John Calvin on the substance-accidents distinction

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I notice that John Calvin referred to the substance-accidents distinction in his commentary on Galatians 4:1, "All this leads to the conclusion, that the difference between us and the ancient fathers lies in accidents, not in substance." (Another translation reads "All this leads to the conclusion that the difference between them and us lies not in substance but in accidents." Quoted in Gerald L. Bray, Timothy F. George, Scott M. Manetsch (eds), Reformation Commentary on Scripture X: Galatians, Ephesians (Downers Grove IL: IVP Academic, 2011), p. 133.)

Did not those who argued for the Calvin vs. The Calvinists thesis basically argue that the later Calvinists were slavishly devoted to Aristotelian philosophy in opposition to the biblicist Calvin. What relevance does the above observation have to this debate?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
I notice that John Calvin referred to the substance-accidents distinction in his commentary on Galatians 4:1, "All this leads to the conclusion, that the difference between us and the ancient fathers lies in accidents, not in substance." (Another translation reads "All this leads to the conclusion that the difference between them and us lies not in substance but in accidents." Quoted in Gerald L. Bray, Timothy F. George, Scott M. Manetsch (eds), Reformation Commentary on Scripture X: Galatians, Ephesians (Downers Grove IL: IVP Academic, 2011), p. 133.)

Did not those who argued for the Calvin vs. The Calvinists thesis basically argue that the later Calvinists were slavishly devoted to Aristotelian philosophy in opposition to the biblicist Calvin. What relevance does the above observation have to this debate?
In my opinion, not much. The vocabulary of substance and accidents is often used by authors wishing to denote more essential and less essential properties even if they do not believe the distinction reflects a metaphysical reality. For example, the vocabulary comes up in Ames, who was violently anti-metaphysical.
 
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