In the typical Calvinist framing, discussion surrounding salvation (i.e. election, predestination, assurance of salvation, etc.) is most often given a legal forensic tone. We often times will hear of things like: the covenant of works, the covenant of redemption, the covenant of grace, divine pacts, bipleuric covenants, the practical syllogism, etc., etc. Usually in this discussion the Father is seen as the wrathful judge and lawgiver who can only be placated by the merciful humiliating work of Jesus Christ at the cross. In this scenario the implication is clear, the Fathers’ love for humanity is contingent upon the atoning work of Jesus Christ; so that the cause of the Fathers’ love for humanity is located in certain juridical requirements being met, instead of in His always already self-determined superabundant triune life of love.

An analogy of the above scenario would be to see a judge (the Father) sitting in judgment on a convicted felon, who also happened to be his son (Jesus), who gives him a particular sentence to pay back to society. Once the son completed his sentence, then the Father could love his son. This kind of “love” is “conditioned” and determined by certain requirements being met, as the basis of love.

I realize my analogy breaks-down at points, but you get the point, right? Theologically, if we follow Federal Calvinism, God’s being of love for the other is not truly free in itself, instead it is shaped and predicated upon the conditions that we (creation) have set (by our sin) for Him to meet. That is, His love becomes determined by some[one] else, apart from Himself—and this just won’t do!

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