Dr. Daane is rather free to characterize theologians and their theology as “scholastic.” When he does so, he uses the term in a pejorative, i.e., unfavorable, sense. Scholasticism is a bad word. Thus, for example, he refers in the quotation above to Turretin as “the best-honed theologian of seventeenth-century Reformed scholasticism.” Along the same lines, Daane maintains that one may not conclude logically from the truth of election to the truth of reprobation.
Now I do not share entirely that aversion for scholasticism. Principally, yes. In so far as the principle of scholasticism is the principle of rationalism, scholasticism was and is a bad thing. In so far, too, as scholasticism engages in abstract reasoning and abstract distinctions, it is arid and unproductive.
And certainly I do not maintain that the only way in which one can arrive at the truth of reprobation is by way of a logical conclusion from the truth of election. I believe that Scripture itself teaches the truth of reprobation, and that the conclusion to the truth of reprobation is a Scriptural conclusion, a “good and necessary consequence,” as the Westminster Confession puts it.
But for the moment I wish to point out that when Daane calls others scholastics, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. For Daane himself is guilty of a piece of scholastic abstraction in the very article from which I quoted above. He writes:
In my book The Freedom of God I argued that God’s decree is an act of His freedom; God was free to decree to create or not to create, and free to decree to redeem or not redeem a fallen world . . . In Biblical thought, God is free not to do what decretal theology contends God must do.
Now this bit of reasoning by Daane concerning the nature of God’s freedom is plainly a piece of scholasticism. In the first place, it is not at all “Biblical thought;” as Daane contends. I would be interested to know what slightest Biblical proof Daane can adduce for this description of God’s freedom. God could have not created or decreed not to create? Where does Daane find this? God could have or might have not redeemed or decreed not to redeem? Again, where does Daane find this in Scripture? In the second place, as is suggested also in the quotation from Reformed Dogmatics above, this notion of Daane is abstract. The simple fact is that God did decree to create, and He did decree to redeem. This is the concrete expression of God’s freedom of which Scripture tells us. This is Biblical thought. To say that God also might have decreed not to create or not to redeem is pure speculation about which we know nothing. In the third place, the question is not one of what God must do over against what God might or might not do. It is a question of what God did from eternity. Neither is the question the abstract one of whether this world is the best possible world. And certainly not whether it is the best possible world as “the necessary and unavoidable determination of that divine decree that is . . . an essential element of God Himself.” As Herman Hoeksema puts it in the paragraph quoted above, the question is whether the world as decreed is the full and highest revelation of God, and that, too, in the light of the fact that God’s decree is characterized by infinite wisdom. But to speculate about “what ifs” and “what might have beens” is abstract and scholastic. In the fourth place, this speculative and abstract type of reasoning on Daane’s part is exactly typical of the Schoolmen of the Middle Ages, when scholasticism had its origin and its golden age.
But in so-called decretal theology God is free. “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” Ps. 115:3