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1 420 Book Reviews / CHRC (2010) Willem Arie den Boer, Duplex amor Dei. Contextuele karakteristiek van de theologie van Jacobus Arminius ( ) [Publications of the Institute for Reformation Research 1]. Instituut voor Reformatieonderzoek, Apeldoorn 2008, vii pp. isbn The year 2009 may be remembered most by church historians as the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, celebrated throughout the year by a dozen or so major commemorations and conferences. This same year also commemorated the less celebrated, but not forgotten, legacy of Jacobus Arminius, who died 400 years ago. During the last half-century, his legacy has been shaped by a handful of important studies that have helped bring the life and theology of Arminius into sharper focus. By concentrating on archival material, neglected primary sources, neglected doctrinal topics, and the pastoral and academic settings of his career, these investigations have illuminated the historical Arminius through contextualizing him in a way that had not been done before. None of these studies seeks to be the final word on Arminius. But if there is any consensus, it is that Arminius can no longer be characterized as hero or heretic based on one-sided portrayals or on a central (anti-supralapsarian) dogma that fails to consider all the evidence. Into this scene of blossoming Arminius studies enters William den Boer s dissertation on Arminius, completed in According to the statement on the book s back cover, it promises to be a contextual examination that offers an entirely new contribution towards the understanding of Arminius theology (also on p. 323). Den Boer posits that he has discovered what he variously calls the grondmotief (p. v), the Leitmotiv (p. 30), and Begriff (p. 31) of Arminius s theology: namely, the justice/righteousness of God (iustitia Dei) within the broader concept of the twofold love of God (duplex amor Dei) (p. 31). The first part of the dissertation, entitled De theologie van Jacobus Arminius, takes up the bulk of the text, and it begins with a chapter of introduction. The historical section of this introduction covers two main topics: it first summarizes the life and work of Arminius (pp. 3 12), and then, perplexingly, spends more than half of the section arguing that the public and private disputations of Arminius cannot serve as primary source material for this study (pp ). After considering the conclusions of some recent studies on Arminius s theology, Den Boer proceeds to describe his own method of 1) Before long, an English translation will be published: God s Twofold Love. The Theology of Jacob Arminius ( ) [Reformed Historical Theology 14]. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, 342 pp. isbn Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: / X542671

2 Book Reviews / CHRC (2010) investigation. He has chosen an analytic approach that focuses on the works of Arminius in chronological order and searches within those works for the leading motive of Arminius s theology: namely, iustitia, the dominant attribute of God (pp ). This means providing an independent theological portrait of Arminius that views his theologizing as much as possible through the lens of Arminius himself. Thus, Den Boer dispenses with the need to compare Arminius s thought with that of his influential predecessors, contemporaries, and opponents (pp ). Chapters two through five present what Den Boer finds to be the leading motive of Arminius s theology. Arminius stressed throughout his writings, and especially in the Declaration of Sentiments, the twofold love of God, that is, God s love for iustitia (justice/ righteousness) and his love for sinful humanity. Both objects of love work together in shaping God s will and actions. Den Boer then emphasizes God s justice, which comes logically first as the object of his love. Den Boer explores the works of Arminius and shows how the concept of God s justice impacts other topics in Arminius s theology. The second part of the dissertation, entitled Receptie en theologiehistorische context van Arminius theologie, includes one chapter on the reception of Arminius s central idea at the Hague Conference, a written conference that took place in 1611 between the Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants. Den Boer acknowledges that the Remonstrants two years later gave no significant attention to what he has identified as Arminius s foundational doctrine. He realizes that this piece of evidence could weaken his thesis, and he attempts to give reasons for the Remonstrants silence about Arminius s main theme. The final chapter before a brief conclusion compares Calvin s and Arminius s views of the comprehensibility of God s justice, and then proceeds to give an overview of the sixteenth-century debate on human freedom and whether certain doctrines imply that God is the author of sin. Den Boer s work surely has its merits. His theological investigation demonstrates how iustitia Dei, so important throughout the history of Christian thought, plays a vital role in Arminius s theology. In fact, Arminius s theology cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of God s twofold love. In addition, outside of a brief comparison with Calvin, the chapter on the Hague Conference of 1611 is the only extended historical context treated in this dissertation. Although he views it narrowly through the lens of God s twofold love, Den Boer has provided a useful contribution in analyzing this comparatively little-known conference. Reviewing a book about a subject on which the reviewer has also written comes with certain hazards. On the one hand, criticisms could be so detailed

