This book was given to me courtesy of a dear friend.
The historical essays are interesting but nothing earth-shattering. The true “money” is in the doctrinal essays, especially the ones by Horton and Jones.
Washed from my sins
Standard stuff on signs and seals, though with one pertinent observation on the presumptive regeneration debate: presuming regeneration robs the baptism of the future promise.
As certainly as I see and taste
Good historical overview on how the HC doctrine served to sideline Gnesio-Lutheranism (112). There are several values preserved in the HC (and Westminster) view of the Lord’s supper: its function as a sign/seal of God’s promise and the rebutting of Lutheran ubiquity, which would entail a robust doctrine of the Ascension.
- Christ continues in heaven until he comes to judge the quick and the dead (116ff).
- Although the two natures are inseparable, only the divine nature is omnipresent.
- Jesus and the benefits of redemption are truly communicated to His people, but his body remains at God’s right hand (118).
Gathered, Protected, and Preserved (Horton)
- The Ascension opens the space for a pneumatological community, the Church.
- The Spirit unites us to Christ as we are seated in the heavenlies.
- This moment in redemptive history is a “productive intermission” that yields repentance and faith.
- Spoken and Gathered
- “The church does not gather itself; it is gathered by another” (130).
- The invisible church: not a Platonic dualism but an eschatological one of this age/age to come
Visible :: already
Invisible :: not yet
- “The Spirit gives birth to the church through the gospel at this precarious intersection between the death-dealing powers of this present age and the life-giving powers of the age to come” (138).
Grace and Gratitude (Venema)
This is Venema’s defense of justification and sanctification. There isn’t much new here, save his insight that sanctification is rooted not in a legalistic obligation but in the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.
Christology of the HC (Mark Jones)
This is the second most important essay of the book. Jones highlights what was new about the Reformation’s Christology: the person of Christ can’t be separated from his work (167).
- Christ was not the natural son of God according to his humanity because his humanity was not begotten of the essence of the Father (169).
- Christ’s human nature possessed real limitations; “hence there is a real possibility for Christ to move from humiliation to exaltation.”
- The Reformed communication of properties also includes the communication of operations (171).
- Rome says that Christ can only be anointed in his humanity and so is prophet/priest/king only as man. We rebut this by saying that the anointing of the Spirit does not simply refer to the gifts Christ’s received in his human nature but also to Christ’s ordination to the office of mediator, which involved his whole person” (172).
- What is attributed to one nature is attributed to the whole person.
- Totus Christus, not totum Christi.
- The Pneumatological Christ
- The ascension “Threw open the realm of pneumatology” (177).
- Ascension and outpouring of the Spirit brings Christ present to the elect in a way not hitherto possible” (Clark).