) led further than they themselves were aware. The whole transcendent arena of orthodox dogma lay so far beyond their horizons that they located the nature of religion as such in the directly practical realm, in ethical religious action, as the condition of a blessedness they basically thought of simply as a very subjective and passionate (pathologisch) concern for human happiness (Glückseligkeits-Interesse). While their views and principles appeared to be non-Protestant, they attained great influence on the later revolution in the Protestant doctrinal system by their clever and acute dialectic, and by their not-unbiased but still innovative exegesis. The most distinctive aspect of their system is that it is as rationalistic, on the one side, as it is supernaturalistic, on the other; but this is a supernaturalism of course so completely different from that of the old orthodox system that it has been rightly said to lie in the same cradle with rationalism.

§ 94 The Development of the Protestant Principle in the Lutheran Church

During the first period of the history of its development, concluding with the Formula of Concord (1577), Lutheran doctrine was the subject of a series of controversies, culminating in the Formula, which first gave it the more sharply defined form by which it was distinguished thereafter from all the other concurrent doctrinal systems. The controversies that followed one another in rapid succession had a variety of names—Antinomian, Adiaphoristic, Majoristic, Synergistic, Osianderian, Crypto-Calvinist; and it was to be expected that an essentially new principle such as that of Protestantism had first to work its way through various oppositions in order to establish and delimit its distinctive character by more precisely formulated definitions. Nonetheless, a single major antithesis ran through all these controversies and quarrels, an antithesis that could be traced back simply to the difference that was already originally present in the individual personalities of Luther and Melanchthon, and in the divergence between their ways of teaching.

Already in the first confessional writings composed by Melanchthon in the name of the Protestant party, the propensity was clearly evident to moderate as much as possible the strict form in which the original [Lutheran] doctrine held itself aloof from everything in the doctrine of grace that could be called Catholic Pelagianism, as well as from the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, after having at one time regarded these positions as so repugnant. The same tendency then manifested itself in the second version of the (p.278) Augsburg Confession (the so-called Variata of 1540), in the form of the synergism Melanchthon and his disciples openly acknowledged, and in the decisiveness with which the Variata rejected the specifically Lutheran definitions of the Lord’s Supper, deriving from the Wittenberg theologians. Enforcement of this latter point quite naturally evoked a response from all those in whom the polemical spirit, with which Luther opposed both the Catholic system and the Zwinglian system, still lived on in all its energy.

As justified as the so-called Philippism may well have been in dogmatic and historical terms, we can only regard it as the natural consequence of the process of development of the Protestant principle that Philippism could not maintain itself against its opponents. The Formula of Concord thought to achieve its work of peace and harmony simply by the elimination of all Melanchthonian elements, and by explicitly condemning all opposing doctrines connected with them, so that it set up as orthodox the form of doctrine held, from its perspective, to be genuinely Lutheran.4 The dogmatic authority ascribed to the Formula, despite the one-sided partisanship to which it owed its existence, and despite the disagreement it also evoked even after its acceptance, enabled it to have a very decisive influence on the later history of Lutheran doctrine. Not only did its strictly formulated theses define the relationship of the two Protestant systems more bluntly and exclusively; also nothing could develop within the Lutheran church itself that had not already been subjected to the judgment of the Formula, since such things could be measured only according to its norms. Indeed, since the Formula intrinsically had the characteristic of expressing itself in stringently dogmatic theses and antitheses, and of striding dictatorially between heresies to the right and left of it, it imparted the same narrow-minded, constricted, heresy-hunting spirit to the theologians subscribing to it. What alone seemed to matter now was applying the standard of orthodoxy set forth in the Formula to all existing doctrinal differences, classifying them according to specific categories, and thereby segregating Lutheran doctrine on all sides. Thus the result could only be the scholastic formalism that became the distinctive mark of Lutheran dogmatics in the seventeenth century.

