B. A. Gerrish (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Pathfinder: Calvin's Image on Martin Luther," in The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation of Heritage, The University of Chicago Press, 1982, pp. 27-48.

[Below, Gerrish compares the two great Reformers, Luther and Calvin, asserting that, though Calvin never met Luther, Calvin's image of Luther can be fairly well ascertained through the Genevan's correspondence.]

Martin Luther and John Calvin were, by common consent, the two most eminent figures of the Protestant Reformation. There were other distinguished leaders in both Germany and Switzerland—Melanchthon and Zwingli, for instance—to say nothing of national heroes in other lands....

(The entire section is 13764 words.)

Heiko Augustinius Oberman (lecture date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Calvin's Critique of Calvinism," in The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought, T. & T. Clark, Ltd, 1986, pp. 259-68.

[In the following excerpt, originally delivered as a lecture, Oberman treats Calvinism as a movement made up of various traditions and schools of thought that are not necessarily in agreement with their namesake. Oberman believes that a study of the Reformerespecially in the areas of his humanism, issues of renewal and unity, the eucharist, science, piety, and state theoryleads to "Calvin critiquing Calvinism."]

The theme of our conference as it was originally announced...

(The entire section is 4068 words.)

David C. Steinmetz (essay 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Calvin and the Absolute Power of God," in The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Vol. 18, No. 1, Spring, 1988, pp. 65-79.

[Below, Steinmetz explores Calvin's ideas regarding God's absolute power to act versus His potential to act, noting that Calvin attacked the entire discussion as "speculative doctrine. " Disagreeing with the Scholastics on this matter, Calvin decided to accept the mysteries of Divine Sovereignty on a Biblical basis.]

(The entire section is 2756 words.)


(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

Calvin's rejection of the distinction between the absolute and ordained power of God occurs in three contexts in his biblical commentaries.

1. Miracles

The first context is the question of the adequacy of the power of God to perform miracles. According to Genesis 18, when Sarah hears about the promise to Abraham of a son (or, more accurately, over hears the promise, since she is eavesdropping at the time), she "laughs within herself." It is not the laughter of joy, but of unbelief. Sarah is convinced that the natural obstacles—the advanced age of her husband and her own advanced age, compounded by her chronic infertility—are stronger than the Word of God. The...

(The entire section is 3348 words.)

John Hesselink (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Law and Gospel or Gospel and Law? Calvin's Understanding of the Relationship," in Calviniana: Ideas and Influence of Jean Calvin, edited by Robert V. Schnucker, Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Inc., 1988, pp. 13-32.

[In the following essay, Hesselink proposes that though Calvin sees an antithesis between Law and Gospel, their relationship is complementary in that humanity is "driven by the law to seek God's grace. "]

The Subject Of Law And Gospel has been a special Lutheran interest. Check any book on Luther or a Lutheran dogmatics and there will usually be a section or chapter on law and gospel.1 This is not true of studies of Calvin or...

(The entire section is 8462 words.)

Heiko A. Oberman (lecture date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: " 'Initia Calvini': The Matrix of Calvin's Reformation," in Calvinus Sacrae Scripturae Professor: Calvin as Confessor of Holy Scripture, edited by Wilhelm H. Neuser, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994, pp. 113-54.

[Approaching Calvin from a psychological and literary direction, Oberman looks at the strange reticience of Calvin to open himself up in his theological writings. This lack of self-disclosure sets him apart from the sometimes obtrusive ego of Luther, but may have aided in making Calvin "the compelling spokesman for all [Reformed] Christians in the European diaspora. " This essay was first delivered as a lecture in 1990.]


(The entire section is 21075 words.)

Jonathan H. Rainbow (essay 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Christ and Election in Calvin's Theology," in The Will of God and the Cross: An Historical and Theological Study of John Calvin's Doctrine of Limited Redemption, Pickwick Publications, 1990, pp. 64-88.

[In the following excerpt, Rainbow treats Calvin's views on Predestination in contradistinction to Arminian theologians like the seventeenth-century Frenchman Moyse Amyraut. Rainbow shows that the doctrines of Divine Election, Limited Atonement, and Assurance of Salvation, are intricately knotted together in Reformed theology.]

There is no single place where Calvin addressed the extent of Christ's redemption in a systematic fashion. The absence of such a...

(The entire section is 8288 words.)

David L. Puckett (essay 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Calvin's Exegetical Via Media," in John Calvin's Exegesis of the Old Testament, Westminster John Knox Press, 1995, pp. 105-38.

[Puckett examines Calvin's judicious use of typology in interpreting the Old Testament through the eyes of the New, noting that Calvin is the first great developer of the Protestant Biblical hermeneutic of grammatical historical exegesis.]

Christian interpreters before Calvin generally believed that the New Testament served as a reliable exegetical guide to the Old Testament. But in answering the question "What kind of guidance does it provide?" they were far from being of one mind. Origen believed that the usage of the Old Testament...

(The entire section is 15531 words.)

Dawn DeVries (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Calvin on the Word as Sacrament," in Jesus Christ in the Preaching of Calvin and Schleiermacher, Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, pp. 14-25.

[In the following excerpt, De Vries analyzes the importance of Calvin's notion of the Word of God as a "means of grace" and as a paradigm shift.]

Calvin, like Luther before him, borrowed from Augustine the notion that sacraments were "visible words."1 While this meant that the Reformers tended to verbalize the sacraments, it also led them to "sacramentalize" the Word.2 In order to understand the significance of Calvin's doctrine of the Word, however, we must first explore how preaching was...

(The entire section is 5182 words.)