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Theodore Beza, Calvin’s Successor

July 15, 2011

Thinking and looking at Theodore Beza we see a great man who followed John Calvin.  To my mind he has been underestimated by some modern scholars.  But as Alister McGrath feels there was a continuity between late medieval and Protestant thought, with men both like Beza and Peter Martyr. And Beza both conserved and disseminated Calvin’s ideas. Calvin had called him to be the first rector of the Genevan “Academie”. And three decades after Calvin’s death, Beza was still teaching and giving lectures in that city. And in fact, Beza lived to be a long 86 years!  And though Beza was only 10 years Calvin’s junior, he lived into the 17th century. He was the living link to the original Reformers and the Reformed movement. “It is possible that the greatest service which he rendered to Geneva was simply to survive until the early seventeenth century, acting as a physical link to the great age of Calvin.” (William Monter, Calvin’s Geneva, 1967)  And most definitely Beza is an un-Barthian epistemology. And today it seems many want to say that ‘Barth simply said what Calvin wanted to say’.  This is of course not true!  And so we must read and see Beza!

“For someone to be a true member of Christ, it is not necessary that he most exactly understand the wherefore, and know all the decisions of the theologians disputations. Nevertheless, it is necessary for everyone to know, according to his capacity, what he believes and why he believes, and not trust in that diabolical figment they call ‘implicit faith’.  Again, ‘For the kingdom of God is not at all a kingdom of ignorance, but of faith, and consequently of knowledge, since one is not able to believe that which one does not know.”  Indeed, he contends that true faith ‘presupposes a right knowledge of that which is believed.’

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