Discussing Calvin on Method

by Matt Frost

The recordings we have of the Lectures on Theological Method skip over session 5, which is also Calvin (but for which Joe was at Notre Dame), so today’s lesson is the second set of Friday class discussions, this week on Calvin.  And since I’ve been doing what we call “summaries” for these recordings, I’m going to include the Summaries Document entry for today after the recording this week.  Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on.  ;)

More Luther/Calvin comparison today, as one might expect from a Lutheran teaching Calvin to Lutherans.  Also quite a bit of Barth in this Calvin discussion.  Quite a number of important pieces here for any discussion of creation.

Session 6, 1974-10-11 — Calvin (continued): discussions

Session VI, Friday, Oct. 11: Calvin, continued.  59 minutes.  (1 tape, 2 copies)  Prof. David also present today; Sittler presenting.  “The Necessity of the Revelation” (book I, chapter 6) in the Institutes as a clear methodological section.  Beginning with the Word of God, interpreting it as law.  More Calvin vs. Luther.  Calvin attempting to fill the authoritative role of the teaching office of the church in all the questions it answered, in its waning, with the Bible.  [Skips in the recording throughout group discussions.]  Calvin as pedagogical, not ontological, in his discussion of the nature of God – which is how he can go quite so long before he gets to Christ, who focuses the doctrine as mediator.  Doing theology “from God through Christ to the Holy Spirit.”  Discussion of Calvinist presuppositions in reading Christ into the Old Testament as misreading the Old Testament.  Kierkegaard and The Concept of Dread; origin of evil – as Barth says, “das Nichtige” – in the freedom of being and its possibility for its own negation.  Ontological dizziness and the “why not?” imagining the no as well as the yes.  [Skip to whole class discussion.]  A question about the natural (in)capacity for the good, and a reminder to keep in mind the questions and issues that Calvin is trying to answer.  Calvin’s “massa perditionis” vs. Luther’s “tincture of sin in all that man does.”  Whether man must be free to be faithful, or faithful to be free – the dialectical necessity of both.  Repetition of Kierkegaard material.  [Tape sides overlap with no lost material; recording ends before Sittler is done.]

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