Archive for July 2010
I previously mentioned Peter Lillback’s book, The Binding of God, on Calvin’s understanding of and contribution to covenant theology. Calvin’s covenant theology was also the subject of Lillback’s Ph.D. thesis, as well as an article he wrote in 1982 showing how Calvin linked covenant theology and infant baptism. This article was previously available online only in scanned form with many OCR errors. I have corrected these and, with Lillback’s permission, the article is available here: “Calvin’s Covenantal Response to the Anabaptist View of Baptism”.
Whatever your view of infant baptism, this article is a helpful overview of Calvin’s covenant theology. Lillback spends time on continuity and discontinuity between the old and new covenants, including distinctions between law and gospel, letter and spirit, and general and special election. He also discusses covenant breaking, although he doesn’t directly address whether and in what sense God’s covenants are conditional and mutual, or the nature of covenant keeping; nor does he cover topics such as adoption and the Lord’s supper.
Tolkien, on p. 855 of The Lord of the Rings:
‘That is a fair lord and a great captain of men,’ said Legolas. ‘If Gondor has such men still in these days of fading, great must have been its glory in the days of its rising.’
‘And doubtless the good stone-work is the older and was wrought in the first building,’ said Gimli. ‘It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.’
‘Yet seldom do they fail of their seed,’ said Legolas. ‘And that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli.’
‘And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess,’ said the Dwarf.
‘To that the Elves know not the answer,’ said Legolas.
I don’t know whether there is one true Roman Catholic eschatology or what it might be. Tolkien at least had a pessimistic eschatology which he thought was a necessary part of his Roman Catholicism. And as much as the fall of Sauron was an epic victory, this pessimism shades his work as well. But the above is a wise and I think true observation regardless of one’s eschatology. Death and resurrection is a pervasive and inescapable motif in life and creation.
Whether for civilization, church or family, better the deaths should be ones of repentance and self-sacrifice than of reaping and judgment.