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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2015

Angela Carpenter
Pages 103-119
DOI: 10.1353/sce.2015.0012

Sanctification as a Human Process
Reading Calvin Alongside Child Development Theory

In Calvin's doctrine of sanctification and in recent work on children's moral formation within developmental psychology, we find a surprising convergence. In both cases, moral formation or transformation takes place within the context of a parent's (divine or human) loving and unconditional commitment to a child. Although Reformed doctrines of sanctification have struggled to articulate how the graced change of sanctification is intelligible as a human process, a comparison between these two approaches shows that sanctification is both intelligible to the moral agent and a genuinely human process. This comparison also highlights affective social acceptance as a condition for moral agency that is infrequently addressed in theoretical accounts of moral formation.

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