Friday, May 14, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Scripture must be confirmed by the witness of the spirit. Thus may it's authority be established as certain; and it is a wicked falsehood that its credibility depends on the judgment of the church
(now that's a mouthful!)

Calvin now starts to address some of the problems of his time with regard to the view of Scripture and its authority - namely whether scripture can stand alone or it needs to be authorised by the church.

He affirms that:
the Scriptures obtain full authority among believers only when men regard them as having sprung from heaven, as if there the living words of God were heard. (Ch 7, pt 1, p74)
He then addresses the false assertion that the church has to approve the scriptures and rather shows that the church itself is grounded in scripture. This includes a discussion of Augustine and his views on the matter, in which Calvin claims Augustine has been misrepresented. I'll leave the details of that to the keener readers!

In the end, says Calvin, it is the Holy Spirit which convinces us of the authority of scripture.
the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent that all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded. (Ch 7, pt 4, p79)
So, scripture is self-authenticated by it's author, who speaks to us through it and enables us to accept it. Do other Calvin Club readers think therefore: this is a fact that is of comfort to believers, that we can trust the words of God, because they are the words of God; but perhaps, a not entirely convincing argument for the unbeliever? What do you think?


2 comments:

Cathy said...

Hi Wendy,
I am dreadfully behind this month!

Yes, I think it is a very unconvincing argument for the unbeliever, especially in our "Death of the Author" era (Roland Barthes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_Author).

I guess the comfort is also that, although the explanation is unconvincing, the reality (the Holy Spirit himself!) is quite convincing when he chooses to be.

I am going to sit down now and read some more. We'll see if the brain holds up!

Wendy said...

I am very behind too Cathy! To the point where I suspect I'll have to leave it now for a while. Chapter 8 looks long and June is chaos as I am doing 4 talks on Eccl.

I'll do the next 3 chapters when I can, but it may all be in July!!