“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together . . .” (Romans 8:22a)

“In the Institutes, ‘this most glorious theater’ means our universe, and the works referred to are God’s work in creation and providence. Like an architect who manifests his greatness in every feature of an opera house from the grand sweep of its tiered balconies to his little touches with its light switches, so God reveals and ‘daily discloses [his glory] in the whole workmanship of the universe’ from the splendor of the heavens to the shape and structure of the toenails on an infant’s feet.

– Mark Talbot, “Sin and Suffering in Calvin’s World and Ours” in With Calvin in the Theater of God edited by John Piper and David Mathis (Crossway 2010), 53.

For Calvin the theater of God’s glory is the entire universe. The splendid gospel symphony doesn’t just enthrall the audience, but somehow remakes the entire opera house. “Sin is cosmic treason,” R.C. Sproul tells us. The brokenness is systemic (as Ecclesiastes demonstrates), felt deeply in the bowels of the earth (as Romans 8 demonstrates). And so, what better field for the Lord of hosts to play in than the cosmos? We are the crown of creation, and the personal gospel is real and primary, but we are being made new for the “all things” that Jesus is making new. Calvin’s gospel sought to reflect this bigness.

As it happens, then, the occasional Calvinist’s insistence on the exclusivity of the personal gospel — God/Sin/Christ/Response contra Creation/Fall/Redemption/Consummation — turns out to be not Calvinistic enough.

Print Friendly
View Comments


5 thoughts on “Not Calvinistic Enough”

  1. Vitamin Z says:

    I feel a blog comment section debate coming on… Hold on! :)

  2. Jared says:

    Zach, do you mean you're about to start one? ;-)If such a thing looks to break out, I am committing ahead of time to reflect Augustine's saying: "Let others wrangle; I will wonder."

  3. Bill Streger says:

    It's amazing how many folks I meet that are better Calvinists than Calvin was…

  4. Jason Wert says:

    ^^ What Bill said. :)

  5. Wenatchee the Hatchet says:

    The insistence on the exclusivity of the personal Gospel ironically spawned the New Perspective that Calvinists fear is not Calvinistic enough. :) That's one of those beautiful ironies of history and theology. If Calvinists and other Protestants had not boiled the gospel down to the personal the New Perspective might not have even happened.

Comments are closed.

Jared C. Wilson photo

Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

Jared C. Wilson's Books