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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Philosophy

Potency and Act in Calvin

In a comment on Colossians 3.7 (“In these too you once walked, when you were living in them” [ESV]), John Calvin makes use of the distinction between actus and potentia to explain the difference between “walking” and “living” in the verse (after having a little dig at Erasmus for what Calvin considers exegetical malfeasance):   Erasmus [did] […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

The Reconciliation of Angels?

Colossians 1.18-20 raises some interpretive difficulties: 18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων, 19 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι 20 καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ, [δι’ αὐτοῦ] εἴτε τὰ […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Sacred Doctrine

JBFA in Acts 13.38-9

With great vigor, Calvin unfolds the Pauline teaching of justification by faith alone from Luke’s report of Paul’s words in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13.38-9 (“Let it be known to you, therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

Nothing Common (Again)

I’ve written before about the sense in which there is now no area of life that is “common” because Christ has made all clean: there is no “common” realm in that sense. The last time we looked at this, it was via the Apostle Paul’s comments on Romans 14. Calvin says the same in commenting on […]

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Archive Authors Civic Polity E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene

Government Founded on Reasons

The Calvinist doctrine of God is sometimes caricatured as naked voluntarism, the triumph of the will: God is sheer power and does what he likes–as if to say Calvin comes down on one side of the Euthyphro dilemma, the side that says the pious is pious because it is loved by God, his loving it makes […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

Deception (1)

As far as I can tell, the majority report of the theological tradition, and especially among Protestant theologians and biblical commentators, is that lying is always wrong, even in the case of the so-called mendacium officiosum, the “officious” or “dutiful lie,” when the goal is to preserve the life or virtue of another while doing no […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

“To the Law and to the Testimony,” or: What Jesus Says in John 12

The notion that Scripture can serve as judge in theological controversies is sometimes subject to soft (or not) ridicule and scorn. Aren’t words, once they are uttered–whether into the air or onto paper–inert, mute, infinitely malleable? How could they possibly adjudicate anything? The question is one that can be put to human communication in general: […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

Against the Heterodidacts

In 1 Timothy 6.3, Paul warns Timothy to be on the lookout lest …τις ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ καὶ μὴ προσέρχεται ὑγιαίνουσι λόγοις, τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ τῇ κατ’ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ…. “…anyone teach something other [than true doctrine] and does not agree with healthful words–those of our Lord Jesus Christ–and the teaching that accords with […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

Holy Iconoclasm

Sometimes relics of blessed memory can become causes for sin and stumbling. Such was the case with the bronze serpent, which God had commanded to be made. The Israelites kept it after God did his saving work through it, and began to venerate it in a way that was not appropriate–indeed, in a way that […]

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Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene

“We Cannot Taste the Divine Mercy Otherwise than through the Word”

In commenting on Psalm 138.2, Calvin emphasizes the priority of the Word in the communication to us of the divine mercy–God’s “unspeakable mercy” that “condescend[s] to address [us] in a familiar manner.” I will worship towards the temple  of thy holiness. [David] intimates that he would show more than private gratitude, and, in order to set […]