‘With Him in Heavenly Realms’: Lombard and Calvin on Merit and the Exaltation of Christ

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Peter Lombard argued that Christ merited his own exaltation. Since all humans attain their end by merit, and since Christ was true man, it follows that Christ merited exaltation for himself. Calvin repeatedly rejects this idea, arguing that Lombard obscures the fully benevolent character of Christ's mission because he abstracts Christ's humanity from his divinity. Calvin's polemic against Lombard leverages his anti-Pelagian critique against medieval theologies of merit that reduce Christ's capacity as a representative and restrict the church's full participation in Christ's atonement. Instead, Calvin attempts to establish the substitutionary character of Christ's work by rooting Christ's merits in more strictly christological grounds.

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An engagement with Aquinas' soteriology may appear unattractive, given modern concerns. Modern soteriology puts less emphasis on salvation from sin than is the case in more traditional soteriologies. For Jürgen Moltmann, for instance, the perspective has shifted from sin to suffering, and in his work The Crucified God he develops a challenging soteriology, written in the shadow of Auschwitz. Even when sin remains in focus, the emphasis is now more on the social aspect of sin (social injustice), as in Liberation theology, rather than in terms of a broken relationship between God and the human person. Whereas Prot estant theologians such as Moltmann and Jungel developed an interesting theologia crucis (and in doing so drew a close link between soteriology and theodicy), major Catholic theologians such as Schillebeeckx and Rahner fail- or refuse- to attribute any intrinsic salvific sig nificance to the cross of Christ. Indeed, the cross has become somewhat problematic in modern Catholic theology. There appear to be a number of reasons for this.
Is the God of Calvin a fountain of blessing, or a forceful tyrant? Is Calvin's view of God coercive, leaving no place for the human qua human in redemption? These are perennial questions about Calvin's theology which have been given new life by Gift theologians such as John Milbank, Graham Ward, and Stephen Webb. This book addresses these questions by exploring Calvin's theology of 'participation in Christ'. It argues that Calvin's theology of 'participation' gives a positive place to the human, such that grace fulfils rather than destroys nature, affirming a differentiated union of God and humanity in creation and redemption. Calvin's Trinitarian theology of participation extends to his view of prayer, sacraments, the law, and the ecclesial and civil orders. In light of Calvin's doctrine of participation, the book reframes the critiques of Calvin in the Gift discussion and opens up new possibilities for contemporary theology, ecumenical theology, and Calvin scholarship as well.
Theologians have always struggled to understand how humanity and divinity coexisted in the person of Christ. Proponents of the Arian heresy, which held that Jesus could not have been fully divine, found significant scriptural evidence of their position. The defenders of orthodoxy, such as Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, and Augustine, believed that these biblical passages could be reconciled with Christ's divinity. Medieval theologians such as Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure, also grappled with these texts when confronting the rising threat of Arian heresy. They too faced the need to preserve Jesus' authentic humanity and to describe a mode of experiencing the passions that cast no doubt upon the perfect divinity of the Incarnate Word. However, they also confronted an additional obstacle. The medieval theologians had inherited from the Greek and Latin fathers a body of opinion on the passages in question, which by this time had achieved normative cultural status in the Christian tradition. However, the Greek and Latin fathers wrote in a polemical situation, responding to the threat to orthodoxy posed by the Arians. As a consequence, they sometimes found themselves driven to extreme and sometimes contradictory statements. These statements seemed to their medieval successors either to compromise the true divinity of Christ, his true humanity, or the possibility that the divine and human were in communication with or metaphysically linked to one another. As a result, medieval theologians also needed to demonstrate how two equally authoritative but apparently contradictory statements could be reconciled. This book examines the arguments that resulted from these dual pressures and finds that, under the guise of unchanging assimilation and transmission of a unanimous tradition, there were in fact many fissures and discontinuities between the two bodies of thought, ancient and medieval. Rather than organic change or development, the book finds radical change, trial, novelty, and even heterodoxy.
This book aims at clarifying what Christians mean when they call Christ 'our Redeemer'. That entails asking: How did the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus transform humanity's relationship with God? How can such past events of redemption work, both here and now and in the future, to save human beings and their world? The book also takes up the issue of the beneficiaries of this redeeming 'work'. Why do human beings need redemption, both individually and collectively? A further central question bears on the appropriate image of God for a biblically based interpretation of redemption. The heart of the book is the discussion of three pervasive approaches to redemption: as liberation from evil, as cleansing from built, and as the transforming power of love. This work argues for the divine love as the primary interpretative key for a Christian doctrine of salvation-both for human beings and the universe.
In recent years many books have been published in the area of Christology (who is Jesus in himself?) and soteriology (what did he do as Saviour?). Several notable, ecumenical documents on Christian ministry have also appeared. But in all this literature there is surprisingly little reflection on the sacrifice of Christ and the priesthood of Christ, from which derives all ministry, whether the priesthood of all the faithful or ministerial priesthood. The present work aims to fill that gap by examining, in the light of the Scriptures and the Christian tradition, what it means to call Christ the High Priest of the new covenant (Letter to the Hebrews). After gathering and evaluating the relevant data from the Bible, the book moves to the witness to Christ's priesthood coming from the fathers of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, the Council of Trent, the seventeenth-century 'French School', John Henry Newman, Tom Torrance, and the Second Vatican Council (1962-5). Two concluding chapters describe and define in twelve theses the key characteristics of Christ's priesthood and then in a further twelve theses what sharing in that priesthood through baptism and ordination involves. © Gerald O'Collins, SJ, and Michael Keenan Jones 2010. All rights reserved.
This article explores the soteriology of Thomas Aquinas. In particular, it considers recent debates over whether Thomas altered Anselm's satisfaction theory in a way which opened the door to the later theory of penal substitution. The article argues that Thomas did indeed alter Anselm's atonement theory in this way insofar as he incorporates punishment within his concept of satisfaction; however, it further contends that his use of ‘placation’ or ‘appeasement’ language does not contribute to such an alteration.