History of Christian Doctrine vol 1 (Shedd)

Shedd, William G. T. A History of Christian Doctrine volume 1. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, [reprint] 1998.

Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology was a literary and theological masterpiece.  His History of Christian Doctrine, while quite excellent, is not at the same level.  Most of the difficulty is Shedd’s a) trying to do too much in the first volume; and b) spending an inordinate amount of time on the history of prolegomena.  Shedd’s strengths are in the doctrine of God and Anthropology.  He isn’t able to devote his time to them until much later (and in case of the latter, the next volume).  Nonetheless, Shedd gives us much to think about and ably summarizes thorny philosophical debates. 

(1) Much of the early history of doctrine is necessarily tied in with apologetics (and one should note, classical apologetics). Not surprisingly, these were often aligned with various Greek schools.  That was inevitable.  The trick was to untangle oneself from problematic implications of Platonism.  As man then was more inclined to accept things like “the eternal” and “soul,” the apologist had an easier time of it, especially on the relation between faith and reason (Shedd 157).

(2) As we move into the modern age, one is surprised that in attacking Hume and Deism, Shedd didn’t spend more time annihilating Hume’s faulty reasoning on miracles.  We’ll return to that.

(3) As Christian reflection developed, their minds generally illustrated more refinement and sophistication.  Shedd notes that the pre-Nicene fathers’ arguments “rest mainly upon the innate consciousness of the human mind” (229).  This makes sense.  They didn’t have the scientific discoveries that would have allowed them to fully weaponize natural theology.

(4) Anselm and the ontological argument.  

  1. A Perfect being is necessarily conceivable because a contingent being is not the most perfect we can think of.
  2. Perfect islands do not claim to have “necessity of existence.
    b1) This is so because necessity entails an objective correspondent to itself (232)
  3. There is a logical contradiction in supposing the non-existence of a necessary being.
  4. Gaunilo’s objection fails because it confuses the category of matter for the category of mind.
  5. Kant’s objection that existence is not an attribute also fails because the point is not more existence but necessary existence.

5) God’s attributes.  “They sought to keep clear of that vague idea of an abstract Monad without predicates” (241).  This is the god of the Gnostic abyss and pantheism. “Attributes like…holiness, justice, truth, and mercy enter little, or none at all, into the ancient Gnostic and the modern Pantheistic construction of God” (242).

Appeals to pagan “Trinities” are irrelevant since they are usually figurative personifications and not distinct hypostases.

6) Ante-Nicene Trinitarianism relied heavily on the Logos concept.  To be noted, simply because John used Logos does not mean that he was using it in the same way that current Greek philosophy used it.  John would have been more familiar with the Ha-Debar of the Hebrew writings.  In any case, Logos-Christology fell into disuse compared with the concept of “Son.”

7) Nicene Trinitarianism.

  1. The Son as Logos must be eternal, otherwise God would have been without his Logos (308).  This is a rhetorically powerful argument but it is open to the charge of equivocation.
  2. Eternal generation is the communication of an eternal essence (317). If the Son is of the eternal substance of the Deity, he cannot be a contingent being.
  3. The Arians separated God’s will from God’s nature and so denied eternal generation (325 n1).
  4. If God is Father, then paternity and filiation belong to the deity of necessity (332).
  5. If created things cannot be created directly by the deity, “and must come into existence through a middle Being, then the Son (a creature ala Arius), would need a mediator to his creation.  And this medium would require a medium, and so on” (333).

8) God and consciousness.  While “self-consciousness” is not how we define a divine person, there is an analogical way to speak of it in terms of the Godhead.  On a human level,

  1. The I must behold itself as an objective thing. In doing so, there is now a distinction between the subject-ego and the object-ego.
  2. The finite ego must perceive the subject-ego and the object-ego are one and the same essence.  “This second act of perception completes the circle of self-consciousness” (366).
  3. There is no need for a subsequent factor because the first moment perceived the self as object but the last moment perceived an act.
  4. Of course, this would only apply to the divine once we remove categories of time and degree.  In which case,
  5. The subject-ego (Father) is perpetually beholding itself as object-ego (The Son) and the third distinction (The Holy Spirit) is intermittently perceiving the essential unity and identity of the subject-ego and object-ego (Father and Son).
  6. If this seems too speculative, rest assured that Jonathan Edwards did something similar.

The first half of the book reads like a history of method.  The second half is more properly a history of doctrine.

Shedd on Realism

This supplements the Nevin-Hodge debate.

“Realism, then, is true within the sphere of specific, organic, and propagated being; and nominalism is true within that of nonspecific, inorganic, and unpropagated being” (469).

Hodge defines human nature as “the manifestation of the general principle of humanity in union with a given corporeal organization” (Hodge II: 51). In other words, it is a common property of a substance.  Shedd, by contrast, says that human nature is a substance, not the common property of one.

On another note, Shedd wants to avoid the claim, one that Nevin might have made, that Christ is united to the human race in the same specific way that Adam was (Shedd 487).

A. A. Hodge: Outlines of Theology

While this book can never approach the grandeur of his elder, neither will it have the literary quality of Shedd, it probably surpasses them both in its usefulness to the teacher. Unlike Shedd, Hodge doesn’t get distracted by side projects.  However, not all of Hodge is equally strong.  

The book follows questions 1-39 of the Shorter Catechism, though not overtly.   Hodge is strong in every single area that today’s Young, Restless, and Reformed are weak.  In other words, Hodge is strong in a lot of areas.

Arguments for God

Contra Hume, and anticipating Plantinga and others, Hodge notes that “order and adaptation can only spring from an intelligent cause” (37).

Pantheism denies the moral personality of God, man, or both (51).

On The Bible

Contra Rome: When Paul uses tradition, he signifies “all his instructions, oral and written, communicated to those very people themselves, not handed down” (83).

“Romanists appeal to the Scriptures to prove that the Scriptures cannot be understood, and address arguments to private judgment of men to prove that private judgment is incompetent” (91).

Attributes of God

When we say God is infinite, we do not mean that he cannot be an object of knowledge, as though knowing him would place a limit.  Rather, infinity means there are no limitations which involve any imperfections whatsoever (133).

The divine attributes are the divine perfections (135).

There can only be one infinite being.   “If there were two infinite beings, each would necessarily include the other, and be included by it, and thus they would be the same, one and identical” (139).

Per God as spirit: “Spirit is that substance whose properties manifest themselves to us directly in self-consciousness” (140).

Knowledge of God: the mode of divine knowledge: God perfectly, individually, distinctly, and immutably knows all things.  He knows them through himself, through his own essence” (145).  God’s necessary knowledge is the act of the divine intellect, without any concurrent act of the divine will.  His free knowledge is his knowledge being determined by a concurrent act of his will.

Relation to moral action.  God’s knowledge of future contingents makes the events certain, but it does not rule out moral certainty of creatures (147).

Will of God: we reject the liberty of indifference applied to God.  The decretive will of God is God efficaciously purposing the futurition of events.

The Trinity

“Substantia, as now used, is equivalent to essence, independent being” (164). True enough, but substance implies accidents, whereas essence does not.  A subsistence is a mode of substance

He is skeptical of the Johannine Comma (177).

He sees “sons of God” in Gen 6 as “angels” (178).

Eternal Generation: eternal personal act of the Father.  He generates the person of the Son by communicating to him the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead (182).  It is a communication within the Godhead.

The Decrees of God

Immanent and intrinsic decrees are the generation of the Son and spiration of the Spirit

God’s decree doesn’t mechanically cause every event.  The decree provides in “every case that the event shall be effected by causses acting in a manner perfectly consistent with the nature of the event in question” (203).

When God decreed everything, he did so as a complete system, having its own internal causes and effects.  As a rational agent, I also act in relation to a complete system. God’s decree does not separate effects from causes and means. God’s decree makes the event certain in the future, yet “not as isolated from other events….but as dependent upon means and agents freely using those means” (212).

Angels

Nothing in Scripture says angels are completely destitute of all materiality; indeed, they took bodily form, ate food, and lodged in houses (252, referencing Gen. 18:8 and 19:3).

Preservation

Contra Edwards: JE says that what we call “the course of nature is nothing separate from the agency of God” (Original Sin, IV, ch. 3).  This makes God the only real agent in the universe, and so logically involves pantheism.

When God chose his great end, he also chose innumerable subordinate ends; these are fixed; and he has appointed all actions and events in their several relations as means to those ends” (262).

“All events are so related together as a concatenated system of causes, effects, and conditions, that a general Providence that is not the same time special is as inconceivable as a whole which has no parts, or a chain which has no links” (266).

Moral Constitution of the Faculties of the Soul

The faculties of the soul are the capacity of the one agent (280).  We choose not to speak of the liberty of the will, but the liberty of the man willing.

Df. will = the faculty of volition, together with all spontaneous states of the soul (282).  It acts in accordance with intrinsic moral tendencies in the soul.

A man is morally responsible if he is in possession of his reason, and self-decided in his will (285).

Df. virtue = a peculiar quality of certain states of the will.  Its essence is that it obliges the will (286).

Turretin: the essential nature of liberty does not consist in indifference.

Man may act against motives, but never without motives (290).

God from eternity foreknows all the free actions of men as certain, and he has foreordained them to be certain (291).

Creation of Man

Pelagians believe that man was created with no positive moral character (302).

Original Sin

We deny that the corruption is physical (excluding possible effects).  Rather, it is purely moral and “biases the understanding” (325). It consists in a morally corrupt habit.  It leads to a schism in the soul (329).

“A universal effect must have a universal cause” (330).

Inability

The permanent affections in the soul govern the volitions, but the volitions cannot alter the affections (339).

Contra Traducianism

I don’t think Shedd had published his Dogmatic Theology yet, for had he then Hodge’s charges wouldn’t hold. Hodge thinks traducianists hold to a “pure realism, which is a “single generic spiritual substance which corrupted itself by its own voluntary apostasizing act in Adam.  The souls of individual men are not separate substances, but manifestations” of this single substance” (351-352). Hodge is here quoting his father (II: 251ff).  Both are mistaken on what realism entails. Human nature is a substance, not the property or quality of a substance (see Shedd, 469).  It is individualized in a concrete person.

The problem here is that Hodge is operating under a faulty notion of realism.  First, our human nature isn’t a manifestation of “humanity.” It is in fact a real human nature.  He wants to argue that since the traducianists think human nature can be divided or partialed out, then it is false.  Shedd responds that in the beginning, human nature became four instead of two (Shedd 490, modern reprint). Is that a partialing of human nature?  It seems to be, yet it also seems correct.  There is a constant “diminution of the primitive nonindividualized human nature when once its division and individualization begins by conception.”

Hodge later says that this is 1) Indefinite, 2) fails to explain moral responsibility, 3) assumes laws of natural development limit God’s agency, and 4) doesn’t explain why only the first sin is the one for which we are punished (364).

In response
1*) ?????
2) Again, it isn’t clear.  We are also guilty for our own individual sins.  Yet, we are also guilty for concupiscence, which came from Adam.
3) Again, I am not sure why he thinks that.
4) On everyone’s account, we are only guilty for Adam’s first sin.  

Guilt and punishment.  Guilt is just liability to punishment

The Person of Christ

Mediatorial actions pertain to both natures (381).

Do we worship the human nature?  We distinguish between the ground and object of worship.  The ground of worship is the divine Person, but we do worship the human nature alongside the divine (383). Strictly speaking, we don’t worship, either.  Worship terminates on the person.

Nature of the Atonement

Following his father, AA Hodge gives a lucid account on the nature of guilt and punishment.  A penal satisfaction concerns crime and person.  A pecuniary concerns debt and things.  The former terminates on the person of the criminal; the latter on the thing due (401).

Hodge also denies that “Christ suffered Hell.”  This charge comes up on the internet against Protestants.  Hodge specifically states  that “He did not suffer the same sufferings either in kind, degree, or duration, which would have been inflicted on them, but he did suffer precisely that suffering which divine justice demanded of his person standing in their stead.  His sufferings were those of a divine person with a human nature” (406).

Sin as macula is not laid on Christ.  Sin as reatus is (408).

Effectual Calling

Regeneration: it is a conversio habitualis seu passiva, “the change of character in effecting which the soul is the object, not the subject” (449). Conversion is the opposite.

Justification

Standard stuff here, but Hodge does a good job contrasting the Protestant and Romish views. 

Rome: we have a first justification for Christ’s sake. We then (maybe?) have a second one through and in proportion to his merit.

We regard justification as a judicial act, they an infusion of grace.  We say the merits of Christ are the ground of justification, they the merits are made ours by sanctification.  We say faith is the instrument.  They the beginning and root.

Concupiscence in Shedd

With the PCA har forces of George Soros, and from a number of conversations I’ve had with the Revoice crowd, the question that keeps coming up: are sinful desires sinful?  The more you reflect on this, the harder a simple answer is.

Image result for wgt shedd

Someone will say, “But Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”  That’s true.  So there is a type of temptation which is not sinful.  But Jesus didn’t experience every type of temptation.  He didn’t experience the alcoholic’s desire for another drink, for example.  In any case, I wanted to look at what Shedd said on concupiscence.

Internal Part of sin

Voluntary, not volitional.  It was will as desire, not will as volition (Shedd 552).  The difference between Jesus and, say, Adam was that the former did not lust after the supposed good.  True, Satan tempted his externally, but Jesus did not secretly want to violate God’s will, even if he didn’t via actions (553).

This kind of desire is called epithumia, which St Paul labels as sin (hamartia) in Romans 7:7.

Shedd points out that concupiscence is different from natural desires such as eating and drinking.  Gluttony, by contrast, is something more.  It is not instinctive.  It involves the will.

Key point:  sin isn’t just in the act, but in the sinful inclination that precedes the act (557).

That raises another question: let’s say that someone lusts after a woman who isn’t his wife.  By the grace of God, though, he refrains from committing adultery.  Did he sin?  Well, he didn’t commit adultery and that is eternally in his favor (speaking humanly). But he did sin with the lust.  That’s why the Shorter Catechism rejects that all sins are equally heinous in God’s eyes.

Shedd continues: “Original sin as corruption of nature in each individual is only the continuation of the first inclining away from God” (571).

Summary: When temptation comes from without, it is innocent (or at least we are until we accede to it).  When it arises from within, it is already sin (though of course the sin could be compounded).

Analytical Outline of American Augustinian

While the title appears to limit the book’s scope, this treatise is nothing less than a masterpiece in explaining key loci in Reformed theology.  Oliver Crisp outlines how William G.T. Shedd’s “Augustinian Realism” shapes his theology–and he makes us love Augustine even more in the process.  Augustinian realism, in whatever variety, is the claim there is a real metaphysical connection between Adam and his descendants. See my earlier pieces on Shedd.

https://negatingthevoid.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/outline-of-shedd-whole/

https://negatingthevoid.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/justice-wins-a-review-of-shedd/

In Defense of Traducianism

For Shedd (and Augustine) human souls are not created individually by divine fiat, but are propogated from one generation to another (Crisp 17).  We were all seminally in Adam, or at least in some unformed lump of human nature.  This unique position allows Shedd to affirm the imputation of original sin without falling prey to the charges of injustice on God’s part.

  1. The problem with Creationism (i.e., God creates each soul brand new).
    1. It cannot account for the transmission of what is purely mental.  If there is no metaphysical link between me and Adam, then exactly how is the nonphysical parts of my being “tainted” by Adam’s sin?
    2. Logically, this must mean that each soul apostasized from God by itself.
  2. Soul-Fission
    1. Shedd gives a good critique of the creationist view, but his position, while probably the biblical one, still has difficulties.
    2. Souls are immaterial substances, so how can a soul “split” from the original lump?  Most of Christian reflection viewed souls as indivisible. We will come back to this problem.
  3. Human nature
    1. Human nature (for Shedd) is a substance in its own right.  It is not a property of a substance (which he says Hodge holds).
      1. Human nature consists of body + soul.
      2. It is a concrete particular that exemplifies certain properties.  Human nature is not itself exemplified by other entities (35).
  4. Critique of Shedd
    1. Crisp: Are species-natures (Thomas Morris’ ‘kind-natures’) concrete particulars or are they abstract objects?  It seems they must be the latter, for this is no concrete entity called “humanity.”
    2. Are souls fissiparous?  This is the only objection to Shedd that has any weight.  Simple substances like souls just aren’t divisible.
      1. But maybe there is a way out.  Souls aren’t physical objects, so we aren’t talking about a physical separation.
      2. Other creationists’ objections are that souls are incorruptible, hence indivisible.  But this isn’t a strong objection.  Must incorruptibility entail indivisibility?  Maybe, but we Crisp doesn’t list any arguments.
    3. Another objection: if souls are fissile, then how can souls be what anchor’s a substance identity across time?  This is a good objection, but maybe there is a way around it.
      1. The individual soul itself isn’t being divided.  What is being divided is the soul from the original Adamic lump.  
  5. Creationism and Imputed Sin
    1. He returns to problems with the creationist view. Shedd’s argument is that there is no metaphysical link between the newly created souls and Adam’s soul.

Augustinian Realism and the Imputation of Adam’s Sin

  1. Original Sin contains two parts: the lack of original righteousness and the vitiated moral nature.
    1. Original sin comprises a reatus, or liability.
    2. The loss of original righteousness leads to macula (blemished nature).
  2. Legal fiction: Crisp advances the old line that imputation (whether of sin or righteousness) is a legal fiction.
    1. There is no real transference of properties (61).
    2. God constitutes these things in an “as if” relation.
    3. Hodge, for example, denies that the guilty involved in original sin is grounded in Adam’s guit (ST II:94).  Thus for Hodge there must be an immediate imputation of original sin to me, and then, and only then, can I be held guilty because of original sin (Crisp 79).
  3. Augustinian Realism
    1. Because all of humanity is somehow present in Adam at the moment of his first sin, the original sin can be applied to all of his posterity with no legal fiction.
      1. This is a forceful and clean response to the legal fiction charge, yet Crisp has problems with it.  
      2. If Shedd is right, then evolution is wrong!
      3. Crisp wants a “strong metaphysical union” between Adam and us (66), buit it’s not clear how he can get it.

The Theanthropic Person of Christ

  1. Shedding the Classical Doctrine
    1. Shedd argues that the Word assumed a body-soul composite, which themselves can loosely be called “natures.”
      1. These are unpersonalized natures (87).
      2. Crisp argues that Shedd must hold that Christ’s unpersonalized human nature must exist prior to the Incarnation.  Maybe, though it’s not clear on the mode of that nature’s existence.  That’s not a problem.  The problem is that this nature must be tainted by sin when the Word assumes it.
    2. Many of Shedd’s Christological conclusions are standard anhypostatic/enhypostatic terms, so I won’t belabor the point.
  2. Realism and Christ’s Human Nature
    1. Shedd’s main problem is the nature the Word assumed was tainted by sin.  Thus, the Holy Spirit must have immediately sanctified it.
    2. But that leads to another problem: sanctification is a work of redemption, which is applied apart from Christ, yet to Christ!
    3. Concrete particulars. If my soul is unique, then my human nature isn’t a universal.  This means that Christ didn’t assume the universal of human nature, but only a concrete particular (because he assumed body + soul).

The Impeccability of Christ

  1. Christ can be tempted to do certain things, but not all sorts of things (some temptations require the person to be in a prior state of sin). Shedd’s main argument is Hebrew 13:8.  This applies to the whole character of Christ (116).
  2. If I can fall prey to sin, this means I am deceived into thinking that the sin is a perceived good, yet we wouldn’t apply this to Christ.

Sin, Atonement, and Representationalism

  1. Shedd’s take on the atonement is standard, except perhaps his analysis of the word “extent.”  Rather, we will focus on sin and imputation.
  2. The problem Shedd has to overcome is how his correct analysis of creationism and immediate imputation do not backfire when he wants to apply representationalism to the atonement.
    1. His first way around the problem is that the two are asymmetrical because Christ opts to represent us.  True enough.
    2. On a realist gloss, how can I metaphysically have the benefits of Christ’s work without Christ having the metaphysical realities of my sin?  I think there are rebuttals to this.

 

Outline of Shedd (whole)

I did a larger review of Shedd, but this is an analytical outline to help students working through him.

Prolegomena

“If  all that can be said by the theologian respecting God is that he is not this or that, then the mind has in fact no object before it and no cognition whatever…The deity becomes the unknown and unknowable” (Shedd 71).

Revelation

On Genesis 1-2: “As far as the text is concerned, there is full right to explain it (e.g., day) as a period” (107).

Theology: Doctrine of God

God’s Spirituality

Man knows the nature of a finite spirit by his own self-consciousness; he knows the nature of an infinite spirit analogically (153).

Divine spirit: God is the most real substance of all.

  1. God is a necessary essence
  2. God is ens, actual being (157).
  3. God is unextended and invisible substance (164).
  4. Without passions:  passion implies passivity

God’s Personality

  1. Personality is marked by two characteristics
    1. Self-consciousness
      1. Regarding the Trinity, “the media to self-consciousness are all within the divine essence” (173).
      2. God distinguishes himself from himself, thus two acts.  There is now a reciprocal object-ego, which then requires a third term, percipient between the two (174).
    2. Self-determination
  2. “The three distinctions in the one essence personalize it: God is personal because he is three persons” (171).

Innate Idea and Knowledge of God

Arguments for the Divine Existence

Trinity in Unity

Thesis:  God cannot be self-contemplating, self-cognitive, and self-communing unless he is trinal in  constitution (220).

Terminology

  1. God is trinal, not triplex.  The latter connotes composition (229).
  2. Person denotes a mode of essence
  3. We prefer essence to substance, because the latter implies accidents.
  4. A divine person: the divine essence with a special property, subsisting in an especial manner (Owen, Trinity Vindicated, 10.504)

Nota Bene: The three persons/one essence doesn’t make the essence a fourth person.  Shedd explains by way of analogy: when the subject-ego posits the object-ego, it simultaneously posits the whole human spirit along with it; but this act doesn’t create a second human spirit (235).

Divine Attributes

Definition: “A Trinitarian person is a mode of the essence; a divine attribute is a phase of the essence” (275).

Simplicity:

Omniscience: Divine knowledge is:

  1. Intuited, not discursive; direct vision (286).
  2. Simultaneous, not successive
  3. Complete and certain

God has a knowledge of all possible things (287).  This is his simple knowledge. Interestingly, Shedd denominates God’s conditional knowledge (e.g., Mt. 11.21-23) as middle knowledge (287).

Justice

God’s holiness is the perfect rectitude of his will (290).

  1. Rectoral justice: God is right in himself and all his actions
  2. Distributive justice: God’s rectitude in the execution of law.
  3. Remunerative justice: distribution of rewards

The Divine Decrees

“The divine decree relates only to God’s opera ad extra” (311).  There are sequences in the execution but not the formation.  

You must have the divine decree to have foreknowledge; otherwise, how will the event be certain?  It will then be contingent.  “An event must be made certain before it can be known as a certain event” (313).

Theses on the divine decree:

  1. It is founded in wisdom (Eph. 1:11).
  2. It is eternal (Acts 15:18)
  3. It is universal, including “whatsoever things come to pass.”
  4. It is immutable; there is no defect in God’s knowledge, power, and certainty (Isaiah 46.10).

Efficacious and Permissive Decrees

“The efficacious decree determines the event”

  1. By physical and material causes (Job 28.26)
  2. By an immediate spiritual agency (2 Tim. 2:25)

The permissive decree relates only to moral evil.  If we deny God’s permissive decree, then we make evil independent and this leads to dualism and manicheanism (319).

On an Arminian scheme, a man may at any time fall from faith and therefore his fate can’t be determined until death. Therefore, he is elected after he is dead! (345)

Creation

Shedd holds to old-earth.  Day is not defined by the bible as 24 hour period; the following:

  1. Day means daylight in distinction from darkness (Gen. 1.5; 16, 18)
  2. Day means daylight and darkness together (1.5)
  3. Day means the six days together (2.4).
  4. The first day could not have been measured by solar revolutions.

Against Eternality of Matter

If matter is eternal then it must be the first cause, but matter cannot be the first cause because this is self-moving and perpetually moving.  Matter is marked by the force of inertia (380).

Miracles

They aren’t unnatural events; they are natural to God (417). Miracles upon earth are nature in heaven.

ANTHROPOLOGY

Man’s Creation

Traducianisim: applies the idea of species to body and soul (431).  The key question: when God created Adam and Eve, did he create in and with them the invisible substance of all the succeeding generations of men?  And by this “invisible substance” Shedd simply means the “principle of life itself” (434).

  1. Key argument:  the whole female was produced out of the male (439).

Original Sin

In line with Shedd’s traducianism, he sins posterity sinned in Adam geminally and not covenantally (435).

  1. This maintaiins the justice of God in punishing us for Adam’s sin.
  2. The term “flesh” denotes man as soul and body.

Adam is a public person, not a representative one (450).

Traducianism refuses to separate punishment from culpability.  On semipelagian and EO views, we are punished (death) for that which we aren’t culpable (Adam’s sin).  

But does this ruin the Adam/Christ parallel?  No.  Shedd says it is a fallacy to think that if penal suffering can be imputed, so must sin (462).  Righteousness can be imputed two ways: meritoriously and unmeritoriously.  Sin can’t. Righteousness is a gift.  Sin is wages.  

Shedd has a good explanation of Romans 5.  Infants sinned in Adam, but not after the likeness of Adam.  They only sinned in the probationary sense, not in Adam’s postlapsarian sins (479).

Man’s Primitive State

“Holiness is more than innocence.  It is not sufficient to say that man was crated in a state of innocence…[holiness] is positive character, not mere innocency” (494).

  1. Concreated holiness: man was not created neutral, but positively holy.  (Shedd would have rejected the ‘pure nature” approach of some medieval Thomists)
    1. The idea of the will as a mental faculty presupposes concreated holiness
    2. Spiritual substance is characterized by self-motion.  Adam was a livign soul.  Life implies motion.
    3. If holiness is not created, the creature improves the Creator’s work (497).
    4. The dependent nature of finite holiness proves it is concreated.
    5. If man’s will is in a state of indifference with no inclination whatsoever, it could never begin self-motion.

Voluntariness as Self-Determination

  1. The freedom of the will is its self-motion (498).
    1. Freedom of the will is primarily self-determination to a single end, not a choice between two yet unchosen contraries (503).
    2. Pelagian psychology defines freedom as indifference (suppl. 4.2.6). Scriptural psychology sees it as the spontaneous inclining of the will to what God commands and aversion of what he forbids.
      1. The Pelagian view is wholly in volitions.
  2. Inclination is not volition.
    1. The first activity of the will is inclination, not volition (504).  Man is biased in his will before he chooses.  

Human Will

Definition of the Will

The whole soul as cognizing is the understanding; and the whole soul as inclining is the will (509).

  1. The understanding is the cognitive faculty or mode of the soul.
  2. The understanding is fixed and stationary.  It can be darkened but not structurally changed.
  3. The will is that mode of the soul which self-determines (511).
    1. Edwards identifies the will (Will 3.4) with the heart and contra distinguishes it from the understanding.
    2. Scripture uses “inclination, desire, and affection” interchangeably.

Inclination vs. Volition

  1. Inclination terminates on the soul.  Volition on the body.
  2. Inclination is the central action of the will; volition is the superficial action (519).
    1. The action of the will is best termed voluntary.
    2. The superficial action is volitionary.
      1. All volitionary acts of choice are performed to satisfy the prevailing inclination of the wil (520).
      2. Volitions are means.
  3. Jonathan Edwards’s position:
    1. The outward act is preceded by the volition
    2. The volition is preceded by the inclination
    3. The inclination is either concretely holy (per regeneration) or sinful (per apostasy).
  4. Summary
    1. Volition moves the body.  Inclination moves the will.
    2. The total action of the will subdivides into voluntary and volitionary
    3. This distinction explains moral ability (Suppl. 4.3.3)

Man’s Probation and Apostasy

Death as the Consequence of the First Sin

Sin is not a being in the sense of substance, yet it is not a nothing, either (545).  It is a habitus.

Original Sin

Adam’s sin was both internal and external.

Imputation of Adamic Guilt

  1. Per Romans 5:12, infants did not repeat the Adamic sin.
  2. Yet, they sinned in some other manner because they are part of the pantes.
  3. Is hemarton passive or active?
    1. Paul does not merely “regard” or “Treat” us as sinners.  That would require a different construction in Greek: hamartanein einai.
    2. The passive tense excludes Adam and Eve from the pantes.
    3. The passive denotes God’s action, not man’s, yet it is the sinner’s act, not the judge’s, which is the reason for punishment (560).
  4. This isn’t the same type of union as between Christ and man

Corruption of Nature

Adam’s sin is both the act and the resulting state of the will (566).

Shedd’s thesis is that the corruption of nature is guilt:

  1. The Bible doesn’t distinguish between sin proper and sin improper.  The principle of sin is interchangeable with the act.
  2. Romans 7.7 has an interplay of epithumia and sarx.
  3. The regenerate hate the remainders of corruption as much as the corruption.
  4. It is guilt because it is connected with a voluntary, even if not volitional aspect.

Original Sin as Voluntary Inclination

Sin in its entire history is inclination and self-determination (571).

Edwards, again

  1. Disposition precedes volition.
  2. Adam and his progeny were one agency in the act of sin.
  3. “Act” for Edwards means self-determination, not the Arminian form where it is a volition + power to the contrary.

Inability

Related to inclination of will and not individual choice.

Moral necessity:  one’s volitions must be like the inclination, not that the inclination itself is necessitated by God (587).  Example, “the formation of habit is voluntary; but when the habit has been voluntarily formed, it cannot be eradicated by a volition” (595).

Christology

Logos assumed a human nature.  The properties of the divine nature can’t be destroyed (616).

Crucifixion

The union between the human soul and the human body was dissolved temporarily, but the union between the Logos and the human soul and body was not.  Christ’s human soul and body were separated from each other during the “three days and three nights,” in whihc he “lay in the heart of the earth.”  This was death. The humanity of Christ was dislocated for a time and its complete personality interrupted.

Christ’s still had self-consciousness by virtue of the divine person (618).

Christ’s Mind

“The human mind stood in a similar relation to the Logos as the mind of a prophet does to God” (619).

The finite and limited human nature prevented the full manifestation of deity.  We must make a distinction between the existence of the Logos in Christ’s person and the full manifestation of it (620).

Shedd has a very good defense of the extra calvinisticum.

Soteriology

Mediatorial Office

  1. The office of mediator is one of reward (Phil. 2:5-11
  2. Scripture does not speak of the covenant of grace and the covenant of redemption in the same language.
  3. Threefold Office
    1. Christ executes the office of prophet mediately through his Holy Spirit.

Atonement

  1. Personal atonement is made by the offending party.  Vicarious atonement by the offended (693).
    1. Personal atonement is incompatible with mercy.  Vicarious atonement is the highest form.
    2. Socinianism refuted:  substitutionary atonement is not foreign to the Trinity.
  2. Reconciliation
    1. Compassion is a feeling; reconciliation is an act resulting from it (705).
  3. Penal substitution
    1. Atonement is correlated to justice, not to benevolence (723).
    2. Justice insists on nothing but what is due.
    3. The atoning mediator can demand upon principles of strict justice the release from the penalty of any sinful man in respect to whom he makes the demand (725).
    4. Does the idea of punishment “contain, besides the objective element of suffering inflicted by the judge, also the subjective element of guilt?”  p. 736
    5. The vicarious suffering of the Godman obtains its element of infinitude from the person, not the duration.
  4. Extent of the atonement
    1. Extent could mean either “value” or “range.”
    2. Since redemption implies the application of Christ’s atonement, unlimited redemption cannot logically be affirmed by any who hold that faith is wholly the gift of God (743).
  5. Universal offer of the atonement
    1. Divinely commanded (Mat. 16.5).
    2. God calls men to believe, not to believe they are elected.
    3. Common grace benefits from said offer
      1. Paganism is abolished
      2. Depravity restrained
    4. The offer of the gospel discloses to the unbeliever his own obstinacy.

Regeneration

  1. Range of usage: wide and narrow
  2. Definition and scope: “Regeneration…is an act; conversion is an activity or a process” (763).
    1. The cognition gained is immediate consciousness.
    2. God inclines man to holiness and disinclines him to sin.
      1. The unregenerate is unable to be willing in the direction of holiness.
    3. Immediacy of regeneration
      1. Immediate contact between God and man.
      2. Spiritual essence touches spiritual essence
      3. The spirit of man is dead and contributes no energy or vital principle of any kind.
      4. The dead soul is not an instrument by which spiritual life is originated.  It is the subject (770).
    4. Seeking:
      1. Find out that you need it and that your enslaved will cannot originate it.
      2. The sinner cannot cooperate in the work of regeneration but he can in the work of conviction.  This “preparative” does not make the sinner worthy of regeneration.
      3. Even if all the acts of the unregenerate are sinful, some are better preparatives than others.  (e.g., it is better to go to preaching than to the saloon).

Justification

  1. Faith unites with Christ and union with Christ results in justification (793).
  2. Dikaioo doesn’t mean sanctification or making just for the reason that its antithesis means “condemning.”

Eschatology

Intermediate or Disembodied State

  1. “The substance of the Reformed view is that the intermediate state of the saved is heaven without the body and the final state is heaven with the body” (832).
  2. Pagan influences
    1. In the Hellenized conception all souls go down to hades
    2. Doesnt’ square with biblical model:  God is always represented as “on high.”  Paradise is in the third heaven and none of the heavens are in the underworld.
  3. Descent into hell
    1. Most natural way is to read it as Christ is buried.
    2. Did Christ’s body go to hell, or just his spirit?  If the latter, wouldn’t this complicate the orthodox view that all actions of the Logos are united?
  4. Scriptural view of the intermediate state
    1. Going down to Sheol/Hades isn’t simply dying.
    2. “To redeem from sin a being whose consciousness expires at death is superfluous” (844).
  5. Hades is retribution and woe
    1. Dives is in torments in Hades (Lk. 16.23)
    2. Hades is the contrary of heaven (Matt. 11.23).
    3. Its kingdom is antagonistic of Christ (Matt. 16.18).
    4. It is the prison of Satan and the wicked (Rev. 1.18).
    5. If Hades simply means the underworld, which would include paradise, then in Revelation paradise is also cast into the lake of fire!
    6. Most of the same arguments will apply to the term Sheol.

Christ’s Second Advent

In this section Shedd rebuts premillennialism without really offering an alternative.

Final Judgment

Hell

  1. The doctrine of endless punishment is associated with the denial of those tenets which are logically and closely connected with it: original sin, vicarious atonement, and regeneration (885).
  2. Actual attempts by the restorationist to explain what the words depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels really means are rare (887).
    1. Jesus didn’t consider himself deluded:  “to threaten with everlasting punishment punishment a class of persons described as ‘goats upon the left hand’ of the eternal judge, while knowing at the same time that this class would ultimately have the same holiness and happiness with those described as ‘sheep upon the right hand’ of the judge, would have been both falsehood and folly.  The threatening would have been false” (889).
    2. Had Christ intended to teach that future punishment is temporary and remedial, he would have compared it to a dying worm and quenchable fire (892).
  3. Annihilationism is false for the following reasons:
    1. Death is the opposite of birth and birth does not mean the creation of substance.
    2. The spiritually dead are described in scripture as conscious.
    3. The extinction of consciousness is not the nature of punishment.  The essence of punishment is suffering, and suffering implies consciousness.
    4. According to this theory, brutes are punished
    5. The advocate of conditional immortality, in teaching the extinction of consciousness as eternal death, implies that the continuance of consciousness is eternal life.  But mere consciousness is not happiness.  Judas was conscious, certainly, when he hung himself, but he was not happy (899).
  4. Shedd hints at a postmillennialism in suggesting that the larger number of humanity will be saved (908ff).  “The circle of God’s election is a great circle of the heavens and not that of a treadmill” (910).
  5. Rational argument:  endless punishment, outside of its scriptural defense, needs three points: a just God, man has free agency, and that sin is a voluntary action (911).
    1. Punishment isn’t chastisement nor is it calamity.
    2. Punishment is retributive in its aim.
    3. The objection that endless punishment is overkill for a temporary sin/crime fails to understand the nature of punishment.  You aren’t ever punished for the duration of the crime committed.  You are punished, for example, for murdering someone (which usually takes just an instant), not on how long the stabbing took.
    4. The continuous nature of guilt necessitates the endlessness of retribution.  Sinners in hell are hardened in their sin.
      1. In the very act of transgressing the law of God, there is a reflex action of the human will upon itself, whereby it becomes unable to perfectly keep that law” (923).
    5. And the endless suffering of a finite being isn’t exactly “infinite.”  The being is finite, since he has a beginning.
    6. Good for society:
      1. No theological tenet is more important than that of eternal retribution to those modern nations which, like England, Germany, and the United States, are growing rapidly in riches, luxury, and earthly power (928).

Justice Wins (a review of Shedd)

While there are some gaps in Shedd, he is strong precisely where the modern church is weak (if I may borrow a phrase from Packer). This updated edition by Gomes is a masterpiece. It is magnificently bound, has accessible foonotes, but yet handles nicely.

True, Shedd does have his hobbyhorses and they sometimes keep him from addressing other issues (e.g., church government) but he brings undiscussed material to the table from a perspective of one long schooled in the Christian tradition. I will focus on several key themes: traducianism, the human will. soteriology, and endless punishment.

*Traducianism*

Shedd’s Traducianisim applies the idea of species to body and soul (431). The key question: when God created Adam and Eve, did he create in and with them the invisible substance of all the succeeding generations of men? And by this “invisible substance” Shedd simply means the “principle of life itself” (434). Key argument: the whole female was produced out of the male (439).

Traducianism refuses to separate punishment from culpability. On semipelagian views, we are punished (death) for that which we aren’t culpable (Adam’s sin). But does this ruin the Adam/Christ parallel? No. Shedd says it is a fallacy to think that if penal suffering can be imputed, so must sin (462). Righteousness can be imputed two ways: meritoriously and unmeritoriously. Sin can’t. Righteousness is a gift. Sin is wages.

Shedd has a good explanation of Romans 5. Infants sinned in Adam, but not after the likeness of Adam. They only sinned in the probationary sense, not in Adam’s postlapsarian sins (479).

*Human Willing*

Shedd makes the distinction between “voluntary” and “volitional.” If man’s will is in a state of indifference with no inclination whatsoever, it could never begin self-motion. Freedom of the will, on a biblical view, is primarily self-determination to a single end, not a choice between two yet unchosen contraries (503). Pelagian psychology defines freedom as indifference (suppl. 4.2.6). Scriptural psychology sees it as the spontaneous inclining of the will to what God commands and aversion of what he forbids. The Pelagian view is wholly in volitions.

Therefore, for Shedd, inclination is not volition. The first activity of the will is inclination, not volition (504). Man is biased in his will before he chooses. Inclination terminates on the soul. Volition on the body. Inclination is the central action of the will; volition is the superficial action (519). The action of the will is best termed voluntary. The superficial action is volitionary.
All volitionary acts of choice are performed to satisfy the prevailing inclination of the wil (520).
Volitions are means.

*Endless Punishment*

The doctrine of endless punishment is associated with the denial of those tenets which are logically and closely connected with it: original sin, vicarious atonement, and regeneration (885). But before we get to his conclusion, we must look at Shedd’s logical (but brutal) refutation of conditional immortality:

1. Annihilationism is false for the following reasons:
1.1 Death is the opposite of birth and birth does not mean the creation of substance.
1.2 The spiritually dead are described in scripture as conscious.
1.3 The extinction of consciousness is not the nature of punishment. The essence of punishment is suffering, and suffering implies consciousness.
1.4 According to this theory, brutes are punished
1.5 The advocate of conditional immortality, in teaching the extinction of consciousness as eternal death, implies that the continuance of consciousness is eternal life. But mere consciousness is not happiness. Judas was conscious, certainly, when he hung himself, but he was not happy (899)

Rational argument: endless punishment, outside of its scriptural defense, needs three points: a just God, man has free agency, and that sin is a voluntary action (911). The objection that endless punishment is overkill for a temporary sin/crime fails to understand the nature of punishment. You aren’t ever punished for the duration of the crime committed. You are punished, for example, for murdering someone (which usually takes just an instant), not on how long the stabbing took.

The continuous nature of guilt necessitates the endlessness of retribution. Sinners in hell are hardened in their sin. In the very act of transgressing the law of God, there is a reflex action of the human will upon itself, whereby it becomes unable to perfectly keep that law” (923). And the endless suffering of a finite being isn’t exactly “infinite.” The being is finite, since he has a beginning.

*Conclusion*

As Gomes noted in his introduction, this book is a literary feast. While Shedd leaves many topics undiscussed, he is unsurpassed in his own way. Hodge might have been the better organizer and Dabney the most penetrating thinker, but Shedd is the best writer and probably the most powerful thinker.

Notes on Shedd, part 1

From Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology.

Prolegomena

“If  all that can be said by the theologian respecting God is that he is not this or that, then the mind has in fact no object before it and no cognition whatever…The deity becomes the unknown and unknowable” (Shedd 71).

Revelation

On Genesis 1-2: “As far as the text is concerned, there is full right to explain it (e.g., day) as a period” (107).

Theology: Doctrine of God

God’s Spirituality

Man knows the nature of a finite spirit by his own self-consciousness; he knows the nature of an infinite spirit analogically (153).

Divine spirit: God is the most real substance of all.

  1. God is a necessary essence
  2. God is ens, actual being (157).
  3. God is unextended and invisible substance (164).
  4. Without passions:  passion implies passivity

God’s Personality

  1. Personality is marked by two characteristics
    1. Self-consciousness
      1. Regarding the Trinity, “the media to self-consciousness are all within the divine essence” (173).
      2. God distinguishes himself from himself, thus two acts.  There is now a reciprocal object-ego, which then requires a third term, percipient between the two (174).
    2. Self-determination
  2. “The three distinctions in the one essence personalize it: God is personal because he is three persons” (171).

Innate Idea and Knowledge of God

Arguments for the Divine Existence

Trinity in Unity

Thesis:  God cannot be self-contemplating, self-cognitive, and self-communing unless he is trinal in  constitution (220).

Terminology

  1. God is trinal, not triplex.  The latter connotes composition (229).
  2. Person denotes a mode of essence
  3. We prefer essence to substance, because the latter implies accidents.
  4. A divine person: the divine essence with a special property, subsisting in an especial manner (Owen, Trinity Vindicated, 10.504)

Nota Bene: The three persons/one essence doesn’t make the essence a fourth person.  Shedd explains by way of analogy: when the subject-ego posits the object-ego, it simultaneously posits the whole human spirit along with it; but this act doesn’t create a second human spirit (235).

Divine Attributes

Definition: “A Trinitarian person is a mode of the essence; a divine attribute is a phase of the essence” (275).

Simplicity:

Omniscience: Divine knowledge is:

  1. Intuited, not discursive; direct vision (286).
  2. Simultaneous, not successive
  3. Complete and certain

God has a knowledge of all possible things (287).  This is his simple knowledge. Interestingly, Shedd denominates God’s conditional knowledge (e.g., Mt. 11.21-23) as middle knowledge (287).

Justice

God’s holiness is the perfect rectitude of his will (290).

  1. Rectoral justice: God is right in himself and all his actions
  2. Distributive justice: God’s rectitude in the execution of law.
  3. Remunerative justice: distribution of rewards

The Divine Decrees

“The divine decree relates only to God’s opera ad extra” (311).  There are sequences in the execution but not the formation.  

You must have the divine decree to have foreknowledge; otherwise, how will the event be certain?  It will then be contingent.  “An event must be made certain before it can be known as a certain event” (313).

Theses on the divine decree:

  1. It is founded in wisdom (Eph. 1:11).
  2. It is eternal (Acts 15:18)
  3. It is universal, including “whatsoever things come to pass.”
  4. It is immutable; there is no defect in God’s knowledge, power, and certainty (Isaiah 46.10).

Efficacious and Permissive Decrees

“The efficacious decree determines the event”

  1. By phsical and material causes (Job 28.26)
  2. By an immediate spiritual agency (2 Tim. 2:25)

The permissive decree relates only to moral evil.  If we deny God’s permissive decree, then we make evil independent and this leads to dualism and manicheanism (319).

On an Arminian scheme, a man may at any time fall from faith and therefore his fate can’t be determined until death. Therefore, he is elected after he is dead! (345)

Creation

Shedd holds to old-earth.  Day is not defined by the bible as 24 hour period; the following:

  1. Day means daylight in distinction from darkness (Gen. 1.5; 16, 18)
  2. Day means daylight and darkness together (1.5)
  3. Day means the six days together (2.4).
  4. The first day could not have been measured by solar revolutions.

Against Eternality of Matter

If matter is eternal then it must be the first cause, but matter cannot be the first cause because this is self-moving and perpetually moving.  Matter is marked by the force of inertia (380).

Miracles

They aren’t unnatural events; they are natural to God (417). Miracles upon earth are nature in heaven.

ANTHROPOLOGY

Man’s Creation

Traducianisim: applies the idea of species to body and soul (431).  The key question: when God created Adam and Eve, did he create in and with them the invisible substance of all the succeeding generations of men?  And by this “invisible substance” Shedd simply means the “principle of life itself” (434).

  1. Key argument:  the whole female was produced out of the male (439).

Original Sin

In line with Shedd’s traducianism, he sins posterity sinned in Adam geminally and not covenantally (435).