Paul Helm on Medieval Scholasticism

in Journal of Reformed Theology
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Berkouwer and Pinnock embraced deterministic Calvinism when they were young theologians. However, later on they started to revolt against the ‘Calvinism’ of their youth and Dort. Paul Helm never joined or affirmed this uprising. It is not that I revolt against Dort, but I defend that Reformed scholasticism, including Dort, was never a kind of theological necessitarianism—this in contrast with John Calvin’s theology. Instead, classic Reformed scholasticism offers us a theology of contingency and individuality, of goodness and will, and of freedom and grace. Rediscovering this comforting historical reality is a gift and a joy. Helm argues that he cannot embrace this viewpoint. However, this present contribution demonstrates that he misinterprets the core structure and the medieval foundation of classic Reformed theology and philosophy. It is the latter that form the basis of Reformed systematic theology and the necessity-contingency, the synchrony-diachrony, as the necessity of the consequence-consequent and the secundum compositionem/divisionem distinctions show.

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1

See Paul Helm, ‘Reformed Thought on Freedom. Some Further Thoughts,’ Journal of Reformed Theology 4 (2010) 185–207: a critical discussion of the OGTh-book edited by Willem J. van Asselt, J. Martin Bac and Roelf T. te Velde (eds.), Reformed Thought on Freedom, Grand Rapids Baker 2010. Numbers between brackets refer to this contribution.

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