Jacob encounters God as a friend at Bethel (Gen. 28:10- 22). He encounters God a second time at Peniel as an opponent (Gen. 32:24-32). Continue reading
So I went and dug up my old old old blogger for the purpose of retrieving valuable resource material. I have copied over most of the church history quotes that I had blogged, and I will likely add a few more in the coming days. Sorry for the overload of new posts, but it is better to have them all in one place.
I now have a Mercersburg category which has lots of good stuff to check out.
It is certainly true that when children of believers reach the age of discernment [and have never repented or believed] they will have alienated themselves from God and destroyed utterly the truth of baptism. But this is not to say that our Lord has not elected them and separated them from others in order to grant them His salvation. Otherwise, it would be in vain for Saint Paul to say that a child of a believing father or mother is sanctified, who would be impure if he were born of and descended from unbelievers (1 Cor. 7:14).
John Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines pg. 52
Another difference [between Modern Theology and Mercersburg Theology] is in their central iea. Modern theology makes the atonement or death of Christ, Mercersburg the person of Chirst or the incarnation, its central idea. The importance of this difference can be seen in the fact, for instance, that the atonement itself, or justification by faith, cannot be maintained successfully by adopting the former. According to it, the atonement is made to rest primarily on what Christ has done, not on what he is. It apprehends Christ as a mere individual, God and man in one person, it is true, but yet as a mere individual. Mercersburg theology apprehends Christ as the embodiment of the universal life of humanity, the second Adam or federal head of the race’ and his obedience and death receive their atoning merits from this fact. When he was nailed to the cross, more than a mere individual was nailed to the cross– humanity itself– was nailed to the cross; consequently whatever merits attach to his suffering and death belong to the race as a whole– not to one individual simply– nor to a limited number of individuals– nor to all individuals numerically considered– but to humanity as a whole (which is something more, and deeper, and broader and more universal, than any number of mere individuals),– subject to appropriation by all who claim them for their individual wants.
If Christ had been a mere individual, one among many, no such universal atonement nor even a limited atonement, could have been possible. The merits of his death could apply no farther than to himself, and the idea of the atonement, as available for others, falls to the ground. The idea of one individual dying for the crimes of another individual, does not satisfy the demands of justice. The doctrine of the atonement must be apprehended in a profounder sense than this comes to, and this depends on a proper conception of the person of Christ.
Samuel Miller, A Treatise on Mercersburg Theology; or, Mercersburg and Modern Theology Compared pg. 19-21
Mercersburg theology makes accordingly proper account of the ancient faith of the Church as embodied in the Creed; as well as of the Church itself in all ages. Hence its invaluable productions in the department of Church history (vide Dr. Schaff’s Church History). While it takes the position that Protestant theology is an advance over Catholic theology, it yet maintains that it is the reproduction of the latter under a deeper and profounder apprehension of its truths, and not the production of a new theology. So with the faith of the Church, and the Church itself. The Church of the Reformation, with its faith and doctrines, was not the product of any individual or number of individuals, who started fresh from the Bible in reconstructing the Church and its faith and doctrines. It was the result of the best life of the Catholic Church itself, which was tending and struggling toward this end for centuries, until it reached its culmination in the Great Reformation. Continue reading
According to modern theology, the Son of God assumed our nature in order that through it, as a means to an end beyond himself, he might procure redemption for humanity as fallen in Adam. According to Mercersburg, the very assumption of that nature, in its sinless perfection, was itself the redemption of humanity. In him humanity stands redeemed already, as the source and fountain of the new race which proceeds from him. In him is our redemption, and by becoming one with him, it is all our own.
Samuel Miller, A Treatise on Mercersburg Theology; or, Mercersburg and Modern Theology Compared pg. 23
Justification by faith in the merits of Christ, is, according to modern theology, simply an outward imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers. According to Catholic theology, it is the making us righteous by the regenerating and sanctifying influence of the Spirit, which Protestant theology has justly rejected. According to Oxford theology, or Puseyism (which seeks to mediate between the Catholic and Protestant idea), justification is the making us righteous by the communication of the divine life of Christ, which, being divine and holy, makes us righteous. According to Mercersburg theology, the Protestant doctrine of imputation is substantially correct, that we are accounted righteous for the sake of the merits and righteousness of Christ (his active and passive obedience whilst on earth); but apprehends the doctrine more profoundly, by adding, that the divine act of imputation in the case is conditioned by our actual participation in these merits, by virtue of our union with Christ. It is not simply a declaratory act, but a creative act at the same time, which brings us into possession of Christ’s merits, which are imputed to us for righteousness. The merits of Christ are therefore not, as modern theology would have it, simply set over to our account, but are made over to us in fact, in the mystical union of Christ and the believer. The merits of Christ are inseparable from his divine-human person or life, and go together in the simultaneous act of justification and regeneration, which do not follow each other in the order of time.
Samuel Miller, A Treatise on Mercersburg Theology; or, Mercersburg and Modern Theology Compared pg. 33-35
Many Reformed pastors were afraid that Nevin and Schaff would in the end join the Roman Catholic Church. Nevin set their minds at ease on this score with an article on “Brownson’s Quarterly Review” which appeared in the Mercersburg Review in January and May 1850. Brownson had been a convert to Rome and had issued his review as an inducement to others to follow him to the bosom of the Mother Church. Nevin used a notice of the appearance of this review as an excuse to express his opinions concerning the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church, he objected, glorifies authority and gives no place to individual freedom. Authority is rigid, external, and fixed in Romanism, but to be truly authoritative, said Nevin, all authority must be subjectively appropriated by the individual before it can have any influence on his life. Furthermore, the Roman view does not allow for any historical development whatsoever. It therefore puts the Roman Church outside the pale of history and to be outside of history is to be outside of humanity itself. Romanism runs the danger of becoming nothing more than a magical system in which things take place opus operatum. Romanism views the two worlds, the supernatural and the natural, as wholly disjointed and seperate. Any connection between the two must be merely outward, because the two are separated by an impassable gulf as regards their inward constitution and being… Continue reading
Nevin acknowledged the debt which he owed to the great German theologian Schleiermacher, who had so clearly impressed upon modern theology the significance of the Christological principle. Nevertheless, Nevin thought that Schleiermacher had gone astray in the deductions which he had made from the Christological principle, and hence was not to be followed on every point. Although the guiding principle of the Mercersburg Theology was taken over from Schleiermacher, the Christology of the group was developed in line with the ancient creeds of the Catholic Church. In this respect their new theology was more Anglican than German, more concerned with the significance of the Holy Catholic Church than with philosophical issues. A true Christology, Nevin felt, could be formulated only if close contact were kept with the spirit and letter of the ancient creeds of the Holy Catholic Church.
Luther J. Binkley, The Mercersburg Theology pg. 39
Nevin indicated that he could not accept the view of the Puritans that the Church remained buried for a thousand years or more, and then came to a resurrection in the sixteenth century. He also could not accept the position of Swedenborg that the Church which started with the apostles had run itself out, and that the future belonged to the new revelation appointed to take its place. If he had to choose between these two views and Rome, he would choose Rome every time. However, Nevin did not believe that these were the only alternatives. He believed that the main, but not exclusive, stream of Christendom runs through Protestantism, and will result in the course of time in a unity and union of all churches which serve Christ. He concluded, therefore, that he did not believe the solution of the church question would be found by the Reformed people taking a trip to Canterbury.
from Luther J. Binkley, The Mercersburg Theology pg. 75