Theology of the Reformers - Lesson 9

The Institutes: Book One

In this lesson, you explore the theology of John Calvin as presented in Book One of The Institutes of the Christian Religion. As you delve into this foundational work, you gain an understanding of Calvin's views on the knowledge of God the Creator, the knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ, and key concepts such as providence and predestination. The lesson also highlights the significance of Book One's theology in the context of the Reformation and its lasting influence on Protestant theology.
Timothy George
Theology of the Reformers
Lesson 9
Watching Now
The Institutes: Book One

TH230-09: The Institutes - Book One

I. Introduction to Book One of The Institutes

A. Background and Purpose

B. John Calvin and the Reformation

II. Key Theological Concepts in Book One

A. Knowledge of God the Creator

B. Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ

C. Providence and Predestination

III. Application and Significance of Book One

A. Influence on Protestant Theology

B. Impact on the Reformation and Beyond

All Lessons
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into church history as a theological discipline, the Reformation, key figures, theological contributions, and the lasting impact of the Reformation on theology and the church.
  • Through this lesson, you grasp Augustine's pivotal role in shaping Reformation theology, influencing key figures like Luther and Calvin, and leaving a lasting impact on the church.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into Scholasticism, Humanism, and Mysticism, understanding their roles in shaping the Reformation and the influences of key figures within each movement.
  • In this lesson, you explore Martin Luther's life and theological contributions, uncovering key events leading to the Reformation and examining the lasting impact of his work on Christianity.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the diversity in the Reformation in Saxony, its theological differences, and its impact on society and modern theology.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into Huldrych Zwingli's life, theology, and contributions, exploring his views on the Lord's Supper, role in the Swiss Reformation and Anabaptist movement, and key writings, while also understanding his lasting impact on the Reformation.
  • By studying this lesson, you gain insights into John Calvin's central role in the Swiss Reformation, his theological contributions, and the lasting impact of his ideas on church organization, education, and social reforms.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into John Calvin's theology, its key components, and its lasting influence on the Reformed tradition and society.
  • By studying this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of John Calvin's theology in Book One of The Institutes, focusing on the knowledge of God, Christ, providence, and predestination, and its impact on Protestant theology.
  • In this lesson, you explore the key themes and insights from Book One of Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion," gaining a deeper understanding of God's sovereignty, human humility, and the centrality of Scripture in Reformation thought.
  • Gain insights into Book Two of Calvin's "The Institutes," exploring the knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ, sin's nature, law and gospel, and its lasting impact on Protestant theology.
  • By examining Calvin's Farewell Address and other Reformation issues, you gain insight into the key themes and controversies that shaped the theological landscape and learn about the enduring influence of the Reformers.

The leaders of the Protestant reformation built on the thoughts and teachings of scholars who came before them and spent their lives seeking God and explaining his Word.

Dr. Timothy George
Theology of the Reformers
The Institutes: Book One
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:02] Theology of the Reformers. Tape nine. Calvin's Institutes Book one. A word about where we are in the course and where I hope we will go from here to the end of the semester. I've designed the course so that the first half roughly of the semester up until this point was intended to be overview, summarizing, lecture material, biographical studies, that sort of thing, filling in some gaps. And that's kind of what we've done. I've designed the latter half of the course beginning today to be of a somewhat different nature in that I hopefully will have even less is a relatively large class. I hope we can have much more of an interactive model now if you don't have anything to say. I can talk forever about Calvin, so don't worry about that. But I think it would be more helpful and more useful to you and more interesting, really, if we can engage together in some conversation. So I will make some introductory comments about the passage we're looking at, and then I'll just open it up for your comments. And now we're at book one. And the way I usually refer to this in a class like this is by page number. I think that's the easiest way, although it's not the correct way. Of course, to cite the institute's you all know, that's my book, chapter section. So it's one, one one. But I found it better in the past just to go by page 35, page 64, whatever page we're on, assuming we all have the MacNeil Battle's authorized edition of the Institute. So we'll follow that procedure. There are one or two special issues that kind of relate to Calvin and our study that will come out later in the semester. We might devote, depending on your desire and where we are in our survey of the institutes, we might devote a session or an hour or two to talking about some of these special topics, like what happened to the reform tradition after Calvin.

