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Calvin The Man and the Legacy

Calvin The Man and the Legacy

Murray Rae
Peter Matheson
Brett Knowles
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 271
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  • Book Info
    Calvin The Man and the Legacy
    Book Description:

    Alongside essays on aspects of Calvin’s Theology, Calvin: The Man and the Legacy includes studies of Calvin as pastor, preacher and liturgist and traces the influence of Calvin as it was conveyed through Scottish migration to Australia and New Zealand. Fascinating stories are told of the ways in which the Calvinist tradition has contributed much to the building of colonial societies, but also of the ways it has attracted ridicule and derision and has been subject to caricature that is sometimes deserved, sometimes humorous, but often grossly misleading.

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-69-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Peter Matheson
  4. Part 1: The Man and His Thought

    • 1 Medicine for poor Sick Souls?: Calvin’s Communion Service in Profile
      (pp. 3-12)
      Graham Redding

      On the eve of the Calvin conference at which the papers in this volume were presented, a communion service was held at First Church of Otago, Dunedin. As far as possible, the pattern of Calvin’s communion liturgies in Strasbourg in 1540 and Geneva in 1542 was replicated in the service.

      Despite care being taken to explain the difference in context between Calvin’s day and ours, and the inclusion of explanatory notes in the order of service, at the conclusion of the service several people voiced their dismay at the condemnatory tone of much of the liturgy and the underlying bleak...

    • 2 John Calvin: Servant of the Word
      (pp. 13-40)
      Jason A Goroncy

      While the Church had known schism before, its sixteenth-century programme of reform led to its fragmentation the likes of which it had not known since the ‘Great Schism’ some five centuries earlier. The magisterial reformers were understandably concerned about the centrifugal force that their programme encouraged, and they did not dismiss lightly Rome’s sharp indictment that disunity indicated defect. This concern is evident in one of the more ‘catholic’ of the Reformed confessions, the Second Helvetic Confession (1566) penned by Huldrych Zwingli’s student Heinrich Bullinger: ‘We are reproached because there have been manifold dissensions and strife in our churches since...

    • 3 The grateful humility of the children of God: Knowledge of ourselves in Calvin’s theology
      (pp. 41-60)
      Randall Zachman

      Many of the themes that Calvin addresses—for example, our corruption, our depravity and our sinfulness—are usually seen as characteristic of his theology. These form subsidiary motifs in what could be called ‘the knowledge of ourselves in Calvin’s Theology’. The intriguing thing about Calvin’s thought is that he always addresses themes that are discrete but are also indissolubly related to each other. Thus, for him, the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are distinct but inseparable: one cannot know God without knowing oneself, and at the same time, one cannot know oneself, without knowing God. There is...

    • 4 A Week in the Life of John Calvin
      (pp. 61-78)
      Elsie McKee

      Everyone has heard of Calvin the dictator of Geneva, the one who executed Servetus and ruled the people which harsh discipline, but like many popular stereotypes of famous figures, this picture is as much interpretation as fact and says as much about the reporters as about the actors. Many people have heard of Calvin the systematic theologian, the polemical writer who fought with a sharp and cruel pen, but again this image is shaped by selective and ahistorical reading. This is not the place to deal with distinguishing fact from fiction, but the objective is to present a view of...

    • 5 Calvin on the Authority of Scripture
      (pp. 79-96)
      Murray Rae

      When Karl Barth gave a series of lectures on the theology of Calvin to his students at Göttingen in 1922, he began by advising the students that one did not become a Calvinist merely by repeating Calvin’s formulations. The aim in studying Calvin is to enter into dialogue with him. Good students of Calvin may, in the end, say something very different from Calvin but they will have learned it through engagement with him. That advice seems especially apposite in respect of Calvin’s biblical hermeneutics. Reading Calvin’s commentaries we come across passages and formulations that few biblical scholars are likely...

    • 6 Calvin’s Interpretation of Scripture
      (pp. 97-120)
      Randall Zachman

      I propose to consider in this chapter the overall framework in which Calvin understands the interpretation of scripture and hopefully draw in some surprising things to tease our imaginations.² I have framed this paper in terms of a series of questions. The first question would be, ‘By whom is scripture written?’ The second question is, ‘For whom is scripture written?’ And then the third question could basically be summed up by asking, ‘Is scripture enough?’ I mean, that would be an interesting way of putting it.

