Posts Tagged ‘john calvin’

 Steve Wood will be presenting a lecture on John Calvin this evening as part of St. Paul’s Theological College at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant.  During his preparation he ran across these great quotes.  Enjoy! 

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.”

“There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.”

“You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”

“We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too.”

“Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.”

“It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results.”

“God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us – as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.”

“However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

“For there is no one so great or mighty that he can avoid the misery that will rise up against him when he resists and strives against God.”

“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”

“Wherever we find the Word of God surely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, there, it is not to be doubted, is a church of God.”

“Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols.”

“No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.”

“Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church?”

“I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.”

“Man with all his shrewdness is as stupid about understanding by himself the mysteries of God, as an ass is incapable of understanding musical harmony.”

“Let us not cease to do the utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments.”

“Though Satan instills his poison, and fans the flames of our corrupt desires within us,we are yet not carried by any external force to the commission of sin, but our own flesh entices us, and we willingly yield to its allurements.”

“The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.”

“Original sin, therefore, appears to be a hereditary, depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused through all the parts of the soul, rendering us obnoxious to the divine wrath and producing in us those works which the scripture calls ‘works of.”

“Augustine does not disagree with this when he teaches that it is a faculty of the reason and the will to choose good with the assistance of grace; evil, when grace is absent.”

“For though we very truly hear that the kingdom of God will be filled with splendor, joy, happiness and glory, yet when these things are spoken of, they remain utterly remote from our perception, and as it were, wrapped in obscurities, until that day.”

“Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.”

“Each eye can have its vision separately; but when we are looking at anything . . . our vision, which in itself is divided, joins up and unites in order to give itself as a whole to the object that is put before it.”

“Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have.”

“There is no work, however vile or sordid, that does not glisten before God.”

“[A]ll men were created to busy themselves with labor for the common good.”

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

Below is Calvin’s exposition of Hebrews 10.19.  I’ve italicized what I think is one of the most profound thoughts on the passage that I’ve come across

He says first, that we have “boldness to enter into the holiest”.
This privilege was never granted to the fathers under the Law, for the
people were forbidden to enter the visible sanctuary, though the high
priest bore the names of the tribes on his shoulders, and twelve stones
as a memorial of them on his breast. But now the case is very different,
for not only symbolically, but in reality an entrance into heaven is made
open to us through the favour of Christ, for he has made us a royal
priesthood.

He adds, “by the blood of Jesus”, because the door of the sanctuary
was not opened for the periodical entrance of the high priest, except
through the intervention of blood. But he afterwards marks the difference between this blood and that of beasts; for the blood of beasts, as it soon turns to corruption, could not long retain its efficacy; but the blood of Christ, which is subject to no corruption, but flows ever as a pure stream, is sufficient for us even to the end of the world. It is no wonder that beasts slain in sacrifice had no power to quicken, as they were dead; but Christ who arose from the dead to bestow life on us, communicates his own life to us. It is a perpetual consecration of the way, because the blood of Christ is always in a manner distilling before the presence of the Father, in order to irrigate heaven and earth.

Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews 10. 19

Below is an excerpt from the “Argument” of Calvin’s commentary on Genesis. If you have Calvin’s commentaries, one of the most useful and yet (I’m betting) most neglected resources in those volumes in the “Argument” which prefaces every commentary. You will find a wealth of gems contained in those passages like one below, where Calvin proclaims the purpose of creation is to “render God manifest”. Click through to read it all.

I now return to the design of Moses, or rather of the Holy Spirit, who has spoken by his mouth. We know God, who is himself invisible, only through his works. Therefore, the Apostle elegantly styles the worlds, τὰ μἡ εχ φαινομένων βλεπόμενα, as if one should say, “the manifestation of things not apparent,” (Hebrews 11:3.) This is the reason why the Lord, that he may invite us to the knowledge of himself, places the fabric of heaven and earth before our eyes, rendering himself, in a certain manner, manifest in them. For his eternal power and Godhead (as Paul says) are there exhibited, (Romans 1:20.) And that declaration of David is most true, that the heavens, though without a tongue, are yet eloquent heralds of the glory of God, and that this most beautiful order of nature silently proclaims his admirable wisdom, (Psalm 19:1.)

read the rest here

More from DesiringGod‘s conference on John Calvin. This time from Sam Storms on the resurrection, the “final act in the theatre of God”. Click here for the whole thing.

