In his dissertation Being in Christ (2009) Reformed theologian Hans Burger does a commendable effort to renew Reformed theology through retrieving the concept of participation in Christ, in order to warrant the relational and transformative dynamics of the gospel.
It is doubtful, however, whether his systematic-theological proposal offers the dogmatic innovations that seem to be needed to fully achieve his goals. Further steps could be taken.
In his compelling study Baptized in the Spirit (2006), Pentecostal theologian Frank D. Macchia suggests five dogmatic moves that might be helpful to further advance Burger’s endeavour.
1. Introduction – Retrieving the participative dynamics of the gospel
Through his dissertation, Being in Christ, Reformed theologian Hans Burger has offered a significant contribution to the renewal of Reformed theology. It is a profound and precise study, that is comprehensive and balanced, and carefully in conversation with both Scripture and the Reformed tradition. His retrieval of the concept of “being in Christ” gives theological grounding for a richer understanding of salvation in a Reformed perspective.
Burger’s study must be understood from his denominational background, the Dutch Gereformeerde Kerken (vrijgemaakt), an orthodox-Reformed tradition that has strongly emphasized the objectivity of salvation and the exclusivity of Christ, with rather rational overtones. This emphasis has emanated from pastoral concerns, aiming at giving the believer assurance of faith, grounded not in fickle feelings or experiences (as in Reformed Pietism), but in the completed works of Christ. This pastoral intentions, however, may have led to an understanding of faith that is more juridical than relational, more cognitive than affective, and more passive than inducing active involvement of the subject. Burger even speaks of a “neglect of Christ” in a “conservative form”, since by stressing the doctrine of satisfaction by penal substitution,
“Jesus Christ is reduced to the one who died for our sins but who, in the present, does not really play any role (…) Jesus Christ himself remains someone from the past.”
Burger’s first concern, then, is to retrieve the relational dynamics of the gospel. The Christian life must be driven not by legalism, but by communion with Christ in the present. To deepen a theological understanding of this present communion, Burger reintroduces the theme of “being in Christ”, or “union with Christ”. This theme of the unio mystica cum Christo is deeply Reformed, he asserts, since it is a central theme in the theology of e.g. John Calvin. But evidently, this treasure of the Reformed tradition needs to be rediscovered.
His second concern is about the transformative dynamics of the gospel, or put differently, “the question of the presence of salvation in the present”. While Pentecost and Charismatic Christians emphasize the life-transforming power of the gospel in terms of victory, healing and deliverance, conservative Reformed theologians often seem to downplay expectations to see salvation “materialized” in the present reality, since the world is still broken under the power of sin and any “glory” remains a future inheritance. But here too, Burger suggests, the concept of “being in Christ” might deepen our understanding.
Burger seems to be on the right track here and the direction he takes most certainly looks promising. His thorough-going study resonates with a wider movement in contemporary orthodox-Reformed theology that retrieves notions of participation, listening anew to its own tradition, e.g. John Calvin, the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. But five years after its initial publication, we might assess that further dogmatic innovation is needed to fully achieve Burger’s goal of recognizing the radical concept of “participating in the eschatological story of Christ”.
In this paper I will suggest that the dogmatic proposals of Pentecost theologian Frank D. Macchia might be helpful to advance Burger’s endeavour. After providing a brief overview of some key elements in Burger’s study, I will outline his proposal for a systematic-theological framework, and try to pinpoint which dogmatic issues would need to be taken further. I will then sketch how Macchia’s dogmatic proposals could be of use at these points.
2. Hans Burger: Outline of a careful investigation
In accordance with his hermeneutical approach, Burger listens to two voices of the Reformed tradition, John Owen (Ch. 2) and Herman Bavinck (Ch. 3), two canonical voices, Paul (Ch. 5) and John (Ch. 6), and two contemporary voices, Ingolf U. Dalferth (Ch. 8) and Oliver O’Donovan (Ch. 9), before proposing his own systematic-theological concept of “being in Christ” (Ch. 10). Burger derives a few important “building blocks” from this approach, that appear to be crucial for his effort of retrieving the relational and transformative dynamics of the gospel.
Recapitulating his precise and highly structured approach would be interesting, but this is beyond the scope of this paper. Let me suffice to mention a few key elements.
