• Was Calvin an implicit pantheist? Nominalist theism, secondary causation, and the Eleatic Principle

    Albert Roland Haig (see profile)
    Calvin, Jean, 1509-1564, Metaphysics, Plato, Theology, Doctrinal
    Item Type:
    Calvinism, causation, Eleatic principle, nominalism, Platonism, John Calvin, Systematic theology
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    This paper defends Fairbairn’s charge that Calvin’s theology is implicitly pantheistic. It is argued that Calvin’s model of divine sovereignty entails occasionalism, which in turn necessitates pantheism via the Eleatic Principle. That this problem is not contrived is also illustrated by means of an examination of the metaphysics of Jonathan Edwards. However, while the problem to which Fairbairn drew our attention is particularly visible in Calvin’s theology, it is argued that the same defect is present in all forms of nominalist theism. The fundamental problem is not Calvin’s claim that God is the sole efficient cause; rather, in saying this, Calvin merely made explicit what is, in fact, implicit in all forms of nominalist theism, and thereby made the line of argument concluding in pantheism slightly more succinct. The real issue is the fact that nominalist theism makes efficient causation the only ontological bridge between the Creator and the creation. Efficient causation is not capable of serving this role. Only the Platonic doctrine of participation is capable of relating the Creator to the created order in a manner which maintains the integrity of both domains.
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    5 years ago
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