Thursday, July 29, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 8

Chapter 8: So far as human reason goes, sufficiently firm proofs are at hand to establish the credibility of scripture*

Calvin starts by saying scripture is superior to all human wisdom. When we read it, we cannot help be swept away by what it is saying – not the eloquence or the writing, but rather its grand and sweeping content – God. No other writings can affect us in the way the bible does:
so deeply will is affect you, so penetrate your hearts, so fix itself in your very marrow, that … it is easy to see that the Sacred Scriptures, which so far surpass all gifts and graces of human endeavour, breathe something divine (Ch 8, pt 1, p 82).
Do you ever feel that when you have spent time in the bible? God’s word is overwhelmingly powerful.

Calvin goes on to deal with some common objections to the credibility of scripture, starting with numerous examples from the OT. He then covers the NT, the witness of the church and the martyrs willing to die for the doctrines of scripture. See Cathy’s post for some of the details here, I like her summary. In the end, the conclusion he made in chapter 7 remains – only the work of the Holy Spirit within us can convince us that scripture is the word of God.
Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit … those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known. (Ch 8, pt 13, p92)
Upon reflection, I have found this argument more comforting than I did in Chapter 7. The Holy Spirit must convict people that the bible is God’s word. I cannot do it by powers of persuasion or reason. God alone works that change. Perhaps we should be praying more that God changes people’s hearts, rather than praying that we have the right words to say to them.

(* this is a very delayed post, we were supposed to cover ch 8 in May, then June for the slackers…! I will do posts on ch 9 & 10 in the next few weeks too – then I’ll feel more up to date!)

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