THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM RESTATED FOR EVANGELICAL CALVINISM IN A CHRIST CONCENTRATED KEY

I was just talking with someone about this so I thought I would re-present it. Originally posted.

I have done this before, but let me reframe the so called 5 Points of Calvinism within an Evangelical Calvinist way of thinking of things:

  1. otal Depravity – He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. II Corinthians 5.21
  2. crucifiednconditional Election – By his poverty we have become rich. II Corinthians 8.9
  3. imited Atonement – We have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer us who lives, but Christ who lives in us, and the life which we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God who loves us and give himself for us. Galatians 2.20
  4. rresistible Grace – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God …. and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1.1;14
  5. erseverance of the Saint – Therefore He is able also to save [i]forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7.25

What needs to be underscored is how a doctrine of the vicarious humanity of Christ grounds and conditions this redressing of the so called 5 Points of Calvinism. At every turn the humanity of Christ for us is the referent in regard to this great salvation that we participate in by the vicarious faith of the Son of God. It is He, as our mediator, between God and man (humanity), that blazed the holy trail for us; we simply echo his yes to the Father for us, out of his yes for us by the Holy Spirit. If you are wondering what the vicarious humanity of Christ is all about, then check out this list that Christian Kettler has put together in his published PhD dissertation on the topic:

1. Christology includes the “double movement” of the way of God to humanity and the way of humanity to God, contra Docetism and Ebionitism. The “Creator Son,” “the Word of God,” is identical with Jesus of Nazareth (Athanasius). Thus, the radical significance of Christology is “the coming of God himself into the universe he created.”

2. God coming as a human being, not just in a human being removes all possibility of a “deistic disjunction” between God and creation. The possibility of the interaction of the living God with space and time is opened up.

3. The vicarious humanity of Christ is the heartbeat of salvation history. From the circumcision of Abraham to the Incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, the interaction of the humanity of Christ with creaturely form provides a basis for the knowledge of God and the reconciliation of humanity within the structures of space and time.

4. However, the reality of the humanity of Christ, as the reality of the “Creator Son,” “the Word made flesh,” is not limited to the structures of space and time. This is what is expressed in the Reformed doctrine of the so-called extra Calvinisticum, the significance of the vicarious humanity of the risen and exalted Christ.

5. The reality of the vicarious humanity of Christ stresses the inability of fallen humanity to know and respond to God. The Lutheran emphasis on finitum capax infinitipaved the way for the nineteenth century doctrine of the religious capacity of the human spirit.

6. This integration of the divine and creaturely provides the basis for the mediatorial ministry of Christ.

7. The divine Logos in human flesh, as the vicarious humanity of Christ, communicates the very life of God in humanity (Campbell). Salvation is based on the communication of this life (Irenaeus, Athanasius). In this way, Christology is dynamically related to soteriology. In effect, Christ becomes the “very matter and substance of salvation.”

8. The work of the vicarious humanity of Christ is based on the twin moments in salvation of substitution/representation and incorporation. Christ not only takes our place, and becomes our representative, thereby creating a new humanity (substitution/representation), but also incorporates us into this new humanity (incorporation). Our actions become his actions. Our life becomes his life, the life of God.

9. The “correlation and correspondence” produced by the vicarious humanity of Christ provides an “inner determination” of life. There is a “reciprocity” of being which creates “wholeness” and “integrity” and presents a “contradiction” to the forces of darkness. [Christian D. Kettler, The Vicarious Humanity of Christ, 127-28]

In this key of things, theologically, Jesus in his vicarious humanity became us, he became totally depraved (but remained without sin through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit) for us; he in his vicarious humanity graciously and freely chose our reprobate humanity, and thus his vicarious humanity can be understood to be unconditionally elect; it is he in his vicarious humanity that the atonement is limited to, for there is no other real humanity but his alone for us; it is his choice to be for us, in his vicarious humanity that is irresistible, given the fact that he made this choice over our heads (as it were) without our approval or not, and he invaded our humanity with his making all things right in his resurrected and ascended humanity for us; and it is he who as our high priest, mediates for us through his priestly an intercessory work at the right hand of the Father that ensures for us that we truly are his for all eternity, and thus his humanity in the Incarnation and resurrection will always persevere for us before the Father, and it is through his humanity that we live and move and have our being, now and not yet.

I hope you can see better now how evangelical Calvinism’s redressing of the so called 5 points of Calvinism offers an exciting and edifying way forward that is genuinely Christ concentrated, Christ conditioned, such that all things start from his life for us to the glory of the Father.

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6 thoughts on “THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM RESTATED FOR EVANGELICAL CALVINISM IN A CHRIST CONCENTRATED KEY

  1. Thanks Bobby…but I’m already stuck on total depravity…currently reading Pink, and have listened to Sproul a lot, so this is bending my mind a bit. Before I keep trying to unravel it, because it’s an evangelical redressing is it then meant to make it easier to present to the unbeliever? The Christ centeredness I understand, but like I said my mind has ground to a halt. I’ve always found your pieces extremely edifying and I know this will be too once I can step out of where I am… Blessings.

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  2. Hi Linda,

    This is totally 180 opposite direction from Pink, Sproul, et al. It is re-thinking humanity from Christ’s, as if there is no other real humanity. Pink, Sproul, et al start from a tradition (the Augustinian) that thinks about humanity a part from Christ. So this “evangelical” Calvinist presentation is fundamentally different, it only uses the same terms, but it does so equivocally; the terms themselves have a totally different meaning in an evangelical Calvinist framework. So it is a bit confusing to present it the way that I have, but I am trying to illustrate how EC is fundamentally different than what you will find in Pink, Sproul, and regular 5 point Calvinism.

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  3. Thanks for this Bobby. This is helpful, although I think it might merit a bit more elaboration on each of the five points, if for no other reason than for providing a “hook” of sorts for those whose only reference point are the traditional points (and their corresponding Arminian rejoinders). Although a positive proposal of EC would certainly not want to begin with ‘Total Depravity’ but rightly with the doctrine of God as revealed in Christ, I think that perhaps for those who are left scratching their heads, a fuller explanation of the five points recast in Christ-concentrated key might be a helpful point of reference, even if they ultimately disagree. Now that I am getting a blog up, perhaps I might take a crack at it!

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  4. Yeah, this is just a quick thing I threw up. I usually don’t spend much time on blog posts when I write them. Although the last paragraph of the post is intended to explicate a bit further on each of the points. It is not intended to provide a prolegemonon (just as the 5 points classically are not); that said even starting with total depravity, it is still focused on the humanity of God in Christ. As far as ‘hooks’ I suppose those “work” but I’ve found through blogging that those usually don’t work that well; most 5 pointers are quite committed even if they don’t know exactly why.

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  5. Understood. You obviously have more experience than I do in measuring effectiveness in these discussions. Nevertheless I think that it still might be an interesting exercise to try!

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