John Calvin's Ideas

John Calvin's Ideas

John Calvin's Ideas

John Calvin's Ideas


This is a major study of the theological thought of John Calvin, which examines his central theological ideas through a philosophical lens, looking at issues in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ethics. The study, the first of its kind, is concerned with how Calvin actually uses philosophical ideas in his work as a theologian and biblical commentator. The book also includes a careful examination of those ideas of Calvin to which the Reformed Epistemologists appeal, to find grounds and precedent for their development of 'Reformed Epistemology', notably the sensus divinitatis and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.


Most of this book has not been published before. But antecedents of parts of some of the chapters may be found in the following published material:

'John Calvin on “Before All Ages” ', Tyndale Bulletin, 52/2 (2002), 143-8. (Chapter 2)

'Calvin (and Zwingli) on the Providence of God', Calvin Theological Journal, 29/2 (Nov. 1994), 388-405. (Chapter 4)

'Calvin and Bernard on Freedom and Necessity: A Reply to Brümmer', Religious Studies, 30 (1994), 457-65. (Chapter 5)

'John Calvin on Divine Accommodation', Baptist Review of Theology, 4/2 (Fall 1994), 41-53. (Chapter 7)

'Moses Maimonides and John Calvin on Accommodation', in Paul Helm (ed.), Referring to God (Richmond: Curzon Press, 2000). (Chapter 7)

'God in Dialogue', in A. N. S. Lane (ed.), Interpreting the Bible (Leicester: Apollos, 1997). (Chapter 7)

'John Calvin, the sensus divinitatis and the Noetic Effects of Sin', International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion (1998). (Chapter 8)

'Calvin and Natural Law', Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, 2 (1984), 5-22. Reprinted in Richard C. Gamble (ed.), Articles on Calvin and Calvinism, vii; The Organizational Structure of Calvin's Theology (Hamden, Conn.: Garland Publishing Inc., 1993), 177-94. (Chapter 12)

'Faith and Self-Reflection', chapter 9 of Paul Helm, Faith With Reason (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000). (Chapter 13)

Quotations from the 1559 Institutes are from the Ford Lewis Battles translation. I have mostly used the Calvin Translation Society's edition of his commentaries, and the English translations of various treatises and letters. Though the language is in many cases dated much of this material has been recently reprinted and so is more or less accessible to all. In my view the ideas of John Calvin are the common property of anyone who may be interested in them, and not the special preserve of scholars and others involved in something called 'Calvin Studies'. Nothing much in what I have written

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