OUR CHURCH AND OTHERS
THE REFORMED CALVINISTIC CHURCHES CONT’D
A. Formal principle (source)
1. Bible as code of conduct.
2. For all realms of life.
B. Material principle (center of theology)
1. Concept of glory of God.
2. Irresistible special grace for the elect.
3. God’s absolute sovereignty.
II. Particular doctrines shared with Lutherans.
A. Divine authority of the Bible.
B. Rejection of tradition as a source of teaching.
C. Total depravity of man.
D. Justification by grace through faith in Christ as the only way to heaven.
E. Rejected many of the same abuses.
III. Particular doctrines with grave differences with Lutherans.
A. Doctrine of God.
1. Dominant thought in Calvinistic theology is the infinite and transcendent sovereignty of God.
2. Think of God primarily as the Master, with man His servant.
3. Emphasis lies on what God expects of man for His own glory.
4. Bible chiefly a code of rules for good behavior to the glory of the Master.
5. Becomes most patent in his doctrine of a double election.
a. Sees an absence of equal emphasis on grace and mercy of God in Calvinism.
b. Motivation is because man is privileged to trust and serve the gracious and forgiving God.
c. Emphasis is on what God has done for man.
d. The Bible seen chiefly as the letter of a loving Father to His dear children.
7. Discussion Points
a. It is God’s love that moves Him to deal with sinful man.
(1) Jn 3:16.
(2) 1Jn 4:16.
b. Bible main emphasis is Christ Crucified.
(1) Ro 1:16,17.
(2) 1Co 1:18,23; 2:2.
c. No double election.
(1) Ac 13:48.
(2) Ro 1:29,30.
(3) Eph 1:5.
(4) 2Th 2:13,14.
(5) 1Ti 2:4.
B. Doctrine of Man
1. Calvin distinguishes sharply between man’s corporeality and his spirituality.
2. Viewed soul
a. As not only essentially distinct from the body.
b. But also as the far more glorious part of man.
3. Man’s goal in this life is to seek liberation from the body.
a. As long as we are in the body, we are far from God.
b. Only when liberated from the body can we really enjoy God.
4. Has significant implications.
a. Puts a low estimate on doctrine of the resurrection of the body.
b. Affects his entire philosophy of life, e.g. vocations as means to mortify the flesh.
5. Found no solution for dilemma arising in maintaining both.
a. The absolute sovereignty of God, and
b. Man’s accountability for sin.
6. Held that:
a. All men were in Adam and corrupted in his sin.
b. Yet, rejects fatalistic view by maintaining that man does not sin by coercion, but by free choice.
7. Lutheranism holds that original sin is both:
a. A total lack of trust in God, and
b. A vicious rebellion against God inherited from our first parents.
c. Therefore, spoken of as the “capital” sin (S.A., III, I,1)
C. Christ’s Person and Work
1. Have maintained the true deity and true humanity of Christ and the personal union.
2. Yet, they question or deny the communion of natures and the communication of attributes.
3. State of humiliation is considered essentially the incarnation.
a. Suffered per both natures by becoming man, torture and death.
b. Lutheran view: according to His human nature He did not always and not fully use the divine attributes communicated to His human nature. (Php 2:5-8; Jn 2:11; 11:40; 18:6)
4. State of exaltation considered as the bestowal of great powers to the human nature.
a. His human nature received glorious but finite gifts.
b. Lutheran view: according to His human nature the Lord, from moment of resurrection, always and fully uses the divine attributes communicated to His human nature. (Php 2:9-11)
5. Denial of real communion of natures evident in Reformed view of Real Presence in Lord’s Supper.
a. Say He can not be everywhere and in heaven.
b. Say that only the believers receive the body and blood of the Lord spiritually by faith and not orally with the mouth.
