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John Calvin’s Reception at the Westminster Assembly (1643–1649)

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Of all the Reformation theologians, John Calvin exerted arguably the most influence on the English Puritans. That did not mean, however, that his theology was uncritically accepted. This chapter considers the reception of Calvin’s theology at the Westminster Assembly on two doctrines that were debated among the Westminster divines, namely, the eternal generation of the Son of God and the so-called descent of Christ into Hell. Calvin’s somewhat unique position on the Son’s aseity and his interpretation of Christ’s descent were considered by the Assembly, but ultimately rejected by the majority, though not all, of the Westminster divines. Nevertheless, the Westminster documents are not quite detailed enough to contradict Calvin’s position on the Son’s aseity, but the Larger Catechism definitely departs from Calvin’s teaching on Christ’s descent into Hell. Moreover, the relation of the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed to Reformed theology in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries also comes under consideration in this chapter.

Affiliations: 1: University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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