A Short Biography of Gisbertus Voetius (1589 – 1676)

Gijsbert Voet (English – Gilbert Foot) not only overlapped with Herman Witsius (1636 – 1708) for 40 odd years, but he was an important subject in the Dutch Reformed world in which Witsius lived and breathed. Not only was Witsius heavily influenced by Voetius, but Witsius’ own work was – in a sense – an attempt to reconcile the best of Voetius and Johannes Cocceius and their respective methodologies. Any careful study into Witsius must grapple with Gijsbert Voet, and hopefully the following biography presents a clear albeit brief look into this important Dutch father.

Biography of Voetius
Born in the small fortified city of Heusden as the son of Paulus Voet and Maria de Jongeling, Gisbertus (or Gijsbert) Voetius’s early years were dominated by the experience of war. Heusden was on the front line in both a military and a religious sense, as it was situated on the southern bank of the river Meuse that would later form the borderline dividing Catholic and Protestant parts of the country. Voetius’s relatives were directly involved in the conflict with Spain. Grandfather Nicolaas Dirkszoon Voet, heir to a Westphalian noble family, died in prison in ’s Hertogenbosch where he was kept on account of his support of William the Silent. Several members of Gijsbert’s mother’s family would flee the city, leaving all their possessions behind in order to accompany the Prince of Orange to Breda. Voetius’s father meanwhile saw his own property being demolished in the rampage around Heusden. Having joined the State militias for a second time in 1592, he was killed in the siege of Bredevoort in 1597, leaving behind the sickly Maria with four children. Continue reading at Witsius On the Web…

Liberal, ahistorical Scholastics?

Leithart comments:

In a Mars Hill Audio interview, Ellen Charry observes that the Protestant theologians of the seventeenth century, even before the Enlightenment, had a tendency to detach truth from historical reference. The truth of theology was seen in the coherence of the system of truth found in Scripture, rather than a truth of reference to historical events.

Charry’s comment was a passing one, no doubt a drastic oversimplification. Protestant scholastics, after all, defended the historical reliability of Scripture as well as its systematic coherence. But, the comment seems worthy of investigation, since it might provide a historical link between Protestant scholasticism and the development of liberal theology.

Maybe there is some truth to this claim, especially since “the Protestant theologians of the seventeenth century” (no reference to confessional position, orthodoxy, etc.) is a pretty wide generalization. I didn’t listen to the interview, and like Leithart noted, it was a passing comment.

That said, there are important nuances to this idea. If by “Protestant theologians of the seventeenth century” one is referring to Reformed Scholastics like Cocceius, Voetius, Brakel, Turretin, Owen, or Witsius, then qualifications should be noted. These qualifications follow in patterns that we, and Charry?, may not quickly set upon. First, the scholastics (and Protestant scholastic era) were some of the best with historically-referent theology, and secondly, despite their connections with history, some of these theologians were quickest into the liberal slide. Continue reading

Headline: The Marks of the Church

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The Marks of the Church. Notes on the Notae to Distinguish the Bride of Christ.

Tertullian: “Those are the true churches that adhere to what they have received from the apostles.”

I was recently preparing for a Consistory meeting and we were going to talk about the third mark of the Church, and as I was preparing I started noticing diversity amongst some of our Reformed fathers. Wanting to understand a bit better the exegetical basis for some of the different decisions, I began to catalog various confessional documents and theologians on the matter. I thought others might find it useful to see these findings placed side by side, and so you will find them below in chronological order. No doubt, others ought to be added to this list, and if there is anyone of particular importance that ought to be cataloged, either for their uniqueness or influence, leave a note in the comments and I’ll try to track them down and add them to the list.
Continue reading