The Calvin Conspiracy

The latest issue of Modern Reformation has unleashed the reformed conspiracy theorists.  As visitors to the Reformed Forum are well aware, the differences in the reformed world concerning the precise relationship of the benefits in the ordo salutis have been well-documented. Within the orthodox camp (NPP and FV proponents excluded) various explanations of the relationship between justification and sanctification are often boiled down to two primary groups.  Michael Horton is one of the most visible and widely published of the first group in the discussion.  Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. is often presented as the most prominent member of the other – the so-called “union with Christ school.”

There is no shortage of labeling from either side.  The “union with Christ school” gets likened to Federal Vision and New Perspective(s) on Paul theology, while those who agree with Horton are often termed “Lutheran.”  Though name-calling is never helpful, theological comparisons can prove useful in certain circumstances.  The latest issue of Modern Reformation continues this trend.  Or does it?

I realize things can get heated in the throws of theological discussion, so I offer this post as a light-hearted observation.  As one might expect, Volume 18, Issue 7 includes a series on John Calvin.  In the lead article, Is Calvin Still Relevant After 500 Years? It all Depends, Michael Horton describes the duplex gratia dei akin to the way he does in his Covenant and Salvation.  The next article, Christ at the Center: The Legacy of the Reformed Tradition (no relation to the podcast of course!) deals in part with the issue of union with Christ – presenting a Calvin more amenable to the “union with Christ school.”

What brings out the crazy uncle is that this particular article is written by Dennis E. Tamburello, a Roman Catholic priest.  As a friend of mine has said, it does seem a little odd that a Roman Catholic priest is writing for Modern Reformation.  Many will shrug this off – and probably for good reason.  Tamburello has written a book on Calvin and union with Christ and is a capable contributor.  But then again, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not really after you!

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