Calvin, Participation, and the Gift: The Activity of Believers in Union with Christ

Hardcover | December 15, 2007

byJ. Todd Billings

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Is the God of Calvin a fountain of blessing, or a forceful tyrant? Is Calvin's view of God coercive, leaving no place for the human qua human in redemption? These are perennial questions about Calvin's theology which have been given new life by Gift theologians such as John Milbank, GrahamWard, and Stephen Webb.J. Todd Billings addresses these questions by exploring Calvin's theology of `participation in Christ'. He argues that Calvin's theology of `participation' gives a positive place to the human, such that grace fulfils rather than destroys nature, affirming a differentiated union of God and humanityin creation and redemption. Calvin's trinitarian theology of participation extends to his view of prayer, sacraments, the law, and the ecclesial and civil orders. In light of Calvin's doctrine of participation, Billings reframes the critiques of Calvin in the Gift discussion and opens up newpossibilities for contemporary theology, ecumenical theology, and Calvin scholarship as well.

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Is the God of Calvin a fountain of blessing, or a forceful tyrant? Is Calvin's view of God coercive, leaving no place for the human qua human in redemption? These are perennial questions about Calvin's theology which have been given new life by Gift theologians such as John Milbank, GrahamWard, and Stephen Webb.J. Todd Billings address...

J. Todd Billings is Assistant Professor of Reformed Theology, Western Theological Seminary.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.79 inPublished:December 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199211876

ISBN - 13:9780199211876

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Table of Contents

1. Calvin, Participation, and the Problem of the Gift in Contemporary Thought2. Calvin's Doctrine of Participation: Contexts and Continuities3. The Development of Calvin's Language of 'Participation in Christ'4. Participation in Christ: The Activity of Believers in Prayer and the Sacraments5. Participation and the Law: God's Accommodation to Humanity so that Humanity may be Accommodated to God6. The Promise of Calvin's Theology of Participation

Editorial Reviews

"This fine study by Todd Billings gives us fresh ways of looking at a familiar figure. Lucidly written, meticulous, precise, and extremely well informed, Billings's discussion of participation, that ancient Pauline category, opens the door both to new historical and constructive insights. An indispensable study for students of Calvin, historians of Christian thought, and theologians of the Gift." --Kevin Madigan, Harvard Divinity School "I know of no other monograph that offers such a comprehensive view of the theme of participation in Calvin's work. Billings makes a persuasive case for the central importance of this motif in the Reformer's thought. This is an erudite yet very readable book." --Don Compier, Graceland University "I warmly recommend Billings's book as a serious piece of scholarly research that is not afraid to tackle some of the more popular theological schools of thought in a manner that is respectful, thoughtful, and analytically powerful. Billings is the first to systematically analyze Calvin's theology of participation. He manages to pull together a Calvinian doctrine of participation which can stand on its own strength and which presents a genuine, and in decisive ways original, contribution to Calvin research. Any further critique of Calvin's theology as based on coercion or violence will have to give an account of Billings's masterful scholarship." --Hans Boersma, Regent College "In the best sense, this is a work of deep theological recollection: with a view to rescuing Reformed theology from its Zwinglian captivity, it restores an appreciation for the catholicity of the Reformed tradition. In the course of defending Calvin against his radicallyorthodox despisers, Todd Billings carefully and persuasively articulates a vision of Calvin's theology as a source for contemporary constructive theology. And one could hope that the rich vision of sacramental participation he so deftly describes might trickle down into Reformed practice. Billings invites us to imagine how different our Reformed churches might be if they were actually 'Calvinist.'" --James K.A. Smith, Calvin College "This is a valuable study of what is an important thought much neglected theme of Calvin's. It should be read by all with an interst in Calvin's theology." --Anthony N.S. Lane, London School of Theology