Today started in a slow crawl. Wow am I exhausted.
After my normal breakfast and walk to The Cathedral, it was time for four more papers and a Keynote address…
Paper #1 was from Dr. Andrew McGowan: “John Calvin’s Doctrine of Scripture.”
Unless we understand Calvin’s doctrine of Scripture we will have a hard time understanding his theology in other areas.
Calvin had a high view of Scripture and did not believe there were errors in Scripture. However, it would be anachronistic to call him an inerrantist.
Unlike the American use of the term inerrancy, Calvin was at the head of 500 years of the European tradition of infalliblity. “The Scriptures are without error and they cannot fail to fill God’s desired purpose.”
This is a very controversial topic and one that is hotly debated between the US and the rest of the world. I am not saying I agree or disagree with McGowan at this point, just summarizing his statements.
Paper #2 was from Dr. Michael Horton: “Union and Communion: Rediscovering Calvin’s Eucharistic Theology.”
Dr. Horton serves as the editor of Modern Reformation which I subscribe to and look forward to getting each issue! Although, like I told him, but the time I get my copy in New Zealand the rest of the Internet has already been blogging about it for weeks! I sat with Dr. Horton at the banquet in the afternoon as well. It was great to get to know him a bit personally and chat a bit about theology. When I asked him if he had children he answered, “Yes, four, one 9 year old and three 6 year old!” Yes, that’s right triplets. He said this is the longest he has been away from his family since they were born. He confirmed the blessing adding to your quiver in multiples, and at the same time the tremendous challenge as well!
Ok, to be honest, at this point I was standing most of the time to just not fall asleep. It had nothing to do with Dr. Horton, but everything to do with exhaustion, so my notes are a bit scarce.
Essentially, Calvin’s ecclesiology grows out of his Eucharistic theology.
He also presented an interesting question which needs some thought on my part, “Is the church instrumental in the ongoing redemption of the world or the ambassadors proclaiming the redemption?”
Paper #3 was from Dr. Henri Blocher: “Calvin and Divine Election”
Today was the day for more controversial papers!
Calvin was not the first or only Reformer to hold to the doctrine of divine election.
St. Augustine was the first of the church fathers to articulate this doctrine.
Thomas Aquinas started as semi-pelagian but changed his view to agree with Augustine’s.
Divine election should not be one’s central doctrine, but should flow from one’s doctrine of Divine Majesty (Holiness of God/Glory of God) and Human Depravity.
He then gave three area of controversy:
1. The relationship between election & justice
There is no arbitrariness to God’s choosing. His choice is always consistent with His justice.
Calvin does not attempt to answer all apparent contradictions, i.e. how can God be good, loving, righteous and yet condemn people to hell? We must stop where revelation stops and bow down to divine majesty.
2. The Lapsarian Controversy.
This is very technical so whoever reads this, if you don’t get concerned, just skip over it or ask me about it later…
The question is what is the place of God’s electing in His plan/council in relation to the Fall?
Supra-lapsarian => God chose to elect before He decreed/ordained the Fall
Infra-lapsarian => God ordained/decreed the Fall and then chose to elect some who fell.
Majority of Calvinists were Infra and have read Calvin as such.
Dr. Blocher was arguing for Calvin as Supra…
3. Double Predestination
The idea that God, in the same way, predestines some to be saved and others to be damned.
Dr. Blocher was very direct with this…
”In using predestination in the same sense for both the saved and the reprobate, Calvin went beyond Scripture. This was unusual for Calvin, but it is clear you do not find the use of this term, this way in Scripture. So being a true Calvinist I am differing with Calvin in favour with Scripture!”
Paper #4 was from Dr. Jae Sung Kim: “Calvinism in Asia”
Dr, Kim lives in Korea where he teaches systematic theology.
He delivered a fascinating and encouraging paper on the history and missionary expansion throughout Asia.
As he pointed out most of the early missionaries to Asia (and most of the world for that matter) were committed Calvinists. There committed to God’s sovereignty spurred them on to go into all the world and proclaim Christ.
He gave an overview of India/China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
This was an important presentation, in my option, as Calvinism is often seen as a Western idea. (There are not more Calvinistic Evangelicals in Korea that anywhere else in the world!) In addition it, once again, refuted the claim that Calvinism and mission is incompatible – it is, in fact just the opposite!
Today’s Keynote address was from Dr. Bruce McCormack: “Union with Christ in Calvin’s Theology: Grounds for a Divinization Theory?”
Dr. McCormack teaches at Princeton Seminary and is an expert on Karl Barth.
Ok, I was unable to take notes and listen to this one. I will have to wait for the book!
After the final paper we went to the closing Banquet.
At the banquet, Geoff Thomas gave some closing remarks on “What I have learned from John Calvin & Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones.” Pastor Thomas was then given a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for faithful pastor ministry.
The food was fantastic! The restaurant was packed. There were a lot of announcements and other things for those who were on the tour and were departing tomorrow, but all in all it was a good time.
Tonight at The Cathedral there were three more sermons delivered:
Rev. Ted Donnelly: “More Than Conquerors” – Rom. 8:37
Dr. Hywel Jones: “One of a Thousand” – Job 36:1-4
Dr. Derek Thomas: “Adoring the Majesty of God” Rom 11:33-35
I did not attend any of this final sessions.
I came back to the hostel in the afternoon to wash clothes and pack and it has taken me all day to get my clothes washed and dried. I now need to pack and I have to be on a train for Zurich by 6am in the morning.