Wendelin's "Christian Theology": The Causes and Subject of Sacred Scripture

Thesis I: The instrumental Efficient of Theology, the word of God written, or the Scripture.

Explanation: 1. The means, whereby the Knowledge of divine things is furnished. 2. Arguments exciting to the study of Theology. 3. *The twofold Mode of proving Theological doctrines.

Thesis II: The canonical Scripture is defined.

Thesis III: The principal and instrumental efficient of Sacred Scripture.

Thesis IV: The material of Sacred Scripture.

Thesis V: The form of Sacred Scripture.

Explanation: It is demonstrated that, according to the opinion of the Orthodox, its truth is evident from the written word of God.

Thesis VI: The final of Sacred Scripture.

Explanation: 1. Its end is proven out of Scripture. 2. In what sense such illustrious ends and effects are attributed to the word of God? 3. Those that, concerning efficacy of the word fix Schwendkfeldianism on the Orthodox, and fall into Pelagianism.

Thesis VII: The Subject of the divine word written.

Thesis VIII: The canonical Books of the Old Testament.

Explanation: 1. *The number of Biblical Books. 2. The Christian religion is comprised in Jesus Christ.

Thesis IX: The canonical Books of the New Testament.

Explanation: 1. The number of the Canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. 2. It is proven that some books are Apocryphal, which the Papists hold as Canonical.



THESIS I: The instrumental Efficient of Christian Theology is the word of God written, or Sacred Scripture, from which Christian Theology is drawn and learned.

EXPLANATION: I. For acquiring a solid knowledge of Theology or divine things: 1. The whole soul is to be committed to piety, Proverbs 17:10, 11; Psalm 25:14; John 7:17. For, to the pious knowledge is readily available, Proverbs 8:9; 14:6; to the impious, inaccessible, Proverbs 24:7. 2. Carnal wisdom is to be rejected, 1 Corinthians 3:18; Proverbs 26:12. 3. Fleshly lusts are to be fled, which blind the mind, and draw the senses from God, Ephesians 4:18. 4. Divine wisdom is to be highly prized, and to be sought with fitting zeal, Proverbs 2:4; 3:14; 4:7. 5. It is to be sought from God with ardent prayers, James 1:5; Psalm 119. 6. Focus attention is to be given to humility, modesty, and sobriety, Proverbs 11:3; Romans 12:3. 7. Those more exercised are to be consulted, Proverbs 15:12. 8. The Scriptures are to be read continually and religiously, and the word of God is to be heeded, 2 Timothy 3:15. 9. Studies of languages and the arts are also to be called in to help.

II. Arguments, exciting to the study of Theology, or the acquisition of divine Knowledge: 1. That this Knowledge pertains to the perfection of man, and is part of the divine image, Genesis 3:5. 2. That those completely destitute of this knowledge are duller than the beasts in a certain way, Isaiah 1:3. 3. That it brings with itself an honest and singular pleasure, Proverbs 14:13, 14. 4. That without this knowledge the heart of man is not able to be good, Proverbs 19:2. 5. That this knowledge is the key of the kingdom of heaven, Luke 11:52. 6. That it is spiritual food for the soul, Jeremiah 3:15. 7. That it is necessary for participation in the divine covenant, Hebrews 8:11. 8. That believers are children of light, not of darkness, Ephesians 5:8. 9. That the privation and turning from this knowledge is foolishness, Proverbs 1:17, 22. 10. That the opposite ignorance is the cause of all scandals, 1 Corinthians 2:8, and the cause of perdition, Hosea 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:3.

III. Theological Doctrines are proven out of the Scriptures, either by the express letter, or by legitimate consequence. The latter method is called into question by the Socinians and Anabaptists. But both sorts of proof are familiar to the Holy Spirit. Thus Christ makes use of consequences in proving the resurrection of the death, Matthew 22:31: And that from His miracles He is the Messiah, Matthew 11:2-4. And Paul makes use of a great number of arguments in proving that Christ is the promised Messiah, by a collation of the prophecies and types of the Old Testament, 1 Corinthians 15.


THESIS II: Sacred Scripture, which we call canonical, is the infallible rule of faith and manners, delivered to the Church by God through Prophets and Apostles, and comprehended in certain books: of which the cause, subject, and adjuncts are to be considered.


THESIS III: The principal Efficient of Sacred Scripture is God, or the Spirit of God. The Instrumentals are the Prophets and Apostles, who wrote the word of God as amanuenses of the Holy Spirit dictating.

