Blog 163: 3.25.4 - 3.25.6

Stephen Nichols

Yesterday I didn't get to 3.25.3.  That's likely for the best, since that section is closely connected with today's reading.  In his discussion of hope springing from the final resurrection, Calvin turns to the bodily resurrection.  This is a cardinal doctrine, making its way right into the Apostles' Creed.  It was a subject of intense interest and false teaching back at the turn of the twentieth century and the fundamentalist/modernist controversy.  It was a topic of debate among the ancient philosophers, it was rejected by the sect of the Sadducees in Christ's day, and it was a significant problem in Calvin's own day. 

Calvin makes a good point in the midst of all this.  After arguing that Scripture clearly and undeniably puts forth the resurrection, and even arguing that our own sense of things is a longing for all that is awry to be set right (a sort of existential argument if you will), Calvin says, "But let us remember that one is truly persuaded of the coming resurrection unless he is seized with wonder, and ascribes to the power of God its due glory" (3.25.4.). 

Calvin makes another good point.  The "pagan denial" of the resurrection results in a most bleak outlook on everything.  Read Job 10:18-22 ("the land of gloom like thick darkness").  The Christian hope of the bodily resurrection changes everything.  Read Job 19:23-29.  I mention these tow passages because my pastor, Michael Rogers, preached a wonderful sermon on these two texts.  And of course, Calvin himself enlists Job's line "I know that my redeemer lives" as one of those "seized with wonder."

Calvin makes one final really good point when he links our bodily resurrection to Christ's bodily resurrection.  "Christ rose again," he tells us, "that he might have us as companions in the life to come" (3.25.3.).

Want to add some poetry to your theology?  Look up John Updike's "Seven Stanzas at Easter."