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EBOOK Providence, Freedom, and the Will in Early Modern Reformed Theology - EBOOK (Muller)

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Too often scholars impose on the past modern terms and theories. This is particularly evident concerning discussions of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, where libertarian and compatibilist notions of freedom obscure older understandings of concurrence. Providence, Freedom, and the Will is one historian’s attempt to help us interpret early modern documents in context with attention to their theological and philosophical terminology. In it, Richard A. Muller investigates the Reformed approach to causality and governance as it relates to divine concurrence with creaturely or temporal causes. He examines treatments of grace and freedom concerning the capabilities of the will as a free cause, operating of its own accord. And he explains free choice in the light of traditional assumptions concerning faculty psychology and the way in which external objects are selected or rejected.

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Table of Contents: 

  1. Tum vero voluntas est libera: Vermigli on the Human Will, Free Choice, and Providential Concurrence
  2. Causality, Clocks, and Ezekiel’s Wheels: Theodore Beza on Providence and Divine Concurrence
  3. Grace, Election, and Contingent Choice: Arminius’ Gambit and the Reformed Response
  4. Robert Rollock on the Freedom of Will and the Limits of Free Choice
  5. Lucas Trelcatius, Jr. on Free Choice
  6. Goading the Determinists: Thomas Goad (1576–1638) on Necessity, Contingency and God’s Eternal Decree
  7. Stephen Charnock on Providence, Foreknowledge, and Divine Concurrence
  8. Jonathan Edwards and the Absence of Free Choice: A Parting of Ways in the Reformed Tradition
  9. Jonathan Edwards and Francis Turretin on Necessity, Contingency, and Freedom of Will. In Response to Paul Helm
  10. Contingency, Necessity, and Certainty in Jonathan Edwards’ Freedom of Will 


Richard A. Muller is senior fellow for the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research and P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology Emeritus at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including Divine Will and Human Choice, Grace and Freedom, and the multivolume Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.


“I always encourage my students, ‘Read everything that Richard Muller has written—study and learn from both his research and methodology.’ Providence, Freedom, and the Will in Early Modern Reformed Theology is no exception. Spanning a quarter of a century, Muller presents a series of studies that explore the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom with precision, rigor, and insight. No serious student of theology can afford to ignore this work.” — J. V. Fesko, Harriet Barbour Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“The Reformed tradition is often associated with the denial of human freedom and assertion of philosophical determinism. In this volume featuring many new essays, Muller provides a compelling argument to the contrary that the Reformed tradition of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries affirmed a concept of creaturely freedom that included genuine contingencies (things could be otherwise), which nonetheless did not entail a synergistic view of salvation. According to the Westminster Confession, God providentially orders secondary causes ‘necessarily, freely, or contingently’ (5.2) and created the human will with ‘natural liberty’ (9.1). These statements have a larger historical and theological context, and Muller’s book elucidates that context. I highly recommend this important contribution.” — David Sytsma, associate professor of theology, Tokyo Christian University