Sunday, November 6, 2016

EJ Spode: "The Calvinist Roots of American Anti-Intellectualism"

Check it out here. A taste:
The sanitized story about Protestantism that has been passed down to us is that it represented a revolt against corruption in the Church and brought a focus on Biblical writing rather than Church traditions as a source of authority. And it was indeed about those things. Partly. But more than that it was a revolt against an idea, espoused by Saint Aquinas, that we can come to know nature without the aid of religion (in the insider terminology, we can understand nature without the help of grace). The idea that part of the world that could be known and understood without aid of religion helped ignite the Renaissance but was an idea that Calvin in particular could not tolerate. In his view, separation of grace and nature would lead to no end of troubles; every aspect of our lives (science, culture, etc.) needed to be brought under religious control.
I think this certainly accurately describes some Calvinists. I for one have come across many American Calvinist fideists.  I wonder though, whether this accurately describes the big picture.

Hat tip: The Barefoot Bum.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

I wonder though, whether this accurately describes the big picture.

Of course. John Calvin's friend, biographer, and putative successor Theodore Beza was a "Protestant scholastic." This is what happens when people unfamiliar with the late medieval/early modern period start winging it with terms they know nothing about.

Beyond the lack of precision involved in such cases, the appellation of 'rationalist' is often applied to Protestant scholastics pejoratively, and without any proper definition, causing even greater confusion.

This is also a good article on John Locke and Jonathan Edwards.