EXPLANATION: Scripture stands as witness: 2 Peter 1:21, the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake by the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16, all Scripture is divinely inspired. To this pertains what everywhere occurs in the Prophets: the Lord said; the Word of the Lord came to me.

The opinion of certain Papists is completely false, that under the Babylonian captivity all the canonical books perished, and were afterwards partly restored by Ezra at the command of God. In the preservation of these books the Jews were most religious: Neither was such negligence ever brought as a reproach against them. Also, that casting away of divine providence is disgraceful.


THESIS IV: The Matter is divine things, namely, God and God’s works, directed toward the glory of God and the salvation of man, concerning which Sacred Scripture thoroughly educates us.


THESIS V: The Form is heavenly and salutary truth, consistent in every respect.

EXPLANATION: There are certain monstrous men, to whom this is their sole concern, that they render our Churches hateful to the world. Whence with the opinions of our Doctors either mutilated, or twisted to an alien sense, or at least not understood, they feign monstrosities of doctrines and conclusions, and bring them as a reproach against us. Eckhard,[1] in his fasciculo, chapter I, question 2, also exhibits a specimen of this candor and humanity in the question concerning the truth of the divine word.

He asserts that the word of God, according to the Calvinists, whom he thus addresses, is not of immovable truth, and attempts to evince that by this argument:

Theodore Beza

Where it is not shown what it is: what is not declarative τοῦ εἶναι, of its being: what is not an adequation of sign and thing signified: what is not adequate with internal conceptions, nor agreeing with the matter; that is not the truth: But the word of God, according to the Calvinists, does not always show what it is, is not always declarative τοῦ εἶναι, of its being, etc.; but it is often at variance with the internal will of God.

Therefore, the word of God, according to the Calvinists, is not always the truth.

The Major rests upon the various descriptions of the truth.

The Minor is proven by the testimonies of our Doctors: Beza, who in part 2 of his Response to the acta colloquii Mompelgartensis, page 173, affirms: Sometimes something repugnant to what God reveals in His word is concealed from Him. And Piscator,[2] who in his disputatione contra Schaafmann writes: God sometimes in His word signifies that He wills what He does not actually will: or that He wills not what He actually wills.


Response: We do not deny that these are the words of our Doctors: concerning which, in order to rebut solidly this calumny of the malevolent, two things are to be considered: 1. On what occasion do our men thus write and speak? 2. In what sense do they thus write and speak? With these things cleared up, the demonstration of Eckhard will be easily dispatched and overturned.

The Occasion is not seized upon from something trivial: but it was given by the Scriptures: which I will show in one and another example.

In Genesis 22:2, God says to Abraham: Take now thy son, thine only son, etc., and depart into the region of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering. Behold for thyself words setting forth His will concerning the sacrificing of Isaac.

In verse 12, the Angel of the Covenant cries out: Lay not thine hand upon this lad, neither do thou any thing to him. Behold for thyself words setting forth God’s will concerning not sacrificing Isaac. Whence it is evident, with the event also confirming, that God did not will the slaying of Isaac: even if previously in express words He had commanded that he be sacrificed. This is one example; a second follows.

In Exodus 9:1, God says through Moses to Pharaoh: Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Behold the words of God, whereby He signifies that He will Pharaoh to release the Hebrews

In verse 12, Moses says: Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh, that he might not hearken to them. And in Exodus 10:20, Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go. And in verse 27, Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he would not let them go: which He had foretold that He was going to do, Exodus 4:21, I will harden his heart, that he shall not let my people go. Behold for thyself the words of God; whence it is clearly evident, that God in His decree did not will that Pharaoh would release the people, even while commanding him to let them go: because He hardened his heart, so that he would not let them go.

Our Doctors do not maintain anything other than what the Scripture itself teaches: And so, whoever will have rightly harmonized the Scripture here, and will have grasped its unshaken truth, will readily acquit our Doctors. For, they were not so senseless and insane, that in a matter of such moment they willed to pronounce anything contrary to Scripture, or even without Scripture. This is a second example: and hitherto the Occasion.

Let us now inquire into the sense of the Scripture and of our Doctors. But, God forbid that the Scripture truly attribute contrary wills to God: that it set the intention, meaning, or internal conception of God, against His external word, set forth or written, in such a way that it might truly set forth in word the contrary of that which God is ever immanent in Himself in His own counsel, and thus might remove or disturb the harmony and consent among God’s internal conceptions and His words. Also, God forbid that our Doctors should fasten this to the Scriptures, or think so impiously concerning God.