3 422 Book Reviews / CHRC (2010) that they amount to nothing more than preferences, or, on the other hand, critique could be largely avoided lest it appear that the reviewer cannot be objective. I will attempt to avoid these extremes by pointing out three problems that are important because of their direct bearing on the stated contribution of the book. The first concerns the search for and identification of what is basically the central dogma in Arminius. Den Boer boldly asserts that iustitia is the structurally decisive, all-determining leading motive of Arminius s theology (pp. 60, 70, 271). However, the identification of a thinker s central dogma, so prevalent in nineteenth-century historiography, has been successfully challenged in recent scholarship. Without even acknowledging such challenges, Den Boer proceeds with the dubious quest, which itself generates a multiplicity of problems. For example, as he attempts to show the central theme s connection to and indeed, logical generation of nearly every theological topic in Arminius, Den Boer s study appears to be based on a kind of concordance search for iustitia.he even notesthe vast frequencyof iustitia in the published works of Arminius as support for his thesis (pp. 60, 70). This concordance approach falls short; that iustitia can be found in many places, including prolegomena, does not make it the structurally determining concept. One may just as easily take Christ or grace, each of which appears more frequently than iustitia in Arminius s Opera, and then show how every part of his theology connects to and must be consistent with these concepts. The search for a central dogma guarantees that sufficient place will not be given to concepts that, arguably, could vie for equal standing. Furthermore, since the claim to have found a structurally decisive, alldetermining leading motive bears the burden of proof for demonstrating how it generates every point of Arminius s theology, the study is incomplete. For example, Den Boer has given no hints for how iustitia might structurally determine Arminius s ecclesiology, including his distinctive (so-called) Erastian inclinations. If iustitia is the fundamental idea in the total structure of Arminius s theology (p. 319), then it should explain every move Arminius makes theologically. Finally, granting for the moment the legitimacy of the quest for a central dogma, to isolate iustitia in particular as the fundamental motive of Arminius s theology, as Den Boer does throughout, is incomplete without the other object of God s love, sinful humanity. In Arminius s exposition, God s love for justice is primary, but is meaningless and unchecked without God s love for the sinner. Thus, within the central dogma schema, Den Boer would have done better to stay with the twofold love of God as the larger concept.

4 Book Reviews / CHRC (2010) The second general problem concerns this study s interaction with secondary sources and its derivative nature. In light of Den Boer narrowing his dialogue partners primarily to Arminius scholarship of the past two decades, along with the claim to be presenting an entirely new thesis, this point is worth mentioning. Perhaps it is to be expected that the brief review of Arminius s life adds nothing significant to the many biographical sketches already available. However, much of the doctrinal material, which supposedly constitutes the original contribution, also turns out to be unoriginal. Even as he goes out of his way to disagree with some studies, Den Boer is highly dependent on the topics and sources of previous scholars, and often without giving due credit. A few examples will have to suffice. In light of his bold thesis about the role of iustitia, surely middle knowledge deserves more than a brief discussion (pp ). Richard Muller and Eef Dekker have previously shown the significance of middle knowledge for Arminius s system. 2 In this study, though, it remains unclear how Arminius s emphasis on justice should lead him to affirm middle knowledge, when there may be other strategies for reconciling human freedom, divine foreknowledge, and divine grace. Again, there are sections on Arminius s intellectualism (pp ) and The integrity of creation (pp ), without a single reference to the work of Muller, whose similarly-titled articles pioneered these discussions. These examples reflect a larger pattern in this work. Moreover, in light of the claim that this is an entirely new contribution, I am compelled to call attention to Den Boer s frequent dependence on topics that appeared for the first time in my dissertation and subsequent monograph. 3 Although he claims that all research passes by the controlling motive of Arminius (p. 36), I previously argued extensively that God s twofold love enjoyed a (not the ) central place in Arminius s theology. In addition to the important role of God s twofold love, it was also disconcerting to read Den Boer s treatments of such subjects as the theme of securitas/desperatio (pp. 167, 171, 193), the heuristic use of Arminius s foundation language (p. 155, pp ), the distinction between ontological and epistemological 2) Richard A. Muller, God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius: Sources and Directions of Scholastic Protestantism in the Era of Early Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, 1991); Eef Dekker, Rijker dan Midas: Vrijheid, genade en predestinatie in de theologie van Jacobus Arminius ( ) (Zoetermeer, 1993). 3) Keith D. Stanglin, Arminius on the Assurance of Salvation: The Context, Roots, and Shape of the Leiden Debate, [Brill s Series in Church History 27] (Leiden/Boston, 2007).

