The Knowledge of God in Calvin's Theology

The Knowledge of God in Calvin's Theology

The Knowledge of God in Calvin's Theology

The Knowledge of God in Calvin's Theology

Excerpt

All who write about Calvin deal directly or indirectly with the problem of the knowledge of God, but there is no single book that touches all the issues involved. Two articles on the subject, one by Warfield, Calvin's Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, in his Calvin and Calvinism, and one by Lobstein, La Connaissance religious d'après Calvin, in Revue de théologie et de philosophie (Lausanne), are of basic importance, but neither is comprehensive. The most serious omission in both instances is the lack of a study of Calvin's doctrine of faith. At the root of this is a failure to take seriously Calvin's fundamental distinction between the knowledge of God the Creator and the knowledge of God the Redeemer, and thus to assume (asCalvin himself did not) that the problem of knowledge is dealt with and done with when the doctrines of the revelation in creation and in Scripture have been formulated, in the first book of the Institutes. In fact, the doctrine of faith in Book III is just as much an epistemological introduction to the Institutes as is Book I, chapters i-ix. Calvin's doctrine of Scripture stands in a very difficult-to-describe relation to that of faith, but at least as good a case can be made for subsuming it under the doctrine of faith, as for the reverse, which is the usual procedure. Lobstein goes beyond Warfield in this respect, but he uses an oversimplified distinction which identifies Calvin's doctrine of Scripture as "scholastic" and his doctrine of faith as "evangelical," with a very short study of the latter, and without any account of the interrelation of the two. Two works by Peter Brunner, Vom Glauben bei Calvin, and Allgemeine und besondere Offenbarung in Calvins Institutio, in Evangelische Theologie, cover some issues slighted byWarfield andLobstein, but with emphasis on the objective revelation rather than on the knowledge of it. If to the aforementioned we add the appropriate works of Gloede, Theologia naturalis bei Calvin, Peter Barth, Das Problem der natürlichen Theologie bei Calvin, and the "problems," of Bauke, Die Probleme der Theologie calvins, we shall . . .

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