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The Marrow of Theology Paperback – August 1, 1997
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About the Author
William Ames (1576-1633) was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where William Perkins was his tutor. He attended the Synod of Dort as an English observer and there began to develop his reputation as a brilliant theologian. From 1622, he was professor of theology at the University of Franeker in Holland, where he attracted students from all over Protestant Europe.
Top customer reviews
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Ames’ manner of presentation reflects his commitment to Ramist logic, and thus Ames’s writing is remarkably clear and easy to read. We don’t agree with Ames in every point, but this is a very useful manual and will repay careful study.
Faith is more than assent, but also designates “an act of the will” (1.2.3-5). For Ames, since faith “must consist of a union with God,” it can’t be mere assent (18).
Ames has an outstanding discussion of God and his essence, particularly of “ideas in God.” He has the standard arguments for God’s decrees, and seems to point towards a gentle supralapsarianism, but its definitely muted compared to Perkins.
Much has been made of Ames’ voluntarism, and he certainly does place the will in a more prominent role than earlier divines, and it certainly “cashes out” in his ethics.
Questions and criticisms
Is it true that “living well is more important than living happily” (1.1.8)? Is Ames breaking from the Aristotelian eudaimion tradition at this point?
Ames argues that the kings are not subject to Christ, but to God (1.19.31). Maybe he means by this that Christ is properly king and head of the church. Fair enough, but Revelation 1.4-5 says that he is also rulers of the kings *on earth.*
While as a good Presbyterian I would have liked to see Ames mention rule by elders and presbyteries, his stuff on church govt is still quite good. I disagree with him on what he left out, not on what he actually said.
This text is a fine snapshot of pre-Westminster Puritanism. More importantly, it would become the standard textbook in New England for almost 200 years. It’s been accused of being a “checklist,” but even so, that adds to his value. Accordingly, Ames is very clear on what he means.