Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Summer Devotions with the Boys

Each summer I break from whatever devotional series we are doing and do something different with the boys. Tonight I had a great idea for the coming summer and I'm looking forward to developing it for the next couple of months.

The boys listen to a lot of the same music I do; everything from Metallica, Korn and Shinedown (only selected songs - I do have to skip quite a few) to the Civil Wars, Mumford and Sons, and Springsteen. They each have their own taste and their own favorites. The plan is to dissect with the boys their favorite songs.

I'm sure their will be points where we'll have to stress the dissimilarity between the values of their favorite bands and our values informed by God's word, and that will be a good exercise. However, I hope this project can be more positive than that - affirming the truth of God that comes through even in pagan rock bands. Even pagan rock bands can appreciate beauty, value love (and sex), cry for justice, long for more than this world offers, etc. I'm sure there will be a lot of Schaeffer's "that's great, but it doesn't go far enough." Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting this one going. Any suggestions or resources would be welcomed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I've been addicted to Sons of Anarchy since December. It is a little rough, but I'd rather rough language than the bickering of the boardroom or the backstabbing of the shore any day! On of the things I love the most is the music, including this theme song:

Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers, 'This Life'

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Destiny in God, Brief Practical Reflection

While the topic of this project seems miles removed from concrete pastoral issues, it is one that does have some practical applications. First, there is a doxological application. As we come to understand that in Christ we have received more than we lost in Adam, and as we grow in appreciation of the extent of our salvation and the radical nature of our participation in God’s nature, our first response must be worship. As with Paul, contemplation of the deep mysteries of God should solicit deep praise.

Second, there is practical import to the profound truth articulated by CS Lewis, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…”[1] When we speak of the dignity with which man has been endowed as image bearers, we ought to keep in mind the dignity to which man is called in union with Christ as well. It is a dignity that many will forfeit by refusing Christ, and this ought to add further weight to our evangelistic appeals and further motivation to preach the gospel of reconciliation with courage.

Third, there is peace to be had. The question I was asked and which prompted this project was born out of an angst that was real, though maybe ill defined. I believe it is an anxiety that many feel if few articulate. The Christian life is a hard pilgrimage. Will we truly be able to rest when the race has been won? Will we find true and lasting peace and security? In Christ, the answer is a resounding “Yes, and Amen!”

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1980), 45.

Song of the Week

I put up a lot of more mellow stuff recently. Just so you don't think I turned soft, here's some good stuff from a great punk group.

Rise Against, 'Satellite'

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Destiny in God, part 6

Our Telos Reached

As we have seen in the previous posts, man was created for union with God and was intended for an even greater union with God than Adam experienced in the Garden. This deeper union was held out to man as reward for covenantal faithfulness but forfeited by Adam in his rebellion. Had man been granted this deeper union, he would have been granted immortality and been confirmed in an inviolable righteousness. (Using Augustine’s categories, man would have passed from the state of being both posse non peccare & posse peccare to a state of being non posse peccare) What was promised but never granted to Adam has been accomplished in Christ; thus, what we gain in Christ is more than what we lost in Adam. As our covenant keeper, Christ earned for us the blessings of the original covenant made with Adam. Christ leads creation to its final telos. To fully understand this we must examine our future participation with Christ in his resurrection.

Paul writes in Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” The transformation of our bodies at the resurrection is a significant theme for Paul. He expounds upon it in 1 Corinthians 15,
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (v. 42-49)
Important in this context is the shift that Paul makes from discussing the believers body which is subject to death and decay because of sin to discussing man’s creational body even prior to sin. Gaffin suggests, “Apparently his interest is to show that from the beginning, prior to the fall, a higher or different kind of body than the body of Adam, the psychical body, is in view. Adam by virtue of creation (not because of sin), anticipates and points to another, higher form of somatic existence" (Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption, 82). The body Adam was given in creation was not immortal, not heavenly, but earthly. Adam would have gained this heavenly body as reward for faithfulness, but forfeited it. Now it is ours in Christ on the basis of his covenant keeping as the second Adam. Though quoted above, Calvin’s comments on Genesis 2:7 bear repeating,
Paul makes an antithesis between this living soul and the quickening spirit which Christ confers upon the faithful (1 Corinthians 15:45) for no other purpose than to teach us that the state of man was not perfected in the person of Adam; but it is a peculiar benefit conferred by Christ, that we may be renewed to a life which is celestial, whereas before the fall of Adams man’s life was only earthly, seeing it had no firm and settled constancy (John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis).
Fee clarifies, “It is ‘spiritual,’ not in the sense of ‘immaterial’ but of ‘supernatural’…The transformed body, therefore, is not composed of ‘spirit’; it is a body adapted to the eschatological existence that is under the ultimate domination of the Spirit" (Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians NICNT, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987, 786).

It is into this transformed existence that we are being moved in our union with Christ and his resurrection, and it is this transformed existence that makes possible a more full experience of participation with God [i]. When we speak of the image of God being restored in us, it is no longer the image of God as revealed in Adam, but as revealed in Christ that is the end goal of God’s redemptive work. This certainly echoes a key theme in Calvin summarized by Mosser, “The goal of salvation, in other words, is to have the image and likeness of God restored in them as fully as it is in Christ and thus to participate in God and reflect his glory" (Carl Mosser, “The Greatest Possible Blessing,” Scottish Journal of Theology 55.1, 2002: 42). Mosser’s statement points in two directions, both articulated by Calvin, namely the restored image as participation in God and as reflecting God’s glory.

Julie Canlis picks up the participatory idea, writing “for Calvin, our telos is not moral perfection (outside the Mediator) but communion. This is why redemption has surpassed creation (I.15.4): we now have the ‘life-giving Spirit,’ who enables us to participate in Christ more fully and to enjoy the Father’s fatherhood (III.1.2)" (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 63). The text of Revelation 19-22 gives us indications that our hope of a deeper participation is not misplaced.

