AbstractSacrum suum verbum – aspects of Calvin’s view of Scripture in his 1545 Catechism
The succession of spiritual streams that followed in the wake of the Reformation gave rise to seismic shifts in the way Scripture was viewed, the consequences of which still have decisive significance in theology today – most inevitably for preaching and catechism. Semler’s book “Abhandlung von freier Unter-suchung des Canon” (1771-1775), with its insistance on a separation between Scripture and Word, played a far-reaching role in this regard. Against this backdrop, and with the doctrine of Scripture in Calvin’s Catechism (1545) yet to be examined (in contrast with his “Institutes”, for example), this article focuses on the issue of authority in catechesis. Given the central place that catechism occupied in Calvin’s ministry and in his em-phasis on Word ministry, this issue lies at the heart of the subject of “Calvin as catechist”.
The investigation has delivered exceptional results. Calvin’s handling of Scripture is quite dynamic. In a discussion on authority, he uses the concept of “Word” to refer implicitly to Scripture, while simultaneously binding it directly to the reve-lation in Christ. By referring to that which “is established from the Word”, he indicates the primacy of Scripture in the issue of authority. Scripture in its entirety is revered to as the Word of God, and is valid as such for the (whole) church. It is therefore not possibe to detach “sola Scriptura” from either “tota Scrip-tura” or “una Scriptura”.
According to Calvin in his Catechism, Scripture is valid as the sufficient authoritative foundation for theological and confes-sional pronouncements. In this regard, it is especially the con-nection between Word and Spirit that is of fundamental signi-ficance. The effect of this is that the doctrine of Scripture is not only of bibliological importance, but it also has other theological implications – most notably for christology, pneumatology and soteriology.
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