Chapter II:40: Scripture as Supreme Judge, not Reason or Philosophy, Part 1

ב. Neither is human Reason or any Philosophy to be held as such a Supreme and Infallible Judge.  Which our AUTHOR wishes to be observed against the Socinians and many Philosophers, who show that they thus think, either in their practice, in denial of the mysteries of the Trinity, Incarnation, and Satisfaction, and other things that Scripture plainly relates; or who sometimes confess this even in words.  HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, tome I, book I, chapter VI, pages 89-94, most clearly proves both concerning the Socinians.  In that place, that I might relate only one or the other example out of Ostorodus’ Institutionibus, you may see Chapter IV, page 30, cited, in which he, disputing against the Trinity, says:  “But if anyone should say that this our reason does not prevail, since in Sacred Scripture such things are written concerning Christ as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, etc., to this we respond that that is indeed greatly to be deplored, that men stick in such deep darkness, since it is impossible for the same matter to be at the same time both false and true.  Therefore, if Reason, that is, the mind, or the intellect plainly shows that the Trinity of persons in God is false, how would it ever come into the mind of man endowed with understanding that it is nevertheless able to be true and able to be proven by the Word of God?” Ostorodus in chapter VI, where he disputes against the divine nature of Christ, page 43, says:  “But we say, what Reason attests to us, and that as evidently and clearly as the Sun shining at noon, that it is impossible, and therefore false, that two natures are found in Christ.”  Although elsewhere the Socinians contradict themselves and speak as if they agree completely with us:  see HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismum confutatum, tome I, book I, chapter VI, pages 111, 112.  To the Philosophers that our AUTHOR mentions are to be added especially Spinoza, see SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum, opera, tome 3, columns 1002, 1003; LEYDEKKER’S Dissertationem contra Bekkerum, section XXIV, § 34, pages 445-450, 453, who nevertheless also speaks chastely enough in appearance elsewhere, see LEYDEKKER’S Dissertationem contra Bekkerum, section XXIV, § 34, pages 454-456:  and the Author of the treatise entitled, Philosophiæ Sacræ Scripturæ Interpretis:  which thesis, that Philosophy is the Interpreter of Sacred Scripture, the Curators prohibited to be taught or defended Academy of Leiden; as the Most Illustrious HEIDANUS and COCCEIUS against the book just now mentioned also communicated their opinion in writing to the Nobles of Holland;  see HEIDANUS’ Consideratien, etc., pages 138, 139; SPANHEIM’S Epistolam de novissimis in Belgio dissidiis, pages 67-69, who against the Dissertation concerning Philosophy as the Interpreter of Sacred Scripture sets forth twelve arguments in his Elencho Controversiarum, opera, tome 3, columns 999-1001, which are altogether worthy to be diligently weighed:  consult VAN MASTRICHT’S Gangrænam Novitatum Cartesianarum, prior Section, chapter X, § 1-18, pages 105-125; WEISMANN’S Historiam Ecclesiasticam, Part II, Century XVII, § 29, page 726, in which you may see that Lodewijk Meyer, a Physician of Amsterdam, and publisher of Posthumorum Spinosæ, is held as the author of the Exercitation of that Paradox concerning Philosophy as the Interpreter of Scripture;[1] and WALCH’S Miscellanea Sacra, book I, Exercitation VI, § 3, 7, pages 146, 151, § 13-24, pages 159, 172, in which he specifically expostulates against Johann Lorenz Schmidt new Germanic Version of the Pentateuch.[2]  Let me not now mention the Remonstrants, those defenders of the Socinians, in HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismum confutatum, tome I, book I, chapter VI, pages 94 and following; nor repeat those things just now observed in Chapter I, § 32. Compare the theses committed to the press by a student of the Most Illustrious RÖELLIUS for a public defense, and which Röellius himself applauded with a Poem subjoined, although the airing of those these was hindered, in Judicio Ecclesiastico laudato, chapter II, § 5, page 36.  Add VRIESIUS’ Exercitationem de Officio Philosophi circa Revelata.  The Theses concerning having Reason as the highest Interpreter of the Scriptures, and not acknowledging the Scripture, or God speaking in the Scripture, as the Interpreter of itself/Himself, equivalent to the doctrine of the Socinians, from the writings of that that confess themselves to be committed to Reformed Rites, are set forth and refuted with gravity by WITSIUS, Twist des Heeren met zynen Wyngaard, chapter XXI, pages 281-290.  The inane thesis of BRAUN[3] concerning this matter, out of his Disputatione IV, § 8, our AUTHOR also sets forth, Narratione Apologetica contra Braunium, § XL, pages 38, 39; and that these he calls to a more accurate examination in Appendice Narrationis Apologeticæ, § LXXVI, pages 170 and following, in which at the same time he nevertheless shows just how much in this matter Braun contradicts himself and speaks ἀσύστατα, things incoherent.

[1] Philosophia Sacræ Scripturæ Interpres was published anonymously, and was initially thought to be the work of Spinoza.  It was actually penned by Lodewijk Meyer (1629-1681), a Dutch Enlightenment scholar and Rationalist philosopher.

[2] Johann Lorenz Schmidt (1702-1749), a radical Wolffian, began a translation of the Bible (Wertheim Bible) in keeping with the rationalistic spirit of the age.  For example, he refused to use the New Testament in the interpretation and translation of the Old, denied the Christological bearing of Old Testament passages, and removed much traditional religious language.  Schmidt’s Pentateuch ignited public controversy, and so his translation was never finished.

[3] Johannes Braun (1628-1708) was a Reformed theologian.  He served as Professor of Theology at Groningen (1680-1708).

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