To begin, the believer participates in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9). The Bride, having been cleansed Christ (Eph. 5:25-27) is now presented to the bridegroom. Marriage has, since the beginning, been about union – two becoming one (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:28-32). Though the church is the Bride of Christ, the union is only consummated in the eschaton. R. Tudur Jones explores this theme in the Puritans, expressing surprise at the ease with which they applied the most romantic/erotic portions of the Canticles to their spiritual marriage with Christ. Jones quotes Rutherford, “we cannot rest till we be in other’s arms – and o, how sweet is a fresh kiss form his holy mouth: His breathing that goeth before a kiss upon my poor soul, is sweet, and hath no fault, but that it is too short" (Quoted in R. Tudor Jones, “Union with Christ: the Existential Nerve of Puritan Piety,” Tyndale Bulletin 41.2, 1990: 201). What Rutherford anticipates becomes reality in the consummation of our union with Christ.

In addition to the marriage image, the tree of life reappears in the eternal order (Rev. 22:2,4,14), signaling again a deeper union to be enjoyed. What Adam was not privileged to experience when barred from partaking of this sacramental tree, we now experience as the reward for Christ’s conquering. If the tree of life as a sacrament points to man’s union with God (as the sacraments do), then we must conclude, as with the other sacraments, the gift is given in the sign. Thus man, as he partakes of the fruit of the tree is brought into a deeper participation with God. Add to these images the never fading, never departing, all-encompassing presence of God in the new heavens and new earth, the cosmic temple, and the sense of our more full participation in God is impossible to miss.

Moreover, due to our transformation there is a more profound experience of seeing and reflecting the glory of God. Commenting on 1 John 3:2 Calvin writes,
But as far as the image of God is renewed in us, we have eyes prepared to see God. And now, indeed, God begins to renew in us his own image, but in what a small measure! Except then we be stripped of all the corruption of the flesh, we shall not be able to behold God face to face… he does not teach us that we shall be like him because we shall see him; but he hence proves that we shall be partakers of the divine glory, for except our nature were spiritual, and endued with a heavenly and blessed immortality, it could never come so nigh to God… Hence the majesty of God, now hid, will then only be in itself seen, when the veil of this mortal and corruptible nature shall be removed ( Calvin, Commentary on The First Epistle of John, comment on 3:2).
Likewise, Calvin argues based on 2 Thessalonians 1:10 that Christ “irradiates them [believers] with his glory, and that they may be partakers of it" (Calvin, Commentary on The Second Epistle of Thessalonians, comment on 1:10). In our experience and radiation of God’s glory, we surpass even the angels. Interestingly, Mosser connects dots in Calvin’s theology that Calvin does not connect himself. Mosser concludes, “The appropriateness of angels being designated gods due to their reflection of the divine glory combined with statements about the believers’ glorification leads to the conclusion that glorified believers can appropriately be designated gods" (Mosser, “The Greatest Possible Blessing: Calvin and Deification,” 52). This brings us to the concept of theosis or deification [ii].

Does Scripture give us warrant to proclaim that human’s will be deified? Mosser clearly sees this concept in Calvin, arguing, “Deification is not merely an eschatological concept for Calvin. It is rooted in the divine intentions for the creation and recreation of humanity” (Mosser, “The Greatest Possible Blessing: Calvin and Deification,” 41). Donald Fairbairn concludes that the Orthodox doctrine of deification is not as incompatible with evangelical understandings as the word may make it sound, though he is quick to identify significant deficiencies in the Orthodox understanding of how one is moved towards this goal (Fairbairn, “Salvation as Theosis: The Teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy,” 47). The concept does not seem to have been a stumbling block for Calvin, who, though he distanced himself from improper conceptions of theosis, could still write on Romans 6:5,
But there is no reason why you should seek to apply the metaphor [of engrafting] or comparison in every particular; for between the grafting of trees, and this which is spiritual, a disparity will soon meet us: in the former the graft draws its aliment from the root, but retains its own nature in the fruit; but in the latter not only we derive the vigor and nourishment of life from Christ, but we also pass from our own to his nature (Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans).
Likewise, he comments on Romans 5:2, “The hope of the glory of God has shone upon us through the gospel, which testifies that we shall be participators of the Divine nature; for when we shall see God face to face, we shall be like him. (2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2)" (Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans). Maybe most startlingly, on 2 Peter 1:4 he asserts, “The end of the gospel is, to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us" (Calvin, Commentary on the Second Epistle of Peter). Again, Calvin distances himself from any understanding of deification that would makes us something other than creature or sharers in the substance of God. For example, in the Institutes Calvin makes clear that “the Spirit does not work in us so as to make us of the same substance with God" (Calvin, Institutes, 1.15.5) But, having set those false understandings of theosis aside, he does articulate the doctrine throughout his writings. It is the “height of honor,” the goal of all that God has been doing in Christ, “For the Father has given all power to the Son, that by his hand he may govern, cherish, sustain us, keep us under his guardianship, and give assistance to us. Thus, while we wander far as pilgrims from God, Christ interposes, that he may gradually bring us to full communion with God" (Calvin, Institutes, 2.15.5).

Billings concedes that Calvin does not have a fully detailed, technical doctrine of theosis; yet he sees, as does this author, that for Calvin, “Redemption involves the restoration and fulfillment of the original union of God with human beings in creation [emphasis added]" (Billings, “United to God through Christ,” 333). Whether one wants to term this fulfillment of man’s original union theosis or ‘deification’ is somewhat immaterial. More important is that we realize we are to be blessed with a more full participation in the divine nature. This is what makes our eternal state more blessed and more secure than Adam’s original state – a deeper participation in the divine nature made possible through our transformative union with Christ.

