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This penultimate volume in Pelikan's acclaimed history of Christian doctrine—winner with Volume 3 of the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal—encompasses the Reformation and the developments that led to it. "Only in America, and in this case from a Lutheran scholar, could we expect an examination so lacking in parti pris, a survey so perceptive, so free—and, one mu This penultimate volume in Pelikan's acclaimed history of Christian doctrine—winner with Volume 3 of the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal—encompasses the Reformation and the developments that led to it. "Only in America, and in this case from a Lutheran scholar, could we expect an examination so lacking in parti pris, a survey so perceptive, so free—and, one must say, the result of so much immense labor, so rewardingly presented."—John M. Todd, New York Times Book Review "Never wasting a word or losing a plot line, Pelikan builds on an array of sources that few in our era have the linguistic skill, genius or ambition to master."—Martin E. Marty, America "The use of both primary materials and secondary sources is impressive, and yet it is not too formidable for the intelligent layman."—William S. Barker, Eternity


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This penultimate volume in Pelikan's acclaimed history of Christian doctrine—winner with Volume 3 of the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal—encompasses the Reformation and the developments that led to it. "Only in America, and in this case from a Lutheran scholar, could we expect an examination so lacking in parti pris, a survey so perceptive, so free—and, one mu This penultimate volume in Pelikan's acclaimed history of Christian doctrine—winner with Volume 3 of the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal—encompasses the Reformation and the developments that led to it. "Only in America, and in this case from a Lutheran scholar, could we expect an examination so lacking in parti pris, a survey so perceptive, so free—and, one must say, the result of so much immense labor, so rewardingly presented."—John M. Todd, New York Times Book Review "Never wasting a word or losing a plot line, Pelikan builds on an array of sources that few in our era have the linguistic skill, genius or ambition to master."—Martin E. Marty, America "The use of both primary materials and secondary sources is impressive, and yet it is not too formidable for the intelligent layman."—William S. Barker, Eternity

30 review for The Christian Tradition 4: Reformation of Church & Dogma 1300-1700

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Review of Jaroslav Pelikan The Christian Tradition: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) volume 4. Pelikan continues his story of Western Christendom. As in volume 3, the events leading up to the Reformation can be seen as fractures in the Augustinian synthesis. While Warfield is incorrect to say that the Reformation was Augustine vs Augustine, there is some truth in it as both sides could claim Augustine as their champion. While it is a truism in historical theology, it needs to be said t Review of Jaroslav Pelikan The Christian Tradition: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) volume 4. Pelikan continues his story of Western Christendom. As in volume 3, the events leading up to the Reformation can be seen as fractures in the Augustinian synthesis. While Warfield is incorrect to say that the Reformation was Augustine vs Augustine, there is some truth in it as both sides could claim Augustine as their champion. While it is a truism in historical theology, it needs to be said that doctrine does not develop in a vacuum. It is naïve to claim that Luther opened the bible and, like anyone else, seeing “pure bible,” refound the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Equally naïve is the view that the ancient church taught the Mass and Transubstantiation in the same way as the 4th Lateran Council (in fact, it’s easily demonstrable to show that late Catholic practices of the Mass are obvious departures from the apostolic norm—and Catholics admit this as well!). The student of history is then to ask, “If it is so obvious to my generation about doctrine _______, why did past generations see it differently?” Pelikan tells the narrative of early modernity in the West. He shows that philosophical and cultural pressures formed the context in which the doctrines of the Western Church, both Reform and Catholic. Pelikan explains the pressures of medieval nominalism upon the Christian world. While he doesn’t pin all of the world’s evils on Scotus and Occam, they do force the Western narrative forward in ways that would prove…momentous. The cracks in the Augustinian synthesis appear when Wycliffe and Hus take part of Augustine’s view of the church as the body of the predestined. This opens the seeds for Reform. Pelikan gives a thorough explanation of the gospel as the treasure of the Church. At this time still being a Lutheran, Pelikan brings his intimate familiarity of Lutheranism to the discussion. And he is not blind to Luther’s theological faults: Luther’s denial of free will opened himself to the church of Manicheanism. Through linguistic gymnastics later Lutheran thinkers would soften this charge. Calvin carried Luther forward with a few exceptions. While Luther denied free will and affirmed predestination (as did Augustine, so it seems), Calvin was the first major thinker to affirm double predestination. No, Augustine didn’t teach that but it was consistent with his thought. I think Calvin is correct in this, but Pelikan doesn’t expound upon it. If you agree with St Augustine on defining God as “absolute divine simplicity,” which all Westerns—Protestant or Catholic—agree, and you place God’s will within that absolute simple essence, then double predestination is the conclusion. And frankly, is there any real pastoral difference between predestination to life and passing over the reprobate versus predestinating both—since both go to hell? I think Calvin has read Augustine correctly on this point. Roman Catholic Particularity The Roman church, for all its opposition to Luther, admitted that the Reformation forced Rome to deal with sensitive problems from the conciliar movement in the previous century. Part of the dilemma of the Reformation was that the Reformers were not starting from a blank sheet. The 16th century inherited many unresolved problems. One could honestly admit the Reformers asked the right questions. As Pelikan notes, “What the Protestant Reformation had done with its doctrine of justification by faith alone, as the debates at the Council of Trent were to make clear, was to bring into the open some of the unresolved questions about justification in late medieval theology” (253). The Council of Trent was aware of this. They knew that while they would appeal to “antiquity,” some had the suspicion that antiquity was a slippery eel. Pelikan notes, “Although that pluralism was voiced throughout the debates at Trent, the council fathers sought in their definition to respond to the Reformation without involving themselves in the disputes of several schools of theology within Roman Catholicism (280). Ultimately, though, Trent could not answer all questions. Both Trent and Geneva would have to deal with the horror of the Radical Reformation. The Protestants were particularly sensitive to this charge. Were not the chaotics (e.g., Anabaptists) also using sola scriptura, if more radically? What separates the Magisterials from the Radicals on this point, besides the formers’ apparently arbitrary appeal to “tradition?” In response to this the Magisterials posited that Scripture “norms the lesser norms.” A nice response, to be sure, but one effective only to those who like Latin phrases. Both Rome and the Protestants would form their covenant theological systems, taking them in different directions. While the broad overview of Covenant theology was simple—and little difference between both camps—the specifics were tricky: problems Reformed are still facing. See the self-slaughter that is the response to the Federal Vision. Rome, too, had its internal problems. Jansenism had raised other difficulties with Augustine and grace, the response to which created the famous “middle knowledge” of Molina and would later set the stage for Henri de Lubac.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melody Schwarting

