Saturday, February 13, 2010

Calvin on the Road

Sorry for the late posting today.  I had to start getting ready to go as soon as we got up this morning.  I drove Debbie to the Presbytery meeting in Martin, TN this morning.  I foolishly thought, "It's a college town.  I will just pop into the local Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee and read Calvin there."  HA!  The closest Starbucks is back in a Target in Jackson, TN.  I found a library, but no coffee.  Just lots of people working on their taxes and getting tax help.

I did manage to read Calvin this morning in the library despite the distractions.  We have moved on past Trinity week and are beginning discussions of creation.  Calvin was a six-day creationist because that is the most literal interpretation of the Bible.  He states his belief in a young earth by stating, "...albeit the duration of the world, now declining to its ultimate end, has not attained six thousand years."  Also, he considered it idle speculation to think of any other way for it to be.  One of my favorite Calvin quotes addresses idle speculation in this section, "When a certain shameless fellow mockingly asked a pious old man what God had done before the creation of the world, the latter aptly countered that he had been building hell for the curious."

The next paragraph has a wonderful statement about Scripture.  "For just as eyes, when dimmed with age or weakness or by some other defect, unless aided by spectacles, discern nothing distinctly; so, such is our feebleness, unless Scripture guides us in seeking God, we are immediately confused."  Scripture is a primary way in which God reveals himself to us.  If we only look to nature or to our feelings for God, we will invariably misunderstand him.

God cares for man like a father loves his child.  God shows us this in the act of creation.  He waited until everything man needed was available before he created man.  Because if he had for instance "given him life before light, he would have seemed to provide insufficiently for his welfare."  God gave Adam everything he needed.

Section three begins a ten section discussion of angels.  In this first section, he immediately addresses the Manichees.  Early in the life of Augustine, he was drawn to the teachings of Manicheeism.  This was a dualistic religion that was attempting to ensure that no one would ever attribute any evil towards God.  Unfortunately, they made a mistake in believing that evil was just as powerful as good.  The devil was just as powerful as God.  Good and evil were engaged in a never-ending struggle.  Calvin answers these beliefs by stating, "For the depravity and malice both of man and of the devil, or the sins that arise therefrom, do not spring from nature, but rather from the corruption of nature.  And from the beginning nothing at all has existed in which God has not put forth an example both of his wisdom and of his righteousness."

We should never even begin to ascribe any evil to God.  We should must be careful not to think that Satan is even close to God in power.  As Job showed us, God is sovereign over all creation including man and angels.

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