Calvin vs. Barth

One of the things I have found in my short time reading John Calvin and others writing on Calvin is the Neo-Calvinism of the 21st-Century that seeks to read Calvin through the eyes and thoughts of Barth and his cohorts. Studying at a PC(USA) seminary the Calvin you get is the Calvin seen through the writings of Barth (and his student Tom Torrance) that looks nothing like the Calvin of the 16th Century. One of the critiques of the “Federal Calvinists” as Barthians like to call those of us that do not hold to their dichotomy of Calvin vs. the Calvinists, first really codified by R.T. Kendall, is they try to say there is no relation between the Puritans and the Calvin that they read. The book below, along with a couple others puts this fallacy to bed with great precision and along with current striking developments in Calvinistic theology and research that shows that the Barthian Calvin really is a construction of the Modern mind and the accommodation of Barthian thought to John Calvin.

I cannot recommend this book by Richard Muller entitled The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition highly enough. Along with others linked below.

After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition by Richard Muller

Calvin and the Calvinists by Paul Helm

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7 thoughts on “Calvin vs. Barth

  1. I picked the first one up from the PTS library and it is amazing. Really shows how the Barthian Calvin does not exist. Only Federal Calvinism is the real Calvin.

  2. I purchased a copy of Helm’s book at the Together for the Gospel conference back in May. It’s short and a good read. Good stuff.

    This is the stuff of folks like Jack Rogers, trying to turn Calvin into a proto-Barthian. I have an article on this in an upcoming issue of ARPTalk. Suffice it to say that the hijacking of Calvin by folks like Rogers and McKim has been (appropriately) dubbed by others as “raping history.”

  3. Prof. Doug Kelly at RTS-C was a student of Torrance and also, of course, a Calvin buff. He’s very appreciative of Torrance (calls him “the beloved Professor Torrance”), but I doubt that he has much in common with the Neo-Calvinists Muller, Helm, et al are combatting.

    Any insights in this connection?

  4. Getting to this late. I actually studied Calvin under Paul Helm. It *burned* Dr. Elwood’s chaps that I chose to study with Helm at SBTS rather than with LPTS’s own illustrious Calvin scholar.

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