2.1 Both eschatological and mystic
The language of “being in Christ” is diverse, as Burger shows in his Chapters 5 and 6. It comprises both the Pauline perspective, in which “being in Christ” is perceived as an eschatological reality (it is real yet incomplete, and believers are perceived as active subjects awaiting their full participation in the new creation), and the Johannine perspective, in which “being in Christ” is primarily perceived as one side of the reciprocal inhabitation of Christ and his disciples. Both perspectives should be included, in addition to juridical perspectives. (Burger neglects to mention the imagery of the messianic Kingdom at this point. My suggestion would be that precisely this Kingdom-perspective would proof to be a integrative principle here. We will find this with Macchia.)
2.2 Distinguishing, and thus warranting Reformed concerns
Really insightful, and helpful to discern between the exclusivity and the inclusivity of Christ, is Burger’s structured exposition on the “four moments” of the relation between Christ and the Church, as he investigates how these four moments are present in the respective theologies he deals with. Burger discerns two Christological moments, and two soteriological moments.
2.2.1 Two Christological Moments
a. Substitution: the moment of exclusivity of Christ
b. Representation: the moment of inclusivity of Christ
Burger concludes that we need both the exclusivity of work-substitution (Jesus Christ has done something unique for us), and the inclusivity of his (double) representation: Christ representing the Father to humanity, and humanity to the Father. The inclusive moment denotes the side of the story of Christ in which believers will participate, the exclusive moment denotes the other side of the story, which is the “soteriological precondition” of this participation.
Both moments seems to be intertwined with both Paul and John, Burger asserts, and they should not be separated. If they are separated, we lose the tension that is needed to retain the Biblical perspective. For if the inclusive moment is emphasized at the expense of the exclusive moment, it may lead to a mistaken equation of Christ’s relation to the Father and ours, holding that human obedience would be salvific and that believers would become divine. But if the exclusive moment is emphasized at the expense of the inclusive moment, it may lead to isolation of the juridical aspect – as often has happened in orthodox-Reformed theology.
So we need the concept of substitution to warrant the Reformed concern for the exclusivity of Christ, but we also need the concept of representation to retain the relational dynamics of the Gospel.
2.2.2 Two Soteriological Moments
c. Union: the moment of contact between Christ and the believers
d. Participation: the moment of the believer’s sharing in Christ
The believers’ union with Christ is not merely a single moment of initiation, but an ongoing union – thus warranting the relational dynamics of salvation. Several aspects are to be discerned, related to the beginning of this union (incorporation, unification, faith) and its ongoing continuation (inhabitation, communion, communication). Its nature is analogous to the intertrinitarian perichoresis.
But in addition to this ongoing union, Burger then discerns the moment of participation in Christ. Using the concept of participation “will be an apposition but also an improvement of the Reformed tradition”, Burger asserts.
“For a concept of ‘being in Christ’ the moment of participation is important to do justice to, especially, the Pauline model as well as to the eschatological nature of ‘being in Christ’ , characterized by the tension between already and not yet.”
It gives the lives of the believers an orientation towards a full participation in Christ, his identity and his destination. For the Reformation the concept of participation proved to be problematic, as it needed to steer away from both the faults of medieval Roman Catholic theology and Remonstrant theology. But the concept of participation needs rehabilitation in Reformed theology, for emphasis on substitution only– without participation in Christ and his righteousness - robs the gospel of its renewing and life-transforming potential.
2.3 A Reformed theological framework
By thus making clear distinctions between the various moments and stressing these perspectives should be kept together, Burger is able to retrieve the notions of inclusivity and participation, in order to restore the relational and transformative dynamics of the gospel, while warranting the concerns of the Reformation for the exclusivity of Christ.
His exploration leads Burger to a theological framework that is:
- · Eschatological in every aspect. Doing justice to the Pauline perspective, Burger emphasizes that the church lives “in between” the coming of the new Aeon and the ending of the old Aeon. Thus an entire period in history opens up, in which the believers are “taken up into the story of Christ”: the end of our story and the end of his history coincide.
- · Deeply trinitarian. The continuing story of God with his world has a Christological and a Pneumatological side, as the ‘two hands of God”.
- · Participative in character. The continuing history of God with his world has an exclusive and an inclusive side, that must be kept together. Christ’s history continues after his death, with his resurrection, his ascension to the right hand of the Father, his sending of the Spirit to the church and making the church participate in his story, as the believers anticipate their full participation in Christ.