    Pelikan's engaging, clear writing is on good display here as he gracefully handles the stormy centuries of church splits and schisms. Because of the upheaval during 1300-1700, this volume might be the most essential, for Pelikan is faithful to his project of studying church doctrine. His portions on Catholicism are particularly helpful, since most Protestant resources have atrophied sections on Catholic reform in books about this time period.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric Parsons

    As with the other three volumes, Pelikan is dry, dry, dry...but very informative. Where he excels is in explaining the theological method--that is, how and why people arrived at the conclusions they did in forming Christian doctrine and theology. Pelikan also does a wonderful job of explaining the lasting impact of the Great Schism...I just wish the narrative was quite so dull.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rawdah Gawaher

    Really impressed by this book. It is absolutely useful for those wishing to have an idea about the Christian Reformation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rad

    Pelikan's 4th volume in his 5-volume Christian Tradition focuses on perhaps the most familiar topic of historical Christianity (at least after the life of Jesus and the Resurrection): The Reformation. And scholar that he is, Pelikan has a nine-page "Preface" of sorts titled "Reformation Defined" -- as if the 400-plus pages that follow weren't enough. Pelikan is nothing if not thorough. For Pelikan -- one can reasonably substitute "truth" for his exhaustive research -- the Reformation is much more Pelikan's 4th volume in his 5-volume Christian Tradition focuses on perhaps the most familiar topic of historical Christianity (at least after the life of Jesus and the Resurrection): The Reformation. And scholar that he is, Pelikan has a nine-page "Preface" of sorts titled "Reformation Defined" -- as if the 400-plus pages that follow weren't enough. Pelikan is nothing if not thorough. For Pelikan -- one can reasonably substitute "truth" for his exhaustive research -- the Reformation is much more than Luther's rabble-rousing. He traces a "pregnant plurality of fourteenth-century thought" that predated Luther by a century and a half, including names both familiar and unfamiliar. If one can critique Pelikan's work to this point, it would ironically be the lack of it: corners actually had to be cut to get the text down to the 400-plus pages in volume 4. The reader is invariably left wanting more information; but of course, Pelikan's expansive bibliography and notes offer more than enough opportunity for further research. What higher praise can I offer than this: I will be learning from these volumes for the rest of my life. They will be among the most important books in my library. But it is not easy reading; what good has been accomplished without significant effort? And now off to begin volume 5!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    This book is magisterial. Not for the casual reader, Pelikan traces the doctrinal splits as they developed through the Council of Trent and beyond. In typical Pelikan style, the book is impeccably researched, and dense to the point of unreadability at times. To the layperson, some of the disputes are so esoteric that the modern Christian can only wonder at the violence that resulted from some of the disputes. To anyone who wants to understand the specific details of doctrinal development in this This book is magisterial. Not for the casual reader, Pelikan traces the doctrinal splits as they developed through the Council of Trent and beyond. In typical Pelikan style, the book is impeccably researched, and dense to the point of unreadability at times. To the layperson, some of the disputes are so esoteric that the modern Christian can only wonder at the violence that resulted from some of the disputes. To anyone who wants to understand the specific details of doctrinal development in this period of history, read this book. No other needs to be written.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    Pelikan was brilliant. If you want a reputable history of Christan church doctrine from the beginning almost up to the present then you should read this five volume set. It is worth of being studied to see how every concept of Christian doctrine was arrived at and how other ideas where rejected. This is an intellectual feast.

  8. 4 out of 5

    EveMoon

    Good book if you want a new angle on reformation, I definitely felt like I learned something new even though this is such a familiar subject.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Pillar

    Pelikan does a good job of presenting the many sides of the doctrinal issues of the time period.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ross

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morris

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Brooks

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robinson

  16. 4 out of 5

    George Mathews

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

  18. 4 out of 5

    Débora

  19. 4 out of 5

    Russell

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jared Nelson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jose-Luis La Torre-Cuadros

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vitor Ericeira

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Smith

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jared

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Swanson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dave Mowers

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judith Roney

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