The Freedom of Formlessness: Justification by Faith Alone and the Protestant Experience of Grace Open Access

Cantey Jr., Larry Daniel (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/w66344456?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
The Freedom of Formlessness: Justification by Faith Alone and the Protestant Experience of Grace
By L. Daniel Cantey, Jr.

The Great Awakening drew Protestant churches into a dispute over the necessity of a vivid experience of grace for salvation. As shaped by the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone, this experience was supposed to wed the believer effectually to God, yet it had a hand in the development of strife among believers even unto schism. How is it that the Protestant experience of grace, given by the same God who ordained the church order, should be integral to the fragmentation of that order?

In search of an answer to this question, I have undertaken an ontological examination of the experience of grace in Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. After a description in the first chapter of the events of the Great Awakening, the second chapter establishes the ontological lenses that serve as a "microscope" for analyzing the experience of grace for the three theologians. These lenses pivot on the distinction between form and formlessness, setting the stage for my investigation of the experiences of grace in Augustine, Luther, and Calvin as seen from an ontological perspective that highlights the question of form. The third chapter argues that Augustine's experience of grace bestows form, elevating sinful nature toward the fulfillment of the law. The fourth and fifth chapters turn to justification by faith alone in Luther and Calvin, contending that for each the experience of grace implies the rendering of nature and the law into formless matter. The sixth chapter juxtaposes the meaning of the Christian narrative of salvation in Augustine as oriented toward form against that of Luther and Calvin as oriented toward formlessness.

The final chapter discerns the implications of this study of the experience of grace for the church as a law-bearing institution. Returning to the Great Awakening as an illustrative case, I argue that grace's theoretical rendering of the law into formless matter provides an underpinning for an experience that disrupts the legislative authority of the church. This same grace liberates human nature into a powerful and dubious freedom, the freedom of ontological formlessness made manifest in the event of schism.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE...1

CHAPTER ONE: THE EXPERIENCE OF GRACE AND THE EVENT OF SCHISM: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT AWAKENING IN THE MIDDLE COLONIES...9

CHAPTER TWO: FORM AND ITS ABSENCE...29

Ontological Lenses...35
Three Types of Religious Experience...59

1. Augustine...60
2. Luther...63
3. Calvin...69

CHAPTER THREE: SAINT AUGUSTINE AND THE LOVE OF GOD SHED ABROAD ON THE HEART...76

Sinful Nature: Wounded, but Not Without Form...77
The Righteous Law...100
Grace as the Love of God Shed Abroad on the Heart...112

CHAPTER FOUR: GRACE AS FORMLESSNESS: MARTIN LUTHER'S DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE...116

Righteousness by Faith, Not Works: The Conventional Scholarly Reading of Luther...118
A Nature that Does Not Justify...137
The Righteousness of God: Grace as the "Death of Death" and the "Law of Liberty"...154

CHAPTER FIVE: JOHN CALVIN'S VARIATION OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH...166

Nature and the Grace of Justification...168
Law and Grace in Calvin...188
The Ontology of Religious Experience in Calvin...204

CHAPTER SIX: THE INVERTED GOSPEL...217

1. Augustine...220
2. Luther...224
3. Calvin...245

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE DOCTRINAL CODE FOR PROTESTANT DIVISION...261

Justification by Faith Alone and the Protestant Pattern of Grace...263
The Protestant Code and the Great Awakening in the Middle Colonies...271

EPILOGUE: PHILIP BERRIGAN AND THE WARFARE STATE...287

BIBLIOGRAPHY...300

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