Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Calvin's Institutes 1.8.10- 1.9.2

Calvin continues to point to various things that serve as evidence of the divine origin of Scripture. First, to its marvelous preservation, so that even under the harsh persecution of Antiochus Epiphanies who ordered all the Hebrew scriptures to be burned, after God defeated him, the Scriptures were preserved and immediately were available to the people of Israel. Next he pointed to the simplicity and yet depth of the Scriptures that contain both easy to understand teachings, but can still be found to have depths beyond human imagining. Next he pointed to the testimony of the church, for although the church is not what give Scripture its authority, the church has been consistent that the Scriptures are the world of God, even to the point of having people die for that truth.

In all of this it must be remembered that these truths are not meant as evidence to convince one who denies the the Scriptures are from God. Rather, they are useful for encouraging those who already believe that. So Calvin wrote at the end of this section,
There are other reasons, neither few nor weak, for which the dignity and majesty of Scripture are not only affirmed in godly hearts, but brilliantly vindicated againsts the wiles of its disparagers; yet of themselves these are not strong enough to provide a firm faith, until our Heavenly Father revealing his majesty there, lifts reverence for Scripture beyond the realm of controversy. Therefore Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God only when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. . . But those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known.
With that Calvin moved into chapter 9 where he deals with what he characterizes as 'fanatics' who turn away from Scripture to revelations of the Spirit. He wrote of them,
For of late, certain giddy men have arisen who, whith great haughtiness exalting the teaching office of the Spirit, despise all reading and laugh at the simplicity of those who, as they express it, still follow the dead and killing letter.
The problem was they were using these "revelations" to abandon all principles of godliness. If asked what spirit was in them giving these "revelations" they would say it was the Spirit of God, yet the apostles had the same Spirit in them but did not dispise the Scriptures. Rather, they held them up and exhorted people to know them.

Calvin pointed out that to know the spirit in a person is the Holy Spirit of God, one must turn to Scritpure and see that that spirit is in agreement with Scripture. Apparently their response was to say that to hold the Spirit to the Scriptures would be to put the Spirit under them and they in a place of greater authority than him. Calvin responded well,
Yet, indeed they contend that is is not worthy of the Spirit of God, to whom all things ought to be subject, himself to be subject to Scripture. As if, indeed, this were ignominiy for the Holy Spirit to be everywhere equal and in conformity with himself, to agree with himself in all things, and to vary in nothing! To be sure if the Spirit were judged by the rule of men, or of angels, or of anything else, then one would have to regard him as degraded, or if you like, reduced to bondage; but when he is compared with himself, when he is considered in himself, who will on this account say that injustice is done him? . . . But lest under his sign the spirit of Satan should creep in, he would have us recognize him in his own image, which he has stamped upon the Scriptures. 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. This is no affront to him, unless perchance we consider if honorable for him to decline or degernerate from himself.


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