Outline of Shedd (whole)

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


“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).


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).


  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).


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).


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)


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).


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


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.


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).


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


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.


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.


  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.


  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).


  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.”


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


  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).

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in American Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Outline of Shedd (whole)

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