Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How about Wednesday with John this week...

Since Dave and I are going to be gone tomorrow through Monday or Tuesday, I thought I would post about our Calvin reading before Sunday this week, since I don't know what my opportunities will be like over the weekend. We have been reading ahead, too, so we can safely leave our rather large McNeill/Battles tome at home rather than drag it on the airplane.

We are well into chapter 1: The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves Are Connected. How They Are Interrelated. I have been bookmarking sme of my favorites as we have been reading. Let me share a few:

The wonderful opening sentence is simply so true:
Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

Calvin's colorful use of derogatory language (as RG points out) is evident, and while it struck me as funny, should likely not be emulated. Take this as an example. poor Lucretius...:

This [the proclivity of man to confuse the creation with the creator] shows itself even more clearly in the sacrilegious words of that filthy dog Lucretius which has been deduced from that principle.

Sometimes Calvin's colorful language surprises and delights me. This one, when speaking about Epicureanism, made me laugh:

Do all the treasures of heavenly wisdom concur in ruling a five-foot worm while the whole universe lacks this privilege?

And the beauty of not only Calvin's words, but his thoughts, at times overwhelms me. Take this beautiful passage, discussing how the creation of God reflects Him:
The final goal of the blessed life, moreover, rests in the knowledge of God. Lest anyone, then, be excluded from access to happiness, he [God} not only sowed in men's minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him.Indeed. his essence is incomprehensible; hence, his divineness far escapes all human perception. But upon his individual works he has engraved unmistakable marks of his glory, so clear and so prominent that even unlettered and stupid folk cannot plead the excuse of ignorance.

And perhaps this is the most succinct, beautiful explanation of what it means to be a Christian in all of literature:
For what is more consonant with faith than to recognize that we are naked of all virtue, in order to be clothed by God? That we are empty of all good, to be filled by him? That we are slaves of sin, to be freed by him? Blind, to be illumined by him? Lame, to be made straight by him? Weak to be sustained by him? To take away from us all occasion for glorying, that he alone may stand forth gloriously and we glory in him.
~Prefatory Address to King Francis, part 2.

What things have struck you as you have been reading through Calvin?

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I'm caught up with you in the readings, Chris, but although I chuckled at the idea of a five foot worm, I couldn't figure out what he meant. What are meant by the treasures of heavenly wisdom? Or the universe lacking the privilege?

It's nice to see bits and pieces of the ideas I'm reading about in Plato pop up in Calvin.