Van Buren on Calvin on the Atonement
Paul van Buren, Christ In Our Place: The Substitutionary Character of Calvin’s Doctrine of Reconciliation (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002): 61.For those of you who don’t know, this is van Buren’s dissertation, which was written in Basel under Karl Barth (who, incidently, wrote the Introduction). There are a number of van Buren’s works in circulation if not currently in print. But, if you are dying for more, I happen to know that his dogmatics lectures are in the process of publication. I, for one, am looking forward to that!
“The misunderstanding that must be avoided is that the substitution of Christ in our place is somehow a trick that is played on God, or, to put it in more refined terms, that our redemption by the work of Christ in our place is a sort of fiction, whereby we are placed under a great ‘as though’, that is in fact not true. Such an error can arise only if we fail to take absolutely seriously the different elements that surround the Cross: the sin of man, the righteousness of God, the unity of the Father and the Son, and the true Incarnation of the Son of God. Sin must be seen as something so serious that man could not resolve it, but only God Himself. God’s righteousness must be measured by His treatment of sin in the person of His Son. The unity of Father and Son must be measured by the perfect obedience of Christ, and the Incarnation must be taken seriously as a complete action, whereby Christ became a real man, like ourselves in all things, excepting sin.”