Imputation and the Christology of Union With Christ: Calvin, Osiander, and the Contemporary Quest For a Reformed Model -- By: Mark A. Garcia
Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 68:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Imputation and the Christology of Union With Christ: Calvin, Osiander, and the Contemporary Quest For a Reformed Model
Author: Mark A. Garcia
WTJ 68:2 (Fall 2006) p. 219
Imputation and the Christology of Union With Christ:
Calvin, Osiander, and the Contemporary Quest
For a Reformed Model
Mark A. Garcia is Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of History and Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Wolfson College, Cambridge University, and Research Fellow for the Craig Center for the Study of the Westminster Standards, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.
Discussion of union with Christ and justification generally, and imputation specifically, is continuing at a pace which makes it increasingly difficult to follow with the kind of patient care all would agree is desirable. The abundance of fresh studies in Pauline theology is not the only reason for this state of affairs, however; a wide, cross-disciplinary range of questions has a full right to the floor, including not only the exegetical and biblical-theological but also the specialist historical, systematic, homiletical, and ethical voices in the Church. The aim of this article is intentionally modest. With a view to a growing literature arguing that imputation language is rendered superfluous by Paul’s union with Christ, the goal here is to draw attention to an important and necessary facet of this discussion which does not yet seem to have been given much sustained consideration: the christological.
Of course, the idea that contemporary work on Paul and union with Christ has perhaps neglected the christological will no doubt sound absurd to many, so it makes sense to clarify from the start that “classical” Christology is in view. Though the connections between Pauline scholarship and recent christological programs are often deep and sometimes explicit, especially in narrative theology, the concerns of classical Christology are largely bypassed. The relevance of this development for our question will be discussed more fully below, but the principal effect in view in this article (considered negatively, at least) may be summarized as follows. Briefly stated, granted that union or participation in and with Christ is of central importance to Paul’s gospel (a long-standing and, in my view, faithful reading of the Apostle’s theology), it remains the case that, within that union, the believer does not become Christ. Union with Christ does
WTJ 68:2 (Fall 2006) p. 220
not obscure the distinction between Christ and the believer united to him. In what follows, it is argued that recent proposals that assume the incompatibility of union with Christ and imputation in Paul lack a compelling theological rationale for this crucial distinction. Alongside the case that can be (and has been) made at the linguistic and exegetical levels in favor of the idea, “imputation,” prop...
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