28 January 2006

calvin on credit

calvin on credit

Bill DeJong, pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Kansas City, points out the following quotation from Calvin as having a bearing on how Calvin might view the place of merit in the covenant of works:

If we desire to make an honest examination of ourselves we shall find not only that God is in no way our debtor, but also that we are all answerable to His judgment. Not only do we deserve no favour from Him, but we are more than worthy of eternal death. Paul concludes that God owes us nothing on account of our corrupt and depraved nature, and also asserts that, even if man were perfect, he could bring nothing to God by which to procure His favour, because as soon as man begins his existence, he is already by the very law of creation so bound to his Maker that he has nothing of his own. We shall, therefore, fail if we endeavor to deprive God of His right to do freely what He pleases with the creatures whom He has made, as though it were a matter of mutual debt and credit. (emphasis added)

The quotation is from Calvin's commentary on Romans 11 (verse 35). While Calvin's sentiments here are, perhaps, overly voluntarist in some respects (e.g., his wording suggests that the way in which God is free to treat creatures is logically prior to and unconstrained by God's nature and character), it does provide some insight into the way in which Calvin understood notions of debt, credit, and, presumably, merit.