The dominance of the dogmatism introduced by the Formula of Concord appeared to be securely grounded. Nevertheless, the Protestant principle was not so bound by the Formula that there were no explicit efforts to break through the limits constricting its freer activity in this period too. In the (p.279) course of the seventeenth century, by far the most important controversy that occupied the Lutheran theologians (the greatest systematic thinkers of the time) was the syncretistic controversy, whose significance lies in the fact that it concerned not simply an individual doctrinal definition but instead the prevailing system as a whole.5 Its instigator, Georg Calixt (1586–1656), held such a distinctive position among the theologians of his age precisely because he came forward with a dissent right at the point at which the prevailing system sought to shut itself off completely and to assume the character of dogmatic infallibility. His dissent could only be viewed as a protest against the pretense of authority in matters of faith. In opposition to the dogmatism of his time that splintered into endless differences of belief, he sought, in his Studium concordiae (1655) to return to the simple apostolic creed, to the tradition of the first four or five centuries, to an age in which mutuality, where all could be as one, seemed indeed to be sufficient by itself for satisfying the concerns of salvation. This was so unbalanced and misguided that, instead of directing his efforts forward, he only turned backward; he pushed for a form of faith-community and unification in which his own distinctively Protestant self-consciousness apparently has to be denied. So, although Calixt hardly knew how to give proper expression to what he doubtlessly in fact meant and intended, he nevertheless exposed the fundamental deficiency of the prevailing system, namely, that with its dogmatic rigidity it still wholly lacked any living awareness of the universal and immediate ground of all religion and theology, a ground that transcended all dogmatic and confessional differences. Although the syncretistic controversy left behind no positive results, the two sides nevertheless wore each other down in the course of it. The longer the controversy continued, the greater grew the indifference toward the orthodox system, which increasingly lost its credibility in public opinion. Already the way had been prepared for pietism, a new form of consciousness that not only shared with syncretism an antipathy toward polemical dogmatics, but also had the same tendency of bringing to awareness the universal foundation of all positive dogmas and confessional differences. By immersing religious consciousness deeply in what is universal and immediate, pietism gave new life to the practical interests of religion and of Christianity.6

(p.280) § 95 The Development of the Protestant Principle in the Reformed Church

The process was similar in the Reformed church. After Calvin had smoothed over the difference between his and Zwingli’s teaching with aptly chosen formulas, and had left his spiritual stamp on the doctrinal system of the Reformed church, the center of gravity of the [Reformed] system rested predominantly with one of the two factions—factions that only in their unity form the principle of Protestantism—so that a reaction from the other side was inevitable. The same significance that Philippism has in the Lutheran church falls to Arminianism in the Reformed church. Just as in the Lutheran church the Formula of Concord made its special task that of safeguarding authentic Lutheranism from the menace of Melanchthonian synergism, so also in the Reformed church the Synod of Dort (1618–19) was supposed to confront a dogmatic orientation that one feared, and not without reason, would have the most far-reaching impact on the whole system. Just as the Formula of Concord had already called to mind the canons of the Council of Trent, even more so the Synod of Dort, convened with great ceremony, presented the bona fide image of a Catholic church council with its many sessions, its inquisitorial proceedings, and the canons of its decrees. The result was the same as in the Lutheran church: by expelling freer ways of teaching, an intolerant scholastic orthodoxy established itself in the [Reformed] church and extended its dominion more widely.7

Developments in dogma could still occur only to the extent that the doctrines formulated in stringently scholastic fashion allowed for qualifications. But the less these qualifications supposedly compromised doctrine, the more inconsequential they proved to be. The most important effort of this sort is the new doctrinal form that the Reformed theologians in France sought to give to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination in the first half of the seventeenth century. This is Amyraldism,8 so-called because it was named for its original proponent, Moses Amyraut (1596–1664), professor of theology in Saumur. Despite all the differences between Amyraldism and German syncretism, they were analogous in the sense that the Reformed theologians were fearful of the threat posed by Amyraldism’s basic principle in the same way that the German theologians, for good reason, were fearful of syncretism; but Amyraut seems to have been unaware of any such tendency [toward syncretism]. Since people (p.281) conceived of the entire “neology” of Saumur as concentrated in Amyraldism, a fairly significant movement arose based on this general conception, and consequently, in the Formula consensus of 1675, at least for the Swiss church, the goal sought in Germany by the Consensus repetitus against syncretism was in fact achieved.9 In the wake of Amyraldism there was nevertheless Pajonism,10 which tried in similar fashion to force the orthodox system away from its rigid absolutism and over to the opposite side, but nothing came of its abstract idea of God, constructed more crudely than ever. At this point, however, [writes Schweizer], “scholastic orthodoxy reached its peak. There could be no more continuing in this direction, nor could there be a mere standstill. What had to happen was that opponents’ views previously suppressed simply by authority, and indeed in very external fashion, finally gained ground in place of what had become untenable and antiquated. A regeneration of doctrine was inevitable, and this movement forms the new phase of development in the eighteenth century.”11

