Biblical Theology

II Corinthians 2:15 says:

15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

Which illustrates something about the”why” of appropriating of salvation (or not); and that is, simply, that Scripture really never speaks to “why” (i.e. why some choose and some don’t, to follow Christ). We do know that the Holy Spirit is the one who so works on the hearts of those who finally believe; but we also know that He works on the hearts of those who don’t believe (Jn 16). For one He works in a way that the Gospel is a “sweet aroma and the fragrance of life;” for the other the “smell of death.” This is where scripture leaves it, certainly all of this is grounded in Christ’s work . . . even His rejection (but we are never fully led to know “why” folks remain in “unbelief”).

Here is how T. F. Torrance describes Jonathan Fraser of Brea (an 17 century Scot, and one of the foremost Evangelical Calvinists of his time):

Quite clearly, then, Fraser held that Christ died for all people, the unbelieving as well as the believing, the damned as well as the saved, the reprobate as well as the elected. How, then, did he think that the death of Christ, not least his atoning satisfaction for sin, bears upon those who reject Christ and bring damnation upon themselves? This was one of the basic issues where James Fraser sided with the teaching of John Calvin, rather than with that of those ‘ Protestant Divines’ who, he complained, had not followed the old road. The particular point we must take into account here is that according to St. Paul the knowledge of Christ is to some people a ’savour of life unto life’, but to others it can be a ’savour of death unto death’. In that light it may be said that while the preaching of the gospel of Christ crucified for all mankind is meant for their salvation, it can also have the unintended effect of blinding and damning people—it becomes a ‘ savour of death unto death’. That is how Fraser regarded what happened to the reprobates in becoming ‘ the vessels of wrath’. (Thomas F. Torrance, “Scottish Theology: From John Knox to John McLeod Campbell,” 198–201)

Unlike the Classic Calvinist (Westminster), the Evangelical Calvinist does not look — necessarily — for all the “causal” reasons of “Why.” We want to look at scripture, and most definitely work out and into the inner logic of the scriptures; but this only means that we can only press as far as the boundaries of scripture, and Christ’s life, allow. I would suggest, then, that knowing “Why,” in the form provided by the CC’s; is not a tenable approach to interpreting scripture. And the reason I know this, is because in their method, in their desire to “fill in the gaps,” they end up flattening out scripture; when scripture in reality is alot more rough than “our systems” would have them to be.

Just a heads-up, I plan on dealing with particular texts of scripture that are key to our approach to articulating an Evangelically charged Calvinism. I am afraid that some of what I have been presenting, thus far, has been too much on the systematic theology side (which isn’t inherently bad ;-); but given my affirmation of sola scriptura, I want to be faithful to that, and try to connect some of the things we have been talking about, with scripture.

So start to look for those kinds of post in the immediate future. I think the first section I am going to look at — since this just came up in the last comment meta — is II Corinthians 2:14ff. This pericope — or unit of scripture — presents us with some principles on the kinds of questions we should be concerned with in regards to the various responses we find to the Gospel (yes and no). I look forward to talking futher about this passage; probably my next post (I wish my posts could be the result of research papers on each subject, but sometimes [given life] all I can do is throw out a reflection — usually if I do throw out said reflections, they come from past research that I have done on that particulary subject. My goal is to provide fresh thinking and research, but sometimes it is not always possible :-).