      Let us begin with the first question. In order to interpret a text, Calvin...

  5. Part II: The Legacy and the Caricature

    • 7 Thomas Chalmers and Scottish Calvinism in the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 123-142)
      John Roxborogh

      This paper discusses the contribution of the Evangelical leader Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847)¹ to the theological and social understanding of Calvinism in Scotland in the era prior to and following the Free Church Settlement in Otago, New Zealand in 1848. It also considers the congruence of his attitudes with general cultural factors contributing to the passing of the Declaratory Acts by the Uniting Presbyterians in 1879² and the Free Church of Scotland in 1892³ which liberalised the terms of subscription to the 1646 Westminster Confession. The Synod of Otago and Southland in New Zealand passed similar legislation in 1893.⁴


    • 8 Calvin’s Own Country? Calvinists, anti-Calvinists and the Making of New Zealand Culture
      (pp. 143-170)
      John Stenhouse

      In 1967 Dunedin-born poet James K Baxter, Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago, claimed that New Zealand’s seemingly secular society, like modern Western civilization, ‘carries like strychnine in its bones a strong unconscious residue of the doctrines and ethics of Calvinism’. Baxter quoted a long section on human depravity from Calvin’sInstituteswhich included these lines: ‘For our nature is not only utterly devoid of goodness, but so prolific in all kinds of evil, that it can never be idle . . . everything which is in man, from the intellect to the will, from the soul even...

    • 9 The Reception of Calvin and Calvinism in New Zealand: A Preliminary Trawl
      (pp. 171-188)
      Peter Matheson

      Calvinism has enjoyed, for almost a hundred years, a poor press in New Zealand. In church circles, too, even within Presbyterianism, there has been remarkably little interest in Calvin and his thought, and in the influence of Calvinism on our culture. From an early period, such comment as it attracted tended to be negative. For nineteenth- century Anglicans in New Zealand Calvinism tended to be characterised as ‘dour’. Dean Stanley’s preference for Rabbie Burns over the pharisaical tendencies of Calvinism was approvingly noted in theOtago Witnessof 1 December 1877. Bishop Nevill in Dunedin blamed Calvinism for people resorting...

    • 10 Popular Piety, the Sacraments and Calvinism in Colonial New Zealand
      (pp. 189-212)
      Alison Clarke

      On an autumn day in 1891, James Baird, Presbyterian minister at Winton, set off early for the tiny settlement of Benmore, twenty kilometres north. His wife Elizabeth and her sister Mary accompanied him. There was nothing unusual in any of this; Baird rode or drove many miles in caring for his large, scattered parish, and the women sometimes kept him company, especially when he was to conduct a baptism. This was, however, no ordinary day, for Baird had been called to baptise a set of triplets, born just five days earlier to Henrietta Matthews, wife of rabbiter Edward Matthews.¹ The...

    • 11 ‘Mr Calvin and Mr Knox’: The Calvinist Legacy in the Fiction and Poetry of New Zealand Scots
      (pp. 213-234)
      Kirstine Moffat

      In 1972 New Zealand poet James K Baxter described the Calvinist influence on New Zealand literature and society as ‘that austere, anti-aesthetic angel’.¹ This description emerged from a critical climate that diagnosed ‘the awful disease of Puritanism’ as the root of New Zealand’s cultural ills.² Not only did social and literary commentators such as Gordon MacLauchlan and Bill Pearson castigate the secular Puritan inheritance, Pearson famously describing this tradition as ‘a sour spit, a denial of life itself ’, they also regarded Puritanism as a force against which authors ought to react.³ Robert Chapman highlighted the prevailing critical perception when...

    • 12 Calvin in Australia and New Zealand
      (pp. 235-256)
      Ian Breward

      Calvin’s influence in our region has been refracted through confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the memories which migrant church members and ministers brought with them. There was little direct discussion of Calvin himself. What occurred happened at Assembly, in theological education, scholarly discussion, parish preaching and teaching and through the press.

      Until the end of the nineteenth century, Calvinism retained considerable strength in the Presbyterian churches, both as a theological framework, but also as a social culture of self-improvement, which inspired politics, capitalism, education and ethics, as well as the patterns of church life. That was especially...

  6. Contributors
    (pp. 257-260)
  7. Index
    (pp. 261-261)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 262-262)