A theological re-description of the emergence of religion: In conversation with John Calvin on the semen religionis

Ernst Conradie


Where does religion come from? This article suggests that this question
may be addressed from the perspectives of various disciplines. An investigation of theological
re-descriptions of the emergence of religion may provide insights on the relation between
theology and the study of religion. The article explores John Calvin’s views on the semen
religionis as a case study of such a theological re-description. Calvin’s account is then
compared with Karl Barth’s Christological account. It is observed that a fully trinitarian
account of the emergence of religion may be required in this regard. The author concludes that
any adequate theological account of this question would provide an ultimate perspective on the
emergence of religion that cannot be captured under the generic rubric of “religion”. To do so
would amount to a form of reductionism.


John Calvin; The emergence of religion; semen religionis

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5952/53-1-111


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ISSN 2226-2385 (online); ISSN 0028-2006 (print)

© 2014 Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, Stellenbosch.

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