2.4 Pinpointing some dogmatic issues in Burger’s study
Burger’s proposal for a theological framework is to be considered a major contribution to the renewal of orthodox-Reformed theology. It is worth being developed further, consistently making inferences for Reformed theology. My suggestion would be that in order to fully achieve Burger’s goal of retrieving the participative dynamics of the gospel, further dogmatic moves have to be made.
Of course, it is hard to do justice to his comprehensive, 600-page exploration, with all its nuances and broad references. But at the risk of failing to do so, I will try to pinpoint some dogmatic issues that might have to be taken further.
· Participation, perichoresis and experience
It remains unclear how to perceive the union with Christ in the life of the believers. On the one hand, Burger stresses the importance of this mystical union, understood as the mutual indwelling of Christ and his disciples. He refers to Calvin, according to whom this unio mystica was fundamental for salvation. He also refers to the Cappadocian Fathers and their concept of perichoresis, and asserts that the believers’ union with Christ is “more than just relational”. On the other hand, he stresses that the intertrinitarian perichoresis is merely an “analogy” to the believers’ union with Christ. Is he saying enough here? How is the believers’ union “more than relational” if the perichoresis is merely an "analogy", and how would they experience this?
Burger does say a few things on this. In his section on soteriology, he speaks of the works of the Spirit and attests that the inhabitation of Christ in the believers is the inhabitation of the Spirit, who is a down payment of our future inheritance. Moreover, “Christ’s Spirit in us is a source of moral and spiritual renewal”. But here, too, it remains unclear how the Spirit is such a source for renewal, and how believers would experience this?
· The eschatological story of Christ and the mission of the Spirit
Burger might be emphatically referring to the ongoing “eschatological story of Christ” (stating that the history of Christ continues after his death, with his resurrection, ascension and his sending of the Spirit, making the church participate in his story), but at crucial points his emphasis is still very much on “the story of Christ as told in the Gospels” (confined to “birth, life, cross, death and resurrection”), as if to safeguard Christ’s historical uniqueness and exclusivity.
If Burger’s approach of the Biblical sources is canonical and the entire “narrative of the history of salvation” indeed should be foundational for systematic theology (as Burger states), why not consistently take this entire narrative – from creation to new creation – as the interpretative soteriological framework, instead of merely the narrative of “the life, death and resurrection” of Jesus Christ?
Burgers narrow emphasis in soteriology on “the life, death and resurrection” of Jesus Christ has the unintended effect that it suggests only a second-rate importance for the remainder of the eschatological story. Inevitably – but in contradiction to his own endeavour - the ascension of Christ, his sending of the Spirit, and the participation of the Church are somehow downgraded to an appendix, as often has been the case in Reformed theology. It is significant and revealing in this respect, that when Burger speaks of the importance of Christ’s sending of the Spirit to the church, he hastens to say that “I do not want to suggest that something has to be added to cross, resurrection and glorification”. Further on we will see how Macchia makes a different choice, that seems helpful.
Throughout his study, Burger aims to stress the “two hands of God” and the importance of the Spirit. Yet his emphasis on the mission of the Son - focussing merely on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection - inevitably seems to be undermining this, impeding a fuller appreciation of the distinct mission of the Spirit.
· The mission of the church
This also translates into Burger’s understanding of the mission of the church. Despite his emphasis on the participation of the church in the eschatological story of Christ, he now narrows the mission of the church down by stating that the Son’s mission has been accomplished, and that the mission of the church is “to make known Christ and his work”. How “participating” is that? How “transformative”?
Taking his point of departure more consistently from the entire narrative of salvation – from creation to new creation – could have opened up possibilities for understanding the mission of the church systematic-theologically in terms of “being the beginning of new creation”, and “preparing for the new creation”.
And a full appreciation of the mission of the Spirit, being poured out in the church, could have opened up possibilities for a fuller understanding of the mission of the church in terms of being Spirit-filled and empowered by the Spirit, already living “in the sphere of influence of Christ’s reign through the Holy Spirit”.
