Chapter III:10: Controversy with Rome over Fundamental Articles, Part 1

In sections 10 and 11, our AUTHOR assesses the new Method devised by the Papists in the last century of disputing with Protestants, the inventor of which, or certainly the primary embellisher, and after whom also it is called the Veronian Method, is thought to be Franciscus Veronius, a Jesuit,[1] with a Vain-glorious book published under this title: Methodus nova facilis et solida, hæresin ex fundamento destruendi, et refutandi Confessionem Gallicam, Augustanam, Saxonicam, libros denique omnes Theologorum Protestantium, etc. Whose footsteps are followed by Bartholdus Nihusius, a disciple of Calixtus, then an Apostate;[2] who was followed by Adrian and Peter von Walenburch, Brothers,[3] in their own Method which they call Augustinian.

The πρῶτον ψεῦδος, fundamental error, of these is indeed able to be named, that We seceded from them, and that we prepared an Accusation against them.

It is their true Scope/Goal, that they might hinder us from handling Controversies, and might entangle the simpler in difficulties. Those that cunningly complain that they are accused are not so anxious over the rendering of reasons, as over the manner in which they might be able to free themselves from the necessity of rendering reasons.

Such is their Sophistical Argument, that the Weight of the Articles controverted between us and them is to be treated before the Truth of the Articles: that is, Whether this or that dogma be of such moment that it was therefore necessary to leave the communion of the Roman Church? Or is this or that Article to be referred to the number of Fundamentals? But, α. thus we are continually led away to a different controversy, concerning our Legitimate Secession from the Roman Church, which is able to be handled separately. β. Our AUTHOR well observes that a beginning is to be made from the Truth as being Simpler: for it ought first to be established concerning a dogma, whether it be true, and so truly exists, or not; before we might see how momentous it is. Indeed, as long as it be not established concerning the Truth of the dogma, we dispute over a matter of no importance, quibbling over the greater or lesser Weight of it, although Non-Entities have no attributes. But, when I dispute concerning the Weight of it, I already suppose that such a dogma exists, concerning which it is yet controverted. γ. A Truth even less necessary is to be held because of Error; neither is any Truth delivered to us by God ever to be repudiated, or to be said to be destitute of its Usefulness, on account of which it ought to be protected, Romans 15:4. Consult SPANHEIM’S Stricturas adversus Bossueti Expositionem Doctrinæ catholicæ, chapter I, opera, tome 3, column 1041, and especially his Exercitationem de Præscriptione in rebus Fidei, Section I, § 2, 6, columns 1080, 1082, Section VI, § 6-9, columns 1111-1113, where he painstakingly and solidly responds to the Sophistical Argumentation of the more recent Papists, whereby, 1. they suppose that the negative Articles, in which the Pontifical assertions are rejected by us, are Articles of our faith, and even necessary or fundamental. 2. If they be not held as such, they contend that our separation from the Roman Church is unjustified, as what was done on account of Articles not necessary. Likewise in Section V, § 2, columns 1098, 1099, where a response is given to the Objection that it belongs to those that have withdrawn from the union of the Catholic Church to allege the reasons for their secession, and those sufficient and necessary: and in Section III, § 5-7, columns 1088-1091, where their Objections, sought from the Accusation written up by us, is enervated. Add SPANHEIM’S Disputation IX de Articulis Fundamentalibus, § 1, 4-6, columns 1324-1326.

[1] François Véron (c. 1575-1649) was a French Jesuit. He entered freely and fully into the controversy with the Protestants.

[2] Bartholdus Nihusius (1589-1657) was a German theologian and logician. He began his career as a Protestant, but, falling into doubt concerning the interpretation of Scripture, he converted to Roman Catholicism. After his conversion, he entered into controversy with his former colleague, Georg Calixtus, the irenic Lutheran theologian.

[3] Adrian and Peter von Walenburch (mid-seventeenth century) were Dutch (although working from Cologne) Counter-Reformation theologians.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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