For the present period Arminianism12 remains the most important phenomenon. Not only does it occupy in the Reformed church the same position that Philippism has in the Lutheran church, but it is also closely related to Socinianism. The free subject, emancipating itself from the monstrous pressure of the dogma of predestination, now increasingly claimed its proper place; and what emerged was a theoretical indifference toward the abstract dogmatism of the orthodox system, an attitude that, like Socinianism, located the highest concerns of religion and of Christianity in the practical sphere. Earlier Protestantism had regarded its most important task to be one of excluding as far as possible, partly through faith in the genuinely Protestant sense and partly through the absolute decree, any subjectively human mediation of redemption; but now, in a way analogous to the Catholic system, the principle of the religious life was located in a human being’s own conduct and in practical action. Despite the one-sidedness that still adhered to this orientation, it was principally in the doctrinal system of the Socinians and Arminians that the impulse to further development lay.

(p.282) § 96 The Construction of the System

The standpoint newly attained by the Reformation certainly had to have a highly important impact on the systematic configuration of dogma as a whole. The consistency of a system depends above all on the principle on which it rests. So the systematizing of dogma was now for the first time firmly grounded in the scripture principle, and everything said to count as part of the dogmatic system obtains its specific character and its conditional grounding in virtue of the cohesion of the whole. Compared to Protestantism, Catholic dogmatics lacks even the possibility of having a scientific procedure and foundation because of the indeterminacy of its principle within the tradition, in that tradition must be accepted both in itself and in relation to scripture. Protestant doctrine itself, however, could take shape in various ways on the basis of the scripture principle. Particularly noteworthy in this regard is the disparity in dogmatic method resulting from the characteristic difference between Lutheran and Reformed doctrine.

What is typically Lutheran appears in the construction of the first Lutheran dogmatics, in the first edition of Melanchthon’s Loci communes, which sidelined theological doctrine proper so much to anthropological considerations that the theological doctrine proper remained wholly undeveloped. Calvin by contrast based his Institutes from the beginning on the trinitarian concept of God, on God as creator, redeemer, and sanctifier. In what follows, the characteristic distinction between the respective positions is signified by the difference between their synthetic and analytic methods. The synthetic method advances progressively, starting from the idea of God as the absolutely effective causality; the analytic method proceeds regressively, starting from blessedness as the highest end for which human beings are destined. Neither of these methods was purely exhibited in Lutheran dogmatics, to be sure; but it remained ever characteristic of Lutheranism that the analytic method introduced by Calixt directly juxtaposed human blessedness, as the finis formalis or formal end, to God as the finus objectivus or objective end. Lutheran dogmatics could never wholly disengage itself from taking its overall and controlling standpoint on the side of the human being as the subject of theology. Reformed dogmatics, by contrast, principally fashioned a synthetic or deductive method that proceeded from above to below, from causes to effects; and this method was internally connected with the fundamental dogma of the system, the doctrine of predestination and the absolute dependence of human beings on God. Characteristic of Reformed dogmatics, and based on the same distinctive outlook, is the way it distinguished from the very outset the various stages of the economy of salvation from the development of religion as such. (p.283) The federal method of Cocceius13 arose from this distinction of a natural religion and theology from a revealed one; and this distinction even gained a few supporters in the Lutheran church.

§ 97 Theology and Philosophy

We cannot yet speak of a closer relationship between theology and philosophy, because they were still operating in completely different spheres, and they still seem to have no hint of their future position toward each other. However, the same general impetus from spirit that evoked the Reformation also lay at the basis of a new epoch of independent development on the part of philosophy. Descartes made his beginning with the self-certainty of thinking, just as Luther did with the self-certainty of faith. With Spinoza philosophy was now already taking shape as a system that sought to provide, through its rigorous consistency, the same absolute satisfaction to spirit as do religion and theology. The fact is that fundamental principles on the critique of revelation and the freedom of thought had already now become established, principles that themselves had to become the foundation of a natural religion distinct from a religion of revelation. The English deists had already expressed the idea of such a natural religion. Because of its great significance for the later development of theology, this idea also of course deserves to be mentioned here.

