Calvin’s Practical View Of Adoption: Its Privileges And Duties -- By: Maarten Kuivenhoven

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:1 (Jan 2014)
Article: Calvin’s Practical View Of Adoption: Its Privileges And Duties
Author: Maarten Kuivenhoven


Calvin’s Practical View Of Adoption: Its Privileges And Duties

Maarten Kuivenhoven

And

Michael Dewalt

At the heart of John Calvin’s theology and undergirding his development of the ordo salutis is the doctrine of adoption. Many scholars note that Calvin does not treat adoption as a separate locus in his systematic theology and magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion.1 This is due in part to the fact that Calvin weaves the doctrine throughout the tapestry of God’s marvelous salvation of sinners. The doctrine of adoption is not peripheral but rather central to Calvin’s theology as noted by Sinclair Ferguson who states that “students of Calvin’s theology have too rarely recognized how important the concept of sonship was to his understanding of the Christian life.”2

While Timothy Trumper’s unpublished dissertation on the doctrine of adoption in the Calvinistic tradition fills a void in the study of Calvin’s theology of adoption,3 a detailed study of the privileges and duties of adoption is nevertheless useful. This paper seeks to address

a gap in the scholarship on Calvin’s development of the doctrine of adoption by examining the Reformer’s teachings on the privileges and duties of adoption.

Calvin’s doctrine of adoption is not restricted to the Institutes per se; the riches of Calvin’s view of adoption can be gleaned from his entire corpus of writings, including his commentaries and sermons.4 Having done this, we have come to the conclusion that the doctrine of adoption was an experiential reality in Calvin’s life, and that he sought to instill its beauty and riches in those to whom he ministered. Christ’s church today receives the legacy of Calvin’s view of adoption, which speaks doctrinally and experientially to the life of the believer. Let’s turn now to Calvin’s writings on the privileges and duties that accrue to the believer through his adoption into God’s family.

The Privileges Of Adoption

Calvin offers a rich and varied tapestry of the blessing and privileges of adoption woven throughout his theology. It is helpful to organize these privileges of adoption under a trinitarian rubric: paternal privileges given especially by the Father, fraternal privileges given especially by the Son, and spiritual privileges given especially by the Holy Spirit. This framework of adoption in Calvin’s theology is s...

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