‘When therefore the fullnesse of time was come’, wherein the promise of redemption made unto the first man was to be accomplished by the second, God, the everlasting Father, sent his onely begotten Sonne and eternal and therefore true God, of the same nature with the Father, made of a woman alone, and without the seede of a man and therefore true man, but without sine and so true Christ, made subject to the lawe and therefore circumcised, that he in most perfect obedience might fulfill that law in the name of us all, made obedient to his Father even unto death, namely for us (for he, being without sinne, deserved not to die) that he might redeeme those which were under the law and all the elect even by his obedience, by his death and bloodshedding, that is, by a sacrifice of exceeding vertue (for it was the blood of God) and a most effectual antilutro, ransome, that he might, I saie, redeeme us from sinne to the old image of God and to perfect righteousness, yeah, from death to eternal life, and from the kingdome of Satan to the kingdome of God; and that we might receive adoption of children and so in the ende bee taken into full and perfect possession of the heavenlie inheritance as sonnes and lawfull heires. And lastile, that he might gather together all thinges in heaven and in earth under one head and ioyne them to himselfe for the glorie of God the Father.
~ Confessions of the Christian Religion XI.1
Reading Oberman makes me wonder if I have not been unfairly critical of late medieval nominalism. Of course, reading Oberman and McGrath together makes me wonder if I’ll ever get a grasp of the various distinctions.
It is also tragic that I feel the need to reread Iustitia Dei already.
Now, what the righteousness of God is, which is spoken of here [Rom. x.2,3], he immediately afterwards explains by adding: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” This righteousness of God, therefore, lies not in the commandment of the law, which excites fear, but in the aid afforded by the grace of Christ, to which alone the fear of the law, as of a schoolmaster, usefully conducts. Now, the man who understands this understands why he is a Christian. For “If righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” If, however, He did not die in vain, in Him only is the ungodly man justified, and to him, on believing in him who justifies the ungodly, faith is reckoned for righteousness. For all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His blood. But all those who do think themselves to belong to the “all who have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” have of course no need to become Christians, because “they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;” whence it is, that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
~ On Nature and Grace chap. 1
For Bavinck and for most Reformed theologians, Adam has transgressed the law and his punishment is a matter of strict law and justice. Jordan’s view does not deny law or justice, but focuses on a different and most essential element. Adam’s sin is the rejection of God’s covenant love. God responds to the sin of man as a holy and offended covenant Lord, Father, and Husband whose love has been subject to the most egregious treachery. It is holy jealousy, which demands the fullest penalty the law can apply, and it is God’s gracious love which intervenes to take that penalty on Himself. What is added, however, in no way diminishes from the righteousness of God, for covenant love and law mutually involve and imply one another. God is righteous no less than He is love; both attributes come to expression in the covenant. The legal aspect of the covenant is seen in the structure of the relationship and in the threat of death for disobedience. But his is not “strict justice” in contradistinction from love, it is justice fulfilled by love, for betrayed love will seek righteous revenge with jealousy.
Eternal Covenant pg. 81
If we remember that for Smith and Jordan, “covenant” is simply the way in which God relates to Himself, this definition makes a great contribution in bringing together Reformed disctinctives with classic Christian dogmatic thought. “Covenant” is not something added to God’s relation with creation. Covenant just is that relation because covenant is God’s own self-relation. God’s bringing man into covenant with Himself is God bringing man into Himself in a bond of fellowship and love. We have the forensic and the ontological held together in perfect harmony. The same can be said for love and law. The highest love is giving oneself for another, and thus the highest law is that of love.