Deus qui regnat in excelso: Samuel Rutherford's radical God-exalting theology and the grounds for his systematic opposition to Arminianism, with special reference to the Examen Arminianismi and the question of hyper-Calvinism
Richard, Guy M.
Samuel Rutherford (c.1600-1661) is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in post-Reformation Scotland. Among his contemporaries, he is unsurpassed in terms of his literary output, his standing within the church, and his ardent advocacy of Calvinist and Presbyterian doctrine. He is best remembered today both for his political thought, as memorialized in Lex, Rex, and for his nearly mystical piety, so graphically depicted in his Letters. But his theology has been almost completely overlooked. Of the rather modest attention that Rutherford's theology has received, a large percentage has either incorrectly appraised it as hyper-Calvinist or misunderstood it at one point or another. This thesis hopes to fill both lacunae, first by simply presenting Rutherford's theology and, second, by seeking to correct previous misinformation in regard to it. The terminus a quo for the study is the doctrine of revelation; the terminus ad quern is assurance of salvation. Even though Rutherford has no proper systematic theology text, he does have one treatise that is perhaps closer than any other to such a text—the Examen A.rminianismi, arguably his magnum opus. The Examen, which consists of lectures Rutherford delivered to his students at St. Andrews University, has regrettably been even more overlooked than his theology. No work yet to date interacts with the contents of the Examen in any significant way. In order to fill this gap, the current study will give special attention to this treatise. Because it is a work of polemical theology, aimed chiefly against the Arminians, the Examen provides us with a glimpse into the condition of Calvinism in seventeenth-century Scotland, which is especially evident in the context of Calvinism's reaction to Arminian theology. While many may argue that the seventeenth century was the apex of Calvinism's golden age in Scotland, this thesis will tell a somewhat different story, a story of desperation and intrigue and of Calvinism at the precipice of defeat.