Friday, October 05, 2007

what are Calvinists doing with Jesus?

Is the Incarnation of Jesus about God or about humanity?

I was reading some blogs last nite extolling Calvinism and how it encouraged a God-cented theology rather than a human-centred theology. Which sounds sweet. But as one of my Calvinist friends tells me (Don the Carson): damn all false antithesis to hell. So I began to wonder if God-centered theology and human-centred theology might actually be an antithesis.

I woke up this morning thinking about Jesus, who is the revelation of God. Yet this Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. If you make him out as God-centred, you run the risk of downplaying his fully humanity, for he is the new Adam. Equally, if you make him out as human-centred, you run the risk of downplaying his full divinity, for he is Lord.

So is it that in Jesus are integrated all the riches of the universe, including both a God-centred and a human-centred theology?

Just wondering. I really should go and have some breakfast.

Posted by steve at 07:37 AM


  1. semantics…. surely?!!

    Jesus was God before he was human. His humanity was contingent on his divinity, just as the humanity of each one of us is contingent on his divinity.

    Existence is centred on God. So, too, should be theology…

    Comment by A.J.Chesswas — October 5, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  2. Steve,

    I believe you make an important point. Few people take the “fully human, fully divine” doctrine seriously. Most collapse one of the two natures and are left with a caricature of the God-man.

    I also wonder if God is always pleased by the rhetoric of those who claim that everything is about God’s glory.

    God Bless,


    Comment by Rod Pickett — October 5, 2007 @ 9:14 am

  3. aj chesswass,

    i take Jesus far too seriously to want to dismiss him as ‘semantics.’ Surely Christ coming says something about the dignity of humanity. Surely the bodily resurrection of Christ says something about the dignity of humanity. Surely the ascension of the human body of Jesus says something about the place of “human” being in the Godhead.

    God revealed in humanity … makes me wonder if God is saying something about the possibility of a human centred theology.

    And please don’t dismiss this as liberalism. It’s a wondering about the implications of the fullness of revelation as seen in the Biblical text.


    Comment by steve — October 5, 2007 @ 11:31 am

  4. PS. left me define what i mean by “human-centred theology.”

    it is about “your kingdom come on earth”; it is about entering into “i have come that you might have life to the full”; it is about the unveiling and implementing of “way, truth, life” in the structures and powers and narratives of the world that God loves.

    this is human centred because it is patterned and found for us in the Christ: fully human, fully divine.


    Comment by steve — October 5, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  5. Do the scriptures not say, “Ye are gods”?

    Frank is going to make a post on this topic very shortly. It would be great if you participated.

    Humanity is so esteemed by Christ because we are made after his own kind. However the difference between Christ’s humanity and ours is that his humanity is perfect and ours is fallen.

    If to be centred on Christ means being human-centred then that’s ok because Jesus’ humanity and divinity is so closely intertwined. But when a Calvinist uses the term “human-centred” he means synergist – i.e. that the liberated human will has the ability to still sin (i.e. reject God), and thus a power in and of itself to choose God.

    On that note, Calvinism is also human-centred, for Calvinism does not refute freewill. It is human-centred because teh will of a human, Jesus Christ, fulfilled true penitence and imputes to us his perfect humanity. But it is God-centred in that God’s power alone to liberate our freewill from the bondage of sin.

    However, it is human-centred in its commitment that, once liberated from its sinful nature, humanity will choose God freely and perfectly every time. Calvinism believes in redeemed humanity more than any other system.

    Comment by A.J.Chesswas — October 5, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  6. Help me hear AJ cheswass.

    1. are you using ye are gods in sincerity, ie you believe it. at first i thought you were mocking me, but i’m not sure. if you are, it sounds a bit like Orthodox church, with the divinisation of humanity. (which i like)

    2. This is a sincere question. I’m talking about Jesus and you keep talking about Calvinism. What I hear is a Calvin”ology” a human interpetive construct trying to make sense of Jesus. (Yes mine, is to, and I’m relaxed about that). But are you happy for me to hear your thought in that light: as an “ology” an interpretation of Jesus data? And if so, is a convert to your “ology” able to agree in part, or is it all or nothing?

    I am not being smart, just struck by how often you use the word “Calvinist/im”, and wanting to understand.


    Comment by steve — October 5, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

  7. Certainly not mocking, was just seeing a connection between what you are saying and the way Word of Faith prachers esteem the nature of redeemed human persons. Merely sincerely saying your input to any discussion on the WOF “ye are gods” discussion would be very valuable…

    not really sure what you mean with your last comment. you were critiquing the way Calvinists inetrpret Jesus on the basis of the incarnation. I was defending it on the same terms.

    I don’t think you’ve actually given us a thorough alternative ology here anyway… I think Calvinism is good but that’s because I haven’t heard anything better…

    Comment by A.J.Chesswas — October 8, 2007 @ 8:50 am

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