For some reason I took my book, Calvin’s Wisdom (ed. Graham Miller) down from the shelf this morning and began reading quotations about reconciliation. I find Calvin far more interesting than Calvinists most of the time. Calvinists sometimes read him but often do not understand him.
By this approach they miss the "real Calvin" and even drive readers away from his work. Non-Calvinists, especially passionate anti-Calvinists, rarely read him and only know some of the things (e.g., predestination, etc.) he said that they profoundly disagree with. By this approach they miss the richness of the man’s great mind and strongly biblical theology. I love Calvin, do not always agree with him, but find my soul almost always fed by him.
Most of the quotes I read this morning had to do with Christ reconciling us to God the Father by his own sacrifice, surely a proper reminder in this Holy Week season. Here is one example:
"Christ propitiated God by his own blood, and reconciled him to men" (Hebrews Commentary, 236).
"As soon as a sinner willing condemns himself . . . he is already reconciled to God" (Hab.-Haggai Commentary, 136).
I read the entire section on reconciliation looking for wisdom on what John Calvin said about our reconciliation with each other as a result of God’s reconciling us to himself through the work of Christ. Then I found this quote:
"We are reconciled to God upon condition that every man endeavor to make his brethren partakers of the same benefit" (Psalms Commentary I:535).
And this quote stood out as well:
"The beginning of acceptable service is reconciliation" (Hebrews Commentary, 205).
The dominant emphasis in the Reformer John Calvin is upon our reconciliation with God. This is clearly the dominant biblical emphasis and can so easily be absorbed by cultural concerns and lost by modern ministers. At the same time these two quotes about our human relational reconciliation demonstrate that our reconciliation to God is rooted in a human dimension. Calvin’s words are rather startling to me: "We are reconciled to God upon the condition [that we] endeavor to make [our] brethren partakers of the same benefit." I often wonder if we stray to one of two sides of of this clear biblically balanced perspective too easily. We stress being reconciled with God OR being reconciled with our brothers and sisters but not both. Calvin is pretty clear: We cannot have one without the other.