Book Review -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 05:4 (Sep 1999)
Article: Book Review
Author: Anonymous


Book Review

Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649, by R.T. Kendall (London, England: Paternoster, 1997). 263 pages. Originally published by Oxford, 1981. Reviewed by Dr. Stephen Lewis, Professor of Church History at Chafer Theological Seminary, and Senior Pastor, Family Heritage Church, La Quinta, CA.

“Salvation (Justification/Reconciliation) is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” I have rarely met any Protestant who does not, in some way, affirm that phrase. Yet, what one means by this varies widely. These words were proclaimed as part of the Reformation and affirmed in the creeds and are proclaimed throughout the church to the present day. Yet, as early as Beza, Calvin’s successors began to append “but faith that saves is never alone” to “faith alone saves.”

Christianity Today rightly calls Kendall’s republished Oxford doctoral dissertation “an epoch-making book.” He examines the doctrine of faith from Calvin to Perkins to the Westminster Assembly to determine the degree to which Westminster theology is Calvin’s theological legacy versus that of Perkins. After reviewing Calvin’s doctrine of faith, Kendall traces the interactions of Theodore Beza, William Perkins, Paul Baynes, Richard Sibbes, John Cotton, John Preston, Thomas Hooker, Jacobus Arminius, and William Ames with Calvin.

Kendall claims that Puritanism’s central figures drew their theology, not from Calvin, but from Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor in Geneva. Even J.I. Packer defends the Synod of Dort (1618–19) by putting words into Calvin’s mouth that he did not say [“Calvin the Theologian,” in John Calvin (Abingdon, 1966), 151]. Specifically, Packer asserts that the Dortian formula of Limited Atonement says what Calvin “would have said

    if
he had faced the Arminian thesis.” Therefore, Kendall perceives a fundamental shift between Calvin and Beza. Consequently, the

whole Puritan tradition, from Perkins to the Westminster Confession of Faith, followed the wrong (non-Calvinistic or anti-Calvinistic) track concerning the atonement and the nature of saving faith.

Paul Helms [Calvin and the Calvinists (Banner of Truth Trust, 1982), 9] visually displays his construct of Kendall’s comparison of Calvin with the Puritans:

Kendall’s 1997 edition includes a new preface as well as an additional appendix extracted from Kurt Daniel’s Ph.D. thesis from New College, Edinburgh, 1983. Daniel sought to answer Kendall’s critics concerning a single passage that Cunningham attributed to Calvin defending limited ...

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