|The Big Story of Scripture (Pic: Christianity Today)|
In this short letter, Calvin provides a very brief summary of his general position concerning the doctrine of redemption. A fuller treatment may be found in his famous book Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 2, chapters 1-17. The style used by Calvin in his brief “letter of advice” (consilium) is much lighter and simpler than that adopted in the Institutes, making this extract unusually easy to follow and understand.
“The first man (Adam) of all was created by God with an immortal soul and a mortal body. God adorned him with his own likeness, so that he was free from any evil, and he commanded him to enjoy all that was in his pleasant garden, with the exception of the tree (of knowledge of good and evil) in which all life was hidden. He was so concerned that he should keep his hand away from this tree that he told him that he would die when he first touched its fruit. However, he did touch it. As a result, he died and was no longer like God. This was the primary origin of death. That this is true is proved by the following words: “As often as you eat of it, you will die”…
Man was therefore driven into exile, along with his descendants, in order that, having lost “the horn of plenty,” he should be miserable and experience all kinds of work and every ill, seeking food, sweating and suffering cold, often hungry, often thirsty, always wretched. Finally, God took pity upon this unfortunate and thoroughly unhappy man. Although the sentence which he passed upon him was correct, he nevertheless gave his only and much-loved Son as a sacrificial victim for such sins. By reason of this amazing and unexpected mercy, God commended his own love towards us more greatly than if he had rescinded this sentence. Therefore Christ, the Son of God, was both conceived through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin. He was finally raised up on the cross, and through his own death delivered the human race from eternal death.” (Bracket mine).
So you want to be a Calvinist? Please reread what John Calvin himself wrote.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
1) Consilium de peccato et redemptione; in Corpus Reformatorum, vol.10, part 1, ed. G. Baum, E. Cunitz, and E. Reuss (Braunschweig: Schwetcshke, 1871), pp. 156-157.
2) The Christian Theology Reader edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford: Blackwell), pg. 186-187