Historic Calvinism And Neo-Calvinism -- By: William Young

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 36:2 (Winter 1974)
Article: Historic Calvinism And Neo-Calvinism
Author: William Young


Historic Calvinism And Neo-Calvinism

William Young

(continued from last issue)

Kupper claims that the best Dutch Calvinist theologians rejected the view of Beza that in the baptism of infants the faith of the parents took the place of the faith of the children and that they followed Calvin in grounding infant baptism upon the supposition that God the Lord also in these young children worked the grace of regeneration.1 We have already shown that Kuyper has read his own view into the text of Calvin’s Institutes. We shall now see that he repeats this error in appealing to the great dogmaticians of classic Reformed theology.

He cites Maccovius, Theologia Quaestionum loc, Xlii, q. 20: Anne infantes habent fidem? Kuyper, in the citation erroneously printed as loc. 432, q. 20, translates in slightly misleading fashion, “Hebben zulke kinderkens geloof ?”2 Maccovius simply asks whether infants in general have faith. Kuyper makes the subject “such infants” referring back to “the new-born child,”3 of which Maccovius makes no mention. Maccovius answers: Habent non actualem, sed habitualem; quemadmodum enim regeniti sunt, ita et fidem habitualem habent4 (They have not actual, but habitual faith; for just as they are regenerated, so they also have habitual faith.) Kuyper’s translation is not quite accurate. Maccovius’ contrast of actualem and habitualem, is

rendered by daadwerkelijk and ingeplante,5 whereas in the standard Dutch translation of Maccovius’ Distinctiones Theologicae,6 the contrast is rendered by daadelijk and hebbelijk geloof. Naardien (since) may also be too strong a translation of quemadmodem (as), and Kuyper leaves the sentence incomplete, with the clause, “want naardien ze wedergeboren zijn.”7

More serious than these minor details of translation is that Kuyper ignores Maccovius’ express teaching in other questions of the same locus. In Q. 12 Maccovius states that the grace of baptism sometimes precedes and sometimes follows the act of baptism, but insists that it is the same ratio.8 In Q. 13 Maccovius asks whether Christ commands infants to be baptized, to which he replies: “Yes. 1. Since baptism takes the place of circumcis...

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