God Needs Us

God Needs Us April 29, 2011

So says Calvin, doctor of divine sovereignty. Commenting on John 14:18, he writes, “We . . . imagine to ourselves but a half-Christ, and a mutilated Christ, if he does not lead us to God.” In John 17, when Jesus speaks of Himself as One with the Father, we must remember that Jesus is the Mediator and Head of the church. In this way “will the chain of thought be preserved, that, in order to prevent the unity of the Son with the Father from being fruitless and unavailing, the power of that unity must be diffused through the whole body of believers.”

Calvin thought that without the members of the body that make up the church, we have only a “mutilated Christ.” But the second quotation goes further, and says that unless the body of disciples is one, then the unity of Father and Son is “fruitless” and impotence. God will not be God, Christ will be a mutilated Christ, unless the church is united to Him and within itself.

To make sense of this, we need to stress the Barthian/Calvinist point that God is utterly free to create or not create. Having decreed to create, however, He is the God He is only insofar as He brings us to Himself, and brings the world to its end. God would not be the God of this world without the church.

But we can finally flip this the other way: If Christ were finally without limbs, if the church were finally fractured, then God would not be God. But God is God, the eternally and essentially fruitful God, and so we can be certain that we will not end with a mutilated Christ or a fruitless union of Father and Son.

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