Monday, July 10

John Calvin

Theologian and pastor John Calvin was born in Noyon, France on this day in 1509. By the time he was just 26 years-old, he had published the first edition of his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, which propelled him as a thinker and spokesman to the forefront of the emerging Protestant movement. Calvin made his first trip to Geneva that same year while on the way to minister in the city of Strasbourg. He stayed and helped to reform the church until asked to leave two years later. But then in 1541, the city council asked Calvin to return to Geneva to continue his reforming work--he complied and then remained there the rest of his life.

Calvin worked particularly to improve the life of Geneva's citizens through health care, industry, and education. But more, through his systematic preaching and teaching of the Bible, he helped the town create model of freedom, opportunity, productivity, creativity, and ingenuity that would serve as the basis for the great flowering of Western Civilization ever afterward. His wisdom was manifest in virtually every one of the hundreds of sermons, commentaries, books, and tracts he produced throughout his prodigiously productive life:

"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."

"Every one of us is, even from his mother's womb, a master craftsman of idols."

"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."

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

"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."

"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."

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

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

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


Rob Scott said...

George, do you ever find it difficult to reconcile this with your love for both G.K. Chesterton, who thoroughly disapproved of Calvin?

"The Catholic Church believed that man and God both had a sort of spiritual freedom. Calvinism took away the freedom from man, but left it to God."

"[According to Calvinism], men go to Hell because God made them on purpose to send them to Hell.”

WES said...

Chesterton and Calvin can both be loved while one could be 'wrong' in an area or two. Based on your quotes, it seems to be Chesterton.

gileskirk said...

Rob: A couple of years ago I did a talk on Chesterton at the ACCS classical school conference in which I discussed the dilemma of loving a Calvin-hating Catholic whilst being a Calvinist myself. I opened with the quote I've posted on today's blog from my friend James Sauer. Hope it helps put things in a bit of perspective!

Rob Scott said...

Chesterton and Calvin can both be loved while one could be 'wrong' in an area or two.

I absolutely agree. In fact, I think everyone is wrong in an area or two (or three), absolutely everyone. I think C. S. Lewis made this point very well in Mere Christianity. Much of what we think is required is really optional. We all need to give grace in this area. And that was sort of my point.

gileskirk said...