I’ve just uploaded an important article written some years ago by Dr. N. H. Gootjes, “Christ’s Obedience and Covenant Obedience.” This was originally published in Koinonia 19.2 (Fall 2002). You can download a copy here.
Tag Archives: Christ’s Active Obedience
Yesterday I posted something about this new book, Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism. In the chapter on the period of high orthodoxy, there is a paragraph about a professor at the French Academy of Saumur, Josue de la Place:
De la Place, who became professor at Saumur in 1631, developed a divergent view on the imputation (imputatio) of Adam’s sin to his descendants. According to de la Place, the imputation was based on actual sins, which implied a “mediate” transmission of Adam’s sin. In France, the national Synod of Charenton (1644-1645) made pronouncements on de la Place’s views, led by opposition from Antoine Garissolles (1587-1651), who was the moderator. However, de la Place’s views also made waves outside of France. In the Swiss Confederation they were addressed in the Formula consensus Helvetica and in the Netherlands they were attacked by Samuel Maresius and others. However, de la Place’s view was accepted by Johannes Vlak, pastor in Zutphen, but it was condemned in the Articles of Walcheren of 1693. (153).
The Articles of Walcheren were prepared by a Dutch Reformed classis and addressed several errors circulating in the late seventeenth century. They are difficult to find. I have posted a .pdf containing them here. I believe this comes from the volume edited by J. N. Bakhuizen van den Brink, Documenta Reformatoria. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Dutch. Article IV specifically deals with Vlak. Article III is also worth noting for its affirmation of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ in justification. Ministerial candidates in the Walcheren classis were apparently required to subscribe this document.
“The second requirement of our reconciliation with God was this: that man, who by his disobedience had become lost, should by way of remedy counter it with obedience, satisfy God’s judgment, and pay the penalties for sin. Accordingly, our Lord came forth as true man and took the person and the name of Adam in order to take Adam’s place in obeying the Father, to present our flesh as the price of satisfaction to God’s righteous judgment, and, in the same flesh to pay the penalty we had deserved.” Institutes 2.12.3
The latest Mid-America Journal of Theology showed up yesterday, a commemorative issue dealing with John Calvin. At first glance, there’s a lot of good, engaging material in this issue. What immediately drew my attention, however, was the first article by Cornelis Venema, “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness: Another Example of ‘Calvin Against the Calvinists’?” In this article, Venema applies the method of Richard Muller to the question of whether Calvin taught the imputation of the active obedience of Christ and how to relate his teaching to later Calvinism. The article is brilliant — an exceptional study in historical theology. Venema concludes, “The preponderance of the evidence argues for continuity rather than discontinuity between Calvin and the consensus of later Calvinists on the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.” (45). Good stuff!