Out Now: Sober, Strict, and Scriptural (Updated)

soberbrillThe Calvinpalooza continues for 2009. Sober, Strict, and Scriptural: Collective Memories of John Calvin, 1800–2000 is a collection of essays considering how Calvin’s life, theology, and legacy were received in the modern period. Contributors include, in alphabetical order, R. Bryan Bademan, Patrick Cabanel, R. Scott Clark, Thomas J. Davis, Stephen S. Francis, Joe B. Fulton, Botond Gaál, Stefan Laube, Johan de Niet, Herman Paul, James Rigney, Michèle Sacquin, Jonathan Seitz, Robert Vosloo, Bart Wallet, and Valentine Zuber. My essay, “Calvin: A Negative Boundary Marker in American Lutheran Self-Identity, 1871-1934” seeks to explore the way Calvin functioned within confessional Lutheranism in North America in the modern period, how he was used as a way to form Lutheran identity, in the formation of the LCMS, as a mythological figure (the Calvin of “faith” among confessional Lutherans), rather than as a historical figure.

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  1. I finally got to read your essay. I found it very interesting. I had a few questions as a result and would like to know if you could fill in some of the details of the personalities that you listed as important in understanding Calvin as a Negative Boundary marker for the founding of the LCMS.

    One question had to do with Charles Porterfield Krauth. On page 254, and 255 you repeat what Krauth says in The Conservative Reformation and It’s Theology about Calvin signing the invariata version of the Augsburg Confession in Strasburg in 1539. My question is do you agree with Krauth that Calvin signed the invariata? I ask because in you “Has the Forensic Eclipsed Christ?” article you bring up the variata/invariata without commenting on if Calvin, as Lutherans who know their history love to point out, signed the variata?

    Do you know if the French Reformed response to the Formula of Concord – Harmony of the Reformed Confessions – printed the altered or unaltered Augsburg Confession?

    If Calvin did sign the unaltered Augsburg Confession do we know what he thought of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession?

    • I don’t know whether it’s possible to be certain which version Calvin signed. The point in the article is that Krauth (and others) believed that Calvin signed the invariata but that only served to heighten their suspicion of him.

      Some scholars believe he signed the variata. For Calvin’s purposes it didn’t matter much. It would have been easier for him to sign the variata and in the years when Calvin would have signed it, the variata was the only copy available so I have thought that it seems most likely that he signed the variata.

      Which is in the Harmony? Good question. I don’t know. I’ll have to check.

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