Richard Muller on Calvin and the Calvinists

Here Muller confirms what I have been asserting all the while; that he sees an organic thread between Calvin and the “orthodox, Calvinists.” He says:

In the early years of the Reformation emphasis on the faith of the individual and stress on a new found sense of Christus pro me placed atonement at the center of theological concern. Even so, the work of Christ as mediator occupies the center of Calvin’s thought. The following essay will argue in similar terms that Protestant orthodoxy did not depart from this emphasis, that it developed a doctrinal structure more formal in definition and more scholastic in method but nevertheless concerned to maintain a doctrinal continuity with the soteriological emphasis and christological center of the theology of Calvin and his contemporaries. In this development, orthodoxy completed the transition (already evident in the work of Calvin) from piety and the preaching of reform to the system of Reformed doctrine. New structures, like the threefold office and the two states of Christ were integrated into systems of doctrine as formal principles, indeed, as new doctrinal contexts elicited from scripture, in terms of which dogmas received from the traditions — the Chalcedonian christological definition, for example — would be understood and, to a certain extent, reinterpreted. In this context also, the doctrine of the atonement, because it manifested the gracious will of God, moved into close relation with the doctrine of election. (Richard Muller, “Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology From Calvin to Perkins, 10)

Like I said, a “seamless whole.” Muller represents, as one of the “Reformed’s” best scholars (and let me just say, he is exceedingly brilliant, an amazing scholar), the atttitude that I’ve been trying to engage here. That is, what Muller calls “orthodoxy” is the only “live” option for what it means to consistently and coherently appropriate the thought of Calvin — thus the exclusive claim (by Federal theology) to the name “Calvinist.” It is this thesis that becomes the a priori force that shapes the sectarianism that is now evinced by Calvinists, today. That is, if someone says that there are other, even historic, ways to appropriate Calvin (much more in line with his Evangelicalism); these folks are considered heterodox.

I’ve read Muller’s book before, I don’t think he sustains his thesis here; I think it remains an ad hoc assertion. But that’s just me . . . 😉

*repost from five years ago.

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4 comments

  1. just curious i saw a comment i believe you put on a blog called “pryomanics:friends of sinners” a few years ago and you said that there is evidence that one copy of Paul’s letters was dated to about 8 years after the original was first written, do you have any more info about that?

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  2. Nope, it’s the same evangelical calvinist guy. I heard Hank Hanegraff mention that years ago. I am proud that I know Jesus. I am not sure I have ever said that I am proud that I study theology. Plus, your question has to do with text critical issues, which while broadly related to theology (the discipline), is un-related to my primary research.

    What were you looking to try and do with this evidence about this fragment? And if you are really interested why don’t you email someone like Darrell Bock at Dallas Theological Seminary, or Daniel Wallace at the same school?

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