After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

By Oliver D. Crisp; Douglas A. Sweeney | Go to book overview

6
A Different Kind of Calvinism?
Edwardsianism Compared with
Older Forms of Reformed Thought

Paul Helm

THE STRUCTURE OF this chapter is as follows. In the first half or so, I consider a number of circumstantial facts that indicate some of the factors making it reasonable to suppose that Jonathan Edwards’s thinking was along some importantly different lines from those of his Reformed forbears. In the second half, there follows a discussion of one important issue, freedom of the will, as this is treated by Edwards as well as by Calvin and by Reformed Orthodoxy before him. We shall note some striking differences in method and style and emphasis, even though the general theological outlook remains the same.


Some Circumstantials

In the course of his great work The Freedom of the Will, Jonathan Edwards had this to say about one of his notable theological predecessors:

However the term ‘Calvinist’ is in these days, among most, a term of
greater reproach than the term ‘Arminian’; yet I should not take it at all
amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly dis-
claim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold,
because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged
with believing everything just as he taught.1

-91-

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