[00:02:14] That's a big topic, and yet it's one that I think has a lot of contemporary significance for all of us who are evangelicals today, whether we're Armenian or Calvinist or Baptist or Presbyterian. That's a live question in many of our denominational settings. And we may talk about that and look a little bit at the trajectory of Calvin's theology from the 16th century up to the 20th. That's just a possibility. Another thing that I think I mentioned in the original outline is the discussion that's been generated about Calvin and ecumenism, and particularly about the evangelical Roman Catholic discussions that are going on. Some of you know, I participated in one of these meetings last September in New York City. And going back with Dr. Bray, this time, I'm taking some reinforcement to to engage in a second round, this time one that will deal with so pureology with salvation. Last time we were dealing with the doctrine of the church. Well, Calvin has a lot to say about those issues. He had a lot to say in his own day about those cuts, and that may be something that would be worth our taking some time to reflect on, particularly around the time of that meeting in New York City. Those are just some things I want to throw out. That's kind of where we're headed. Any question about that before we begin our trek through book one? Okay, let's go. The first sentence in the institutes is a very important sentence. In fact, the first book of the institute is really the foundation for everything else that follows. And so we may spend a little more time on book one than we do the other three books. And that's simply because we don't have enough time to give adequate attention to any of them.

[00:04:07] But if we don't grasp what's happening in book one, you're going to definitely miss what's going on in two, three and four. So if I'm a little deliberate and slow moving at first, that's on purpose. And the first sentence of the institute's look at that for just a moment. Calvin begins this great tome of theology by saying 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. Now, let me just stop and ask you, when you first read that, what strikes you about beginning a work of theology with that kind of sentence? Own. It was more understanding about personnel. So you have historically throughout time. Okay. So he's using in this, um, continuity with the past. Anybody else? Okay. So he begins right off. Pretty important idea. Let me suggest that it's very significant, the word knowledge that he uses knowledge. He doesn't begin with being, which is where a lot of medieval scholastic theologians would have started. I am that. I am being metaphysics, ontology. What is the ultimate nature of reality? Think he doesn't start with that at all? Nor does he start with. A kind of argumentation for the existence of God. Nowhere in Calvin or Luther, for that matter, do we find any developed arguments for the existence of God. Now, if you know much about the history of theology, and I hope you know a little bit, you know, that this was something that was very popular in the Middle Ages. If you've had even philosophy of religion one on one, you probably have read about Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God. God is that then which none greater can be conceived. And surely everybody's heard about Thomas Aquinas and the five proofs for the existence of God.

[00:07:12] The cosmological argument, as we call it, how He argues for a motion in the world to a prime mover. From all of these evidences that we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears and feel with our hands back through a chain of causation to the first cause. Calvin doesn't do that. Why not? What's the significance of this opening sentence? All the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom. Not false wisdom. Not fake wisdom. Consist in two parts. Here's the duplex cognate code in the it's called. We'll talk about that. The word he uses here for knowledge actually uses several different words for knowledge in the institutes. Can everybody read that? Okay. I mean, not my handwriting. That's good. But can you see it? Is it big enough? Duplex cognate code, The twofold knowledge of God. So Calvin is saying here that all understanding, all wisdom is relational and it's relational between human beings and God Almighty. That we'll get into another another understanding of what this duplex, this twofold character, the knowledge of God, is in a few minutes because he quickly moves into it. But right here in the beginning, Calvin is saying that everything we can know and understand about God involves relationship with God. In other words, there is no such thing as neutral, objective, kind of self protected knowledge of God, nor of yourself, for that matter. We begin with a posture of engagement. And you should not think of knowledge as simply a tactical head knowledge. That is to say no learning math charts or facts for history exam. That's that's not what knowledge here is much more in the Pauline sense. Who are the Greek scholars in this class. You know that Pauline word epic gnosis that she uses again and again to describe the knowledge of Christ, that full knowledge that is more than head knowledge.

[00:10:00] It informs the whole being. And so I guess I can summarize this opening comment by saying that for Calvin. From beginning to end, from the first sentence to the last line of the institutes, you cannot separate theology from spirituality. And when you try to do it, it's a recipe for disaster. If you go with just pious feelings or experience very popular word in the modern world for 200, 300 years experience divorced from the true knowledge of God, then you're going to end up in some kind of shallow sentimentalism or worse of it. And if you try to objectify the knowledge of God and hold it out there as something that can be studied and understood and examined under a microscope scope like a butterfly in a lab, then that in itself becomes an idol because you can talk about that kind of God. I'll never forget when I was an undergraduate student, I took a course in the Philosophy of religion was a very interesting course. They taught us all these arguments for the existence of God. I was a flaming youth evangelist in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when I did Flame a little bit. Yeah, I was. And and so I was so excited. I'd never heard that before. How you could prove the existence of God. And so I left class so thrilled that day. I'll never forget it. Just walking down the halls hoping I would bump into an atheist. I could zapping with those arguments, converting right there on the spot. But atheist that day was probably a good idea because the next day we went to class and the professor said offer every argument for the existence of God. There is another counter argument against the existence of God and just threw out my whole strategy of evangelism.

