Friday, February 19, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 1

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves are Interconnected. How They Are Interrelated.

If you plan to read Calvin, you have to get used to long headings and titles and lots of capitalisation!* But don't let them scare you - let them tell you what he is saying.

Calvin opens his book with this statement:
Nearly all the wisdom we possess... consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. (p35)

He has divided the chapter with three observations:

1. Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God;
from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and - what is more - depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. (p36)

2. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self;
it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God's face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. (p37)

We actually think we are pretty good, until we compare ourselves with the majesty and holiness of God!

Click over to see Cathy's comments on this chapter relating to self-esteem and it's implications.

3. Man
before God's majesty

Recall what the saints of the bible did when presented with God's majesty - they were awestruck, terrified and speechless (eg. Isaiah, Moses, Samson's parents - Judges 13:22).
we must infer that man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty. (p39)
And perhaps if we are not aware of our 'lowly state' - we do not fully comprehend God...

Next time - Chapter 2

* Here's a good one - Book 4, chapter 7 - The Origin and Growth of the Roman Papacy Until It Raised Itself to Such a Height that the Freedom of the Church Was Oppressed, and All Restraint Overthrown !!


Cathy McKay said...

Hi Wendy,
Thanks for your artful summary, I'm too lazy to have done one, but it's really helpful for lots of people, I'm sure.

And, those titles don't leave much to be explained sometimes do they?


Wendy said...

No worries - I have to say I like to do summarising. I really like what you are doing with expanding your thoughts into other areas - it makes for thoughtful reading. Each to their own, heh?!