Calvin Contra Biblicism

Nearly half a century after R. T. Kendall published “Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649,” the debate of “Calvin versus the Calvinists” rages on. Kendall’s was not the first attempt at pointing out supposed discontinuity between Calvin and his successors, of course. Years earlier, T. F. Torrance criticized the Westminster Confession for being too scholastic in nature, overtly rationalistic in its teaching on the Ten Commandments, and “markedly less Christological” compared to Calvin and the Reformation.[1] Modern proponents might not be following Kendall in claiming that later Calvinists, like the Westminster divines, are crypto Arminians in their theology, but they are following after Torrance in driving a wedge between Calvin and his Reformed scholastic heirs. Those advocating these views are warning of the dangers of Aristotelian metaphysics and categories employed by various Reformed theologians, as well as the use of natural theology over and against the purely biblical approach of Calvin. The question before us today then, is whether this view is true? Was Calvin a “Biblicist”[2] in his methods? As we will see, the answer is a resounding “no.”

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Derrick Brite | “Was John Calvin a Biblicist?” | April 12th, 2023


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