Mailvox: the Gordian theologian

In which Cartusiae metaphorically shakes his booty for our amusement:

To clarify, does Calvinism have any relation to the historic man, “Jean Cauvin”?

If so, were these beliefs present in the early Latin edition of ((Institutes)), the French edition following, or the more sizable final editions? Were they present in the documents currently in libraries, either as manuscript editions, editions commonly referred to as critical editions, including critical translations?

Given the historically extended second period of Calvin’s ministry in Geneva, which of the sermons and/or extended glosses and scholia exegetically or eisegetically (as you, or something utilizing your denotation, claims) postulates AND sustains the theses you present under the rubric of ‘Calvinism’?

Whether Scots, UK (anachronistically deployed to refer to the various jurisdictions emerging from the 16th century), Dutch, HRE, Swiss, or other congregations, consistories, presbyteries, synods, bishoprics, Electorates or Palatinates, could you indicate which of these in public confession, commentary on confession, commentary on laws emerging from Scriptural reflection, or in merest battlefield support of ‘Reformed’ polities held the positions attributed to Calvinism?

Or, logically, given a universe of propositions, can you inductively construct a probable argument that conforms to ‘Calvinism’ as you define it and a reliable construction of the varieties of historic and constituted bodies, polities, jurisdictions, or even German encyclopediae of the 19th century?

Something as FOL as “For all R such that R is a set of propositions…” and “There exists a c contained in C such that the union set of r contained in R is to a set of c contained in C where C is the superset of statements I attribute to Calvinists, even if I haven’t made them yet but they can be translated by a Jovian sociologist 500 years hence as I would hope them to be translated when ascribed to me.”

Or, please inform me what your understanding of “bereshit bara elohim et haeretz vet hashamaim” might be.

We’ll start there.

Once I’ve determined a baseline of your understanding of causation, then I can better comprehend your stance vis-a-vis your understanding of the relation between causation, determination, agency, the attribute commonly ascribed to God as ‘justice’ but understood in terms of the originating words, since the cognates emerging from proto-Semitic ANE are drastically different than the extended and quite contradictory–in the strong sense–definitions currently punting about under the cloak of justice; then perhaps I can adequately meet your conversation about the adequation of warranted and credible models of divine responsibility and the coherence of ‘calvinism’ with said scriptures.

No, we really won’t. I pay absolutely no attention to the overblown theological autoeroticism of the sort Cartusiae is exhibiting here with his rhetorical questions. One thing I have observed over the years is that people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about and cannot defend either the facts or the logic of their positions invariably retreat into impenetrable jargon when the mere fact of their waving credentials is insufficiently effective. What Cartusiae has written might intimidate some, but it merely makes me laugh out loud. I mean, I studied economics under economists who wrote the econ textbooks. Do he seriously think I haven’t seen the high-flown jargon tactic before… or had any trouble dealing with it?

VD: “That’s not true. Your argument falls apart here.”

CE: Well, Mr. Day, only after you demonstrate that you have first grokked the confarbulation of the schixamotroid can we begin ascertaining if you truly possess the One True Understanding of the Grand Moxistic Illuminastine’s definition of the upper middle will of God, which of course you must exhibit before we can deal with your impertinent observation that I appear to have calculated 342 as the sum of 2 plus 2.”

VD: That’s all irrelevant. The problem is that 2+2 simply isn’t 342, it’s 4. The foundation of your vast monstrosity of an argument hangs on a miscalculation. So, it’s wrong, your collection of impressive credentials and recitation of irrelevant encyclopedic details notwithstanding.

CE: You know nothing about [insert subject here]!

Perhaps I don’t. And yet, ironically enough, I don’t need to. It doesn’t matter what term is applied, whether it is Reformed, Calvinist, or omniderigiste, because I am not objecting to the labels, but to the specific ideas and the arguments that have been presented to me. In this case, all the navel-gazing theological babble in the world will not change the fact that X!=Not X nor will it make the observable evil in the world vanish. Cartusiae and others who fancy themselves credential experts in the field of God can tie as complicated a Gordian knot as they like, but any sufficiently practiced logician will simply avoid all the extraneous nonsense and cut through the relevant rope.

I’m entirely comfortable with all of the theological possibilities reasonably in play, ranging from the Bible being the imperfect, incomplete, and inconsistent Word of God to God being an omniderigent puppet-master who is typing these words through the mechanism of my fingers as one minute part of an awesomely elaborate Kabuki play. Something is, but none of the concepts absolutely, necessarily has to be… which is why I conclude that the optimal approach is to seek to understand the truth as best we can understand it from the Scriptures, observe it in the world around us, and articulate it through properly applied logic. If the credentialed babblers of the theological world had any utility at all, you would think they would at the very least have been able to come up with a word or two to describe what a significant number of people, both Christians and non-Christians, actually happen to believe regarding God’s relationship with the world.

The only thing of real interest to me is a conclusive answer I have not yet received from anyone capable of speaking for the Calvinist camp. I would like to know if the Wikipedia summary accurate when it states: “Calvin argues that the knowledge of God is not inherent in humanity nor can it be discovered by observing this world. The only way to obtain it is to study scripture. Calvin writes, ‘For anyone to arrive at God the Creator he needs Scripture as his Guide and Teacher.’ He does not try to prove the authority of scripture but rather describes it as autopiston or self-authenticating.”

If this is accurate, then it would explain much about what I have long seen as the logical incompetence exhibited by those holding to various strains of the creed that can be reasonably described as being somehow “Calvinist”.


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