"Deus humanitus saepe cum suis agere solet" : an analysis of divine accommodation in the thought of John Calvin
This study is an attempt to analyze the motif, or collection of motifs, of divine accommodation as they appear in the thought of John Calvin. After introducing the subject and critically summarizing the relevant secondary literature, the course for the thesis is plotted. To determine the most basic elements of a reference to accommodation, these are set out in the form of three questions. 1. What is human capacity? 2. What is the character of the accommodating responses of God to that capacity? 3. What do Calvin's explanatory statements, which often accompany his remarks on accommodation, teach us about his accommodating God? Each of these is given individual attention. Chapter two examines human capacity, concluding with an attempt to reassess the three-fold division of it into human finitude, sinfulness, and Jewish barbarity which has arisen in scholarly discussion. Next, God's responses to that captus are considered. Here their scope and character are appraised by means of constructing a taxonomy of them, which is organized on the supposition that they appear in different spheres of the divine-human relationship, namely, the pedagogic, legislative, cultic, pastoral, incarnational, and covenantal spheres. In chapter four, Calvin's observations on the reasons, intentions, and motives behind God's selfadapting are explored towards the end of drawing the portrait of the reformer's accommodating God. The thesis finds that accommodation is so pervasive in Calvin that it appreciably penetrates his thinking about God. Accommodation touches on many different aspects of the divine-human relationship and is a frequent theme in the reformer's interpreting of God's behavior. In addition, Calvin's reflections on the Almighty's reasoning behind his accommodating actions are wide-ranging, and often depict God in surprising ways. All of this results in questions being raised about the character of Calvin's God, the coherence of Calvin's theology, and the relationship which exists between the reformer's dogmatic and exegetical works, which are addressed in the concluding chapter.