Therefore, whatever contrariety or disagreement appears at first blush to occur here, it is not true, but apparent: thence it arises, that God by His word does indeed always signify Himself to will a thing that He truly wills: yet He does not always signify Himself to will to cut short that which we conceive Him to will at first blush. Therefore, so that every cloud here might be dispelled, and God’s immovable truth grasped, and the harmony or consent of the word and the divine conceptions, as of a sign and the thing signified, opened, we will appeal to examples alleged from the Scriptures for a more studied consideration.

In the history concerning the sacrificing of Isaac, occur two internal and distinct conceptions of the divine mind: which partly the event, partly the very words of Scripture, teach us.

The first conception was the will of God concerning the preservation of Isaac, and the restraining of Abraham from slaying his son.

The second conception was the will of God concerning the obliging of Abraham by precept to sacrifice his son, so that he, having been moved, might gird himself for obedience, and his obedience might display an illustrious example.

To each conception corresponds its sign or word, of which the one is not at all to be confounded with the other. To the former conception, not the latter, corresponds the sign, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him, Genesis 22:12, which had not been revealed to Abraham from the beginning. To the latter conception, not the former, corresponds the sign, off thy son for a burnt offering, verse 2, which alone had been revealed to Abraham from the beginning.

You will see that there is not true contrariety here, but diverse conceptions, diverse signs, and a friendly agreement of the signs with the things signified, which might nevertheless be removed or disturbed, if the sign of the first conception is attributed to the latter conception, and vice versa. Those that do not know, or do not attend to, this are hardly able to extricate themselves from the labyrinth of contradiction. Hitherto the consideration of the first example.

Let us also consider a second concerning Pharaoh. In the history of Pharaoh, two distinct divine conceptions likewise come to be considered. While Pharaoh is commanded a first, second, and third time to release the people of Israel, the first conception was the will of God concerning not yet leading His people out of the house of servitude, and not bending or forcing the soul of Pharaoh to release the people, indeed, hardening him, so that he would not release them.

The second conception was the will of God concerning obliging Pharaoh by express commandment to release the people of Israel, but that not unto this end, that he might release them at that time: for thus God would have failed of His own end, indeed, that He would lose the very things He had procured by the hardening of Pharaoh, which is foreign to the wisdom of God: but so that by the neglect of the divine precept Pharaoh might understand himself to suffer the just punishments of his obstinacy: and occasion might be given through the hardening of Pharaoh of showing His own power, Exodus 9:16.

To each conception corresponds its own sign. The sign, not of the latter, but of the former (which nevertheless was hidden from Pharaoh at first), is expressed in these words: I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go, Exodus 4:21.

The sign of the latter, not of the former, revealed to Pharaoh, is expressed in these words: Let my people go, Exodus 9:1.

Again, you see that there is no true contradiction here: but a friendly agreemen of the signs with the conceptions, as the things signified: which, again, would be removed or disturbed, if the signs be exchanged.

This is the sense of Scripture: from which our Doctors do not dissent. And so the conflict between the word and concepts, or the will of God, of which some make mention, is not true and real, but apparent, according to the mind of our Doctors: who all confess with one mouth, that God is altogether truthful in all His works and words. The reconciliation of apparent contradiction is also made more difficult by some, because they do not direct the signs to their own proper concepts.

It was agreeable to explain these things somewhat more fully in this vestibule, as it were: because they make for the loosing of many difficulties and the blunting of many calumnies, and especially illustrate the distinction of the divine will into the will of sign and of good pleasure, of which some judge to harshly: as we will show at length in its proper place.

Hence it is evident that the argument of Eckhard passes into smoke, through the distinction between true and apparent contradiction. The Major speaks of true conflict: the Minor of apparent conflict, which appears to those that do not receive the word according to the intention of God, do not distinguish the diverse conceptions of God, and do not apply signs to their own proper conceptions.

Those that labor to reconcile apparent contradiction here by a distinction of ends alone, do not appear solidly to assert the truth of the divine word: Where agreement between the sign and the concept signified is lacking, there the truth of the signs or words is lacking, whatever the end of the speaker might ultimately be: So that, if Numa should say that he received his laws from the Goddess Ægeria,[3] which nevertheless he knows that he did not receive from the Goddess; ye he speaks to this end, that he might win authority for his laws before the people: Numa lies.

But the opinion of Luther here pleases much less, which we remit to the scourgers of our Theologians: now, thus he speaks on Genesis 22: God said to Abraham: Slay thy son, etc. How? by playing, feigning, mocking. It is certainly a pleasant and agreeable sport. Thus He sometimes feigns, that He withdraws far from us, even kills us, but who believes it to be a pretense? But before God it is sport, and, if it should be lawful to speak so, it is a lie. And a little earlier: When death is to be met, they (the pious) are able to say to God: It is not death, but life; thou art sporting with me, just like a father with a son; thou sayest one thing, but thinkest another. It is lie salutary for us.