3. Frank D. Macchia: Spirit-baptism as integrative metaphor
Frank D. Macchia is a Pentecostal theologian with ecumenical concerns. His excellent study Baptized in the Spirit is aimed at retrieving some of the distinct features of Pentecostal theology – its “crown jewels” – but explicitly in order to contribute from this distinctiveness to the wider body of Christ. He places himself in the tradition of the Reformation and is clearly in conversation it, drawing from e.g. John Calvin.
Macchia takes the metaphor of baptism in the Spirit, and explores how it might function as an organizing principle of a Pentecostal theology. Pentecostals tend to understand the concept of “Spirit baptism” from Luke/Acts only, as charismatic and missionary empowerment. But one needs Paul’s perspective as well, which is soteriological (having fundamentally to do with “being in Christ” and initiation into the Kingdom of God).
In order to integrate these perspectives, Macchia proposes a broader theological framework, that is eschatological, trinitarian, and pneumatologically understands the Kingdom of God as inaugurated as a “Spirit baptism”. His central thesis is, that
“Spirit baptism is a baptism into the love of God that sanctifies, renews, and empowers until Spirit baptism turns all of creation into the final dwelling place of God. Along the way, Pentecostals will be justified in calling Christians to a Spirit baptism as a fresh experience of power for witness with charismatic signs following.”
Five dogmatic moves that might help
I will not attempt to summarize Macchia’s line of argument here, but confine myself to highlighting five dogmatic moves (or perhaps “innovations”) that he makes , that could be helpful to Burger’s endeavour.
· Participation, perichoresis and experience
1) The first dogmatic move that might be helpful to advance Burger’s endeavour, is that Macchia takes the Kingdom-motif as dominant category, and augments it with the theme of participation in - and union with - God. The Kingdom-motif thus evolves into “the notion of participation in the ever-expanding fullness of divine love through the presence of Christ”. This move to connect participation to the Kingdom-motif enforces and theologically grounds the eschatological understanding of participation, for which also Burger aims.
2) A second dogmatic move that might be helpful to advance Burger’s endeavour, concerns Macchia’s use of the theme of the intratrinitarian perichoresis. Like Burger, Macchia relates participation to the concept of the perichoresis, but he does so more consistently. Macchia applies the perichoresis as truly a key principle for understanding the nature and implications of “being in Christ”, outlining more far-reaching implications for the life of the believer and the life of the church.
For this, Macchia draws from Jürgen Moltmann and (mostly) Wolfhart Pannenberg, taking the notion of the believer’s participation in the perichoretic divine life significantly further than merely an “analogy” (as we find it with Karl Barth, who noted an analogia caritatis between the triune God and the creation of humanity as relational beings). The communion of persons in God is characterised by reciprocity, mutuality and interdependence, as the divine persons in self-giving love pour out themselves in the other, drawing from one another’s fullness, and being established and glorified through it. This perichoretic triune life is not closed or self-contained, but dynamic and open to creation, seeking to involve creation, that God may dwell in creation and creation may dwell in God, and God may be “all in all”. (I can’t help but ad here, that this notion should appeal especially to theologians in the Calvinistic tradition. For intriguing input for this, see Julia Canlis’ fresh perspectives on Calvin, for instance: Calvin’s Ladder (2010), p. 133-134).
From Moltmann and Pannenberg, Macchia also draws the insight into God’s vulnerability to be affected by the world, and he develops this further with the help of Michael Welker’s view of God and humans as empathetic subjects: the self is fulfilled “not in self-reference but rather in empathy with others”. He concurs with Pannenberg that the monarchy of God is theologically related to – if not somehow dependent on – the establishment of God’s reign of life in the world, thus theologically connecting the notion of participation with the Kingdom-motif.
3) Often such expositions on perichoresis and participation remain rather abstract and philosophical, but with Macchia it gets quite concrete and experiential, as he relates this to the life of the individual believer and the life of the church in terms of Spirit baptism (again I can’t help but refer to Canlis on Calvin, for instance p. 134) – applying the concept of Spirit baptism as a point of integration between sanctification and eschatology (drawing both from the concept of perichoresis and the Kingdom-motif). This most certainly is a dogmatic innovation that is helpful to Burger’s endeavour. The reign of God comes on believers,
“through an abundant outpouring of God’s very Spirit on us to transform us and to direct our lives toward Christlike loyalties. From the Trinitarian fellowship of the Father and the Son, the Spirit is poured out to expand God’s love and communion to creation. This outpouring prefigures the eschatological indwelling of God in all of creation”.
