A Friendly Reply To Derek Regarding Calvin, Luther, & The Falling Of The Church

Calvin never countenanced marginalizing of the doctrine of justification

“It is true that Calvin was generally more irenic toward other Protestants than was Luther and he was critical of Luther’s rhetoric on the Supper (inter alia) but there is a problem with the way you relate Calvin to Luther.”

 

You can catch up with the flow of the discussion via Derek Rishmawy’s interesting essay but the short story is that Carl Trueman published an essay at First Things properly cautioning American evangelicals about re-making Luther into their own image and challenging them to reconsider their relations to him. Derek replies by arguing that American evangelicals may have more in common with Calvin than with Luther. My reply is below.

It is true that Calvin was generally more irenic toward other Protestants than was Luther and he was critical of Luther’s rhetoric on the Supper (inter alia) but there is a problem with the way you relate Calvin to Luther. You write,

While some might have qualms about calling it the “doctrine of standing or falling in the church”, it is a nodal doctrine that touches on a host of issues. All who affirm it must begin to approach each other on issues like imputation, atonement, the fundamentally gracious character of God, the nature of ecclesial mediation, and so forth (cf. Michael Allen’s Justification and the Gospel).

This goes to the heart of what is wrong with “evangelicalism” (as if such a thing really exists. See D. G. Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism). Calvin never countenanced marginalizing of the doctrine of justification. In his 1549 response to the Leipzig Interim, which he called the Adultero-Interim he announced that there were hills, as it were, on which he was prepared to die: properly regulated worship and the doctrine of justification, in that order. He never varied from that.

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