De Moor IV:30: Controversy over Immensity between the Lutherans and the Reformed


Balthasar Mentzer

Now, the calumny of the Lutherans, as if the Immensity of God were overturned by us, is confuted by the very arguments that Mentzer[1] and others advance. This calumny of the Lutherans against us is well-known, that the Calvinists believe and make God to be Immense only with respect to power, but not with respect to essence; which as such HEINRICH ALTING relates and refutes in his Exegese Confessionis Augustanæ, article I, page 10; Scriptorum Heidelbergensium, tome 3; Theologia elenctica nova, locus III, page 85, by teaching that we set those modes of divine Omnipresence together, we do not oppose or separate them; while we assert that God is Everywhere present, both Essentially, with respect to His very Essence, and Effectively, or with respect to His Power and Operation. In particular, WENDELIN, in his Exercitationibus theologicis LV, page 897, 898, calls to examination one and another argument, whereby Hutter[2] strives to lay this calumny upon us, out of BALTHAZAR MENTZER, of Allendorf, a Theologian of great reputation amond the Lutherans, born in the year 1565, died in the year 1627, who published an Exposition of the Augsburg, an Anti-Crocian,[3] an Anti-Steinian,[4] an Anti-Pistorian,[5] etc. Now, that those very arguments that Mentzer and others set forth confute the calumny that they impose upon us, is easily demonstrated from a review of those arguments. They say, for example, 1. Whoever denies the Immensity of God’s Power, also denies the Immensity of His Essence. But the Calvinists deny the Immensity of His Power; because they deny that God is able to bring it to pass that the same Body is both finite and infinite at the same time, and so is in all places at the same time. But, contrariwise, we assert the Immensity of the Power of God, because we acknowledge that His Essence is Immense. But this Power does not extend itself to Contradictories, see above § 22, of which sort it would be, if the same Body were at the same time finite and infinite; which therefore we deny to be able to be done, even in the glorified body of Christ, because we vindicate the Immensity of the divine Essence alone, and to be Finite or Infinite we assign to disjoined properties of Being, of which the former agrees with created things, and the latter with God alone. 2. They add: Whoever is Immense with respect to Essence, He is Present Everywhere in His Essence: But God according to the Calvinists is not Present Everywhere in His Essence, but only by His virtue and power: Therefore. Now, that God according to us is not Everywhere Present in His Essence, Mentzer endeavors to prove, for example, out of BEZA, URSINUS,[6] ZANCHI, and others, who deny the Heavenly throne of God to be Everywhere, but only above; and teach that the Ascension of Christ to the Father was local; that Heaven, into which He ascended, is corporeal, a real, created place. But, that these assertions are consistent with Scripture, which assertions do not overthrow the Immensity of God, but are also more easily composed with it than the Brentian[7] Heaven, it is easily proven out of this Chapter, § 27, Chapter VIII, § 24, Chapter XXI, § 28; and in addition our Theologians, cited in those very passages, unto which the Lutherans here appeal, expressly extol the Immensity of the divine Essence. An argument of Mentzer is added, sought out of DANÆUS, SADEEL,[8] and others, who compare the Deity of the Λόγου/Logos and the human Nature assumed into the unity of the Person to the ocean and Antwerp, to an orbit and a planet, to a ring and a gem, etc. But, when our Theologians institute a comparison of this sort, it tends to this, that the inequality of the united Natures might be indicated, and that it might be shown that no consequence follows from the Ubiquity of the divine Nature to the Ubiquity of the human Nature; just as Immensity is claimed for the divine Essence alone. Concerning the quarrel, which came between this MENTZER, a Theologian of Giessen, and the Theologians of Tubingen, concerning the Presence of God among Creatures, the Omnipresence of Christ according to His humanity, etc., see JÆGERUS’[9] Historiam Ecclesiasticam, Century XVII, decade 3 in the Preliminaries, pages 329-339; PAUBEL’S van de Symbolische Schriften der Luthersche Kerken, chapter X, pages 244-249.

[1] Balthazar Mentzer (1565-1627) was a German Lutheran theologian. He held several academic posts. Mentzer’s disputations against Reformed Christology in his 1596 Elencho Errorum Antonii Sadeelis bolstered his fame and reputation.


[2] Leonhard Hutter (1563-1616) was a German Lutheran theologian. He was a staunch defender of Lutheran orthodoxy, as expounded in her creeds, and an Anti-Calvinist. Hutter served as Professor of Theology at Wittenberg from 1596 to 1616.


[3] Johannes Crocius (1590-1659) was a Reformed theologian. He was appointed as Professor of Theology at Marburg (1618), at Kassel (1629), and then again at Marburg (1653).


[4] Simon Sten (c. 1540-1619) was a German theologian, linguish, and educator. Brought up in the midst of the Lutheran Church, he was suspected of holding Calvinistic views. He spent the latter part of his life teaching at Heidelberg (1588-1619).


[5] Johann Pistorius (1546-1608), son of Johann Pistorius the Elder, a German Reformer, was trained as a physician. Over the course of time, he abandoned the Lutheranism of his upbringing, and became a Roman Catholic theologian.


[6] Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583) was a German Reformed theologian. He was a leader of the Reformation in the Palatinate, and served at the University of Heidelberg. He was involved in the composition of the Heidelberg Catechism.


[7] Johannes Brenz (1499-1570) was a German Lutheran theologian and reformer. He served as Professor of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at Heidelberg (1519-1522).


[8] Antione de la Roche Chandieu (1534-1591) was a French Reformed nobleman, pastor, and theologian. He was an active participant in the formation of the national synod of the Reformed Churches in Frane. Chandieu was forced to flee to Geneva after the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Because of the persecution, he wrote under various pseudonyms, including Sadeel.


[9] Johann Wolfgang Jäger (1647-1720) was a German Lutheran theologian and educator, and chancellor of the University of Tubingen .

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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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