Thus, Spirit baptism is neither “a super-additum or a supplemental experience of grace that is not essential to Christian identity”, nor a “divine act and a creaturely participation in ways too deep for conscious awareness” – it is “something consciously experienced”.
Macchia emphasizes that Spirit baptism is not dependent on human experience (as it might be perceived in Pietism) - it is about divine action, by which Christian identity is established, and the necessary human response of trusting the promise of God (as Reformed theology stresses). But he maintains the connection between God’s act of initiation and the unique experiences and giftings of the Spirit.
“Initiation to the life of the Spirit is not dependent on human experience, but the experience of the kingdom of God in power is certainly involved in Spirit baptism as an eschatological gift of ever-new participation in the life and mission of God.”
· The eschatological story of Christ and the mission of the Spirit
4) A fourth dogmatic move that would be helpful to Burger’s endeavour, is Macchia’s eschatological understanding of Jesus being primarily the “Baptizer with the Spirit”.
If the goal of God’s history with the world is turning “all of creation into the final dwelling place of God”, and Spirit baptism is to be understood as “a baptism into God’s love that sanctifies, renews, and empowers” in order to turn creation into this final dwelling place, then the outpouring of the Spirit can no longer be understood as merely an “empowerment” for the church, as a supplemental experience of grace, but it must be understood as the core of salvation.
As Henry Knight summarizes,
“Spirit-baptism is essentially an outpouring of divine love, the same love that marks the Trinitarian life of God. It is a gift of eschatological life, inaugurated at Pentecost and consummated in the new creation. Rather than being the last event in a soteriological sequence, it encompasses all of soteriology.”
Whereas Burger – in accordance with the Reformed tradition – places his emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus (and indeed says that in terms of soteriology nothing needs to be added to this), Macchia stresses that this emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus must involve “Jesus as the one raised from the dead to bestow the Spirit”. The “chief purpose of the resurrection” is for Jesus to become to Bestower of the life-giving Spirit, inaugurating the Kingdom of God on behalf of the Father. (see Canlis on Calvin, p. 126)
“Without the role of Jesus as the one who bestows the Spirit, his resurrection would have lost its eschatological goal and the relationship of Jesus to his heavenly Father would have lost its strongest clue”.
Western theology has failed to fully appreciate this eschatological and pneumatological perspective, Macchia asserts.
“Western theology did not subordinate the Spirit simply by accenting Christ’s role in imparting the Spirit but rather by not allowing this impartation decisively to define the substance of his redeeming work. The drama of redemption has instead been viewed as fulfilled in the cross (as perhaps ‘revealed’ or ‘proved’ by the resurrection), while Pentecost was seen as an added ‘plus’.”
It is obvious that this dogmatic move that Macchia makes, would prevent the risk of subordinating (the mission of) the Spirit to (the mission of) Christ, and would be helpful to Burger’s endeavor of emphasizing the “two hands of God” in the history of salvation.
· The mission of the church
5) Whereas Burger defines the mission of the Church quite narrowly as “witnessing to Christ and his works”, Macchia’s eschatological and pneumatological Kingdom-framework opens up possibilities for a broader and richer systematic-theological appraisal, that would serve Burger’s intentions quite well.
In Spirit baptism, the church is allowed “to participate in, and bear witness to, the final sanctification of creation” (italics are mine). This then, is the fifth dogmatic move that might be helpful to Burger.
The Spirit-baptized church is participating already in what has yet to come (see Canlis on Calvin, p. 129) as the Spirit is,
“the eschatological gift that brings to us the ‘powers of the age to come’ (Heb. 6:5).”
The already and not yet are interwoven, for the Kingdom “is not spatial but has to do with new life, the life of the Spirit of God”. The Church as
1) the new people of God
2) the body of Christ, and
3) the temple of the Spirit
is to participate in the inauguration and fulfilment of the Kingdom of God in the world and can by grace be a living witness to it, embodying it and pointing to it.
“The kerygma and the sacraments are not directed to the formation of a redemption cult but the fulfillment of God’s missionary and eschatological goals for the world.”
Whereas often such remarks remain rather abstract, Macchia translates it quite concretely to both social action and charismatic experiences, and both individual and communal life.
