The evangelical position is that man has only one end, but that this end is not supernature, but rather, restored nature: original integrity renovated and confirmed in what Van Ruler called a “fireproof” or æveternal state. Further, the gate of this destination is justification by faith alone; since evangelicals deny that nature is being “perfected” by a different nature, and deny that God’s favor is any way earned by works, in temporal politics we do not accept the subordination of the “secular” to the “religious.” The universal priesthood exists in and as all the worldly callings, and the gift of provisional restoration destined for eschatological completion comes at the cost of no ascetic amputations. Proleptically full participation in the final state is the spiritual kingdom, and provisional and progressive participation of it is the worldly kingdom, in the classical two-kingdoms doctrine of the Reformers. This is, of course, a far cry from the papalist two-ends theory.
Most intriguing. Several thoughts come to mind.
- As the good father points out, most Catholics (including me) have been completely misunderstanding Calvinism. I suspect I still don’t understand it very well, since the concept of “nature” must mean something different without the contrast of an order of grace.
- I expect this connects to the Calvinists’ relative devaluation of the sacraments, as there would be no need for the distinct power of symbols to transcend our nature powers of signification.
- The New Theologians, in attacking the two-ends theory, are basically Calvinists. I look forward to telling them this. (Then I hope Catholics can stop with the silly habit of using “Calvinist” as a general purpose insult.)
- Can we perhaps now understand Mormon doctrine (in so far as I understand it from a few of their blogs) as an outgrowth of Protestantism, in particular its seemingly blasphemous claims that man and God share a single nature? Mormonism is what Protestantism must become if it is to take the promise of theosis seriously while maintaining that God only restores our own human nature, that there is nothing properly speaking supernatural about our beatitude.
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