Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Final Sections on Satisfaction

Several sections ago Calvin looked at the death of the infant born as a result of David's adultery.  Some have looked at it as vengeance that God inflicted upon David.  With what we read yesterday, we learned that God has vengeance only on the reprobate.  David was a man after God's own heart, therefore this was chastisement.  David was already forgiven, but God wanted to teach David so he would never repeat his sin.  Calvin puts it this way: "He [God] had declared himself so greatly offended against this in his beloved and faithful servant that David himself might be taught not to dare commit such a crime thereafter; but not that it might be a penalty by which he should make certain payment to God."  God truly did not want David to ever fall into this same folly and taught him in this penalty to never act in this manner again.  It was not, however, to cause David to plead for forgiveness, because he had already been forgiven.  Chrysostom wrote, "If God inflict punishments on this account - that he may call those who persevere in evil-doing to repentance - after penitence has been shown, penalties will already be superfluous."  Calvin makes a very important observation in regards to sin and forgiveness.  He writes, "All the absolutions that are mentioned in Scripture are described as free."  No where does anyone ever have to perform penance for their sins.  You may argue that the Old Testament sacrifices were penance for sins, but Calvin addressed that in yesterday's reading by showing that the sacrifices were a foreshadowing of Christ's ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

The only sacrifice good enough for the remission of sins is that of Christ.  Calvin writes, "Banish the thought that there should be any other ransom than the blood of Christ!"  Calvin takes two Scripture passages in this section and reads them slightly differently than I do.  Proverbs 10:12 reads, "Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins."  Calvin indicates that love covers sins against other men, but not against God.  He obviously reads this as man's love and not God's love.  I read this passage as God's love covers all sins.  I bet that Calvin would agree with that statement even if he continued to thing that this passage was about man's love.  Similarly, Proverbs 16:6 reads, " In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity..."  Calvin's version read "mercy and kindness" and he applied this for man's iniquity against another man.  I think this passage makes the most sense when seen as God's mercy and truth/kindness, not man's.

Calvin looked at the parable of the woman who was a sinner in Luke 7:36-50.  In a nutshell, Calvin shows that the woman was forgiven of her sins, not because of her love or anything else she did, but her love was the proof of her forgiveness.  He calls this argument a posteriori, meaning that the proof was in the evidences that followed.  That passage concludes by Jesus declaring, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."  Calvin responds, "By faith, therefore, we gain forgiveness; be love we give thanks and testify to the Lord's kindness."

The next section contains proof that the Roman church has misunderstood some of the church fathers such as Augustine and Chrysostom.  The Romans seek to prove that these fathers believed that satisfaction for sins was required for forgiveness.  Calvin proved that when these church fathers used the term "satisfaction" they clearly indicated that it was in relation to correction by God to prevent future sin and not a requirement for forgiveness by God.  He quotes Augustine, "The flesh of Christ is the true and only sacrifice for sins, not only for those sins which are wholly blotted out to baptism, but for those which creep in afterward through weakness.  For this reason, the whole church daily cries: 'Forgive us our debts'; and they are forgiven through that unique sacrifice."

The scholars of Calvin's day were further twisting the concept of satisfaction from the church fathers.  Apparently in the early church if one had committed a sin worthy of excommunication, the offender would make satisfaction to the church in order to be brought back into communion with the church.  This was not satisfaction made to God for the forgiveness of sins.  This is part of why these "Schoolmen" try to impose requirements on the forgiveness of sins even though Scripture clearly teaches otherwise.

Tomorrow's reading: 3.5.1-3.5.4

P.S. I hope to do this reading in the morning.  I have not found a place to brew coffee in the morning without disturbing others who are trying to sleep.  It may end up being "Calvin Without Coffee" tomorrow.  Also, Saturday we are leaving for home in the morning and I know I will not have time to read and blog then.  So if I miss the next couple of days, do not worry.  I will be back on track by Sunday.

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