Jerome Zanchi On Union With Christ And Justification -- By: J. V. Fesko

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 02:2 (Jul 2010)
Article: Jerome Zanchi On Union With Christ And Justification
Author: J. V. Fesko


Jerome Zanchi On Union With Christ And Justification

J. V. Fesko

John Calvin (1509-64) has been accorded a high place in the history of Reformation studies, and with 2009 marking the five-hundredth anniversary of his birth, there has been no shortage of works on the Genevan giant. In past generations, Calvin, for better or for worse, was touted as the theologian of divine election and the “awful decree,” as he termed it.1 However, even though Calvin was a second-generation Reformer, and one of many during his own day, he still draws a host of scholars that continue to pore over his writings. One of the themes in Calvin’s theology that has drowned out the predestinarian chorus of old in recent literature is that of union with Christ.2 Among

those who have presented Calvin’s doctrine of union with Christ, a number of claims have arisen concerning the doctrine of justification. These claims are relevant and set the stage for the subject of this essay: Jerome Zanchi’s view of union with Christ with special attention to the doctrine of justification.

Recent Claims Regarding Calvin And Union With Christ

Richard Gaffin has argued that Calvin did not have an ordo salutis per se, as one would find in later Reformed dogmatics, but that union with Christ was his ordo. Gaffin claims that justification and sanctification are simultaneously given through union with Christ. Therefore, justification does not have any sort of priority as is typically assumed—that is, justification has logical priority over sanctification as being the chief benefit of redemption in Christ.3 Gaffin has been followed in this approach by several of his former students: Craig Carpenter, Mark Garcia, and William Evans. Craig Carpenter argues: “Calvin’s ordo salutis does not require the logical or temporal priority of a forensic act to a renovative act.”4 Mark Garcia carries the un-prioritized view of justification forward, arguing that the simultaneity of justification and sanctification received in union with Christ makes union, not justification, the more fundamental category for Calvin. Among the evidence that Garcia brings forward is the claim that Reformed theologians do not use cause and effect language to discuss the relationship between justification and sanctification—such language is the hallmark of classical Lutheran theology. Lutherans, argues Garcia, hold justification and sanctification in a cause and effect relationship, whereas Reformed theologians have both justificat...

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