Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gems From Calvin

A few thoughts to share on this blustery, icky-weather day. Bible Study is canceled and school had a two-hour delay due to freezing rain- yuck. (when will we get snow?!) Isaac is home for a second day sick; while the antibiotics work on his throat he's re-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended versions.

And the closest thing to a quiet day at home has commenced. I really believed that the children's return to school would calm things down for me, but such has not been the case. I have been able to begin my reading of John Calvin's Institutes this morning, (accompanied by the soundtrack from the next room) and am already enthralled at the wealth that this volume holds.

Beginning with the Epistle Dedicatory to Francis, King of the French, wherein Calvin appeals to the king to give the Evangelicals a fair hearing rather than permit the persecution that has been inflamed by misrepresentations of their teachings. Calvin's humility before the Monarch, combined with his confidence based upon his assurance of the truth of Scripture is beautifully balanced in this letter and provides an insight to his motives.

Here, then, is a sampling...

In answer to the charges of arrogance, which Calvinists today still unjustly face: "... as we ought to presume nothing of ourselves, so we ought to presume all things of God; nor are we stripped of vainglory for any other reason than to glory in the Lord."

In appealing for Truth over "custom:" "Indeed, if men's judgments were right, custom should have been sought of good men. But it often happens far otherwise: what is seen being done by the many has obtained the force of custom; while the affairs of men have scarcely ever been so well regulated that the better things pleased the majority."

On the nature of the true church: "(the true church) has quite another mark, namely, the pure preaching of God's Word and the lawful administration of the sacraments."

On the distinction between pure doctrine and "lying doctrine:" "Here is, as it were, a certain characteristic of the divine Word, that it never goes forth while Satan is at rest and sleeping. This is the surest and most trustworthy mark to distinguish it from lying doctrines, which readily present themselves, are received with attentive ears by all, and are listened to by an applauding world." (seeker sensitive, anybody?)

And, finally, good reason for anybody, friend or foe of Calvinism, to read the Institutes: "Your mind is now indeed turned away and estranged from us, even inflamed, I may add against us; but we trust that we can regain your favor, if in a quiet, composed mood you will once read this our confession, which we intend in lieu of a defense before your Majesty."

Indeed, read on!

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