Sunday, October 24, 2004

John Calvin, Pastor

John Calvin, PastorI'm still doing some catch-up reading for Systematic Theology, where John Calvin, as can be expected in any Presbyterian Seminary, is prominently featured. Our Theology professor frequently jokes about this, saying that we seminarians generally study, in order:

  1. Karl Barth
  2. John Calvin
  3. God
Just kidding, of course.

The reactions to Calvin are fascinating and have generated some great discussions. Many students are put off by Calvin's admittedly harsh style - he has the habit of calling his opponents idiots, ignoramuses, etc. I've learned to shrug off some of these more crass pronouncements. Instead, I frequently find myself touched by the Calvin's more pastoral moments. The last paragraph from Book I, Chapter XIV from the Institutes illustrates what I'm trying to describe:
To conclude once for all, whenever we call God the Creator of heaven and earth, let us at the same time bear in mind that the dispensation of all those things which he has made is in his own hand and power and that we are indeed his children, whom he has received into his faithful protection to nourish and educate. We are therefore to await the fullness of all good things from him alone and to trust completely that he will never leave us destitute of what we need for salvation, and to hang our hopes on none but him! We are therefore, also, to petition him for whatever we desire; and we are to recognize as a blessing from him, and thankfully to acknowledge, every benefit that falls to our share. So, invited by the great sweetness of his beneficence and goodness, let us study to love and serve him with all our heart.
Indeed, as I sit here in my office looking out the window, I'm struck by the beauty of creation, given to us in the form of abundant life. What an astonishing, and mind-blowing, gift of grace.

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