The sanctifying work of the Spirit is to be released in life through powerful experiences of renewal and charismatic enrichment that “propel us toward vibrant praise, healing reconciliations, enriched koinonia, and enhanced gifting for empowered service”.
Social justice and healing and deliverance are equally part of this glorification of God in the world, as the church
“participates in the liberating reign of God evident on Jesus’ ministry through Spirit baptism”.
4. Further study
Macchia’s consistent eschatological and pneumatological perspectives seem promising for achieving Burger’s goal of fully retrieving the participative dynamics of the gospel. Further study would be required to establish whether his dogmatic moves can be followed while still warranting the concerns of Reformed theology. Recent publications from a Reformed perspective certainly give reason to think so – I am referring to Gijsbert van den Brink and Kees van der Kooi, Christelijke Dogmatiek, and Julie Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder. Burger’s exploration is to be continued.
This is a paper written in 2012, as part of the course Participation – Christ, the Spirit, and Us, by Prof. Dr. Gijsbert van den Brink, Prof. dr. Cornelis van der Kooi, and Dr. Maarten Wisse (VU University Amsterdam, Dogmatics and Ecumenics).
See (also Frank D. Macchia: Baptized in the Spirit, 2006): Experiencing the Indwelling Spirit: Enhancing Pannenberg with Pentecostal theology.
- · Brink, van den, Gijsbert, and Kees van der Kooi, Christelijke dogmatiek (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2012).
- · Burger, Hans, Being in Christ. A Biblical and Systematic Investigation in a Reformed Perspective (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2009)
- · Canlis, Julie, Calvin’s Ladder. A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010)
- · Macchia, Frank D., Baptized in the Spirit. A Global Pentecostal Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006)
- · Macchia, Frank D., ‘Baptized in the Spirit: Reflections in Response to My Reviewers’, in: Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Vol. 16 (2008), 14-20
- · Knight III, Henry H., ‘Reflections on Frank Macchia’s Baptized in the Spirit, Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Vol. 16 (2008), 5-8
 Hans Burger, Being in Christ. A Biblical and Systematic Investigation in a Reformed Perspective (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2009).
 Burger, Being in Christ, 2, 3.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 4.
 See Julie Canlis, Calvin’s Ladder. A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), and J. Todd Billings, Union with Christ. Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011).
 Burger, Being in Christ, 9. Since the task of systematic theology is to offer critical reflection on the practice of the church, Burger says, it has to do justice to this discourse and its grammatical structures. His own framework has to derive from, and be consistent with, this discourse and its grammatical structures.
 Burger distinguishes two elements in this discourse that are relevant to a concept of “being in Christ” (1. The Biblical language of “being in Christ”, 2. The larger context of this “in Christ”-language), and two structures (1. The doctrine of the Trinity, 2. The “Four Moments” of the relation between Christ and the church). One important “building block” is his conclusion that a concept of “being in Christ” has to be trinitarian.
 I gladly refer to my summary of Chapter 10, in which I give an exposition of Burger’s methodological steps.
 In this Pauline perspective, the church thus lives in eschatological tension, since the new aeon has already come with Christ (and the church lives within the sphere of the influence of Christ’s reign through the Holy Spirit), yet the old aeon is still around us, as we anticipate our full participation in the new creation. From this flows that “being in Christ” is a corporate reality (it is about a new humanity, new creation), in which believers are involved as active subjects. This existential involvement results in “subjective experiences that might be labelled as mystical” (Burger, Being in Christ, 279).
 In this Johannine perspective, the relation between Christ and his disciples has characteristics analogous to the relation between Father and Son. “Primarily we need concepts like interiority, reciprocal inhabitation and communion, highlighting the moment of union.” But we also need the concept of participation: the Son makes us participate: Mediated by the Spirit and by Christ, “we share to some extent in Christ’s communion with his Father and are in God” (Burger, Being in Christ, 387).
 Burger asserts that we need to understand the “in Christ”-language in its larger context, including the story of Jesus Christ as told in the Gospels, and other Scriptural images referring to Christ. Burger neglects to mention the imagery of the messianic Kingdom at this point. My suggestion would be that precisely this Kingdom-perspective would proof to be a integrative principle here. We will find this with Macchia.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 514.
 The believers’ union with Christ is to be understood from a trinitarian perspective, Burger asserts. The love of the Father for the Son in the Spirit is the source of his love for the believers, as it is expressed in election, the gift of atonement, and union with Christ (142-143).
