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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

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.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

John Calvin’s Theology (Part Nine) – Christ as Redeemer in Procuring Our Salvation


In his Institutes Calvin declares that it is necessary for us to consider in what way we obtain salvation from Christ. This is so for two reasons; first, that we may not only be persuaded that Christ is the author of our salvation, but second, having embraced whatever is sufficient as a sure foundation (for our salvation), this may eschew all factors that might make us waver. Bottom line here, Calvin is declaring that our understanding of Christ and how He is the author of our salvation and embracing that as our certainty helps us to avoid anything that would take us away from that sure foundation.

The interesting thing about the above is it certainly does not sound like the contemporary five point Calvinistic view. What could possibly take us away from genuine salvation in Christ? In this chapter of the Institutes Calvin declares, “Therefore, the moment we turn aside from him [Christ] in the minutest degree, salvation, which resides entirely in him [Christ], gradually disappears; so that all who do not rest in him voluntarily deprive themselves of all grace.” These are Calvin’s very words, and of course, prima facie they do not sound like words with which a contemporary Calvinist would agree.

So what is Calvin saying when he makes this claim? I do not think Calvin is declaring that one can “lose” their salvation, as taken at first glance the claim seem to be such. No, Calvin is declaring these words in the context of how and why Christ is our redeemer. Calvin, just prior to this claim, and elsewhere in other contexts, declares, “. . . redemption would be defective if it did not conduct us by an uninterrupted progression to the final goal of safety.” (Emphasis mine)

Calvin declares that everything needful for man’s salvation exists in Christ and His work (i.e. the life, death, resurrection, and ascension). To fail to understand this is simply clinging to a deception that will ultimately cost us God’s grace. Thus, the turning aside from Christ and voluntarily depriving ourselves of all grace is a defective form of grace. So from where does this defective form of grace come? Calvin does not answer in this chapter. However, Calvin declares that grace from God fulfills its work in the individual and this is why Calvin declares everything needful for us exists in Christ.

[Stay tuned . . . more to come!]

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