§ 98 Major Sources for the History of Dogma

1. The Catholic Church

The canons and decrees of the Council of Trent (1545–63), together with the Roman Catechism (1566), are the sole authentic sources for the Catholic system.

(p.284) A dogmatist and polemicist of the first rank is Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621), with his Disputationes de controversiis christianae fidei adversus hujus temporis haereticos (Arguments Concerning Controversies of the Christian Faith in Opposition to the Heretics of Today) (1581).

2. The Protestant Church

  1. 1. Lutheran

    1. a. Confessional statements ranging from the Augsburg Confession (1530) to the Formula of Concord (1577).

    2. b. Dogmatic theology.14 Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), Loci communes rerum theologicarum, seu hypotyposes theologiae (Common Topics in Theology, or Fundamental Doctrinal Themes) (1521, 1535, 1543).15 The Loci theologici of Martin Chemnitz (1591) and Victorinus Strigel (1582). Leonhard Hutter, Compendium locorum theologicorum (1610); Loci communes theologici (1619). Johann Gerhard, Loci theologici (1610), among other writings. The dogmatic systems of Abraham Calov, Systema locorum theologicorum (1655–77), and Johannes Andreas Quenstedt, Theologia didactico-polemica sive systema theologicorum (Didactical-Polemical Theological System) (1685).

  2. 2. Reformed

    1. a. Confessions of various types.

    2. b. Dogmatic theology. Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli (1484–1531), Commentarius de vera et falsa religione (Commentary on True and False Religion) (1525); De providentia Dei (On the Providence of God) (1530); and other writings. John Calvin (1509–64), Institutio christianae religionis (Institutes of the Christian Religion) (1535, (p.285) 1539, 1543, 1559). Heinrich Bullinger (1504–75), Theodore Beza (1519–1605), Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562), and other authors.

3. Minor Parties

  1. 1. The Socinians. The Racovian Catechism (1605). The writings of Faustus Socinus (1539–1604) and the Socinian theologians.

  2. 2. The Arminians. The Five Articles of Remonstrance (1610). Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609), Simon Episcopius (1583–1643), Stephanus Curcellaeus (1586–1659), Philipp van Limborch (1633–1712), and other authors.


(1) Canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, session 6, canon 16.

(2) [Ed.] Baur adds a lengthy note here on mid-nineteenth-century critical literature concerning the Lutheran and Reformed doctrinal systems. He refers to interpretations by Matthias Schneckenburger, Alexander Schweizer, Daniel Schenkel, Wilhelm Gass, and Heinrich Heppe, and he cites several of his own articles in the Theologische Jahrbücher: “Über Princip und Charakter des Lehrbegriffs der reformirten Kirche in seinem Unterschied von dem lutherischen mit Rücksicht auf A. Schweizer’s Darstellung der reformirten Glaubenslehre,” 6 (1847), 309–89; “Noch ein Wort über das Princip des reformirten Lehrbegriffs,” 7 (1848), 419–43; “Das Princip des Protestantismus und seine geschichtliche Entwicklung, mit Rücksicht auf die neuesten Werke von Schenkel, Schweizer, Heppe und die neuesten Verhandlungen über die Unionsfrage,” 14 (1855), 1–137. Schneckenburger, Schweizer, and Schenkel were Swiss theologians, the former a more conservative Lutheran who opposed Hegelianism, the latter two more liberal Reformed thinkers. Gass was influenced by August Neander. Heppe was a historian of Lutheran and Reformed orthodoxy. For the most part, we omit subsequent references by Baur to these and other nineteenth-century interpreters. Of particular value to him are Schneckenburger, Vergleichende Darstellung des lutherischen und reformirten Lehrbegriffs (2 vols; Stuttgart, 1855); Schweizer, Die Glaubenslehre der evangelisch-reformirten Kirche (2 vols; Zürich, 1844–7); Schweizer, Die protestantischen Centraldogmen in ihrer Entwicklung innerhalb der reformirten Kirche (2 vols; Zürich, 1854–6); Schenkel, Das Wesen des Protestantismus aus den Quellen des Reformationszeitalter (3 vols; Schaffhausen, 1846–51); Gass, Geschichte der protestantischen Dogmatik (4 vols; Berlin, 1854–67); and Heppe, Geschichte des deutschen Protestantismus (4 vols; Warburg, 1852 ff.). For translations of sources cited by Baur, see Heinrich Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans. C. A. Ray and H. E. Jacobs (Philadelphia, 1876), and Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, trans. G. T. Thomson (London, 1950).

