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The authority of Scripture is the cornerstone of Reformed theology. Calvin introduced the term autopistos from Greek philosophy to express that this authority does not depend on the church or on rational arguments, but is self-convincing. After dealing with Calvin’s Institutes, the development of Reformed orthodoxy, and the positions of Benjamin B. Warfield and Herman Bavinck, the author draws theological conclusions, advocating a renewed emphasis on the autopistia of Scripture as starting point for Reformed theology in a postmodern context. The subject-object scheme leads to separating the certainty of faith from the authority of Scripture. The autopistia of Scripture, understood as a confessional statement, implies that truth and trust are inseparable.
Restoration through Redemption offers examples of three ways in which John Calvin’s theology can be revisited: by analysis, assessment, and reception. This volume contains analyses of Calvin’s position on the trinity and on politics, as well as assessments of his theology for evolutionary biology and comparative ecclesiology. It also discusses the reception of his heritage, for instance, in North America and South Africa. The central theme in this volume is Calvin’s approach to the renewal of creation that hinges on Christ the Redeemer. One of the golden threads is Calvin’s emphasis upon the meditatio on the future life, the turning of the believer towards the eschatological perspective.

Contributors include: J. Todd Billings, Johan Buitendag, Jaeseung Cha, Ernst M. Conradie, Roger Haight, I. John Hesselink, Rinse Reeling Brouwer, Philippe Theron, Henk van den Belt, Gijsbert van den Brink, Cornelis van der Kooi, J.H. (Amie) van Wyk, J.M. (Koos) Vorster, Nico Vorster, Robert Vosloo, and Paul Wells.

This article analyses the development of the concept of the divine call to salvation in Reformed theology as it was taught at Leiden University in the first decades of the seventeenth century. During this crucial period, with the Synod of Dort as a pivotal turn, twelve disputations were defended on the subject.The changes in the order of the disputations and some switches in the terminology are related to the Arminian controversy and the confessional codification of Reformed doctrine at the Synod of Dort.There are differences between the disputations after the synod and the one defended under Arminius, but there are also some more general developments. Apparently, the Arminian controversy shaped the Reformed understanding of the vocatio.

In: Church History and Religious Culture

Protestant spirituality is characterized by the mutual relationship between Word and Spirit. The doctrinal formulations of this relationship in the confessions of the Reformation period show that this specific feature of Protestant spirituality originated from the opposition to Rome and the Radical Reformation. The objections by Protestants against the mediaeval view that grace was infused through the sacraments led them to emphasize that faith was worked by the Spirit, in the heart. On the other hand, their objections against spiritualizing tendencies in the Radical Reformation led them to emphasize that faith was a matter of trust, based on the external Word. This two-sided tension led to a nuanced view of the relationship between the external Word of God and the internal work of the Spirit. In Lutheran and Reformed theologies this led to different spiritualities. The author traces these developments by analysing several Protestant confessions of the Reformation period.

In: Religion and Theology
In: Journal of Reformed Theology


This article summarizes Jean Calvin’s concept of the self-convincing authority of Scripture, and relates his position to the writings of Heinrich Bullinger. The authors possibly influenced each other. Both use the Greek term autopistos for the authority of Scripture. In 1571, Bullinger published an anonymous work that relies on Calvin’s Institutes. In spite of minor differences in emphasis, the reformers agreed in maintaining the independent authority of Scripture as the norm of faith. For both authors Word and Spirit were intimately connected, although in the writings studied for this article Calvin more explicitly connects the acknowledgement of Scripture’s authority to the witness of the Spirit.

In: Journal of Reformed Theology

The notion of Christian liberty is essential for the understanding of the Reformed concept of the law. Early modern protestant theology, however, made a sharp distinction between spiritual and bodily liberty. This distinction originated from Luther’s concept of the two kingdoms. It enabled John Calvin to criticize the church for binding the consciences and at the same time appeal to the civil government for reform of the church. Because of the reshuffling of the Institutes in 1559 this function of Christian liberty is easily lost out of sight. In the further development of Reformed theology the distinction between spiritual and bodily liberty was applied to the Christian life of individual believers, as the examples of William Perkins and the Leiden Synopsis of Purer Theology show. Thus the reforming power of the distinction was lost and it was used to confirm the political and social status quo instead.

In: Journal of Reformed Theology