The righteousness of works in the theology of John Calvin

Emmert, Kevin (2019) The righteousness of works in the theology of John Calvin. PhD thesis, Middlesex University / London School of Theology. [Thesis]

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Abstract

This thesis explores John Calvin’s positive teaching on works-righteousness, demonstrating that his understanding of the matter is more complex than is often recognized. Most studies that relay Calvin’s notion of works-righteousness tend to rehearse his negative statements on the subject in order to establish his teaching on justification sola fide. This study shows that while Calvin denounces works-righteousness in some instances, he affirms it in others. Further, the main question of this study is not simply whether but how Calvin holds a positive notion of works-righteousness. This thesis demonstrates that Calvin affirms a righteousness according to works within the proper theological context, one in which a righteousness according to faith has already been established. This thesis also argues that Calvin taught a form of justification by works. Indeed, it shows that Calvin ascribes not only a positive role to good works in relation to divine acceptance, but also soteriological value to the good works of believers. This thesis does so by exploring Calvin’s theological anthropology, his understanding of divine-human activity, his teaching on the nature of good works, and his understanding of divine grace and benevolence. It also addresses current debates in Calvin scholarship by providing additional input for discussions on topics such as union with Christ, the relation between justification and sanctification, the relation between good works and divine acceptance, the role of good works in the Christian life, and the content of good works. All this is accomplished by analyzing not just Calvin’s magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, but also his commentaries, theological treatises, catechisms, and sermons.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > London School of Theology
Item ID: 30849
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2020 09:52
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 12:34
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/30849

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