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John Calvin's Ideas [Paperback]

Paul Helm
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

November 23, 2006 019920599X 978-0199205998
This is a major study of the theological thought of John Calvin, which examines his central theological ideas through a philosophical lens, looking at issues in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ethics. The study, the first of its kind, is concerned with how Calvin actually uses philosophical ideas in his work as a theologian and biblical commentator. The book also includes a careful examination of those ideas of Calvin to which the Reformed Epistemologists appeal, to find grounds and precedent for their development of `Reformed Epistemology', notably the sensus divinitatis and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Editorial Reviews

Review

`Review from previous edition we are deeply indebted to Paul Helm for this contribution, not only because of the patient research and reflection, but also because he provides Calvin's thought with a clearly-drawn philosophical profile and provides a stimulus for further detailed effort.'
Journal of Religious Studies

`if you read Helm patiently you will be richly rewarded with profound insights into God and how He can be known ... For Calvin scholars, this is certainly a "must-have".'
Australian Presbyterian

`Professor Helm has put us all in his debt by doing some ground-breaking work on the philosophical and scholastic sources of some of Calvin's ideas.'
Australian Presbyterian

About the Author


Paul Helm is J. I. Packer Professor of Philosophical Theology, Regent College, Vancouver.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019920599X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199205998
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,088,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Resource! January 29, 2007
Format:Hardcover
Paul Helm has offered a one-of-a-kind work of scholarship in this book. It is one of the *very* few books that provides an in-depth treatment of John Calvin's ideas in light of contemporary analytic philosophy and philosophical theology. It is an undertaking on par with Eleanore Stump's treatment of St. Thomas in her book "Aquinas".

Calvin is mostly known for his views on predestination, but Helm does him a service by bringing to light Calvin's views on a variety of other topics (for those who are concerned, there is still a chapter on free will). And while Calvin did not often address the writings of other philosophers head-on, Helm points out many instances where Calvin has been influenced by philosophers and theologians, both ancient and contemporary to Calvin.

Helm also gives a critical analysis of contemporary scholarship that relates to Calvin, primarily in what has come to be known as "Reformed Epistemology" headed up by Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff. His treatment of such topics is spread throughout the book, being addressed in light of the current topic being discussed. For example, in the discussion of epistemology, Helm argues that Calvin should be understood as a sort of evidentialist as opposed to what Reformed epistemologists have attributed to him. Likewise, he offers a compatibilist reading of Calvin on free will, in contrast with the sometimes 'hard determinist' interpretation when it comes to the contemporary debate over free will.

This book is a goldmine for students of philosophy, theology, and John Calvin. The price is a little hefty, but it can be justified considering there is really nothing else out there that even comes close to dealing with these topics the way Helm does.
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