Towards a proper use of Reformed sources (updating)

I gather folks weren’t expecting me to use Richard Muller as my base of operations.   It was even suggested that my use of him represented “novelty scholars.”   I was floored when I read that.  Muller is to the Reformed academic community what Thomas Kuhn was to the scientific elite:  he is the game changer.   It’s not to say that Muller says that everyone else was wrong.   No, he is noting two important things:

  1. After 1750 the intellectual worldview of everyone subtly shifted.   People, for better or worse, stopped using some of the older lines of approach.   This means key arguments of the scholastics were simply forgotten.
  2. In the 20th century the Barthian schools offered a new interpretation of Calvin.  Muller is simply debunking their interpretation.

None of this is to suggest that the Reformed do not believe that predestination is a big deal.  It certainly is.  We simply reject that it is the central dogma around which the rest of theology is to be deduced.

I was then told that I needed to make my argument simply based on either Calvin or the Reformed confessions.  I reply, “Says who?”  Why should I accept those parameters?  That makes as much sense as my telling him that he can only use either Athanasius or the 5th Ecumenical Council.

So, I will put my cards on the table.  Here is where I am coming from.   The first four resources are free.  Even if you don’t like Reformed theology, you will appreciate Muller’s talks.  He is an engaging and thoughtful speaker.  You can be a hard-core semi-Pelagian who thinks, “I cause my own salvation.”  Fair enough, but at least listen to Muller.

Recovering the Past

Was Calvin a Calvinist

The Practical Syllogism

Rebutting Jonathan Edwards on Free Will

As to resources, the following are necessary for any real understanding of Reformed theology that seeks to go beyond debates on the five points.

Muller, Richard.  Dictionary of Greek and Latin Theological Terms.  This is the most important theological resource I own.   Ironically, it was an Eastern Orthodox apologist who urged me to get it.



5 comments on “Towards a proper use of Reformed sources (updating)

  1. Justin says:

    Thanks for the audio!

    As for the dictionary, you said: This is the most important theological resource I own.

    That’s a pretty substantial recommendation. I was able to find a copy of that dictionary used for not all that much.

  2. Justin says:

    Muller…, novelty? Excuse me for one minute:

  3. Andrew says:

    On Muller’s lecture on Edwards – have you ever read William Cunningham’s essay ‘Calvinism and the doctrine of philosophical necessity’? As I recall it seems to sit nicely with Muller’s critique, although it’s been a good few years since I read it (the day JPII died!). If you’ve read it, what do you think?

  4. Andrew says:

    It seems to have been too many years, Muller answers the question the lecture…

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