[i] In his comments on 2 Peter 1:4, Calvin says that we participate in the divine nature “as far as our capacities will allow.” While our capacities after the resurrection are still creaturely, finite capacities, it seems reasonable to conclude that our capacities have been enlarged and enhanced in our new, post-resurrection humanity. Thus, while we are still limited, we are less so after our resurrection.

[ii] Mosser offers a good, succinct definition: "theosisis for believers to become by grace what the Son of God is by nature and to receive the blessings that are his by right as undeserved gifts.”(“The Greatest Possible Blessing,” 36).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our Destiny in God, part 5

Having considered the necessity of our union with Christ in his humanity, his life and his death, we can now consider briefly our participation with Christ in his resurrection.

Resurrection (and Ascension

Billings correctly asserts, “participation in Christ’s death is always followed by a participation in Christ’s resurrection, which involves a fulfillment of the original telos of creation" (J. Todd Billings, “United to God through Christ: Assessing Calvin on the Question of Deification,” Harvard Theological Review 98.3, 2005: 320). As the old humanity dies with Christ in his death, so in union with Christ a new humanity is raised with Him in his resurrection. Gaffin contends that apart from our union with Christ in his resurrection, the gospel and the Christian life are unintelligible, “’Raised with Christ’…is a most basic element in Paul’s soteriology; apart from it the structure of the whole cannot be grasped" (Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: a Study in Paul’s Soteriology, Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1987, 59).

When approaching our union with Christ in his resurrection, we must be aware of a tension in Paul’s writings coinciding with the already-not yet tension. On the one hand Paul can easily speak of the resurrection of the dead as a future hope to be anticipated. This is clear in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Richard Gaffin’s comments on the term “firstfruits” are helpful:
‘Firstfruits’ expresses the notion of organic connection and unity, the inseparability of the initial quantity from the whole…His resurrection is the representative beginning of the resurrection of believers…His resurrection is not simply a guarantee; it is a pledge in the sense that it is the actual beginning of the general event…At the same time, however, he clearly maintains a temporal distinction between them (Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: a Study in Paul’s Soteriology, 34-35).
Yet, on the other hand, it is true that God has “raised us up with Him” (Eph. 2:6), that we “have been raised with him through faith” (Col. 2:12, see also Col. 3:1), and now we ought to “walk in the newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) made ours in our participation with Christ’s new resurrection life[i]. As Gaffin correctly points out, these layers of meaning cannot be divorced from each other – the ”organic tie” between the historical event of Jesus’ resurrection, the believers experiential event of being raised with Christ, and the future bodily resurrection from the dead must be preserved (Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption, 60). We will come back to the significance of our future bodily resurrections below, as that brings us near the goal of this paper, but in this space it is fitting to reflect on our present experience of union with Christ in his resurrection (and ascension). Commenting on Ephesians 2:6 Calvin writes,
The resurrection and sitting in heaven, which are here mentioned, are not yet seen by mortal eyes. Yet, as if those blessings were presently in our possession, he states that we have received them; and illustrates the change which has taken place in our condition, when we were led from Adam to Christ. It is as if we had been brought from the deepest hell to heaven itself. And certainly, although, as respects ourselves, our salvation is still the object of hope, yet in Christ we already possess a blessed immortality and glory; and therefore, he adds, in Christ Jesus (Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians).
That this present possession of resurrection life (indicative) is the ground for whole set of ethical commands (imperatives) in Paul’s theology is most clearly seen in Colossians 3. In one stroke Paul connects death, resurrection, ascension and return in glory, making us participants in all of these events in union with Christ. We died with Christ, we have been raised with him and seated with him in heaven (where our true life is hid “with Christ in God”), and will one day return with him in glory. Paul immediately follows these statements with the instructions to “Put to death…” the deeds that characterized our old sinful humanity and to “Put on…” works in keeping with our new humanity. This is not simply a “he has done this for you, now do this for him” appeal. Rather, it is a call to recognize our union with Christ in his life and an appeal to allow this life to manifest itself in us. It is a call to be who we most truly are because of our union with Christ. This is Calvin’s “wondrous exchange”, and exchange that will be more fully realized upon Christ’s return, but is now our experience in part,
This is the wondrous exchange made by his boundless goodness. Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God. By his own descent to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength. Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches. Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness ( Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.2).
Union with Christ’s death and especially his resurrection is transformative (while also being forensic, as Calvin establishes these cannot be separated for both come to us in Christ who cannot be divided; see Institutes 3.11.6). Calvin writes, “For if we have true fellowship in his death, our old man is crucified by his power, and the body of sin becomes dead…If we are partakers in his resurrection, we are raised up by means of it to newness of life, which conforms us to the righteousness of God" (Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.9). Hart sums this up well, writing that Christ establishes with humanity “a new relationship with God, the exaltation of humanity to a previously unknown glory…Far from leaving humanity essentially unchanged, the glorious exchange involves a radical transformation of our being" (Hart, “Humankind in Christ and Christ in Humankind,” Scottish Journal of Theology 42.1, January, 1998, 74-75).

Yet again we cannot neglect the tension between the already and the not yet. We have already been transformed, we are being transformed as the Spirit works to bring us into deeper union with God, and we anticipate the completion of this transformation in the future. Calvin reminds us, “Redemption would be defective if it did not conduct us by an uninterrupted progression to the final goal of safety" (Calvin, Institutes, 2.16.1). This leads us to the third substantial section of this project, which I'll take up in a post tomorrow, and close to answering the question posed in the introduction, “what makes our eternal condition more secure than Adam’s original condition?”

[i] Gaffin goes into further detail, outlining another challenge in understanding Paul’s view of our union with Christ in his resurrection, namely, do the aorist verbs and the temporal references point “solely to what took place in the historical experience of Christ or do they apply to what has happened in the actual life experience of the individual believer?” (Resurrection and Redemption, 41).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Song of the Week

Straylight Run, 'Hands in the Sky'

Friday, February 10, 2012

Our Destiny in God, Part 4

In the last post on our destiny in God, I considered the importance of our union with Christ in his incarnation. We continue this series looking at our union with Christ in his living and dying.

