John Wollebius, 1660, The Abridgement of Christian Divinity and who determines the Scriptures are the Scriptures.

Doing research on volume 3 of the Standard Sacred Text series, A Theological Grounding for a Standard Sacred Text, I have been reading through many pages of 16th and 17th Protestant theologies. On a personal level, the Christ-centeredness and biblical consistency of their arguments is a refreshment to my soul. I told my family that unless you knew the Lord as your Savior you could not read this stuff for very long before your conscience, suffering under the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, had enough. John Wollebius’ [or Wolleb] work, which I am quoting below, was in its 3rd edition in 1660. Few have heard of John Wollebius, Doctor of Divinity and Ordinary professor at the University of Basil, Switzerland, yet he stands with Voet and Turretin as one of the most influential 17th c. Protestant dogmaticians. What stands out broadly is the consistency of their argument and their polemic against the external criteria of the Roman Catholic sanctioning of the Latin Vulgate as the word of God.

These men and their encyclopedic theological systems have so much to teach the contemporary Church. To our detriment, with minor exceptions, these Protestant orthodox systematic theologies have been forsaken by the modern academy, so much so, that to quote them seems something quaint and distant, not at all like current theological structures. They write theology cognizant that they wrote in the very presence of their Savior.

The quote below relates to the issue of external criteria for what is and is not Scripture, and for Wollebius, the ecclesiastical authority of the Church of Rome. Touching external criteria as you read this quote, substitute any external criteria that comes to mind – the historical critical method, CBGM, a favorite writer, what your seminary professor said, personal preference, etc., — for Church. You will get a sense in the 21st century of what Dr. John Wollebius, Professor at the University of Basil and his colleagues were up against in the 17th century. Though the presentation of the controversy has changed, the controversy itself is the same.

“The Romanists argue the Churches authority alone, which we they have in such high esteem, that they will have the whole authority of Scriptures to have its dependence from the Church; and for this only cause they will have it to be God’s Word, because the Church is witness of it. But this is not to make the Church a witness of Scripture’s divinity, but to make herself capable of divinity. But we will prove by these ensuing arguments, that the testimony of God’s Spirit alone is it, which firmly assures us of the Scripture’s divinity.”

John Wollebius, The Abridgement of Christian Divinity, 3rd ed. (London: Printed for T. Mabb. For Joseph Nevill, and are to be sold at his shop at the sign of the Plough in the New Buildings in Paules Church-yard, 1660), 6.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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