On August 5, 1563 Calvin wrote a letter to the wife of one of the Reformation leaders in France. She was experiencing physical illness and he wrote to her, “They [our physical afflictions] should serve us as medicine to purge us from worldly affections and remove what is superfluous in us. And since they are to us the messengers of death, we ought to learn to have one foot raised to take our departure when it shall please God.”

I read that a few weeks ago and I began to ask myself, “Do I live with one foot raised in expectation of seeing my Savior face to face?” Calvin did, I’m convinced. And there is ever so much of living now in expectation of that day that we can learn from him.

Why is Calvin such a helpful guide for us in this area? I’ll mention four reasons:

First, Calvin is a pilgrim on this earth, as Julius Kim told us last night. Calvin speaks often in his commentaries of being a sojourner on this earth. Two of the more recent biographies about Calvin highlight this theme. One title is, “John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor” (W. Robert Godfrey). Another is “John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life” (Herman J. Selderhuis).

In Colossians 3:1 Paul exhorts us to seek the things that are above. Calvin said that in doing so we can “embrace our identity as sojourners in this world without being bound to it.”

In Hebrews 11 the author refers to the patriarchs’ desire for a better country, a heavenly one. Calvin wrote on Hebrews 13:14, “We should consider that we have no fixed residence but in heaven. Whenever, therefore, we are driven from place to place, whenever any change happens to us, let us think about what the author teaches here, let us think that our abode is not on earth…they that enjoy a common life here believe that they have rest on this world. It is profitable for us, who are prone to sloth and have often become comfortable in this world, to be tossed to and fro.”

Lest you be misled, when Calvin talks about turning our eyes away from earth and toward heaven, you should never think that he was somehow some sort of other-worldly dualist who despised God’s creation. Far from it. Whenever Calvin talked about his passion to leave this earth and go to heaven, it was driven by 1) his hatred of sin, 2) his own bodily suffering, and 3) his desire to see God.

Calvin was not negligent toward matters of this life or basic responsibilities. Think of his remarkable productivity. This is no other-worldly dualism. This is no “Left Behind” escapist mentality. He knew the better country he desired was the new earth.

The Apostles also plainly declare that he paid a price to ransom us from death: “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption 457that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” (Rom. 3:24, 25). Paul commends the grace of God, in that he gave the price of redemption in the death of Christ; and he exhorts us to flee to his blood, that having obtained righteousness, we may appear boldly before the judgment-seat of God. To the same effect are the words of Peter: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,” “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). The antithesis would be incongruous if he had not by this price made satisfaction for sins. For which reason, Paul says, “Ye are bought with a price.” Nor could it be elsewhere said, there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all,” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6), had not the punishment which we deserved been laid upon him. Accordingly, the same Apostle declares, that “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” (Col. 1:14); as if he had said, that we are justified or acquitted before God, because that blood serves the purpose of satisfaction. With this another passage agrees—viz. that he blotted out “the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us,” (Col. 2:14). These words denote the payment or compensation which acquits us from guilt. There is great weight also in these words of Paul: “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Gal. 2:21). For we hence infer, that it is from Christ we must seek what the Law would confer on any one who fulfilled it; or, which is the same thing, that by the grace of Christ we obtain what God promised in the Law to our works: “If a man do, he shall live in them,” (Lev. 18:5). This is no less clearly taught in the discourse at Antioch, when Paul declares, “That through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” (Acts 13:38, 39). For if the observance of the Law is righteousness, who can deny that Christ, by taking this burden upon himself, and reconciling us to God, as if we were the observers of the Law, merited favour for us? Of the same nature is what he afterwards says to the Galatians: “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law,” (Gal. 4:4, 5). For to what end that subjection, unless that he obtained justification for us by undertaking to perform what we were unable to pay? Hence that imputation of righteousness without works, of which Paul treats (Rom. 4:5), the righteousness found in Christ alone being accepted as if it were ours. And certainly the only reason why Christ is called our “meat,” (John 6:55), is because we find in him the substance of life. And the source of this efficacy is just that the Son of God was crucified as the price of our justification; as Paul says, Christ “has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a 458sweet-smelling savour,” (Eph. 5:2); and elsewhere, he “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” (Rom. 4:25). Hence it is proved not only that salvation was given us by Christ, but that on account of him the Father is now propitious to us. For it cannot be doubted that in him is completely fulfilled what God declares by Isaiah under a figure, “I will defend this city to save it for mine own sakes and for my servant David’s sake,” (Isaiah 37:35). Of this the Apostle is the best witness when he says “Your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake,” (1 John 2:12). For although the name of Christ is not expressed, John, in his usual manner, designates him by the pronoun “He,” (aujtov”). In the same sense also our Lord declares, “As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me,” (John 6:57). To this corresponds the passage of Paul, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake,” (Phil. 1:29).