 Burger, Being in Christ, 519.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 521.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 526
 Burger, Being in Christ, 144, 515.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 531.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 527.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 524, also 526.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 536.
 Burger, Being in Christ, 533.
 Burger does aim for this, see 553-554.
 Burger also aims for this, see 279, 554-555.
 Macchia (Professor of Systematic Theology at Vanguard University, California) has been active in various ecumenical settings, including the International World Alliance of Reformed Churches/Pentecostal dialogue and the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Christian Churches (USA).
 Frank D. Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit. A Global Pentecostal Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 15.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 17.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 60. Let this then be, Macchia says, the Pentecostal contribution to the worldwide Church: “Orthodox faith, that is rooted in the will of the Father as Creator, centered in the Son as Spirit Baptizer and Inaugurator of the kingdom of God, and richly directed toward the life of the eschatological Spirit in perfecting creation as the final dwelling place of God” (112).
 I gladly refer to my previous research paper The Spirit and the Presence of the Future. A Survey of the Pneumatological Proposals of Michael Welker and Frank D. Macchia in the Context of Charismatic Renewal (unpublished paper, VU University Amsterdam, June 2013), and my summary of Baptized in the Spirit.
 Burger also repeatedly refers to the Kingdom-perspective, understood very much the same way as Macchia does (emphasizing the eschatological tension of the already and not yet of the Kingdom). However, Burger fails to use the Kingdom-motif as leading category, as Macchia does.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 45.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 104-107, 113-129, 156-160.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 125 (referring to Michael Welker, “The Spirit in Philosophical and Theological Perspectives”, lecture given at the International Consultation on the Work of the Holy Spirit, New York: Yale University, November 13-14, 2004).
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 42.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 116.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 152.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 65.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 70.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 60.
 Henry H. Knight III, ‘Reflections on Frank Macchia’s Baptized in the Spirit, Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Vol. 16 (2008), 5-8.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 109-110.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 111.
 Frank D. Macchia, ‘Baptized in the Spirit: Reflections in Response to My Reviewers’, in: Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Vol. 16 (2008), 14-20. If highlighted as the organizing principle for theology, Macchia asserts here, Spirit baptism “fundamentally determines the very substance and significance of Christ as redeemer and the object of faith in the church”. In other words, Christ is redeemer because of “his role (through life, death, and resurrection) in pouring out the Spirit, the very means by which others join in his communion with the Father.”
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 86.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 88.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 97.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 192.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 87.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 145.
 Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, 161.
 Gijsbert van den Brink and Kees van der Kooi, Christelijke dogmatiek (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2012). This recent Reformed dogmatics propagates a consistent trinitarian approach, emphasizing both the christological and pneumatological perspective (as the “two hands of God”) and exploring a pneuma-christology (Ch. 10, 11 and 12). It seeks to relate soteriology and eschatology, referring to the Kingdom of God (cf. 429). And it connects these insight to the concept of participation (Ch. 15, esp. 611-625).
 Canlis’ recent study certainly seems to encourage more radical dogmatic moves than Burger was making a few years earlier. Canlis’ fresh perspective on the theology of Calvin, as expressed both in his Institutes and his pastoral writings and sermons, provides intriguing incentives to advance further. According to her study, participation in the Trinity – understood radically as sharing in God, as mutual indwelling through the Spirit, understood from the concept of perichoresis – should be at the center of Reformed theology (e.g. 4-5, 60, 96); the eschatological story of Christ should be understood from the perspective of creation (and new creation), perceiving creation as “the sphere of koinonia” (54), new creation as the final dwelling place of God, and the ongoing and distinct mission of the Spirit in preparing creation to be so, in terms of participation (58, 60). According to Canlis, Calvin endorses several of the key moves of Macchia that we referred to: the perichoretic understanding of a trinitarian “openness” to creation, connected to participation in the divine life (Canlis, 133, 134), in connection, too, to Spirit baptism (134, 135), and even Macchia’s assertion that the descent of Christ to crucifixion and death indeed is pivotal, but not in terms of settling of accounts, but in that it is “oriented toward another movement to bring humanity ‘up’ to the Father as sons in him – ‘one with God the Father’ (…) a movement initiated by the love of the Father, enacted by the Son, and enabled by the Spirit” (126, 127).