Having considered Christ’s assumption of our humanity, we can proceed to reflect upon Christ’s full life of obedience. All Jesus accomplished for us he accomplished in union with us, with our humanity, and to facilitate a yet deeper union between God and man – the union promised Adam in the Garden but never realized due to Adam’s failure. Christ’s active obedience, his perfect conformity to the will of his Father, is an indispensable aspect of Christ’s work for us.

Paul writes in Romans 5:19, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” While this verse seems to have Christ’s obedience unto death primarily in view (his passive righteousness) we cannot fail to acknowledge that this act of obedience was the capstone of all of Christ’s perfect submission to his Father’s will. As Jesus attempted to persuade John that it was appropriate, in fact necessary, for him to be baptized by John, he said, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15; similarly see Matthew 5:17). Calvin insists that this fulfilling of all righteousness, in fact all of Jesus’ life and obedience, was performed as public man, consciously aware that he all he was doing was for the benefit of other. Canlis summarizes, “Every event in Jesus’ life was done with the intent that humanity be able to draw from it and be made new by it: (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 99). From Calvin’s pen we read, “Therefore, our Lord came forth very man, adopted the person of Adam, and assumed his name, that he might in his stead obey the Father" (Calvin, Institutes, 2.12.3). Christ’s bringing our human nature into union with himself was crucial for his covenant keeping role.

As the public man, Jesus steps into the covenant left unfilled by Adam’s failure. He resists the temptation that destroyed Adam and all humanity in Adam (Matthew 4:1-11) and keeps perfect faith with his Father. Christ conquers, he overcomes, and wins for all those who are in him the right to eat of the tree of life. Thus, in a very real way we can speak of Christ earning salvation and eternal life for us. Calvin speaks along these lines,
That Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied for our sins, if he paid the penalty due by us, if he appeased God by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent to meriting (Calvin, Institutes, 2.17.3).
Again, in danger of belaboring the point, Jesus’ union with our humanity is crucial, for in it this covenant keeping is rescued from being merely cold and legal. Nevin was correct in emphasizing the organic nature of this union (though not to the exclusion of the forensic),
The Word became flesh; not a single man only, as one among many; but flesh, or humanity in its universal conception. How else could he be the principle of a general life, the origin of a new order of existence for the human world as such? How else could the value of his mediatorial work be made over to us in a real way, by a true imputation, and not a legal fiction only…He [Adam] stood in the case as their federal head, because he was their true organic head…Christ too is the federal head and representative of humanity as a whole…Not in the way of a mere outward imputation…but on the ground of a real community of life (Nevin, Mystical Presence, 211-212).
Pointing to the significance not only of Christ’s union with our human nature, but our personal union with him as Savior, Letham writes,
Christ, in his incarnate life and ministry, was the second Adam. Man had sinned; man must put things right, not only by avoiding sin but by actually rendering to God the obedience that Adam failed to supply…[Christ fulfilled] the law of God, on our behalf and in our place but also in union with us…Because of our union with him, we were in him as he did it. He was captain of the team and his actions are ours (Letham, Union with Christ, 58-59).
Our personal union with Christ is vital for the “drawing from” Calvin refers to is not merely an external transaction, but one performed in union with Christ. Calvin never wavered on the necessity of our participation in Christ if we were to benefit from his work: “Would ye then obtain justification in Christ? You must previously possess Christ…”(Calvin, Institutes, 3.16.1).


What is true of Christ’s life is true of his death also – Christ died in union with our nature, we die in union with Christ. In addition, this work was done to enable a yet deeper union with God by removing the impediment of human sin and guilt. What was said above regarding the necessity of Christ’s union with our human nature so as to be in a proper position to merit on our behalf the rewards promised Adam holds also for his dying. For Christ to be in a position to die for us, to suffer the covenantal curse as our representative and substitute, he must have been truly human. The author of Hebrews is clear on this,
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:14-17).
Calvin understands well the importance of Christ’s union our human nature for the atonement, writing,
But special attention must be paid to what I lately explained, namely, that a common nature is the pledge of our union with the Son of God; that, clothed with our flesh, he warred to death with sin that he might be our triumphant conqueror; that the flesh which he received of us he offered in sacrifice, in order that by making expiation he might wipe away our guilt, and appease the just anger of his Father.(Calvin, Institutes, 2.12.3).
Beyond Christ’s taking of our nature into union with his person, we must also consider our experiential, personal union. Letham asserts correctly, “The concept of union takes us a stage further than either of these two metaphors [substitution and representation]. In this case, all that Christ did and does we do, since we are one with him…because of the union sustained between Christ and ourselves, his actions are ours" (Letham, Union with Christ, 63). In other words, when Christ died, we died with him. Paul makes this point in Galatians 2:19-20, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” It is at first hard to understand how Paul died to the law through the law, but when understood in connection with our union with Christ, it becomes clear. The demand of the law was harsh and unbending – death for disobedience. Through his union with Christ, Paul can say that he died (see also Col 2:20, 3:3). He was crucified along with Christ by virtue of his union with Christ (v. 20). Thus, since the law has exacted its punishment and received its pound of flesh, it has no more hold on him. He is dead to it. Paul expresses this union most profoundly in connection with our baptism in Romans 6:3, asking, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”

