Friday, April 23, 2010

Born of Mary, Descendent of David, Fully Man but Sinless Eternal God

Calvin deals with several opponents in swift fashion in today's reading.  The first opponents made claims that Christ being called the "seed of Abraham" in the Old Testament was allegorical.  Calvin disputed this idea, but more importantly so did Paul.  Galatians 3:16 reads, "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ."  Paul believed in a literal interpretation of the Old Testament prophecy.  Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of David.  This can be seen in Matthew 1 versus Luke 3.

Now some opponents made the claim that women are "without seed."  Calvin made four arguments against that.  The first was that women share in the process of generation.  To me, Calvin could have ended the discussion there, but in typical fashion he continues on.  Politically speaking, men have always received a preferential treatment over women, but that does not eliminate the role of women in the act of generation.  Calvin notes that genealogies often contain only the names of the males.  He says about that, "Must we then say that women are nothing?  Why, even children know that women are included under the term 'men'!"  Children (more often than not) take the last name of their father, and nobility is often passed along with the male descendants.  Finally, if we look at things like marriage laws and the prohibition of certain marriages, we are shown more proof that women contribute equally to the offspring.  Calvin also notes that Mary was not a mere vessel in which Christ was born, but it was from Mary that Christ descended from David.

Calvin argued against those who did not believe in the human nature of Christ, because they say that Christ would have sinned if he were truly man.  Calvin highlights some of Romans 5:12-18 which teaches that sin was brought into the world through one man, Adam, but God's grace came into the world through one man, Christ.  Calvin acknowledges that no person (or seed) before Christ had been perfect, but it was through the sanctification of the Spirit that Christ was able to refrain from and overcome sin.

Calvin closes the chapter with this: "Here is something marvelous: the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be borne in the virgin's womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross; yet he continuously filled the world even as he had done from the beginning."

Tomorrow's reading: 2.14.1-2.14.3

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