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Calvin, Participation, and the GiftThe Activity of Believers in Union with Christ$
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J. Todd Billings

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199211876

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199211876.001.0001

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Calvin, Participation, and the Problem of the Gift in Contemporary Thought

Calvin, Participation, and the Problem of the Gift in Contemporary Thought

(p.1) 1 Calvin, Participation, and the Problem of the Gift in Contemporary Thought
Calvin, Participation, and the Gift

J. Todd Billings

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a detailed account of the critiques of Calvin emerging from the Gift discussion. It then states the book's central thesis in response to these critiques, and briefly considers key issues in Calvin studies related to this thesis. It argues that Calvin's doctrine of justification, and hence part of his theology of participation in Christ, is unmistakably ‘forensic’; a righteousness from outside ourselves (extra nos) is received both in being united with Christ and simultaneously through God's free and gracious pardon. It further argues that one cannot simply label Calvin's doctrine of the double grace (duplex gratia) wholly forensic or simply reducible to a non-forensic account of ‘union with Christ’. His view is irreducibly forensic, but a courtroom analogy of an external, forensic decree is not the exclusive image for his theology of union with Christ and the double grace. Rather, Calvin's theology of union with Christ is articulated with reference to participation, adoption, imputation, and the wondrous exchange. It is a multifaceted doctrine, utilizing both legal and transformative images.

Keywords:   Calvin theology, Gift theology, participation in Christ, gift exchange

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