Calvin’s Doctrine of Union with Christ

Back in March this year I gave a paper to the Reformed Ministers’ Fraternal in Dudley, entitled as above. I have just found out about Google’s knol facility, so I have put a copy of it here.

Of course, I would welcome interaction and critique.

Advertisements
Calvin’s Doctrine of Union with Christ

Wright, Helm and Imputation

I have a lot of time for Paul Helm’s writing at Helm’s Deep. Recently, I have been following his analysis of N T Wright’s recent offering on the doctrine of justification (Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision). I have not read the book myself so I am not qualified to comment on it directly. However, Helm comes up with a curious conclusion that Wright’s doctrine is surprisingly close to the traditional Reformed understanding of justification by faith, while at the same time Wright himself denies it!

The root of the problem seems to be that Wright has simply not understood what the Reformed understanding actually was, and is, of imputation of righteousness. And Helm has helped me understand something about Wright’s treatment in What St Paul Really Said (which I have read) that puzzled me somewhat. There, Wright says

If we use the language of the law court, it makes no sense whatever to say that the judge imputes, imparts bequeaths, conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendant. Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom. (p.98)

At the time I read this, I thought, “he is just denying the imputation of a righteousness from God”. However, I realise now, thanks to Helm,  he was not. He was denying a particular definition of imputation that involves treating the righteousness as “an object, a substance or a gas” to be “passed across the courtroom”, which of course is nothing like the Reformed understanding. It seems obvious now, but I missed it then.

Helm seems to show that because of this failure to understand historical theology, Wright is really attacking a straw man. From my vantage point, this really does seem like a stonker of a blooper.

You can read Paul Helm’s articles here, here, here and here.

Wright, Helm and Imputation

Tom Holland and the New Perspective

When I was at WEST (then, it was called ETCW) one lecturer whose classes I greatly enjoyed as a student was Tom Holland. I always found Tom engaging and motivating as he taught. Sadly, I was not able to learn enough from him through one thing and another.

I liked his willingness to interact with Dunn, Wright and the New Perspectives guys. There were some queezy moments – a bit like walking Striding Edge and looking down – as one thought, “where are we? where is he going with this?” However, it is clear he is on to something as he seeks to show, on the one hand, the strength of the reformational understanding of justification by faith, and, on the other, the weakness of the underlying methodology of NPP advocates.

The latter is examined by Holland in a lecture given at GPTS, Greenville this month. It can be found here. I strongly recommend it.

Tom Holland and the New Perspective

Laughing at Sin

I think this is one of the most bizarre things I have heard in a sermon. In the first five minutes, the audience completely misses the gravity of what John Piper is saying and laughs at almost every line. Even when Piper seeks to call them back, they still laugh!

This link, and the comments, express pretty well what happens when an audience expects a sermon to be loaded with entertaining elements and so interprets serious statements as humour.

Sit back, listen, and feel the sense of disbelief…

(HT: Miscellanies)

Laughing at Sin