The Doctrine of the Orthodox, concerning the truth of the divine word, see asserted against all the instances of adversaries, in our first Exercitation.[4] The second Exercitation shows that the words of Luther from his Commentary on Genesis are alleged suitable and fittingly.


THESIS VI: Its End is the saving instruction of us, whereby we, the heirs of eternal life, are made perfect.

EXPLANATION: I. Scripture bears witness: Romans 1:16, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Romans 10:17, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 1 Corinthians 1:21, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:18, that preaching of the cross to us which are saved is the power of God. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. John 20:31, these things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name. James 1:21, receive the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. To this pertain the eminent encomia of the word, especially of the Evangelical word: which sort are, the word of eternal life, John 6:68. Seed incorruptible, whereby we are born again, 1 Peter 1:23. The Gospel of salvation, Ephesians 1:13; which is said to bring forth fruit in the whole world, Colossians 1:6.

Whence it is compared to a hammer breaking up rock, Jeremiah 23:29; to a twoedged and piercing sword, Hebrews 4:12; to a choice arrow, Isaiah 49:2; to snow and rain making the ground fertile, Isaiah 55:10, 11. All which look to commend the end and efficacy of Scripture.

II. But it is asked here, in what sense are such illustrious effects attributed to the word of God and its preaching?

Responses: 1. It is certain and evident to all, that this force is not found in the letters, syllables, and sound of the word: and so we are not regenerated and preserved by the word in the same way that we are nourished by food or healed by medicine: for food and medicines have a certain force ingrafted in their nature, which exerts itself in the production of effects, even with us not attending: the manner of the external word is different. It is, not a physical cause, but moral.

2. It is also certain, that the word of God is not the principal, but rather the instrumental, cause of these effects: Whence it is called the power of God, because it is an efficacious instrument of divine power.

3. The proper role of the word is to signify what things are to be believed and to be done by those that desire to obtain eternal life: so that ordinarily eternal life falls to no adult, unless educated by the word in those things that are to be believed and done: Paul commends this role, 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

4. In this signification, which embraces instruction, reproof and correction, promise, threatening, exhortation and dehortation, with the grace of the Holy Spirit added as the principal cause, the mind of a man to be saved is illuminated, so that he might know what things are to be believed and done: and the will is renewed, and is furnished with new strength, so that it might believe the things to be believed, and do the things to be done.

5. If it be without the grace of the Holy Spirit, there is no salutary effect of the word in a man unrenewed and dead in sins; neither the intellect nor the will of man is suitably affected: Whence experience and Scripture testify that from the man that are called very few are saved, as also few are chosen.[5] And let this be observed: There is no saving use of the word, unless it is received by faith; but it is not able to be received by faith, except with the special grace of the Spirit being added, whereby faith is given with the word read or heard, not to all, but only to certain ones.

III. Those that do not acquiesce in this our declaration, and reproach us with Schwenckfeldianism,[6] because we teach that with the external ministry of the word is conjoined an internal grace of the Spirit in the conversion of man, and so conversion is the ἀποτέλεσμα/result of the word and spirit, who works through and with the word; do us injury, and foster Pelagianism,[7] while they refer the whole work of conversion to the moral suasion of the word alone, or the signifying of those things that are to be believed and done. For, if you separate the inward grace and efficacy of the Spirit from the external word, nothing will remain except moral suasion, which Pelagius calls the sufficient grace of conversion. But the unregenerate man, that is, one spiritually blind and deaf, indeed, dead, is less able to obey this moral suasion alone, than one blind in his bodily eyes to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to display vital actions, if he only be commanded to see, to hear, and to exercise life. Hence Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:14, the natural man is not fit for those things that belong to the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Whence it is evident, that with the external Ministry of the word is necessarily to be conjoined the internal Magisterium of the Spirit, if salvation is to be the effect of the former. Upon this matter, the passage of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 is excellent: Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that waterereth; but God that giveth the increase. There is a similar passage in 2 Corinthians 4:7, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of that power may be of God, and not from us. In which sense Christ is said to have taught ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων, as one having authority, and not as the Pharisees, Mark 1:22. Concerning this matter, see our third Exercitation.


THESIS VII: Hitherto the cause of Sacred Scripture. The Subject is the books, wherein the word of God has been written: And they are of the old and new Testaments.


