Monday, January 18, 2010


It is MLK day and I am enjoying a cup of Eclipse extra bold coffee in bed because I am not going to work today. I may wander up to BBBY and grab another box or two of coffee for a little variety.

"Piety" is not the name of chapter 2, but it could be condensed down to this one word. Calvin defines piety as "that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces." We must have piety in order to truly know God. We are compelled to honor Him if we really know that God is the "fountain of every good."

Calvin, who did not like idle speculations, does not want us asking "What is God?" but wants us to ask "What is God's nature?" and "What is consistent with his nature?" These questions will help us focus on how we should relate to God.

In writing about the pious man's response to God, Calvin states that this man restrains himself from sinning not out of fear of punishment, but out of reverence of God. "Even if there were no hell, [a pious man's mind] would still shudder at offending him alone." How often do we shudder at the thought of offending God with a sin we are about to commit?

Calvin ends with a statement that all men have some knowledge and respect for God, "but very few really reverence him; and wherever there is great ostentation in ceremonies, sincerity of heart is rare indeed." I agree with Calvin, but I wonder how he would see the American mega-churches of today which resemble a rock concert rather than a worship service. He was specifically attacking the ceremonies in the 16th century Catholic church. There is no great ostentation in the mega-church ceremonies (which is a good thing), but no apparent reverence either. Has the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction?

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