Notes from a Byzantine-Rite Calvinist

26 July 2010

Chaput on creation, fall and redemption

Permit me to direct your attention to a wonderful article by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, which, but for a few sentences here and there, could easily have been written by an evangelical Christian of the Reformed persuasion: Fire On The Earth: God’s New Creation and the Meaning of Our Lives. I am struck by his redemptive-historical reading of scripture, which many of us may tend to think is the exclusive preserve of the Reformed tradition. Archbishop Chaput is to be commended for disabusing us of this misconception. Here’s an excerpt:

There’s nothing tepid or routine about a real encounter with Sacred Scripture. In his Narnia tales, C.S. Lewis warned that Aslan is a good lion, but he is not a “tame” lion. Likewise, God’s Word is profoundly good, but it is never “tame.” Augustine thought Christian Scripture was vulgar, inelegant, and shallow—until he heard it preached by St. Ambrose; then it grabbed him by the soul, and turned his world and his life inside out. When Jesus said “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled” (Lk 12:49) he spoke not as an interesting moral counselor, but as the restless, incarnate Word of God, the Scriptures in flesh and blood, on fire with his Father’s mission of salvation.

Scripture is passionate; it’s a love story, and it can only be absorbed by giving it everything we have: our mind, our heart and our will. It’s the one story that really matters; the story of God’s love for humanity. And like every great story, it has a structure. Talking about that structure and its meaning is my purpose here today.

A simple way of understanding God’s Word is to see that the beginning, middle and end of Scripture correspond to man’s creation, fall, and redemption. Creation opens Scripture, followed by the sin of Adam and the infidelity of Israel. This drama takes up the bulk of the biblical story until we reach a climax in the birth of Jesus and the redemption he brings. Thus, creation, fall, and redemption make up the three key acts of Scripture’s story, and they embody God’s plan for each of us.

To those intrigued by this article, I recommend a reading of Chaput’s Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.

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3 Comments:

  • David, you guys keep leaving out glorification which the paleo-Calvinists did not, and which gave them important reasons for not being fooled by Rome.

    By Blogger D G, at 6:04 AM  

  • Read again my phrase: "but for a few sentences here and there." I myself would not express things the same way as Chaput. There are some points on which I disagree with him. Nevertheless, the broad thrust of his piece is to be commended. If someone with whom we might otherwise disagree is obviously moving in the right direction, it seems churlish to accuse his church community of being deceptive. Surely we can afford to be more charitable than this?

    By Blogger David Koyzis, at 10:27 AM  

  • Catholics do believe in glorification. See Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 1047and around.

    By Blogger Dave Deavel, at 5:09 PM  

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