Calvin and the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness

20 October 2009 by Wes Bredenhof

The latest Mid-America Journal of Theology showed up yesterday, a commemorative issue dealing with John Calvin.  At first glance, there’s a lot of good, engaging material in this issue.  What immediately drew my attention, however, was the first article by Cornelis Venema, “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness: Another Example of ‘Calvin Against the Calvinists’?”  In this article, Venema applies the method of Richard Muller to the question of whether Calvin taught the imputation of the active obedience of Christ and how to relate his teaching to later Calvinism.  The article is brilliant — an exceptional study in historical theology.  Venema concludes, “The preponderance of the evidence argues for continuity rather than discontinuity between Calvin and the consensus of later Calvinists on the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.” (45).  Good stuff!

2 responses to “Calvin and the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness”

  1. Nick says:

    I wish this article was available online, because I’d like to see Calvin’s Scriptural proof for the ‘active obedience’ of Christ. Thus far, I have not been able to find any passages which I consider sufficiently clear on the subject to accept the doctrine myself.

    • Nick,

      Have you read chapter 8 of Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry? Or chapter 5 of J.V. Fesko’s Justification? It seems to me that those essays use many of the same Scripture passages Calvin used.

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