Not only is Christ’s cross work efficacious for us because of our union with him, but Christ’s goal is to reconcile the world to God, re-establishing the union lost by Adam and advancing it. Batey writes,
Before the foundation of the world God chose the Church, destining it in love to be the realization of his purpose to unite the universe in Christ in the fullness of time (Eph. 1:3-14). This union is being made possible by the power of God revealed in the cross. Through God’s power, motivated by love, the barriers separating men from God and one another have been destroyed, and the twofold reconciliation brings hostility to an end and makes peace (Richard A. Batey, “The Mia Sarx Union of Christ and the Church,” New Testament Studies 13.3, April 1967: 280).
Christ’s death is never less than penal, but it is also more than that. It is just (fair) punishment, but not just (merely) punishment. It is also epoch ending. The old humanity dies with Christ in his death. Canlis asserts, “Even as ascent is ‘natural’ to humanity (in that communion is God’s creation-purpose for us), it is also profoundly ‘unnatural’. Guilt had to be pardoned, sin had to be paid for, rebellion had to be quashed" (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 93). This leads us to consider our union with Christ in his resurrection and ascent, which we will pick up on post #5 later this week.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

New Camera Fun

I've been on a forced 'stay-cation' while Lynn is in New Orleans. I decided to use the two hours Luke was in preschool on Tuesday to get used to my new camera. Ellettsville has some interesting stuff if you're looking through a camera.

Our Destiny in God, Part 3

Having seen that man was created for union with God (part 1) and that he was to grow in this union with his Maker (part 2), we can now think about how God plans to restore and advance this union in Christ. Geerhardus Vos’ writing helps set the trajectory for this section of the project.
Eschatology aims at consummation rather than restoration. Therefore redemptive eschatology must be restorative and consummative. It does not aim at the original state, but at a transcendental state of man. It must be curative and tonic. Every act of salvation must be medical and supernaturalizing whereby man is not made merely normal, but is prepared for the supernormal (Vos, The Eschatology of the Old Testament 74)
Each aspect of Christ’s work moves creation and more specifically mankind towards its original goal of consummation, not merely back to Adam’s original state of innocence. My goal in this section is to consider how the incarnation, Christ’s active as well as his passive obedience, and his resurrection and ascension all contribute to God’s goal of moving those who are “in him” to the goal of history.

John’s Gospel certainly has an incredibly high Christology, but this high Christology in no way diminishes the humanity of Jesus. John begins his account of the good news of Jesus asserting both the deity and humanity of Christ,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4, 14).
Since union plays such a critical role for Calvin’s understanding of salvation and also creation, it is not surprising that the incarnation is viewed in terms compatible with this focus. On John 1:14 he notes,
On this article there are two things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to it (Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John).
For Calvin, if the true humanity of Jesus is lost, then all is lost. Canlis comments, “[Calvin] is profoundly convinced that it is only if Jesus is thoroughly human that we (as human) can participate in him” (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 99). Were Jesus not fully human we could not participate in him (be united to him), and if we are not united to him, we can receive no benefit from him, for so long as we are without Christ and separated from him “nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us. To communicate to us the blessings which he received from the Father, he must become ours and dwell in us…all which he possesses being, as I have said, nothing to us until we become one with him” (Calvin, Institutes 3.1.1). Earlier in the Institutes he writes,
We trust that we are the sons of God, because the natural Son of God assumed to himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, bones of our bones, that he might be one with us; he declined not to take what was peculiar to us, that he might in his turn extend to us what was peculiarly his own, and thus might be in common with us both Son of God and Son of man (Calvin, Institutes 2.12.2).
Canlis explains that for Calvin, “This is the supreme significance of the earthly life, or ‘flesh,’ of Christ: Christ’s participation in our condition (his relating to God in creaturely appropriate ways) allows us to participate in God in creaturely appropriate ways as well” (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 101). For Calvin, this meant a fairly radical departure from earlier theologians in his understanding of Jesus’ relationship with the Father. Calvin moves away from more speculative discussions regarding the shared essence of the Father and incarnate Son and chooses instead to speak in terms of relationship. In this move, “he has shifted the primary bond between the human Jesus and the Father from divine substance to the divine person of the Holy Spirit” (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 97). Canlis explains the significance of this move, arguing that the Spirit unites “two unlikes in a relationship of particularity and yet union” (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 98). Thus Jesus reveals the mode through which mankind can enjoy union with God – it is through the Spirit that two unlikes, Creator and creation, can be bound together in union.

Without overshadowing the importance of Christ’s life and work, Calvin does not neglect the miracle of the incarnation or treat it merely as a necessary hoop to jump through on the way to the cross. Hart reflects on Calvin’s theology of the incarnation, writing, “The humanity of the Saviour is the place where God has worked out our salvation, and all that he wills to do for humankind he does, in the first instance, in this once man" (Trevor A. Hart, “Humankind in Christ and Christ in Humankind: Salvation as Participation in Our Substitute in the Theology of John Calvin,” Scottish Journal of Theology 42.1, January 1998: 72). More pointedly, “There is a very real sense in which Christ’s humanity, taken up into this personal union is salvation for of the human race" (Trevor A. Hart, “Humankind in Christ and Christ in Humankind,” 72).

Hart’s comments point towards a sort of “generic” humanity which Christ assumed; in other words, Jesus didn’t just take on particular flesh but humanity in general to save humanity in total. Men are united to each other by a common participation in humanity, and it is this humanity with which Christ has clothed himself; thus, as Calvin comments on Hebrews 5:2, “the Apostle before taught us that mankind is united to God in the person of one man, as all men partake of the same flesh and nature” (Calvin, The Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews).

