By J. Todd Billings

Is the God of Calvin a fountain of blessing, or a forceful tyrant? Is Calvin's view of God coercive, leaving no position for the human qua human in redemption? those are perennial questions on Calvin's theology which were given new lifestyles by way of present theologians equivalent to John Milbank, Graham Ward, and Stephen Webb.

J. Todd Billings addresses those questions through exploring Calvin's theology of ''participation in Christ.'' He argues that Calvin's theology of ''participation'' supplies a good position to the human, such that grace fulfills instead of destroys nature, declaring a differentiated union of God and humanity in construction and redemption. Calvin's trinitarian theology extends to his view of prayer, sacraments, the legislation, and the ecclesial and civil orders. In gentle of Calvin's doctrine of participation, Billings reframes the reviews of Calvin within the present dialogue and opens up new probabilities for modern theology, ecumenical theology, and Calvin scholarship in addition.

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Muller, After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), chs. 4, 5. 61 In contrast to Charles Partee, ‘Calvin’s Central Dogma Again’, in Calvin Studies 3 (Davidson, NC: Davidson College, 1986), 39–46. 62 Dennis E. Tamburello, Union with Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St Bernard (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), ch. 1. 63 As a result of this connection, studies such as Union with Christ by Tamburello have combined an interest in ‘mystical union’ in Calvin with assessing the inXuence of medieval predecessors.

See McDonnell, John Calvin, the Church, and the Eucharist, ch. 1. 28 Contexts and Continuities what Major might have taught Calvin. 13 Variations on the John Major thesis are tempting to scholars for the ironic reason that one can name ‘sources’ and show the ‘inXuence’ of Wgures that Calvin rarely or never explicitly mentions. For example, the similarity between the late medieval Augustinianism of Gregory of Rimini and Calvin is indeed striking. 14 The Reuter thesis ultimately relies upon an argument from silence which assumes that Calvin never refers to the Wgures who actually inXuenced him, hence the historian must reconstruct these ‘sources’ from his curriculum and teachers.

65 While certain aspects of humanism—such as its polemic against the ‘arid’ theology of the ‘schoolmen’—have some overlap with the concerns of the Devotio Moderna, there is no reason to see the Devotio Moderna itself as holding the hidden key to Calvin’s spirituality. g. a ‘voluntarist’ or ‘Thomist’ school). Calvin’s metaphysics are diYcult to discern, not only because of his reticence about speculation, but also because of his eclecticism. Calvin was a theologian constantly engaged with scripture and the church fathers, hearkening to the humanist cry of ‘ad fontes’.

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