Grace, law and the doctrine of God in the theologies of St Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and John McLeod Campbell : a comparative study
This study compares and contrasts the various understandings of grace and law found in St. Thomas, Calvin, and McLeod Campbell, noting how they are grounded in certain conceptions of the nature of God. St. Thomas' metaphysic of final causality yields an abstract God of Pure Act who is fundamentally self-determined will, and who therefore can issue a double decree, and even establish a kind of semipelagianism, for sinners having received the first grace, must cooperate with grace in order to be restored to a state of justice. In this manner, the nature of God as loving and gracious is called into question. Calvin, without consciously responding to the details of the thomist synthesis, presents an evangelical critique of medieval theology, grounded in his conviction that God is gracious in his self-giving in the humanity of his Son for the salvation of the world. Calvin maintains the double decree, although out of harmony with his fundamental insights regarding God's nature. It serves as a defense of sola gratia. but at the expense of creating a voluntaristic wedge between the being and act of a God who is not truly loving or gracious. Campbell engages in a Christological critique of Calvin, urging that if Christ is truly the only revelation of God then God is a loving Father in his inmost life, whose will for the human race is undivided in his desire that all be reconciled in the humanity of his Son. In his death Jesus says Amen to the divine judgment upon human sin, removing the barrier for all to return.