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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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Richard Muller on Jonathan Edwards

Scott Clark recently posted the audio of a lecture given by Richard Muller (in September of 2010) on Jonathan Edwards' view of the freedom of the will.  Muller argues that Edwards' view is a significant departure from the older Reformed orthodoxy--a very provocative thesis.  I heard Muller briefly address this in a Ph.D. seminar (he was my dissertation advisor).  But in this lecture he elaborates on this topic in some detail.  The Q & A at the end is also very helpful.

Here’s the synopsis of Muller's lecture:

“Jonathan Edwards is often regarded as an epitome of Calvinism for his teaching on the freedom of will, though he was, in his own time and for a century after his death, a much-debated thinker whose views polarized Reformed circles. This lecture will concentrate on Edwards’ reception in Britain, which has received little attention despite its significance in the Reformed tradition. Concentrating on two historical contexts, Dr. Muller will consider the mixed reception of Edwards’ thought, note differences between Edwards and the older Reformed orthodoxy, and point to a parting of the ways in the Reformed tradition that took place largely in the eighteenth century.”

Here's the link to the audio:  Jonathan Edwards and the Absence of Free Choice

Reader Comments (1)

This is the second time I've heard Muller say Edwards is a departure from Reformed thought on the will (I believe he also makes a similar point in his article within 'The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will: Biblical and Practical Perspectives on Calvinism,' ed. Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware). It also seems to be the view Willem van Asselt and company argue for in the recent book, 'Reformed Thought on Freedom.' However, I'm not entirely convinced by van Asselt and company's treatment, Paul Helm is rather skeptical as well. Helm has recently argued that Calvin was a 'compatibilist' (he is very aware of the anachronism in the claim) in 'John Calvin's Ideas' and 'Calvin at the Centre.' He has also picked up the topic of Edwards and Calvin at his blog, recently writing about Edwards and the will. I am very skeptical about going against some of the greatest reformed historical theologians, but I am not yet convinced by their thesis. To what extent was Edwards only drawing out the 'logic' of Reformed thought, rather than departing from it? It may be the case that Edwards articulated a minority view, but that does not, in my mind, make it a departure from a Reformed view on freedom(I'm not convinced it was a minority view yet). Also, to what extent were reformers (scholastics included) re-articulating/building off of the views of Aquinas concerning the will (everyone I've read considers Aquinas a compatibilist and I got that feeling from reading him)? I may be more skeptical of Muller and company's thesis because I am approaching the topic as a philosophy student rather than as an historical theologian. I am more interested in seeing how other reformers worked out the will, particularly its freedom, without a 'necessitarian'(this is a loaded and ambiguous term in some cases)/compatibilist view, rather than an historical argument.

For an interesting discussion concerning this topic one might want to look at the interactions between Paul Helm, A.J. Beck, and Antonie Vos in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift vl. 57 (2003). Helm's articles are 'Synchronic Contingency in Reformed Scholasticism: A Note of Caution' and 'Synchronic Contingency Again.' Beck and Vos's article is 'Conceptual Patterns Related to Reformed Scholasticism.'
February 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

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