Some suppose Reformed dogmatics of the seventeenth century a chilly discipline. However, the first thing I did upon arriving at my study this morning, in providential randomness, was pick up a precious volume sitting on my desk – Reformed Dogmatics: Seventeenth-Century Reformed Theology through the Writings of Wollebius, Voetius, and Turretine, ed. and trans. by John W. Beardslee, III.  I had placed it there the evening before, as I left the study, so as to readily entice me when I returned today.   This rare and inexcusably out-of-print treasure was given to me by one of my pastoral interns, Chris Rhoades, who always ferrets out gems for me at used book stores.

I happened to open this volume to a section from Johannes Wollebius’ Compendium Theologiae Christianae.  Wollebius (1586-1629) is a relatively lesser-known Continental Reformer, from Basel.  He succeeded his mentor, Amandus Polanus von Polanssdorf, as Professor of Old Testament at Basel in 1610.  Wollebius’ Compendium was an influential and generally representative statement of the theological trajectory of his day and context. 

In a discussion of the nature  and proper object of faith, Wollebius offers the standard tri-complex of faith, along with a warm explication of the objective and subjective aspects of saving faith:

“VII. The form of faith, for purposes of teaching, may be described under three heads: knowledge [notitia], assent [assensus], and trust [fiducia].

Knowledge is understanding of those things that are necessary for salvation.  Assent means that whatever is taught by the word of God is firmly believed to be true.  Trust us that [aspect of faith] by which each of the faithful applies evangelical promises to himself.

VIII. Knowledge and assent are common to historical faith and saving faith; trust is peculiar to the latter.

It is called, by the apostle, pepoithesis (Eph. 3:12) and plerophoria (1Thess. 1:15).  By this word may be understood either the apprehension and application of Christ with all his benefits, or the giving of peace to the conscience.  The first is the form of faith; the second, its effect on the feelings” (pp. 162-63).

 I figure a nice, warm bowl of Wollebius was a good way to start my day, as well as, this blog.

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