Nineteenth century theologian John Williamson Nevin upheld and expanded upon Calvin’s theology of the incarnation [i]. Nevin writes, “The incarnation is the key that unlocks the sense of all God’s revelations. It is the key that unlocks the sense of all God’s works, and brings to light the true meaning of the universe…The incarnation forms thus the great central FACT of the world” (John Williamson Nevin, The Mystical Presence, Philadelphia: S.R. Fisher & Co., 1867, 199. Google Books. Web. 06 December 2010). Nevin, while owing much to Calvin and the Reformed orthodox tradition, was also greatly influenced by the ideas of Schleiermacher and the ‘mediating theologians’ that came after him. Schleiermacher argued that Jesus “embodies the culmination of creation,” and “the elevation of human nature” (William B. Evans, Imputation and Impartation, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2008, 151). This notion is clearly present in Nevin’s Mystical Presence where he contends that all nature looks up to mankind as lower existences look up to and strive towards superior ones. Likewise, mankind looks to Christ,
Humanity itself is never complete, till it reaches his person. It includes in its very constitution a struggle towards the form in which it is here exhibited, which can never rest till this end is attained. Our nature reaches after a true and real union with the nature of God, as the necessary complement and consummation of its own life…The incarnation then is the proper completion of humanity. Christ is the true ideal Man (Nevin, Mystical Presence, 200-201).
Clearly in Nevin the incarnation is the preeminent redemptive work of God; however, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ can in no way be neglected. We will make that turn in part 4.

[i] Nevin is far more open to the notion that the Son would have taken on flesh even if Adam had not fallen, a view Calvin explicitly rejects (Institutes 2.12.5). Moreover, Nevin innovates on the notion of a generic humanity, writing, “The Word became flesh; not a single man only, as one among many; but flesh, or humanity in its universal conception” (Mystical Presence, 210). Flowing from that Nevin asserts, “Humanity, as a single universal fact, is redeemed in Christ, truly and really, without regard for other men, any further than as they are made to partake of his redemption by being brought into living union with his person” (Nevin, “Wilberforce on the Incarnation,” Mercersburg Review 2.2, March 1850: 169). These seems to lead Nevin inevitably to some sort of universalism, a conclusion he desperately seeks to avoid, though one could question how successfully he does so.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Our Destiny in God, Part 2

However, the union with God enjoyed by Adam was not to remain static. Going back to Aquinas’ Summa we encounter an expectation that man was to grow in his union with God. Williams writes that in his Secunda Pars, Aquinas grounds man’s union with God in the very structure of human persons. Williams explains, “The human person is described not only as by nature oriented towards God, but as constituted for continual growth towards God. Glory is thus in a sense the intended (though by no means inevitable) outcome of nature” (A.N. Williams, “Mystical Theology Redux,” Modern Theology 13.1 (January 1997): 67). Calvin also points in this direction, commenting on Genesis 3:19, “Truly the first man would have passed to a better life, had he remained upright" (Calvin, Commentary on Genesis). Also,
Paul makes an antithesis between this living soul and the quickening spirit which Christ confers upon the faithful (1 Corinthians 15:45) for no other purpose than to teach us that the state of man was not perfected in the person of Adam; but it is a peculiar benefit conferred by Christ, that we may be renewed to a life which is celestial, whereas before the fall of Adams man’s life was only earthly, seeing it had no firm and settled constancy (Calvin, Commentary on Genesis).
Calvin contends that man’s union with God was limited to a degree by his lack of inherent righteousness and by Adam’s creatureliness. Canlis articulates how this presupposition plays itself out in Calvin’s theology, “Christ’s mediation of all creation, to Calvin’s purpose, destabilizes all the old views that humanity (and creation, for that matter) is complete in se. It is always fundamentally oriented outside itself, needing another to be complete" (Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder, 73). Man was created for union with God, but this union is limited by man being creature. Calvin’s comments on 2 Peter 1:4 are helpful in fully understanding his position, “we shall be partakers of divine and blessed immortality and glory, so as to be as it were one with God as far as our capacities will allow" (John Calvin, Commentary on Second Epistle of Peter). We can reasonable summarize Calvin’s thoughts as follows: Adam experienced a sweet union with God as far his “earthliness” allowed. Had Adam withstood his testing, his capacity for partaking in the divine nature and for union with God would have been amplified, thus guaranteeing the eternality of this union and man’s life. He would have inherited immortality of soul and body and enjoyed deeper communion with his Maker.

Berkhoff strikes a similar note, describing Adam’s condition as one of “relative perfection”. He explains,
This does not mean that he had already reached the highest state of excellence of which he was susceptible. It is generally assumed that he was destined to reach a higher degree of perfection in the way of obedience…His condition was a preliminary and temporary one, which would either lead on to greater perfection and glory or terminate in the fall (Loius Berkhoff, Systematic Theology, 209).
One could say that man’s condition was perfect as a circle is perfect; but held out to man was the possibility of a deeper perfection, as a sphere is more perfect than the two dimensional images. Vos writes in the same vein, “The universe, as created, was only a beginning, the meaning of which was not perpetuation, but attainment" (Geerhardus Vos, The Eschatology of the Old Testament, ed. by James T. Dennison Jr.,73). Reflecting on this higher life held out to Adam as reward for obedience, Vos explains that it would be a highly religious life “characterized by the most intimate connection with God" (Geerhardus Vos, The Eschatology of the Old Testament, edited by James T. Dennison Jr., 75).

Within the framework of the covenant of creation (or covenant of works [i]), man was promised eternal life – an inviolable, permanent, and qualitatively richer life based on a deeper union with God made possible by an elevation of man’s nature. Had the first man remained faithful to his covenantal duties, namely perfect obedience to God’s command, this promised life would have been his. Forfeiture of this life, both in its quantitative and qualitative dimensions, was the curse guaranteed to Adam if he broke God’s command. Michael Horton explains that the familiar pattern of promise and fulfillment is found not only after the fall, but in creation itself. He writes, “Human identity was not finished at creation but was to be perfected by fulfilling the trial of the original covenant, winning the right to eat from the tree of everlasting life and blessedness" (Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, 386). Having thus completed his work in faithfulness, man would be confirmed in righteousness and allowed to enter the Sabbath Rest of God, following, as image bearers, the pattern set before them by their Creator of work followed by rest.

