Friday, January 29, 2010

Credibility of Scripture

Calvin has pointed out to us that Scripture needs no further proof than itself to be recognized as the Word of God.  Chapter 8 basically says that if you still need proof, well come and get it.

First, Calvin discusses how the wisdom contained in Scripture is far superior to any human wisdom.  He encouraged the reader of the Institutes to read writings of the philosophers.  And then he writes, "But betake yourself from them to this sacred writing.  Then in spite of yourself, so deeply will it affect you, so penetrate your heart, so fix itself in your very marrow, that, compared with its deep impression, such vigor as the orators and philosophers have will nearly vanish.  Consequently, it is easy to see that the Sacred Scriptures, which so far surpass all gifts and graces of human endeavor, breathe something divine."  God's wisdom that he shares with us in Scripture is so much better than any wisdom that man can come up with on his own.  Calvin knew this and challenged us to compare man's greatest thinkers to God's wisdom.  He knew who would win.

Calvin also said something profound about truth.  "For truth is cleared of all doubt when not sustained by external props, it serves as its own support."  Real truth can stand on its own.  Today's society encourages everyone to find their own truth and that everyone's truth is unique and equal to everyone else's truth.  When someone makes up his own truth, he must use external props to justify and explain his truth.  Real truth is different.

One of the proofs that Calvin relies on is that many of the writers of Scripture were not the most eloquent authors around.   He cites herdsmen like Jeremiah and Zechariah who wrote books with great truth and "the majesty of the Spirit" is evident in their writings.  He points out that the thoughts contained in the Scriptures could not be humanly conceived.  Every prophets writing exceeds human ability.  "...those for whom prophetic doctrine is tasteless ought to be thought of as lacking taste buds."

Another proof that Calvin highlights is the longevity of the Scriptures.  He discusses that certain writers throughout history have mentioned Egyptian theology, but there are no more adherers to that faith nor any copies of any of the writings related to it.  Also, Calvin argues that the Egyptians traced their faith to a period of 6,000 years before the creation of the Earth (apparently Calvin is a young-earth believer).  No monuments for any other religion can be traced back to before Moses.  Because of its ability to endure so many years, this is also proof of the truth of Scripture.

Moses also gave unintentional proof in his writings.  Moses spoke openly and honestly about certain family members including Aaron and Miriam.  Who would write poorly about his own brother and sister?  Moses could have easily passed his role as leader or high priest of the Israelites to his sons and no one would have questioned why he did it.  However, he relegated his sons to "the lowest place".  He closes the sections about Moses by writing, "I select only a few instances out of many; but in the law itself, here and there, we will meet many proofs that vindicate the full assurance that Moses undoubtedly came forth like an angel of God from heaven."

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