Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Calov on Justification by Faith Alone.
Prolific Genius of the Post-Concord Theologians



Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God's children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe.[1]



[1] Apodixis Articulorum Fidei, Lueneburg, 1684. Cited with approval in Robert D. Preus, Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 131n.       
                                                                                                       

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GJ - See this excellent essay on Calov, by Timoth Schmeling, quoted in part below.

ABRAHAM CALOV (1612-1686): SAINTED DOCTOR AND DEFENDER OF THE CHURCH
Timothy R. Schmeling

It has been said that Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) was third in the series of Lutheranism’s most preeminent theologians and after him there was no fourth (Fischer. The Life of Johann Gerhard. 98-99). First and second place naturally belong to Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Martin Chemnitz (1522-1586) respectively. If one were to speak of a fourth in this distinguished list, the position would no doubt have been assigned to Abraham Calov.

Abraham Calov ranks not only as one of the greatest theologians in Lutheranism, but also as one of the greatest teachers in Christendom. He was a man of exceptional learning and scholastic tendencies. At the same time, he was a man of deep piety and practicality. Very few were impartial in their assessment of Abraham Calov. He was a very polarizing individual. His opponents feared him, but his adherents loved him.

The legacy of Abraham Calov has been tarnished over time. Prior to the recent renaissance, sparked by the rediscovery of missing portions of the Codex Epistolarum theologicarum (his collected letters), Calov research had depicted him as the prototype of a controversialist and a preacher of an unattainable doctrinal orthodoxy. This questionable caricature can be explained by a number of factors. First of all there has been a strong bias against Lutheran Orthodoxy even within Lutheranism. Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) writes, “Many people want to be Christians, but certainly not Wittenberg Lutheran Christians; certainly not Christians of Calov’s grace” (Lessing. Gesammelte Werke. 170).

In his revisionist History of Lutheranism, Eric Gritsch [GJ - Jim Heiser buddy] denounces the doctrines of verbal inspiration and fellowship as taught by Calov and finally writes him off as Ultraconservative (Gritsch. A History of Lutheranism. 135). Second, the chief nineteenth century biographer of Abraham Calov was a mediating theologian named August Tholuck (1799-1877). This Prussian Union historian [GJ - Halle University, Hoenecke mentor] had more in common with Calov’s syncretistic arch-nemesis than with Calov. Third, there is very little primary source material available on Calov and much of it may not have survived the war or is possibly buried somewhere in the Bibliotheca Gdanska PAN (formerly Stadtsbibliothek Danzig). Finally Calov’s research is a difficult task due to the linguistic, cultural, and intellectual barriers that divide us from this critical juncture in Lutheran history. In spite of these facts, it is the purpose of this paper to help familiarize Lutheranism with one of its lost teachers.
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