Not Sure I Fully Agree with TFT’s Assessment of Calvin and the Post-Reformed Orthodox

Here is an interesting post (I think) from the past that I wrote. I’m really not sure I agree with TFT on this as I once did. So it makes it interesting to me. 

Here is a quote from TF Torrance on how he believed John Calvin contributed to the theological world, and thus how he would think of how “Calvinists” have used Calvin in the wrong ways, and for f593a-calvinsladderwrong ends; essentially muting the seismic Calvin into the tremor Calvin that is only allowed to shake to rhythms presented by classic Calvinism of today and even yesterday. True, Richard Muller and other post-Reformed orthodox Calvinists like David Steinmetz have placed Calvin in Context, but whose context? You should read the whole essay that I pilfer this quote from, from Heron; he might provide you with a more round understanding of Calvin, and then of course Torrance’s appropriation of Calvin.

It belongs to the great merit of John Calvin that he worked out the difficult transition from the mediaeval mode of thinking in theology to the modern mode, and placed the theology of the Reform on a scientific basis in such a way that the logic inherent in the substance of the Faith was brought to light and allowed to assume the mastery in human formulation of it. Calvin has not always been interpreted like this, yet if he has been misunderstood, perhaps it was his own greatness that was to blame. Calvin made such a forward advance in theological thinking that he outstripped his contemporaries by centuries, with the result that they tended to fall back upon an old Aristotelian framework, modified by Renaissance humanism, in order to interpret him. Thus there was produced what history has called ‘Calvinism’, the rigid strait-jacket within which Calvin’s teaching has been presented regularly to succeeding generations.” (Theology in Reconstruction, 76.) (Alasdair Heron quoting TFT in his essay at “Participaito” Vol. 2, p.46 fn. 2)

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7 thoughts on “Not Sure I Fully Agree with TFT’s Assessment of Calvin and the Post-Reformed Orthodox

  1. Interesting. So, in what ways do you now disagree with Torrance? Do you think he overestimates the degree to which Calvin escapes the Aristotelian framework of his day or does your disagreement lie elsewhere?

    (By the way, it appears your younger self was unaware that David Steinmetz was a Methodist and not an orthodox Calvinist.)

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  2. Yeah, that’s the aspect I disagree with him on, a bit.

    I just presumed on Steinmetz. I’ve read him, but never followed through on his theological background. How do you know he’s Methodist? I mean I know he teaches at Duke, but Muller of course went to Duke as well.

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  3. I don’t think we are facebook friends but we seem to have a number of mutual facebook friends. My full name is Nathanael Johnston.

    As to Steinmetz, as you know, he died recently and so I read a number of tributes and obituaries. In a number of those it mentioned that he was an ordained minister in the Methodist church. (He’s not the only Methodist to take a liking to Calvin; there’s also Fred Sanders, for example.)

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  4. What I do agree with TFT on is that Calvin was not a scholastic or scholastic reformed theologian, but instead as Partee says: Calvin was a confessional theologian.

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