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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Whither Calvinism: or Will the Real Platonists Please Stand Up

Arch. Grigorios Konstantinou
PhD in Theology

Plato and Calvin
            The original impetus for this essay was the proposed defense of Orthodoxy against the rather naive and tendentious series of writings which appeared in the Journal Credenda Agenda (Volume 6, Issue 5). The author at the time proposed, along with the other topics being addressed, a kind of survey of the Calvinist agenda. At the time of the proposal there were only very vague notions about what such an article should try to cover — and that had mainly to do with the extreme factionalism of Protestantism. However, subsequent reflection, coupled with a re-reading of the Credenda articles, has suggested that there are some common themes to be addressed about Protestants in general and Calvinists in particular. Furthermore, as will be suggested, these themes have a common root in Platonic thought and philosophical methodology. This should be a matter of considerable interest inasmuch as it is precisely these people who claim to give the definitive answer to the question of Tertullian: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Nothing! They would answer. Indeed, one of the main thrusts of the Credenda articles was the perceived necessity of getting back to the more original and “Hebraic” Christianity of Jesus and St. Paul. Now since Calvinism and all of Protestantism form a system — actually a series of systems — of thought and theology far too rich and varied to be treated exhaustively in an article of this type, we will treat of a few basic issues which, so far as we can see, as outsiders looking in, are central to the protestant experience and Calvinist thought, and are at the same time the most problematical for both those ‘inside’ and those on the outside looking in. Thus, the following topics will be briefly examined: ....