Monday, November 24, 2008

True Humanity

A stimulating morning at SEMS with Philip Eveson speaking on “Made Like His Brothers: The Humanity of Christ”. The MP3 should appear on the SEMS website.

I was struck again by the fact that we so easily think that to err is human. Sinless humanity is totally beyond our experience. But it’s important for us to remember that sin is not of the essence of true humanity. Rather, sin spoils our humanity; it makes us less human rather than more human.

As Warfield commented, Jesus’ was the only strictly normal human development the world has ever seen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Lord's Prayer (sermon notes)

Here's a Word document with are some jottings I made in preparation for preaching 4 sermons on The Lord's Prayer from August - November '08. The sermons are available as audio files at:

Colossians Bible Studies

Here are some Bible Study notes on Colossians I prepared to assist our homegroup leaders in their preparation. (Word document, 5 studies).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Extra Catholicum

"The label “extra Calvinisticum”, applied to the affirmation that in the Incarnation the Eternal Son of God was united to but not restricted to his humanity, is misleading, to say the least. There is nothing uniquely Calvinist about the doctrine, for as a means of interpreting the Biblical witness to Christ it had a widespread and ancient usage.

There is a direct liaison from Calvin to Lombard and especially to St. Augustine. That he learned the doctrine from other portions of the tradition cannot be proved from his writings, but it was in fact almost universally confessed – from Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, to Athanasius and Cyril, to St. Thomas and Gabriel Biel….

If one wished to add to the terminological explosion which threatens and delights the theological world, one might coin “extra Catholicum” or “extra Patristicum” as being more appropriate than “extra Calvinisticum.""

E. David Willis, Calvin’s Catholic Christology: The Function of the So-Called Extra Calvinisticum in Calvin’s Theology Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought volume 2 (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1966), p60

See also Peter Leithart's summary of Barth on this.

What can the so-called Extra Calvinisticum do for me?

It's a question everyone's asking, I know!

In case you need a little reminder, the so-called "extra Calvinisticum" is the idea that "the Eternal Son of God, even after the Incarnation, was united to the human nature to form One Person but was not restricted to the flesh.” (Willis, p1). See e.g. Institutes 2.13.4 and 4.17.30.

If you think that God is essentially omnipresent, it seems to me you have to say that if you think that the Human Christ was fully God and that his humanity was not omnipresent.

Willis writes of the intention, role and effect of the extra Calvinisticum in Calvin's thought:

In teaching what came later to be called the “extra Calvinisticum,” Calvin the Biblical theologian endevours, with the force of his humanist learning turned to the service of Christian theology, to safeguard an essential response to revelation which the Church before him also found it necessary to protect. It is him way of taking account of the fact that in Christ God is powerfully for us. It is not intended to evade the Christ witnessed to by the apostolic message, nor is it intended to buttress an allegedly natural theology. On the contrary, the “extra Calvinisticum” emphasizes that the God at work in Jesus Christ is one and the same with the God who sustains and orders the universe. He is the Triune God, as is manifest in the prominent role assigned to the Holy Spirit in the dynamics of the Incarnate life. The humanity of Christ can develop in a special way without transgressing the bounds of genuine humanity because of the gifts which the Logos conveys to it by his Spirit. In the “extra Calvinisticum,” Calvin is asserting that Christ is able to be God for us because he does not cease to be God over us in the Incarnation and because the humanity of Christ never ceases to be our humanity in the movement of God towards us. In Jesus Christ the vindication of the majesty of God and the re-establishment and fulfilment of the humanity of man take place. It is this gracious relationship – Creator-created, Redeemer-redeemed, Sanctifier-sanctified – on which the right ordering of history depends: such is Calvin’s affirmation in the “extra Calvinisticum,” not the philosophical principle finitum non capax infiniti. The “extra Calvinisticum” is not a sign of the discontinuity between creation and redemption, but of the fact that by assuming our condition the Eternal Son did not relinquish part of his empire but extended that empire over lost ground. Election to the body of Christ means being united to Head by the Holy Spirit, and conforming to the image of Christ in the world by the Holy Spirit. The “extra Calvinisticum” provides for Christ’s Lorship over all the world and yet his special presence with and Lordship over the Church, through the Holy Spirit; and, it bestows a Christological content upon the role which the order of nature plays in ethics.

E. David Willis, Calvin’s Catholic Christology: The Function of the So-Called Extra Calvinisticum in Calvin’s Theology Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought volume 2 (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1966), pp6-7

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It's good to welcome Revd Stuart Dean to the blogosphere at

Romantic Day Out

Apparently Pastor Douglas Wilson will be speaking in North London on 14th February 2009 on "The Future of Children and Children of the Future" at a conference on hope and the family. See Hope to see you there!

Camp Plans 2009

If you know anyone who'll be 11-14 years old in the summer or any Christians who might be potential leaders, we'd love to hear from you.

Danehill 1

previously Romsey 1

Ref No: EV001503

The best week of the year with something for everyone!

Great food, drama and music. Trips to the beach and Chessington World of Adventure. Choice of on- and off-site activities, sports, crafts, swimming. Indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts & rope swing on site. Pool table, table football, table tennis. Lots of fun and laughter. Make new friends. Clear Bible teaching. See you there!

Cumnor House School, Danehill, Haywards Heath, Sussex, RH17 7HT

Saturday 1st Aug – 8th Aug 2009 (7 nights)

Approx 45 places for ages 11 – 14

£206 (Financial assistance may be available in cases of need)

If you came on a CPAS camp last year, the office should automatically send you a brochure. You can request brochures from the website.

For more information see the CPAS website – click “find a venture”:

Bookings open on 3rd Januray 2009. Camp sometimes books up very fast, so apply early to avoid disappointment

Contact Revd Marc Lloyd – 01323 642406 / 07812 054820

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Distress in 1 Corinthians 7

Further to these thoughts, I’m interested in the idea that the “present crisis” of 1 Corinthians 7:26 might be the fall of Jerusalem (and associated events) which Jesus predicted.

Its worth noting that apparently by the time 1 Corinthians was written it already seemed that relations between the Romans and the Jews were deteriorating and the situation was unstable. Paul may well have seen conflict as immanent.

The parallel with God’s command to Jeremiah in 16:1 not to marry and have children in the land because of the terrible times that were coming might also strengthen the case that the fall of Jerusalem is in view in 1 Corinthians 7 since Jeremiah is also concerned with the fate of Jerusalem at the hands of a pagan army.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sermon Illustrations

I'm not very good at sermon illustrations and I'm not really sure how enthusiastic I am about them, but I'm told that Holwick's Sermon Illustration database is well worth a look. A friend tells me that 50% of the time he finds something usable there.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

CICCU talks

The Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) have made lots of audio sermons available here. I may plagarise some of them in the future.