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Shadows of Divine Things

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This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

John Calvin’s Theology (Part Six) – The Two Natures of Christ (part 1)

Calvin’s starting point within his Christological theology is mankind. This seems strange but Calvin in fact begins his Christology in view of man’s need; albeit, we will come back to this issue when we make a full circle in this portion of Calvin’s theology, since Calvin’s Christology and his soteriology are very closely connected.

Let’s first examine Calvin’s view of the two natures of Christ. Calvin held to a very orthodox view of Christ’s natures. As opposed to the Manichees and Marcionites, Calvin taught that Christ took on flesh (a body) while maintaining his nature as God. Thus, Christ had two natures, one human and one divine. Calvin affirmed, with the council of Nicaea, that Christ is fully God and fully man, and with the Patristic Fathers in declaring Christ is born in the likeness of sinful flesh. This simply means there is no difference between Christ’s body and ours.

Moreover, the body of Christ was the same nature as our body only without sin. Calvin confirms this when he declares, “If his [Christ’s] body were not the same nature with ours, there could be no soundness in the argument which Paul pursues with so much earnestness—If Christ is risen, we shall rise also; if we rise not, neither hath Christ risen.” Calvin also emphasizes this point by declaring that in the Hebrew idiom ‘Son of man’ means a true man. Thus, it makes perfect sense that Christ would retain the idiom of his own tongue and call himself the Son of man.

However, Calvin does claim that Christ’s flesh (body) is different from ours only in that it was sanctified in Mary’s womb and born without sin. He refers to Genesis 3:15 for support of this, “. . . the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent.” Therefore, Christ has no earthly father since the seed of sin is carried into mankind (all people) via Adam and not Eve. This is not to say that Eve was without sin after she committed her first sin, but to confirm that Christ is virgin born and thus born without an earthly father and therefore without sin.

Calvin has much more to say about this issue and thus we will continue in this same line of thought in the next post (part 2), and go into more detail.

[Stay tuned . . . more to come!]

4 Comments:

Blogger Doug E. said...

Very Good!

I enjoy reading your posts.

Doug

5:48 PM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

I appreciate your kind words, Doug.

9:13 PM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Great post! Two points:

1) “Calvin’s starting point within his Christological theology is mankind. This seems strange but Calvin in fact begins his Christology in view of man’s need”.

Barth has something to say about this way round of putting things and forcefully argues that things should be seen the other way round. Humanity’s condition needs to be seen in the light of Christ (CD IV. 60)

2) “Calvin also emphasizes this point by declaring that in the Hebrew idiom ‘Son of man’ means a true man.”.

You perhaps know already, but I'll say it anyway: In the past many associated Christ’s divinity with the title ‘Son of God’, and his humanity with ‘Son of Man’. It would be an exaggeration but still not entirely untrue to point out that today's scholarship often sees things the other way round!

3:01 PM, January 22, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Chris states:
"Barth has something to say about this way round of putting things and forcefully argues that things should be seen the other way round. Humanity’s condition needs to be seen in the light of Christ (CD IV. 60)"

I was not aware that Barth espoused that. I agree with Barth that that should be the starting point, and the main emphasis, for that matter.

However, to be fair to Calvin, although I'm not speaking for him, I think, at least in his Institutes the reason he begins his Christology that way is simply due to the fact that he was already discussing man's sinful state. . . this is pure speculation on my part.

However, as it does unfold, Calvin does stress man's need of Christ in his overall Christology, he just does not begin at that point . . . so go figure.

4:42 PM, January 22, 2006  

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