First and foremost, he continually uses a word so awesomely hilarious sounding, that it makes me wish I hadn’t bought the MMT domain: Dogmatician.
I thought my second write-up would be over a shorter section, but as I read through, that isn’t quite possible. Each of the four volumes is made up of part, which then have their own chapters. For example, book one has five parts and 17 chapter. I had one crazy idea that the chapters, spread out over all four volumes, would work out nicely as weekly post and I’d have over a year’s worth of material.
However, that doesn’t seem to be working out the way I wanted. For now, I’ll briefly review Part 1 of Book 1, which goes through page 114.
Many of the pages have an apologetic or polemic feel, as he argues definitions for dogmatics and critiques others approaches (as well as definitions). Roughly 30 pages are devoted to the order of a theology book. As in, doctrine of X should come first, followed by Doctrine of Y. He goes through a list of major works (Origen, Summa, Institutes, etc.) to show their layout and what was wrong with those.
As I mentioned in my previous post, there is also the issue of antiquated terminology and debates (metaphysics). Additionally, he takes the view that everyone is familiar with church, as they have grown up in church and their understanding is shaped by whichever church they were apart of (hence, there is no way to have an unbiased writing). This is a little less true in modern America.
Many of the arguments are philosophically based. If you are not familiar with the works of Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher, at a minimum, you will be lost. Many, of the people references were contemporaries (as least in thought, some had been dead a few decades) and shaped much of the modern (at that time) theological discourse.
There is also an interesting note about Science vs. Faith and how he doesn’t see them as opposed to each other. As in, he isn’t scared/concerned with the idea that the world is ancient nor does he fear the influence of evolution. He almost brushes it off, as if to say it isn’t something to be concerned with. Obviously, the Evangelical church in America, hasn’t taken this view.
As a reminder this was written as the enlightenment had recently finished unfolding. That is one reason there are so many references to Kant and Schleiermacher, their impact was significant. For instance, he states ” Schleiermacher did not liberate theology from philosophy, but instead made it dependent on it to the highest degree possible.” He also points out that the starting point or way of view theology and dogmatics has changed due to the impact of philosophy – “The entire viewpoint changed; not faith but reason is the starting point.” As reason naturally rejects revelation, it’s not surprising that this lead to the popularity of deism.
Overall, I’d recommend skimming these chapters, unless you are a big fan of philosophy or polemics. I don’t have much else to say about this part. It wasn’t really written in a place where my interest lie. So, two final notes –
Prolegomena basically means super long introduction. I guess its where we get the word prologue, but don’t really feel like looking it up. It used to be a fairly common practice and thus far, it looks like the entire first book may simply be a type of polemical introduction to his other three books.
The content of dogmatics is the knowledge of God as He has revealed it in Christ through His Word.
Follow along with me, go buy the whole set here – Reformed Dogmatics (4 Volume Set)