Bénédict Pictet

Small Steps toward Rationalism?

in Journal of Reformed Theology
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Recent research on Genevan theologian Benedict Pictet (1655–1724) concludes that he is a “transitional” theologian between the high Reformed orthodoxy of his uncle, Francis Turretin, and the “enlightened orthodoxy” of his cousin (and son of Francis) Jean-Alphonse Turretin. This essay shows that Pictet is remarkably consistent with Francis on the issues of the relationship of faith and reason and natural theology, and thereby calls into question Pictet’s place in the typical narrative of Reformed orthodoxy’s small steps towards rationalism.

Bénédict Pictet

Small Steps toward Rationalism?

in Journal of Reformed Theology

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References

3

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 93. Klauber also discussed Pictet’s view of biblical accommodation and his ecumenical efforts and his liturgical reforms. I find these arguments to be weak and unnecessary to refute here.

4

See e.g. Joel R. Beeke“Order of the Divine Decrees,” The Identity of Geneva: The Christian Commonwealth 1564–1864ed. John B. Roney and Martin Klauber (Westport: Greenwood Press 1998) 67–68; Christian Moser “Reformed Orthodoxy in Switzerland” in A Companion to Reformed Orthodoxy ed. Herman J. Selderhuis (Leiden: Brill 2013) 225–226; Richard A. Muller After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003) 83–84; PRRD 82 145. I suspect that Willem J. van Asselt in his Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books 2011) relies more on Klauber’s engagement with Pictet’s text than on his own (due to similar conclusions) though there is some indication of direct engagement as I discuss below.

5

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 96.

6

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 97.

7

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 97.

9

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 99 and “Family Loyalty” 61.

10

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 99.

11

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 113.

12

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 100.

13

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 101.

14

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 101–102.

15

Klauber“Reformed Orthodoxy in Transition” 102.

16

PictetChristian Theology104. For Jean-Alphonse Turretin’s rationalist tendencies see Muller PRRD 1.81 145–146 305–306.

19

Van AsseltIntroduction to Reformed Scholasticism189.

20

Van AsseltIntroduction to Reformed Scholasticism187.

21

Van AsseltIntroduction to Reformed Scholasticism185.

22

Van AsseltIntroduction to Reformed Scholasticism187.

25

Robert Kingdon“Introduction,” The Identity of Geneva: The Christian Commonwealth 1564–1864ed. John Roney and Martin Klauber (Westport: Greenwood Press 1998) viii.

26

See McNuttCalvin Meets Voltaire6.

27

McNuttCalvin Meets Voltaire22.

28

McNuttCalvin Meets Voltaire22 23.

29

PictetChristian Theologyvi.

30

See Klauber“Family Loyalty” 67.

33

PictetChristian Theologyvi–vii. Emphasis added.

35

PictetChristian Theologyvii.

38

PictetChristian Theology59. “Quia mysteria fidei sunt supra sphæram rationis ad quæ homo animalis assurgere nequit.” Theologia Christiana (Geneva: Cramer & Perachon 1716) 96.

40

PictetChristian Theology59. “Instrumentum est ratio quo fidelis exigit quæ proponuntur credenda ad Scripturam ceu normam veritatis indeclinabilem.” Theologia Christiana 96. Reyroux left untranslated what follows which is almost the same as Turretin’s text: “ut quum manu & oculo ad ulnam publicam exigimus quae metiri volumus; sed ipsa norma credendorum constitui non potest nec debet.”

43

PictetChristian Theology59. Muller calls this the “Reformed orthodox solution” to the question of “double truth”; PRRD 1.384–387. Pictet relies on “virtually the same premises as” Bartholomaus Keckermann and Johann Heinrich Alsted. Latin text: Theologia Christiana 97–98.

49

PictetChristian Theology59–60. Secundo Non audiendam esse rationem quoties queritur se non posse mysteria fidei capere; cum enim sit finita non mirum est si multa quæ de infinito dicuntur ab ipsa non capiantur & velle rejicere mysterium quia a ratione capi non potest est adversus ipsam rationem peccare eo sensu dicitur capitvanda ratio. Tertio Nec etiam audiendam quoties sub prætextu mysteriorum fidei proprios errores vult stabilire.” Pictet Theologia Christiana 98.

51

PictetChristian Theology60.

52

McNuttCalvin Meets Voltaire22.

53

PictetChristian Theologyviii.

54

PictetChristian Theology8. Cf. IET 18.34.51.

57

PictetChristian Theology21.

58

PictetChristian Theology22.

59

PictetChristian Theology142.

61

PictetChristian Theology22.

62

PictetChristian Theology23.

63

PictetChristian Theology24.

64

Eugene de BudéVie de Bénédict Pictet théologien genevois (1655–1724) (Lausanne: Georges Bridel1874).

65

See James Moore“The Two Systems of Francis Hutcheson: On the Origins of the Scottish Enlightenment,” in Studies in the Philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenmented. Michael Alexander Stewart (Oxford: Oxford University Press1991) 39.

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