a1 Wake Forest University
Julian N. Hartt once observed that Calvin so accentuates divine causation that he denies all secondary agency. A strong statement of God's omnipotence commits Calvin to the position that divine causation is the only connection that has any foundation in reality. And this claim, Hartt noted, places Calvin dangerously close to Spinozism. I have no stake (nor does Hartt) in any analysis that attempts to indicate affinities between Calvin and the Dutch rationalist whom he predates by several generations. But, as Hartt suggested and as I will demonstrate, a persuasive case can be made for Calvin's commitment to a thoroughgoing causal determinism that has God at the helm directing every event. Now one should note at the outset that Calvin has solid theological reasons for stressing the role of God's all-determining will in the course of events. As a Reformation theologian, he is a persistent defender of the utter gratuitousness of grace, thereby denying that the moral, spiritual, and epistemological chasm separating the human and the divine can in any way be reconciled by human being. Yet, for Calvin, grace possesses an omnicompetence – even faith is the gift of grace – which, when examined within the total context of his thought, reveals the radical dependence of the entire created order upon the will of God.