Monday, June 9, 2014

Calvin on Participation

Based on Nathan Barci's paper on Participation in Saint Thomas Aquinatus and Calvin, it appears that the following section of Calvin's Institutiones and of his replique Bondage and Liberation of Will, which focuses on salvation, are necessary to understand his participatory theology.

  • Calvin's Interpretation of the Imago Dei in Institutiones 2.1.1 shows his idea of [soteriological] participation
  • See Institutiones 2.12.1 and 2.12.6 for Calvin's argument against Osiander and his rejection of the ontological union of the Divine and the Human in the incarnation as anything but accidental
  • The spiritual union between the Spirit and the Believer is found in Institutiones 3.11, 9 and Institutiones 3.1
  • Calvin's definition of Faith in Institutiones 3.2.7, which is itself grounded in the dynamic between God-knowledge and self-knowledge that opens the Institutiones 1.1.1
  • the acceptance of the gift of Faith is the reciprocating action or response to the gift and cashes out as repentance, which requires the indwelling work of the Spirit and the participation in the person of Christ; cf. Institutiones 3.2.24
  • To explicate the way that Christ and the believer interact, Calvin is dependent on the vine-branch metaphor (Joh 15) in Institutiones 4.1.2-4
At one point Barci argues:
This assent, and the works which follow from faith, can properly be said to be ours: though they do not derive from us and cannot arise apart from the indwelling Spirit uniting us to Christ, they are proper to the heart of flesh, oriented in love to the Father, which is itself proper to created humanity. (p.13)
While I appreciate Barci's exposition of these topics, I disagree with his conclusion that a return to Neoplatonic considerations of the type Aquinas had assumed would be any help to Reformation theology, not even at the price of ecumenical progress.

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