Monday, June 18, 2012



Lee Gatiss, the secretary of the Church Society has produced an attractive defence of definite or limited or particular atonement,  For Us and For Our Salvation, which discusses the issues both exegetically and also historically. It is an high-class introduction to a much misunderstood and much maligned doctrine. Lee has also written an equally excellent introduction to Augustus Montague Toplady, The True Profession of the Gospel. Both are published by the Latimer Trust.

Also, In Writing (Spring/Summer 2012) the magazine of the Evangelical Library contains two papers given at a Day Conference remembering (though not of course celebrating) the 350th Anniversary of the Great Ejection of 1662. The papers are Gary Williams, 'The Great Ejection of 1662' and Robert Oliver, '1689 and the Toleration of Dissent'. Further details from the Library's website 

Due to a hitch the piece on Turretin on faith and reason has been put back. Instead in July I‘m posting a piece ‘Calvin and Bolsec’, which originally appeared in the e-magazine Credo.  Calvin’s name is associated in the public mind with predestination, as if he invented the idea, or desired to give it special prominence. Scholars in the 19th century thought of predestination as Calvin’s central dogma, and this may also have influenced wider opinion. But I think that this prominence got going through three public controversies about it that occurred during his lifetime. The first of these was in connection with the ex-Carmelite Jerome Bolsec, closely followed by Calvin’s response to the anti-Calvinist writing of the Roman Catholic theologian Albertus Pighius. The final outing was his writings against his erstwhile friend Sebastian Castellio, culminating in his A Defence of the Secret Providence of God (1558). Providence and predestination were closely allied in Calvin’s mind even if eventually the treatments of the two topics were situated in separate places in his Institutes.   The ‘Bolsec Affair’ reveals not only Calvin’s strong views on this issue, but also the difficulty of distinguishing the jurisdiction of the church from that of the civil government in Calvin’s Geneva. Calvin's doctrine of the two kingdoms was unfortunately muddied by the idea that the magistrate in Geneva had a duty to uphold (and in that sense be a 'minister of') true religion i.e. the Reformed faith, in that city.