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Sola Dei Gloria

The Glory of God in the Thought of John Calvin

Series:

Billy Kristanto

The study examines the understanding of the glory of God in the thought of John Calvin. The examination is carried out from the historical observation in the first part and the systematic evaluation in the second part. The author describes the development of the concept of gloria Dei in Calvin’s Institutes as well as its significant role as a counterpart to the major Christian doctrines. Following a survey of the historical background, the presence of gloria Dei in the first, second, and last editions of the Institutes is discussed. In the systematic part, the concept of gloria Dei is analyzed in the context of its dynamic presence throughout the central doctrines such as the doctrine of creation, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, eschatology, and ecclesiology. The systematic evaluation shows that gloria Dei is one of the loudest cantus firmi in Calvin’s theological composition.

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Part III: Finale

Extract

In the historical examination, it can be seen that Calvin had reflected some ele- ments of the discourses on gloria Dei of the previous theologians such as Theophilus of Antioch, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther. If the early church theologians had dealt with the idea of gloria Dei to pose a Christian alternative to the traditional-pagan understanding both of ancient Greek and Ro- man thought, Calvin used the gloria Dei less in a polemical tone against six- teenth-century challenges; rather he reflected on it as an inheritance of a long tradition before him. The epistle dedicatory of the first edition of the Institutes already betrayed Calvin’s concern with the safeguarding of God’s glory on earth. In relation with knowledge of God and of ourselves, serving God’s honor and glory is the conse- quence of the knowledge of our creatureliness. Though Calvin’s understanding of the law still followed Luther’s theological use of the law, the three uses of the law were already developed in Calvin’s earliest Institutes. Trinitarian-theological way of thinking was applied when Calvin wrote on the relation between the Son and the Father with regard to divine property of glory. Christ was not only the Mediator between God and human being but also the very Majesty of God him- self. In the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, doxology ought to be the consequence of a right pneumatological understanding of good works. The same applied to Cal- vin’s doctrine of justification by faith alone. Following Luther, Calvin attributed the...

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