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; […]

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 […]

Philosophical Issues and Developments in the Post-Reformation Era, 1

Philosophy was an “add-on” to theology for the post-Reformation writers. It was “an aid to learning” (“ancilla”) but it did not contain the substantive material that was to be considered when evaluating “theology proper” (i.e., issues surrounding the Doctrine of God, etc.). In other instances, it was found, some philosophies were outright hostile to Christianity. […]

Heiko Oberman on Historical Method

One of the reasons why a historian may be suspicious of the use of the term Forerunner, while operating freely and frequently with its Latin equivalent “antecedent,” is its possible causative connotation. It might seem to imply a concept of history which presupposes determination by a pre-established divine plan or by its secular equivalent, immanent […]

Natural Theology 1: Toward Clarity and Apologetics

Muller goes on at some length about distinctions among archetypal and ectypal theologies, and I may or may not return to that topic, but next in his queue is the question of “natural theology”. Commenting on “Calvin’s view of general and special revelation”, Stephen cited Warfield “that while fallen man continues to receive natural revelation […]

Reformation era background to the discussion of archetypal and ectypal theology

The discussion of “archetypal” and “ectypal” theology seems to follow from an understanding of Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law…” Muller moves from a discussion of […]

Some Specific Features of the Post-Reformation Doctrine of God

Elsewhere it has been noted that the Reformed Orthodox were not monolithic in their theologies; this section fleshes out some of those diversities. This is really a “for-what-it’s-worth” compendium of how the Reformed Orthodox thought about God. However, it was interesting to see the areas where there was some flexibility, and kinds of things that […]

Fudging Aristotle: A Digression (Part 5): The Starting Point

In this series, and following the work of Richard Muller (“Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics”), I’ve been making the claim that the Reformed Orthodox writers, who wrote in the two centuries following the Reformation, borrowed from Aristotle’s methods, but not much at all from his own lines of thinking. As a reference for those who may be […]

The Reformation and the Formation of an Orthodoxy

The title here is Muller’s section title. He posits that “the Reformation” and “the formation of an Orthodoxy” are two related, but separate events or eras. A final element of the thesis or the approach to Reformed orthodoxy found both in this and in the subsequent volumes concerns the nature of a Protestant “orthodoxy” itself. […]