Apr 17, 2009

The "New Divinity" (part two)

IN "Theology in America" by E. Brooks Holifield, the writer said:

"In Bellamy's view, Hervey and Sandeman ignored the obligation of Christians to love God for God's instrinsic loveliness "antecedent to his being our reconciled Father and Friend." "If I love God merely because he loves me," he said, "I am the Object really beloved: And the act is properly an Act of self-love." In literary dialogues and published sermons, he promoted the view that faith was a trusting of Christ, not a confidence in subjective experience, that it presupposed a repentance for sin induced by the law, and that it issued in a sanctified life in accord with the law. In describing repentence as prior to faith, Bellamy-and other Edwardeans-departed from the assumption of earlier Calvinists that true repentance and a true love of God preceded faith, for it would be selfish of Christians to love God only after gaining the faith that God loved them." (I doubt this latter remark for Calvin, and Edwards too, clearly put faith before repentance - SG)

"So unrelenting were the Edwardeans in their demand for immediate repentance and selfless love for God that they revised the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. Edwards had sometimes seemed to suggest (that is vague, isn't it? SG) that justification presupposed the indwelling of the Spirit, infused grace, and love in the regenerate heart. (or that regeneration preceded justification - SG) Bellamy added love for God and the divine law normally preceded justifying faith. Hopkins was even more explicit: a sinner must have "a heart to love God and his law, antecedent to his pardon and justification, and in order to it." (i.e., the idea that regeneration precedes faith - SG) Such a heart resulted from a divine act of regeneration. He was no longer preaching the justification of the sinner as much as the justification of the reborn. Later New Divinity theologians exposed the tendency implicit in Hopkin's theology. They said that sinners were justified only after becoming saints, and they also referred to justification as a "partial" and "provistional" forgiveness that required perseverence in faith and obedience. In their own way, the theologians of the New Divinity valorized virtue as much as the New England liberals." (pg. 139)

See here

Doubtless this is further historical evidence that it was part of the tenets of the "Edwardians," or "New Divinity," or "Hopkinsians," that took Calvinism far beyond the "Old Calvinism" of Calvin and Edwards, in teaching that men were born again or regenerated apart from the means of gospel truth, and that regeneration was distinct from conversion; And, in their putting regeneration before justification, and in their making regeneration to be a mystical, subconscious, metaphysical change of soul substance, a non-conversion experience.

No comments: