Why should Christians today read the writings of the Reformed scholastics?

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GODFREY: The scholastics have been given a terrible reputation most often by people who haven’t read them. The scholastics are a little more difficult to read than Calvin because they are usually more philosophical and can be a bit more jargony in terms of theology. They generally used a slightly more technical vocabulary. However, if you read someone like Francis Turretin, a great scholastic theologian, one cannot help but be impressed by the depth of insight and the careful approach to the questions they deal with.

The Scholastics so often said, “We have to make proper distinctions.” In today’s age, we’re often involved in bumper-sticker theology where people think you can say profound things in twenty, thirty, or forty-five seconds. However, the care and depth with which the scholastics analyze questions are really wonderful. So, I commend them very much.

BINGHAM: The scholastics wrote during which time period?

GODFREY: There are the medieval scholastics of the Roman Catholic Church, but I assume this question was about the Reformed scholastics, particularly of the seventeenth century. They derive their name from the Latin word schola meaning “school.” They were theologians who taught in schools and seminaries or universities as we call them today. The scholastics were professional theologians, although they were usually ministers as well. They were very aware of the theological debates of their time and, therefore, dealt with more technical questions than Calvin in the sixteenth century, for example.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with W. Robert Godfrey and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.