Christ as Divine Will

Commenting on John 1:1, Calvin writes:

As to the Evangelist calling the Son of God the Speech, the simple reason appears to me to be, first, because he is the eternal Wisdom and Will of God; and, secondly, because he is the lively image of His purpose; for, as Speech is said to be among men the image of the mind, so it is not inappropriate to apply this to God, and to say that He reveals himself to us by his Speech.

Stephen Edmondson, following Jacobs and Muller, summarizes Calvin’s relation of Christ and election in this way:

We understand Christ’s work as Mediator only when we grasp from the outset that this work is conditioned by and revelatory of God’s mercy for God’s chosen from eternity. Conversely, we must also say that we know of our election only in Christ, through his work as Mediator. We both know of God’s gracious choice through Christ’s manifestation of that choice in his redemptive activity, and we know that we, in fact, are God’s chosen, the elect, as we find ourselves engrafted into Christ. As Jacobs explains, God’s eternal decree for our salvation and Christ’s realization of that decree are two sides of the same coin– each rightly grasped only in its relation to the other.
(p148 )

Richard Muller asserts even more forcefully:

We have already noted three points in the doctrine of predestination where christological concerns have an impact the definition of elect as “in Christ,” the assertion that predestination is known only in Christ, and the statement that Christ himself is the “author of election” together with God the Father. The third of these points illustrates well what Jacobs calls “die trinitatstheologische Verankerung” of Calvin’s teaching on election– and it presses definitively beyond the purely functional level of doctrine. Against two writers who viewed predestination as the governing concept in Calvin’s thought, Jacobs could argue,

The opinion of Kampschulte and O. Ritschl, that Christ has a merely formal significance for Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, utterly misunderstands the fact that Christ and election belong to one another inextricably– as inseparable as water and a fountain; Christ correctly understood is the “index”: Christ is election itself.

In the work of reappraisal, the hyperbole of Jacobs’ last phrase was justified, and it serves to carry the day not only against the older scholarship, but also against Reid’s contention that Calvin failed to press his christological concerns to their proper conclusion in the doctrine of election. (35-36)

Robert Letham seems to share this understanding of Calvin, and I have explored his book in the past.

All of this serves to further illustrate the fact that we should look to Christ in order to find our place in God’s predestinating plan. We are elect as we are in Christ. And of course, we all know that the places to “see” Christ are just those places where he is exhibited and shewn forth; thus the covenant community ie. the visible church serves as the location of Christ.

It is little wonder that as Calvin’s paradigm continues to fall out of acceptance in mainstream Calvinistic churches today, hyper-calvinism continues to be embraced more and more. Let us ask for God to send his grace and strengthen those faithful ministers who are currently seeking to combat this encroaching danger.

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