Calvin uses quite explicit sacramental language in his discussions of the tree of life[ii], describing it as a visible sign, an “attestation of his grace by external symbol" (Calvin, Commentary on Genesis, comment on Gen.2:9). Direct connections can be made between this tree and man’s union with God. The chief function of the sacraments centers on our union with Second Person of the Godhead. If Christian baptism is the initiation of this union, and the Supper is given for the nurturing and growth of this union, it stands to reason that the tree of life as a sacrament was intended to foster man’s union with God. If our understanding of the tree of life as a sacrament is correct, we can conclude that had Adam partaken of its fruit the union he enjoyed with God would have been deepened in some profound way (or it would continue to have been solidified as he continued to partake of it). Man would have been elevated, his life passing from a merely terrestrial existence to include celestial aspects as well. He would experience, as Vos states it, “transformation and supernaturalization [iii]”(Vos, The Eschatology of the Old Testament, 74). This is quite similar to the language we find in the Orthodox teachings of theosis. Donald Fairbairn writes,
…by theosis the Orthodox mean the process of acquiring godly characteristics, gaining immortality and incorruptibility, and experiencing communion with God…gaining these blessings was the task which God set before humanity at creation, the task which through the fall humanity lost the capacity to achieve, and the task which the incarnation and work of Christ have made possible once again (Donald Fairbairn, “Salvation as Theosis: The Teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy,” Themelios 23.3(1998): 42).
We will return to the concept of theosis and weigh it more thoroughly in the third section of this paper below. We can conclude this section by affirming that man was made for union with God, experienced this communion unencumbered by sin prior to the fall. While this union was to be cherished, Adam stood to gain a deeper union with God upon successful completion of his covenantal duties. Had he not failed to keep covenant, he would have been confirmed in righteousness and been granted the right to eat of the tree of life. This confirmation would have meant the consummation of creation’s God given telos. Man’s capacity for union with God and participation in the divine nature would have been expanded as his nature would have been elevated [iv]. Needless to say, the first Adam failed to realize this potential. He chose life separated from his Maker and forfeited not only the blessings held out to him in the covenant but even the degree of union he enjoyed during his probation. It was a catastrophic choice. We now turn our attention to God’s plan to redeem and move his creation to its appointed goal in the unique person of Jesus Christ.

[i] The assertion that the covenant of creation was in fact a covenant based on works is highly contested. For a good discussion of the works based nature of this covenant see Michael Horton’s God of Promise (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 83-104. I think it is proper to acknowledge God’s act of covenanting with man was gracious in that God did not owe man this relationship or the blessings contained in it. However, as sin had not yet entered the picture, I prefer a more nuanced definition of grace as God’s unmerited kindness to us despite our sin (our demerit). Moreover, even though we can speak of the graciousness of the covenant, the terms of the covenant were devoid of grace, built strictly upon law. There were no provisions for forgiveness, etc.

[ii] Horton, and Vos and Kline with him, differ slightly from Calvin in their understanding of the role the tree of life had in the garden arrangement. Calvin suggests that Adam partook of the tree of life regularly prior to his fall. He writes, “The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life” (Institutes, 2.1.4). On the other hand, Vos, Kline and Horton each argue that Adam had not yet earned the right to eat of the tree. They contend that eating from the tree of life was a right that Adam would earn for his faithful covenant keeping. Vos writes, “It appears from Genesis 3:22, that man before his fall had not eaten of it…the use of the tree was reserved for the future, quite in agreement with the eschatological significance attribute to it later. The tree was associated with the higher, the unchangeable, the eternal life to be secured by obedience throughout his probation. Anticipating the result by a present enjoyment of the fruit would have been out of keeping with its sacramental character. After man should have been made sure of the attainment of the highest life, the tree would appropriately have been the sacramental means for communication the highest life” (Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975, 28). The debate cannot be settled simply to examining the early chapter of Genesis. Genesis 3:22 -23 can be taken to mean that it would not be good for man to reach out and take of the tree of life for the first time now that he has sinned or that it would not be good for man to continue taking of the tree now that he has fallen. Jesus’ words in Revelation 2:7 are helpful, “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Based on this passage it seems best to conclude that the right to eat of the tree of life is reserved for those who conquer (or “overcome” in the NASB). Had Adam overcome, he would have been granted the right to partake of its fruits. Clearly he did not overcome.

[iii] Vos is careful to mitigate against any ‘magical’ view of the tree of life. As with the Supper and Baptism, there is a union between the sign and the thing signified, here eternal life in union with God, but these blessings are given by God, not by virtue of some magical property in the sacrament.

[iv] This in no way is meant to insinuate that had Adam passed the Garden test and eaten of the tree of life that he would have ceased to be human or that he would have become something other than human. Quite the contrary, the result is that we become more human, for as Millard Erickson explains, “We experience full humanity only when we are properly related to God” (Christian theology, 2nd ed., Electronic ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998, 534).

Monday, February 06, 2012

Our Destiny in God, Part 1

In the Spring of 2011 I found myself teaching a class on “Heaven, Hell and Everything in Between”. At the end of the last session in which we had discussed the new heavens and new earth, I was asked a question I was unprepared to answer (happens often enough). Here's my paraphrase of the question: “How can we be sure that there will not be a second fall sometime in eternity? Adam and Eve were in perfect fellowship with God, and you say this fellowship will be restored to us in the future. But Adam still rebelled, so how can we be certain we will not rebel at some point. After all, eternity is a long time for us to mess up!” The question comes down to this: how will our eternal condition be better than Adam’s original condition; so much better, in fact, that sin is precluded as a possibility? This question lead to a research/writing project this winter, and I'll be sharing it over a series of five or so blog posts.