(3) Cf. Baur, Die christliche Lehre von der Dreieinigkeit und Menschwerdung Gottes, 3 vols (Tübingen, 1841–3), 3:104 ff. [Ed.] A lengthy discussion is also found in Baur’s Die christliche Lehre von der Versöhnung (Tübingen, 1838), 374 ff. Socinianism developed among the Polish Brethren in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was most famous for its non-trinitarian christology, but it held other unorthodox views as well. It forms the basis of modern Unitarianism.

(4) Heppe, Geschichte des deutschen Protestantismus, iii (1857), describes the effort required to tear Luther and Melanchthon apart, such as was made in the Formula of Concord chiefly through Jacob Andreä’s diplomatic activity and skill. Heppe’s merit is to demonstrate that Philippism was at the beginning an equally justified form of German Protestantism, but he describes its relationship to Lutheranism and Calvinism differently from what it in fact was. See Baur, “Das Princip des Protestantismus,” 71 ff.

(5) [Ed.] This controversy was sparked by the efforts of Georg Calixt and his supporters to find a basis for making overtures from the Lutheran church to the Catholic and Reformed churches. Calixt was professor of theology in Helmstedt and condemned by orthodox Lutherans as a syncretist.

(6) “Über den Charakter und die geschichtliche Bedeutung des calixtinischen Synkretismus,” Theologische Jahrbücher, 7 (1848), 163 ff

(7) [Ed.] Baur quotes a passage from Schweizer, Die protestantische Centraldogmen, ii. 205, which describes the effect of the Synod of Dort and shows its similarity to the Formula of Concord.

(8) [Ed.] Amyraldism combined a hypothetical universal redemption (Christ died for all) with the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election.

(9) [Ed.] The Consensus repetitus fidei vere Lutheranae (Consensus Regarding the True Faith of Lutherans) (1655) was written by Abraham Calov, a chief proponent of Lutheran orthodoxy. The Formula consensus (Helvetic Consensus) was a response on the part of the Swiss Reformed church to Amyraldic universalism.

(10) [Ed.] Named for the seventeenth-century French theologian Claude Pajon, this doctrine advocated the indirect rather than direct influence of the Holy Spirit on individuals.

(11) Schweizer, Die protestantische Centraldogmen, ii. 661.

(12) [Ed.] Arminianism arose in the early seventeenth century from the ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his supporters known as the Remonstrants (i.e., those who objected to decisions of the Synod of Dort). Its most characteristic assertion is that human dignity requires an unimpaired freedom of will, and it had an impact on John Wesley, Hugo Grotius, and others. Baur treats Socinianism and Arminianism as the two main forms of sectarian Protestantism (the so-called minor parties).

(13) [Ed.] Johannes Cocceius (1603–69), a German Calvinist who taught at Leiden, was one of the leading exponents of the covenant or federal theology, which posited two covenants between God and humanity, a pre-fall covenant of works based on nature, and a post-fall covenant of grace based on Christ, as already revealed in the Hebrew scriptures.

(14) [Ed.] Baur does not include the writings of Martin Luther (1483–1546) here. Despite his immense influence, Luther was not a systematic theologian and did not contribute as such to the formation of the Lutheran dogmatic system, with which Baur is principally interested, along with the other Protestant systems. He mentions Luther briefly a few times later on.

(15) Following the linguistic usage of Aristotle and Cicero, loci or topoi are quasi sedes e quibus argumenta promuntur, “like seats from which proof is presented”; and the loci communes are so called quia de universa re tractari solent, “because they are usually employed when discussing a general question.” Thus the loci communes theologici are the fundamental conceptions and truths that are generally recognized to be the settled postulates for the entire field of theology. Cf. Heppe, Geschichte des deutschen Protestantismus, i. 6 ff. In this sense the term Loci is related to the older concept of “Sentences” and the meaning attached to it. The Loci also indicate dogmatics to be the science that has the task of delineating for common consciousness what is permanent and generally accepted.