Office Hours: Union with Christ

Office Hours talks with John Fesko, Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at WSC, about his new book: Beyond Calvin: Union with Christ and Justfication in Early Modern Reformed Theology (1517-1700).

There is some confusion about the Reformed doctrine of union with Christ. One way to begin to clear up the confusion is to ask what the Reformed tradition has taught about union with Christ and how it relates to our justification and sanctification.  Listen to this episode.

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  1. Good to see the Heidelblog back. Love the topic union with Christ. Some interesting things learned or questions I have by listening to the interview: 1) Calvin is not quoted as much as some of the other reformation theologians from that 50 or 60 year period (latter 1500’s to early 1600’s) which is not known as much about ; 2) One wonders why a lot of resources and writing from this period has vanished or is not as plentiful. Could it be that a lot of the writings were burned or destroyed by the enemies of the Reformers? 3) Many who argue at oldlife find that union with Christ is often not defined very well. From my reading posts at oldlife it seems there are 3 separate unions. The first is that which occurs in eternity from the pactum salutis- the union of election by the Federal Heads. The second is the forensic union which occurs when God declares an elect person justified and places the righteousness of Christ upon the ungodly elect sinner. Or, to say it another way, God baptizes (one debate has been whether the baptism has water in it; some say that the baptism in Romans 6 is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness) the elect into Christ’s death. The third is the mystical union by the Holy Spirit. Another debate that has come up at oldlife is whether the imputation of righteousness causes regeneration and faith- the sending of the Spirit, or, whether the mystical union and renewal (regeneration, repentance, faith) by the Spirit is what causes the imputation of righteousness. As you say in the tape it is an argument about logical priority rather than temporal order. Any thoughts about the arguments anyone?

    • Hi John,

      The texts of the tradition still exist they just don’t get read very often. People tend to read Calvin and then jump to their favorite modern theologian.

      Yes, there’s a three-fold distinction (decretal, federal, and mystical) in union and too often when we discuss this topic it’s not always made clear which aspect is in view.

      I expect to write a post on the ordo question. More later.

  2. Yes, my bad- that does ring a bell now. The Butterfield way of doing history. I was writing on the fly, not sure why I got the impression that the period in question was neglected or resources lost. Might have been multitasking while listening to the interview. Or, maybe I am just getting old. Looking forward to your post on the ordo.

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