The Importance of Social Customs in the Christian Tradition

Perhaps because the “sophisters, economists, and calculators [have] succeeded” (Edmund Burke), it is fashionable today for Christians to forget or dismiss the importance of social customs, traditions, and manners in the maintenance of societal order. These rarely receive consideration in discussions on Reformed social ethics; and, when considered, they are discarded as “old prejudices” or unreasoned habits useful …

Social Hierarchy in the Christian Tradition

Reformed Christian ethics has taken a social egalitarian turn. Recently, a few Reformed bloggers have criticized Christians for failing to support the “radical and inclusive social ethics” of the New Testament. Matthew Tuininga, in a couple interesting and well-written posts on the Presbyterian role in racial segregation (see here and here),[1] has condemned the southern …

Reformed Natural Theology – Part 1 (Calvin)

This is part 1 of a series on natural theology and reason in the Reformed tradition. See Part 2. Before directly discussing Calvin’s thinking on natural theology and reason, we must lay some theological groundwork. In particular, we will have to discuss what is called the duplex cognitio Dei. In Calvin, there is a twofold …

Aquinas and Calvin on Spiritual Equality

The importance of the Reformation is on full display when one compares the thought of Thomas Aquinas with John Calvin’s on the topic of spiritual equality. Aquinas believed in an enduring spiritual inequality, one based on the limits according to each person’s nature. Grace “perfects” nature, but only to the extent of each person’s given …

A Reformed Perspective on Natural Beauty

The universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God. ~ Belgic Confession of Faith Swiss Alps The Protestant Reformers spoke often of the beauty of creation. Indeed, natural beauty[1] plays an important role in some …

Natural Rights and the Calvinist Political Tradition (1)

In the last couple decades, many scholars have recognized the contribution of Calvinist theologians and political theorists to the formulation of natural rights. Prior to this, largely due to Leo Strauss, Calvinists were lumped in with the pre-modern notions of objective natural rights. These, according to Strauss, …are doctrines [that] taught the duties of man; …

Review of The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders (2.1) – Witherspoon

There will be two reviews of chapter 2. This post will focus on Dr. Frazer’s analysis of John Witherspoon. See my review of chapter 1 here. One of the most influential Founders was the theologian John Witherspoon. As the president of Princeton for many years, he taught and mentored six who became members of the …

Calvin and Winthrop Between the Ages: Medievalism, Hierarchy, and Modernity (Part 2 of 4)

This is Part 2 of a series on Calvin and modernity. This post covers Calvin’s two-kingdom theology and his theology of work. I show that Calvin’s thought cannot be the foundation of modernity and that his thought is a modification of medieval thought, not a radical break from it.                                 Chillon Castle, near Geneva, Switzerland …

Calvin and Winthrop Between the Ages: Medievalism, Hierarchy, and Modernity (Part 1 of 4)

The following post is Part 1 of a series on Calvinism and Modernity. The first three posts will show that Calvin’s social and political philosophy is conservative by medieval standards, though there are important modifications to medieval thought. Calvin is not the first modern, a proto-modern or the foundation of modern politics, as many have …

The Breadth Of The Reformed Orthodox Phenomenon

The Calvinist philosopher Paul Helm has recently published a brief review or commentary on Oliver Crisp’s “Deviant Calvinism” on the discussion between “freedom of the will” and “state of grace”. He states the issue: “An attempt will be made to show not that there are two rival metaphysical views of human freedom side by side …