THESIS VIII: The books of the Old Testament are called Prophetic; and they are in number thirty-eight:[8] Five of Moses, which are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy: One of Joshua: One of Judges: One of Ruth: Two of Samuel: Two of Kings: Two of Chronicles, or παραλειπομένων/ Paralipomena:[9] One of Ezra: One of Nehemiah: One of Esther: Job: the Psalter: Proverbs: Ecclesiastes: Song of Songs: four Major Prophets, which are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel: twelve Minor Prophets, which are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

EXPLANATION: I. The Jews, according to the number of the letters of their alphabet, number the books of the Old Testament twenty-two; Jerome, twenty-four; sometimes even twenty-seven, but with no loss to the Biblical corpus. Since they number several as one; more specifically, the two of Samuel, the two of Kings, the two of Chronicles, and the twelve of the minor prophets, they number as four.

II. The Christian religion is also contained in the books of the Old Testament. 1. For they contain the doctrine of the law and of the gospel. 2. The Christian religion of the New Testament is the same with the Old with respect to substance. In both, the same God, Romans 3:29; the same Mediator, Hebrews 13:8. 3. From the books of the Old Testament Christ and the Apostles prove their doctrine, John 5:39, 46; Acts 13:46, 47; 17:11; 28:23. 4. Because the books of the Old Testament furnish testimony to the Christian religion, John 5:39; Luke 24:44; Acts 26:22.


THESIS IX: The books of the New Testament are called Apostolic; and they are in number twenty-seven: four Evangelists, which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: fourteen Epistles of Paul, of which ten are to whole Churches, four to individual persons: one to the Romans: two to the Corinthians: one to the Galatians: one to the Ephesians: one to the Philippians: one to the Colossians: two to the Thessalonians: one to the Hebrews: two to Timothy: one to Titus: one to Philemon: one of James: two of Peter: three of John: one of Jude: the Apocalypse of John.

EXPLANATION: I. Therefore, the Canonical Books of the old and new Testaments are sixty-five in all.

II. Besides these those that are found among the books of the old Testament, which sort are, the book of Tobit, the book of Judith, the book of Wisdom, the book of Ecclesiasticus, two books of the Maccabees, the third and fourth books of Esdras, Baruch, the Prayer of Manasseh, Additions to Daniel, etc.; are called Apocryphal by the Church, the authority of which is far less than of the Canonical books, because they were not dictated to the Prophets by the Holy Spirit, which is proven:

1. Because their authors were later than Malachi, who was the last of the Prophets.

2. Because they were not written in the Prophetic tongue, that is, Hebrew.

3. Because neither the Judaic, nor the ancient Apostolic, Church held them as Canonical.

4. Because neither with themselves in all things, nor with the Canonical and historical Scripture, do they agree in truth: which is the principal argument: concerning which the Theologians are to be consulted that undertake a special examination of the individual Apocryphal books, among whom are Whitaker; Polanus in his Syntagmate; Rainolds;[10] Chamier in his Panstratia, book 5, de Canone; and others.

[1] Heinrich Eckhard (1580-1624) was a German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. [2] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine. He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584). His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther. Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians. He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator. [3] Numa was the legendary second king of Rome, purported author of many important Roman political and religious institutions. He is said to have had a relationship with the nymph Ægeria, receiving from her the wisdom to legislate skillfully. [4] Wendelin’s Exercitationes theologicæ vindices, pro theologia Christiana Marci Friderici Wendelini, Oppositæ Johannis Gerhardi. [5] See Matthew 20:16; 22:14. [6] Caspar Schwenckfeld (c. 1489-1561) was a German Protestant preacher and theologian. He broke with Luther over the Lord’s Supper, teaching that the believer ate the spiritual body of Christ; and he embraced other enthusiastical doctrines. With respect to the ministry of the Word, Schwenckfeld denied that God made use of external means in the conversion of souls. [7] Pelagius (c. 354-c. 420/440) was an opponent of Augustine; he denied Augustine’s doctrine of total depravity and the freeness and sovereignty of God’s grace. [8] Normally the number is given at thirty-nine. It appears that Jeremiah and Lamentation have been combined here. [9] That is, things omitted and added by way of supplement. [10] John Rainolds (1549-1607) was an Oxford academic and churchman. He was Puritan in his views, and played an important role in initiating the Authorized Version. In the early 1580s, Rainolds met Jesuit John Hart (died 1586) in disputation. He wrote Censuram Librorum Apocryphorum.

163 views10 comments