6. Teaches limited atonement, i.e. He died only for the elect.
7. Discussion Points
a. Jesus is One Person, the God-man, not to be separated.
b. Jn 1:14.
c. 1Ti 2:5.
d. When Jesus died, God died for our sins, the God-man.
e. Ac 2:38.
f. Ro 5:10; 8:32.
g. Heb 2:14,15.
h. 1Jn 1:7.
i. He died for all.
j. Lk 2:30-32.
k. Jn 3:16.
l. Gal 4:4,5.
m. 1Jn 2:2.
1. Calvin maintains the forensic character of justification by faith.
2. But, his predominant motif is:
a. Not justification.
b. Is sanctification to the glory of God.
3. Living a Christian life is the important thing.
4. Faith really comes down to “once in grace, always in grace”.
5. Discussion Points
a. Christ Crucified, forgiveness of sins, and faith in that alone is central.
b. Ro 1:16,17.
c. 1Co 2:2.
d. 1Jn 1:7.
E. Repentance and Sanctification
1. To Calvin, mortification stands in causal relation to justification.
2. Discusses 3rd Article of Apostles Creed in this order:
a. Religion and life.
b. Christian self-denial.
c. The good life and the life to come.
d. Rules for Christian living.
e. Justification by faith.
f. Note: complete reversal of the order in Lutheran Theology.
3. Has repentance, manifest in self-denial and meditation upon the future life, as the ground of assurance that believer is in the state of grace.
a. Basis of faith, therefore, is Spirit’s activity in producing self-denial and observance of rules for Christian living.
b. Lutheranism: the basis of faith is the universal promise of God contained in the Gospel.
4. Idea of obligation predominates.
5. Idea of slave’s relationship with his Master.
F. The Church
1. Defined the church as the entire number of the elect.
2. Makes election – not faith as in Lutheran Theology – the ground for membership.
3. Primarily interested in the “visible” church.
4. Emphasis on the presbyterian form of church government.
a. “Teaching” and “ruling” elders.
b. Chief office is that of pastor (preaches and administers the sacraments).
c. Next, the doctors (watch the purity of the proclamation in the church).
d. Next, presbyters and deacons (to curb the frivolous and alleviate the suffering of the needy).
5. Maintained that:
a. Membership in the visible church is an indispensable cause of salvation.
b. And, the non-elect must also belong in order to promote the glorification of God.
G. The Means of Grace
1. Calvin’s emphasis on sovereignty reflected in 3 points:
a. The revelation of the majesty of God would completely crush man, the finite creature.
(1) So, He condescended to man’s level in the incarnation of Christ.
(2) Takes place today when He condescends “to prattle” and speak so that man can bear to hear the declaration of His will.
b. Distinguishes between the Word and the Spirit; in fact, separates the two.
(1) Ordinarily, Spirit employs the Word in calling the elect.
(2) Distinguished between:
(a) the outward Gospel, which can be resisted.
(b) the Spirit who comes immediately and irresistibly to the elect.
c. The primary function of the Word and sacrament is to teach man the will of the sovereign Lord of the universe.
2. Calvin’s concept of the sacraments much higher than that of Zwingli (considered them only badges for recognition of one another).
a. Considered them a “visible” word.
b. Essentially the Augustine symbolic interpretation.
c. Does not ascribe collative and effective power to them.
3. Real Presence.
a. His understanding difficult to ascertain.
b. But saw it as a symbol of an actual spiritual eating and drinking.
c. Chasm between ascended Christ and believers so infinite that only God can bridge the gap.
d. Even Calvinistic bodies that ascribe a highly spiritual significance to the Lord’s Supper view Real Presence only as a “spiritual” presence.
1. (see above)
2. Only two
b. Lord’s Supper
I. Discussion Points
1. Ac 2:38.
2. 1Co 10:16; 11:23-30.
IV. The Five Points of Calvinism and Arminianism
A. Total depravity.
B. Unconditional election.
C. Limited atonement.
D. Irresistible grace.
E. Perseverance in grace.
F. (will be discussed under Arminian Reformed Churches).
Copyright © 2003 CrossTies Counseling
All Rights Reserved