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The Man in the Black Hat: Theodore Beza and the Reorientation of Early Reformed Historiography

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Chapter Summary

Richard A. Muller's study of the relationship between John Calvin's thought and that of later "Calvinist" thinkers began as a doctoral dissertation at Duke University Divinity School in 1976-one that changed the mind of his mentor David Steinmetz regarding the character of later Reformed thinkers such as Theodore Beza. Beza's reflections on God's providential care and predestining grace would serve as an encouragement to Polish coreligionists who were under attack from Lutherans, Jesuits, and anti-Trinitarians. The document would also provide a formidable defense against attacks on the Reformed perspective on predestination, particularly in its Genevan iteration. Unlike some modern seminary curricula, Beza's De praedestinationis doctrina exemplifies how early Reformed instruction in pastoral theology was fully integrated with biblical and theological subjects. The curriculum, like this document, was simultaneously practical and academic, pastoral and scholastic.

Keywords: De praedestinationis doctrina; early reformed historiography; John Calvin; pastoral theology; Theodore Beza



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