Zanchius and the Evangelical Law

Girolamo ZanchiusI found the following quote from Zanchius interesting, partly because Peter Martyr was adamant that the fathers of the Old Covenant had the same Spirit and the same Law written on their hearts. Zanchi says:

… the law was not written in their hearts, but remained written onely in tables and therfore did not chaunge men. But the gospell is written by the Holie ghost in the hearts of the elect and therefore it chaungeth and renueth them, because it is the instrument of the Holie ghost to sanctifie and to save us. (De religione christiana fides, 13.VIII.)

I am not positing any sharp discontinuity between Calvin and Vermigli on the one hand and Zanchius on the other, but this emphasis on the role of the Spirit in the New Covenant by the latter does seem more Thomistic.

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The Emergence of the Principle Corresponds to the Emergence of Creatures

When Thomas Aquinas wrote his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences he placed God at the center and everything else in relation to Him, emanating out in creation and returning in final glorification.  Jean-Pierre Torrell explains the organizing ratio of this plan:

If we do not remember the biblical affirmation of God as the Alpha and Omega of all that is visible and invisible, this plan may seem only a rather flat assertion.  We do not perceive all its depth until we grasp the organizing ratio that gives it its intelligibility. Thomas sees the ratio in the fact that the creation – the emergence of creatures from God, the principle – finds its explanation in the fact that even in God there is an “emergence of the Principle,” which is the procession of the Word from the Father. The divine efficacy that works in the creation is thus related to the generation of the Word, just as the formal cause of the grace that will permit creatures to return to God is linked to the spiration of the Holy Spirit.  More precisely and fully, we might therefore say that the divine missions ad extra are explained according to the order of the processions of the divine persons ad intra. (Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Vol. 1:  The Person and His Work, p. 43)    

This view of the Word as the Principium of all creation effects one’s understanding of grace.  Since all created things owe their being and sustenance to the Word it cannot be denied that there is an inherently gracious element in creation.  Also, viewing Thomas’s conception of the relationship between the works of the Trinity ad extra and the works of the Trinity ad intra one can have a broader appreciation for Karl Rahner’s contribution to this most important of issues – while maintaining a critical eye.  God’s creating (and recreating) work is the climax of the relationship of signus to res. “And he was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” (Matt. 17:2)

Exclusion and Evangelism

I fear that many pastors today have fallen into the error of preaching the doctrines of grace theoretically instead of preaching them practically and using the truths of Scripture to draw men to Christ.  Instead of using the Bible as our instrument to draw men into fellowship with God, biblical doctrine has become our grounds to exclude those – even other believers – who disagree with us.  Instead of using the Scripture as the sword of the Spirit to conquer men for Christ, we spend our energies defending it, as if it were fragile and easily broken. (C. John Miller, Powerful Evangelism, 13)

If Christ Is the One Idea…

This does not mean that all esse commune (created being) is redeemed by virtue of the incarnation or his one act on the cross. Of course there is an eschatological element in which all of creation has the promise of redemption now through Christ’s realization of that promise.  However, those who espouse a universalist atonement based on folks like Aquinas attributing Platonic principles to Christ’s being are incorrect.  I agree that the Logos ensarkos (i.e. Jesus) is the One through whom all things were made and are recreated.  Through his incarnation the Son united himself, not only with humanity, but with created being, esse commune. Although, just as Christ’s two natures are united via the Holy Spirit, esse commune is only recreated by this One whom St. Augustine defined as that Bond of Love between the Father and the Son – the Paraklete. In other words, there is no redemption without Pentecost just as there is no Atonement without Golgatha.