Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Reformed Irenicism

“What Are the Chief Heads of Christian Doctrine?” (Part 2)

Chytraeus continues his answer to the question about the chief heads of doctrine treated previously in Part 1:

Ex his duobus fontibus, qui velut metae & normae sunt totius sacrae scripturae recte intelligendae, omnes reliqui doctrinae Theologicae loci nascuntur & emanant: & ad duo haec prima puerilis Catechismi nostri capita, videlicet Decalogum, & Symbolum fidei, omnes sacrae scripturae conciones, dogmata & Historiae referri possunt. Sed tamen ut series & summa doctrinae amplissimae, in plura membra distributae, illustrior sit, & facilius conspici & infigi animo ab adolescentibus possit: numerabimus sine superstitione DECEM LOCOS Doctrinae Christianae praecipuos, ad quos omnia, quae in verbo Dei patribus & quibuscunque aliis scriptis, concionibus, lectionibus & disputationibus Theologicis legunt, vel audiunt studiosi referre, & velut in classes certas, seu membra unius corporis apte inter seu coagmentata, digerere, animoque complecti queant.

From these two sources, which are as it were the boundaries and norms for understanding all of Sacred Scripture correctly, all the remaining topics of theological doctrine arise and flow out: and to these two first heads of our catechism for youths, namely the Decalogue and the Creed,1 all the discourses, dogmas, and historical narrations of Sacred Scripture can be traced back. But, nevertheless, so that a sequence and summary of our most fulsome doctrine, spread out over very many parts, may be clearer and may be able to be understood more easily and fixed in the mind by youths, we shall enumerate ten chief topics of Christian doctrine, to which students are able to refer all things that they read or hear in the Word of God, the fathers, and any other theological writings, discourses, readings, and disputations, and as it were to divide them into sure classes or members of one body fittingly joined together2among themselves, and to grasp them with the mind.3

  1. Note that Chytraeus identifies the “law” with the Ten Commandments and the “gospel” with the (presumably Apostles’) Creed.
  2. Reading coagmentata with the 1580 ed. rather than coagmentatas with the 1588 ed.
  3. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.

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