Calvin versus the Calvinists — a common charge thrown against historic Dordtian Calvinism is that Dordtian Calvinists especially the Reformed scholastics in the 17th century have distorted the real teachings of the French Reformer John Calvin. This charge has continued to this very day, starting with Jacobius Arminius in the Netherlands, John Cameron and his student the French Huguenot theologian of the school of Samur Moise Amyraut (or Amyraldius), and into the modern times by "calvinists" such as R.T. Kendell, successor of Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel, London.
In this paper, Pastor David Chen has written an article on this very subject, dealing with the Reformed scholastic theologian Francis Turretin. Has Turretin been faithful to John Calvin's theology and especially his doctrine of election? Chen wrote:
The Bible is the eternal Word that doesn’t change, but human beings do change from generations to generations. New cultures, new ways of thinking, new methodology of scholarship, new ideas have always prompted a new generation of seekers to re-raise questions on the teachings of the Bible. Sometimes old doctrines need to be reformulated in new ways for new generations to appreciate what is being taught. At the same time new challenges will also force the revisiting and sometimes reframing of old doctrines to more properly clarify, rebuke, or simply elaborate what was left unsaid by earlier generations. The same applies to Calvin’s teachings. This paper will focus on Calvin’s Doctrine of Election, and how Francis Turretin two generations later had used and improved on Calvin’s doctrine. In what aspects had he followed Calvin’s teachings faithfully? Does he at the same time also further elaborates or reframes what was said by Calvin to address his own culture and the challenges of his era? In comparing and contrasting Calvin and Turretin, will there be any deviations between Turretin and Calvin that can be used to support the Calvin versus the Calvinists theory? Or will one appreciate the reasons for the changes as being faithfully Calvinistic in the core and following the trajectory that Calvin had set?
Pastor Alex Tseng has reviewed this article as follows:
A very fine paper on Turretin’s doctrine of predestination has been written, owing to efforts of my friend David Chen. I am especially thankful for his defense of 17th-century scholasticism and his critique of the “Calvin-against-the-Calvinists” thesis, which, in fact, did not end with the Amyraut Controversy, but has persisted well into recent theological scholarship, as shown in the works of E. J. Dowey, J. B. Rogers, R. T. Kendall, etc. Since Calvin and Puritan studies are still in their infancy stages among Chinese Christians, works such as Chen’s are especially important in challenging innovative re-interpretations of Calvin and Reformed theology that explicitly or implicitly oppose Reformed orthodoxy, as found in the works of popular Chinese writers like Hong-Hsin Lin.
This paper and its review are now open for discussion.