Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Libertines

I enjoy reading Calvin so much more when the power is on and I can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee.  I missed that yesterday.

When I first started reading chapter 9, I was not really sure it applied to today.  I thought it might have been more specific for a group during Calvin's day.  See, Calvin was attacking the "libertines".  They were a group who believed that they were led by the Holy Spirit and that Scripture was the "letter that kills".  I thought "there are no libertines anymore."  Yeah, right.  We see them all around us.  They don't go by that name.  They are the people who say, "I'm spiritual, just not religious" or "I believe in a higher power, but I don't like organized religion."  They are all around us.  We work with them.  We go to school with them.  They are our neighbors.  Their arguments seem cogent, but they do not hold water.  We hear them say that the Bible has been corrupted either through mistakes in duplication, mistakes in translation, or deliberate manipulation by the church.  They say that you cannot trust Scripture and you must listen only to your heart for guidance.

Calvin really attacked the libertines for thinking in this manner.  He was not sure which spirit was in them, but he was sure that it was not the Holy Spirit. Calvin appealed to writings of Paul such as 1 Timothy 3:16 where he describes the benefits of Scripture.  He goes on to argue that the way to determine if it is truly the Holy Spirit, it will be in agreement with Scripture.  Calvin writes, "He is the Author of the Scriptures: he cannot vary and differ from himself.  Hence he must ever remain just as he once revealed himself there."  In other words, God inspired Scripture.  God is always the same.  Therefore, Scripture is still just as true as it was when it was written.  Calvin later writes, "God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of his Spirit to abolish it.  Rather, he sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed to Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word."  God is always in agreement with himself.

He accused the libertines of "seize[ing] upon whatever they may have conceived while snoring".  He then states this about the children of God: "For they know no other Spirit than him who dwelt and spoke in the apostles, and bu whose oracles they are continually recalled to the hearing of the Word."  Time for me to go hear the Word read and proclaimed.

1 comment:

  1. Dear George,
    I really enjoyed your article. You have a really good sense of humor. 2 funny quotes: "A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things." G.K. Chesterton. "Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." H.L. Mencken.
    signed happy, having fun, and free. Catholic and Christian.


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