Buchbesprechung: Die Gotteslehre der protestantischen Orthodoxie (II)

Richard A. Muller trug mit seinem umfassenden, tiefschürfenden Werk „Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics“ wesentlich zur Neuentdeckung und –bewertung der Zeit der sog. Reformierten Orthodoxie bei. Theologen des 20. Jahrunderts, insbesondere auch der Neoorthodoxie, trugen wesentlich zu deren Diskreditierung bei. Mullers Vorwurf an die Adresse der Neoorthodoxie: Das Urteil wurde aus Unkenntnis heraus gefällt.

Hier sind einige Zitate zu seiner Einschätzung (alle aus Band 3, The Divine Essence and Attributes, Baker: Grand Rapids, 2003):

1. Saubere exegetische und hermeneutische Arbeit

The orthodox approach to the doctrine of the divine essence, attributes, and Trinity evidences both a respect for the broader and fundamental definition of Scripture as principium cognoscendi, and the more hermeneutical understanding of the text of Scripture as providing principia or axiomata from which conclusions could be deduce. (99)

2. Im Dialog mit der Dogmengeschichte und damals aktuellen philosophischen Strömungen

The nominalist, Scotist, Thomist, and Augustinian backgrounds of the Reformers themselves could be blended with and augmented by older materials to produce a highly traditionary but also distinctively Protestant theology in dialogue with the broader philosophical currents of the time. (108)

3. Gründliche Untersuchung in der Frage der rationalen Erkennbarkeit Gottes

In the face of adeclining Aristotelianism and a rising rationalism, both in the form of Cartesian philosophy and of Deism, Reformed orthodoxy revisited the problem of the rational knowledge of God and its relation to theological system. (119-120)

4. Im Vergleich mit der mittelalterlischen Theologie exegetisch besser abgestützt

The Protestant orthodox doctrine of God is built far more consistently and profoundly on the text of Scripture and on the results of exegesis than medieval formulations—and this grounding has subtle impact on the way in which issues are formulated, even when the broad definitions of doctrinal points remain relatively unchanged. (134)

5. Insbesondere bei den Puritanern und der niederländischen “Nadere Reformatie” eng mit der gelebten Frömmigkeit verknüpft

In specific relation to the doctrine of God, the impact of the Nadere Reformatie and of Puritan piety was to produce a traditional orthodoxy, characterized by an exegetical foundation and a full scholastic development of doctrinal points, blended with a strong sense of the practical impact of the doctrine—indeed, of each of the doctrinal subtopics—on Christian life. (143)

6. Mit einem nachvollziehbaren Aufbau

More common among the seventeenth-century theologians … was the division between God and his works, followed by a division of the topic of God into discussions of essence, names, attributes, and persons. (163)

7. Eingeleitet mit der Frage nach der Erkennbarkeit Gottes

Many of the larger orthodox theological systems preface their doctrines of God with a discussion of the knowledge of God, including both a general discussion of the sources and the character of our knowledge of God and a more specific discussion of the proofs of God’s existence. (164)

8. Auf die diesseitige Erkenntnis Gottes ausgerichtet

As opposed to the metaphysical contemplation of God as Being, Reformed orthodox theology explicitly sought to understand God in this life, as an anticipation of and preparation for the life eternal: the interest is practical rather than purely contemplative. (170)

9. Die Frage der Gottesbeweise wurde (wie heute) unterschiedlich bewertet.

The prolegomena to the orthodox systems manifest a variety of opinion on the proofs from positive use, to simple neglect, and finally to outright antagonism. (178)

10. Grundlage der Erkennbarkeit Gottes ist sein Wort

The a priori order of the typical orthodox Reformed theological system rests on the testimony of God to his own existence—on a biblical a priori—and not on the ability of the theologian to argue the existence of God. (185)

Hier sind einige konkrete Feststellungen aus dem Korpus der Gotteslehre.

a)      Die Wichtigkeit von 2Mose 3,13-15

The text of Exodus 3:13–15, the one place in Scripture where God does in fact specifically offer his name, is of paramount importance and forms the basis of nearly all the discussions of the divine name or names among the Reformed orthodox. (259)

b)      Die Betonung der Einheit und Einfachheit Gottes

From Irenaeus to the era of Protestant orthodoxy, the fundamental assumption was merely that God, as ultimate Spirit is not a compounded or composite being. It is also the case that, from the time of the fathers onward, divine simplicity was understood as a support of the doctrine of the Trinity and as necessarily defined in such a manner as to argue the “manifold” as well as the non-composite character of God. (276)

c)       Kein Determinismus, sondern differenzierte Argumentation bezüglich Gottes Vorauswissen

“God knows all future events with certainty,” including “the contingent and free effects of creatures”—and knows these things in such a way as does not undermine the freedom and mutability of human existence. (426)

d)      Teleologische Sichtweise, hier am Beispiel des göttlichen Willens

“Will is the active principle (principium imperans), by which God, through himself, wills himself, and, beyond himself, wills all things according to himself or to his glory.” (445)

e)      Monergistisches Verständnis von Gnade und Vorhersehung

Not only have we seen distinctions such as the secret and revealed will, the will of divine good pleasure and the will of the sign carry over from the Reformation into orthodoxy, we have also seen a maintenance of the sense of these distinctions, with reference to the insistence on a single divine will, to the use of the distinctions to maintain a monergistic understanding of grace and predestination, and to the understanding of the freedom of God and the contingency and free choice of creatures. (473)

f)       Sorgfältiges Arbeiten an Wortfeldern, z. B. Gerechtigkeit oder Heiligkeit

A suitable definition of the righteousness of God rests on a right understanding of God himself: unless we know that it means for God to be God and for God to be Lord and Judge, we cannot understand the justice or righteousness of God. (488)

Calvin associates holiness primarily with reverence and worship: “the name of God,” Calvin writes, “is called holy, because it is entitled to the highest reverence; and whenever the name of God is mentioned, it ought immediately to remind us of his adorable majesty.” (498)