5 424 Book Reviews / CHRC (2010) soteriology (p. 167), and the authorship of disputations, among other topics. The sections on these and other topics, sometimes without due acknowledgement, can hardly be considered original insights. Having illustrated the derivative nature of the study, I will resist the temptation to correct its misunderstandings and misrepresentations of my work on Arminius. The third problem is that, although the title leads the reader to believe this study will be contextual, the chosen method laid out in chapter one precludes common notions of historical contextualization. Den Boer combs through the works of Arminius and displays a high level of familiarity with the primary sources. But offering an independent theological portrait (p. 32) of Arminius sounds as if he is to be treated as an island. And such isolation is, with few exceptions, what this study delivers. For example, after raising the apparently significant question of how Arminius s use of iustitia made his theology distinct from others, Den Boer claims that Arminius s approach to God s justice departs in two ways from what was acceptable among his contemporaries (p. 61). However, in the subsequent analysis (pp ), he offers only one brief reference to a contemporary (namely, Calvin), as if one citation from Calvin is sufficient to represent the contemporary thought from which Arminius departed. It is an important question, with, unfortunately, no support for the answers. Additional instances of limited contextual investigation could cause concern. For example, in chapter seven s treatment of sixteenthcentury Reformed theologians, although the views of Beza, Bucer, Bullinger, Musculus, Ursinus, Vermigli, and Zanchi are all discussed, and some at length, the reader will search in vain for one primary source citation. Den Boer selfconsciously relies on secondary sources for information basic to his argument (pp. 274, 288). Any number of approaches would have enriched this study, including research into the historical antecedents of Arminius s grondmotief, first-hand comparison with contemporaries and opponents who shaped his theology, and attention to his academic context. Even acknowledgment of Arminius s pastoral context would have revealed how assurance of salvation became a motivating point of departure that led Arminius to this foundational doctrine of God s love and drove him to defend it so passionately. Moreover, it remains unclear how Den Boer s rejection of Arminius s disputations as source material which is fraught with many difficulties and goes unsupported by any new discoveries comports with his later use of the disputations to support his thesis (e.g., p. 77, pp ), or even more, with his frequent use of Arminius s Examen thesium Gomari, a writing in which Arminius (erroneously?) assumes that his colleague s disputation functions as reliable

6 Book Reviews / CHRC (2010) source material. It seems that some historical, contextual research would have mitigated this incongruity. Den Boer s dissertation is at its best in the analysis of God s justice in Arminius s works and its reception at the Hague Conference. In these places the author has made positive contributions and moved the discussion forward. There can be no doubt that God s twofold love plays an important role in Arminius s thought, and for this reminder the reader can be grateful. However, to the degree that it offers a dogmatic, derivative, de-contextualized view of Arminius, this study does little to deepen scholarly understanding of his theology. Keith D. Stanglin Harding University

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