One catalyst for this has been a marvelous article called Teaching Calvin in California, by Berkeley history-of-religion scholar Jonathan Sheehan. Sheehan argues for the educational importance of engaging with that dread text of the Reformation, Calvin’s Institutes, including the (then and now) outrage-inducing doctrine of double predestination – that is, that both the saved and the damned are the way they are because of God’s choice, that this choice is just and cannot be disputed, and that both the salvation of the saved and the damnation of the lost equally display God’s glory. “The classroom erupts in protest”, writes Sheehan. “Calvin teaches us, Be careful what you believe in. Investigate what your own views demand…” By their own engagement with “the terribleness of Calvin’s challenge”, Sheehan’s students are already obtaining a hands-on education – “participating in the intellectual revolutions of the modern world.”
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