Research Topic: The reality of union with Christ in Thomas Goodwin's trinitarian defence of Reformed soteriology.
I am exploring the idea of union with Christ in the works of the Reformed orthodox pastor and theologian, Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680). As with previous Reformed theologians, Goodwin saw union with Christ as the linchpin of salvation by which all the blessings of salvation are applied to believers. In particular, I am exploring the idea of real union with Christ as consisting in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and then examine how real union relates to the transformation of believers (regeneration, resurrection and the renewal of the image of God), legal categories (especially justification and external covenantal union) and participation in Christ's person and work.
For much of his writings, Paul's great burden was for believers to grasp the reality of their salvation and their new identity in Christ. He believed that this was critical for Christians to live confident, joyful and Christ-centred lives. However, today God's work at conversion is often downplayed to merely outward legal change and in turn this has has left Christians lacking the courage to live out their salvation.
If we recover union with Christ, then our focus upon Christ grows!
Thomas Goodwin's writings show how a robust and positive doctrine of real union with Christ can be recovered in a way that is fully consistent with orthodox Reformed concerns. Where his thought ultimately leads is that all of salvation depends upon Christ and so to truly grasp our salvation we first need to grasp Christ himself. If we recover union with Christ, then our focus upon Christ grows!