In this project, I attempt to answer that questions in terms of our union with Christ, a union that goes beyond the experience of fellowship Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden and culminates in our “deification”. Moreover, I will attempt in this project to place the doctrine of union with Christ and of “deification” within a broader biblical theology. My proposal is this: In the New Heavens and New Earth we will experience a more exalted union with Christ than Adam did in the Garden, which makes sin an impossibility. This more exalted union, in which we become partakers of the divine nature, is possible because of Christ’s assumption of humanity, his covenant faithfulness as the Second Adam, his death, and his resurrection.

In this project, I explore this thesis, examining the nature of man prior to the fall, paying special attention to the image of God impressed upon him as well as his relationship with God as expressed in the covenant of works. Next, I consider the person and work of Jesus, including the role of Christ’s incarnation, of his active covenant keeping righteousness, his death, and his resurrection and ascension in suiting mankind for a more profound union with the Godhead. Third, I examine several passages that speak of the believer’s ultimate destiny in the New Heavens and New Earth in light of my proposal. After some theological conclusions, I intend to bring this short paper to a close with some practical pastoral applications.

The scope of this paper is both necessary and challenging. It is necessarily broad because we are comparing the “bookends” of the Bible while paying due attention to the cosmically significant person of Christ and his work. It is challenging in that I need to cover much ground in a little space. Thus, I will seek to establish my thesis without doing as much reflection on alternative viewpoints as I would like. These alternatives will be duly noted in footnotes, but not examined at length.

Part 1: Created for Compatibility

Man’s history begins with the words,
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:26–27).
God’s creation of man in his image is the capstone of his initial creative work, bringing it to a “very good” completion. Man was marked with a dignity that is unique among God’s creatures, for not even the angels are spoken of in Scripture as image bearers.

While the church through the centuries has struggled to define the image of God in man with precision, Calvin strikes a fair balance understanding that the image of God is reflected to some degree in every part of man’s being, though understood most properly as referring to the soul. He writes,
For though the divine glory is displayed in man’s outward appearance, it cannot be doubted that the proper seat of the image is in the soul…And though the primary seat of the divine image was in the mind and the heart, or in the soul and its powers, there was no part even of the body in which some rays of glory did not shine (Calvin, Institutes, 1.15.3).
More succinctly, “the image of God constitutes the entire excellence of human nature” (Calvin, Institutes, 1.15.4). While this image sets man apart from the rest of creation, it also distinguishes man from God. Calvin reacts vehemently against the notion set forth by Servetus (following the Manicheans) that when God breathed into man’s nostrils he imparted a soul that was part of God’s essence, “as if some portion of the boundless divinity had passed into man” (Calvin, Institutes, 1.15.5).

While distinct from the Creator, man was uniquely suited for intimate relationship with Him. As Letham asserts, one of the central messages of the first chapters of Genesis is that man was created in such a way that he is compatible with God, and intended for union with his Creator (Robert Letham, Union with Christ, 9). Fairbairn expands on this, reminding us that by virtue of being image bearers, humans are linked to the Son who is the exact image of God. Moreover, as humans are given the task of exercising dominion over creation, we are linked to the Son who, as one dimension of his fellowship with the Father “carried out the Father’s will through the creation and sustaining of the universe” (Donald Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity, 61). He concludes,
If the function of humanity was originally to exercise a role within creation similar to that which the Son has exercised over creation, and if humanity and the Son were linked by the possession of the image of God, then one may reasonable infer that human beings were originally meant to share in the Son’s fellowship with his Father as well (Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity, 61).
Man, by virtue of his creation in the image of God, as sons of God, with tasks resembling the Son of God’s, was intended to participate in the life of the Trinity as the Son does.

Julie Canlis traces this thought through many early theologians of the church. For example, she argues that for Aquinas, “Union with God is held as the supreme purpose of creation” (Canlis, Calvin's Ladder, 39). Calvin’s indebtedness to Aquinas can be seen in this regard. Canlis comments, “[For Calvin] Communion is the groundwork of creation, the purpose of anthropology, and the telos toward which all creation strains” (Canlis, Calvin's Ladder, 54). Calvin improves on Aquinas in turning creation’s union with God in an explicitly Christocentric direction, arguing that even pre-lapsarian man needed the Son to mediate this union with God. Canlis summarizes, “All creation is related to God in the second person of the Trinity, who mediates creation and its telos…He has not structured a universe in which life, grace, and ‘benefits’ can be had apart from him” (Canlis, Calvin's Ladder, 57).

In addition, Calvin’s Christocentric focus is buttressed by a “robust pneumatology.” It is the Spirit who is the “agent of participation” and who shepherds creation towards its goal of Trinitarian communion (Canlis, Calvin's Ladder, 60). Fairbairn points to a stream of interpretation in the church that also emphasizes the role of the Spirit in man’s pre-fall communion with God, linking God’s act of breathing into man’s nostrils (Gen. 2:7) with Christ’s breathing out the Holy Spirit upon his disciples (John 20:22). Some, including Cyril of Alexandria, have suggested that Adam was made to possess the Spirit in the same manner as believers in the post-Pentecost era. While acknowledging that most in the church have interpreted Genesis 2:7 as the bestowal of a soul to Adam, Fairbairn’s tentative assertion is that the Spirit was given to Adam, thus “linking him to the Son in whose image he was created and causing him to share in the fellowship of the Trinity…when God gives the Spirit anew through redemption, he is restoring people to a state akin to the original sharing in the life of the Trinity that humankind lost through the fall” (Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity, 62). Whether one follows Fairbairn or not, the general point remains: Adam was created to be compatible with God and was “united and bound to his Maker" (Calvin, Institutes, 2.1.5).

In post two of this series I'll explore, and defend, the idea that Adam's union with God was not static, but was from the beginning fashioned for growth and consummation.

Song of the Week

This song is good practice for every husband. I'm getting ready for when Lynn comes home on Friday and sees the house (just kidding, it'll get straightened up Friday afternoon).

The Maine, "I'm Sorry"