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (2.17.6)

 As many of you know I continue my studies for a Masters in Theology.  This essay was for a course called “Calvin and Accommodation.”  It principally deals wiht the Christological implications of Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation.  Don’t worry, I’m told it is far easier to understand than the last paper I posted.  Enjoy! 

Dowey writes “Calvin’s theology exalts the category of knowledge.”[1] Dowey’s assertion is easily defensible considering Calvin’s opening statement of his famous Institutes on the Christian Religion concerns the nature of true wisdom as resting upon the double knowledge of God and ourselves (Inst 1.1.1).  And though Calvin’s theology placed enormous emphasis on the category of knowledge, this category nevertheless faced profound difficulties.  Calvin was an inheritor of a medieval epistemology that having departed from the more present epistemology of the early medieval period[2] refused a natural, unmediated knowledge of God.[3]  It was crucial therefore, for the knowledge of God to be mediated to humans through the material creation as well as through the special revelation of God’s spoken word.  The later Reformed maxim finitum no capax infiniti (“the finite is not capable of the infinite) came to articulate this important principle of late medieval and Reformed epistemology.[4] Because the finite is not capable of the infinite, it was necessary for God to reduce himself in order that he might in some small way be grasped by his creation.  For Calvin, as for many of the church’s theologians before him this process of reduction was known as accommodation.[5] 

                Though accommodation was used before Calvin, many Calvin scholars note that for Calvin accommodation is less peripheral and more central to the theological development of the reformer.  For example, Battles writes “Calvin makes this principle (accommodation) a consistent basis for his handling not only of Scripture but of every avenue of relationship between God and man.”[6]  Similarly, Paul Helm regards accommodation as the “central idea” of Calvin’s religious epistemology.[7]  If accommodation is at the center of Calvin’s epistemological program, what then might be at the center of accommodation?  Battles writes that the incarnation of the eternal Word in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is for Calvin the “accommodating act par excellence of our divine father, teacher, physician, judge and king.”[8]  So too does Dowey write that the “final accommodation to human sinfulness” was in the person of Christ.[9]  Though Balserak comes to the conclusion cautiously, he nevertheless also writes “the incarnation still seems to be…the unquestioned highpoint of his (Calvin’s) sphere of accommodating activity.”[10] 

                Whether accommodation is the epistemological principle of Calvin’s theology or that Christology ought to find itself at the center of Calvin’s theology of accommodation is debatable and beyond the scope of this paper.  What is clearly evident within Calvin’s corpus is that both accommodation and Christology hold privileged positions within the theological agenda of the reformer.  The question is thus prompted, how do Calvin’s thoughts on accommodation and his Christology interact with one another?  The organizing argument of this paper is that the doctrine of accommodation as employed by Calvin has significant influence on his Christology.  Calvin’s employment of the doctrine of accommodation determines his precise and innovative articulation of the incarnation, the atonement, redemption and the offices and actions of the mediator.  It will further be shown that in the incarnation, Calvin has articulated an accommodation that threatens neither God’s essence nor man’s nature in the condescension of the Word.  A serious treatment of one of these theological categories and their relationship to accommodation could fill twenty pages (and more!) of research.  Therefore these will be treated after an introductory fashion only, hoping to relate the parts to the whole to give a bird’s eye view of the effect Calvin’s epistemological concerns in accommodation have on his Christology. (more…)

Here are two essays I’ve written while I’ve been down here on cont ed. If you’d like check them out by clicking through. In one of the essays there is a pretty bad misreading of Calvin. See if you can spot it! If so, I would argue that the misreading is based on what Calvin should have done, not what he actually did 🙂

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