The Helvetic Formula Consensus (1675): An Introduction And Translation -- By: Martin I. Klauber

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 11:1 (Spring 1990)
Article: The Helvetic Formula Consensus (1675): An Introduction And Translation
Author: Martin I. Klauber

The Helvetic Formula Consensus (1675):
An Introduction And Translation

Martin I. Klauber


The significance of a translation and study of the Helvetic Formula Consensus is important in light of the recent debate over the nature of “reformed scholasticism.” The debate centers on the alleged deviation of the so-called scholastics from the central aspects of Calvin’s theology. One school of thought argues that the reformed scholastics were primarily rationalists who exchanged Calvin’s christological focus for one based on divine decrees. A second interpretation, espoused principally by Richard A. Muller, defines “reformed scholasticism” in terms of its organizational pattern that made reformed theology more precise in response to the Counter-Reformation polemic. Part of the confusion is because its opponents in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries used it as a pejorative term to designate an outmoded form of theology.1

The Formula Consensus has been generally seen by historians as the epitome of reformed scholastic theology. A study of its context and contents, therefore, provides important insights into the nature of this form of theology. Reformed scholasticism’s use of creeds developed out of an attempt to synthesize the theology of Calvin in response to specific theological, philosophical, and political challenges to reformed orthodoxy. One cannot come to a full understanding of the nature of reformed scholasticism apart from the historical context during the period of its development. The Helvetic Formula Consensus developed out of a need to respond to the growing popularity of remonstrant thought and the moderate compromise position of the Saumur Academy.2 Moïse Amyraut (1596–1664),

professor of theology at Saumur, proposed a concept called “hypothetical universalism” which was designed to mitigate the harshness of the doctrine of limited atonement as defined at the Synod of Dort. Amyraut held that God’s redemptive plan includes all people, but cannot be fulfilled unless a person believes. Since people cannot believe without the power of the Holy Spirit, a second, limited election is necessary. The basis for such as election is hidden in the counsel of God.3

Josué de la Place (1596–1665), a colleague of Amyraut at Saumur, also proposed a theological concept that caused shockwaves among most of the theological community of the reformed church in Switzerland. The Synod of Dort had upheld the concept of the immediate imputation...

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