Calvin And The Classical Definition Of Absolute Power(加爾文和「絕對能力」的傳統定義)/ 蔡少琪






Older interpreters agree that Calvin’s condemnation of the idea of “absolute power” is equivalent to his rejection of the nominalist idea of absolute power. Nevertheless, some modern Calvin scholarship, equipping with the revised concepts on medieval nominalism by the revisionists, disagrees with the traditional assessment. They basically believe that either Calvin misunderstands the nominalist concept. They also emphasize the discontinuity between Calvin and the Reformed orthodoxy in this issue. Yet, some recent scholarship has undermined the conclusion of the revisionists. They show that there is a significant change of the use of potentia absoluta in late medieval period. The term has been used then more in legal sense and with more ridiculous speculations. In this paper, the author argues that Calvin rejects not the classical concept of potentia absoluta, but the late medieval scandalous speculation on the concept of potentia absoluta. Moreover, Calvin does not like the term as used in his times and the speculation involved. While Calvin upholds the primacy of God’s will, he also emphasizes that God’s power cannot be separated from His just nature. Furthermore, the study supports the thesis that there is a strong continuity between Calvin and the Reformed orthodoxy. The difference of them in this case is that the Reformed orthodoxy is more comfortable with classical medieval terminology, though their teachings are basically the same.