[00:12:08] Well, Calvin is warning us against this kind of false objective ization by saying that knowledge of God is relational and it involves the whole self, and you cannot separate theology and spirituality. And the second point that he wants to make here is that this is the first meaning of duplex. The two part is, is that it's the knowledge of God and of ourselves. He really is saying here, you can't know one without the other. Now, that's a very different way of thinking in the Cartesian world. You know, Descartes came along about 100 years after Calvin. And he has this interesting philosophy in which you separates all of reality into mind and matter. I think therefore I am cogito ergo sume. And so you kind of bifurcates the whole universe into mind. The thinking matter extended stuff which we study and work. But Calvin here says there's no such bifurcation possible when it comes to a knowledge of God. That's a false dichotomy, the knowledge of God and of ourselves. In other words, the way this would be understood if you were just to throw it out in any modern secular university today, not just in America, but anywhere in the Western, less so perhaps in the East, where a different kind of philosophy undergirds a lot of their thinking. But in the West anyway, if you just read a sentence, one of the institutes, this duplex commits the odd knowledge. The way that would be understood by secular people would be something like this. Oh, so there are two parts. Two, there's a twofold knowledge of God. So that means that if we really want to get wisdom, the kind of wisdom Calvin is talking about, we've got to get to know God. Well, how do we get to know God? Well, you go to these in divinity school or some other seminary, and you get, first of all in them div.

[00:14:22] And then if you're extremely precocious and just academically driven, then you go somewhere and you get into a Ph.D. program in theology, which after all, is the study of God, and you master that topic and you write a dissertation on God and you go as far as you can go gaining knowledge and expertise on God. Maybe you write a few books with that title. God become a recognized authority, God. And then over here on the other side, once you finish that, now if you what do you want to know yourself? Well, you've got to start all over again. You've got to enroll in an MFA program somewhere and you've got to eventually go and get a Ph.D. now, not this time in theology, but in psychology, or at least counseling. You've got to study the human self. You've got to become an expert in anthropology. You learn what there is to learn and to know about human beings until you become able to write a book on the self. So you know God and you know the self and you master both disciplines and then maybe sentence one will make some sense. But Calvin says that is a totally bankrupt way of understanding what I'm talking about. The true knowledge of God consist in a correlative knowledge of God. It isn't that you get a Ph.D. in theology and another one in psychology. No, you can't understand thing one about God unless you know something about yourself. And you can't begin to understand yourself, to fathom the mystery of what a human being is in all of its complexity. Unless you know that this is a human being that didn't just evolve from cells and protoplasm millions of years ago by some accident or freak of nature, but know this self you want to know is the special creation of God.

[00:16:35] And it was made for a purpose. To some end, you can't understand the self without reference to God. And conversely, you really don't know God unless you know something about who you are. Kinship to God. Well, I've belabored that point a little bit too much maybe, but I want to underline it because it's absolutely essential for understanding where Calvin is coming from and how we do theology. Theology is not about not lying to other people. Why or how the Christian faith makes sense in their terms. And it isn't. That's not to say they're for apologetics, and Calvin himself gives us a lot of resources for apologetics later on in the institutes. But theology is not about this kind of demonstration or objectification. It's about being engaged in a process that involves your total self and the God who made you. And the only God there is for you to know is the God who saves you and. Damn you. There's no other God except an idol. And idols are not just stone. They're also of words and ideas. And so he's making an appeal here for this correlative knowledge of God that involves one and the other. Now, I'd like a few more comments. So we're going to stop because I've I'm going to resist my effort to just go on and on here. It's really through the first sections here of chapter one, reinforcing this point that I've just tried to make and when it comes to define piety. What is piety. He gives us a wonderful definition of piety. It's one that you ought to underline, memorize, put on your bulletin board. What is piety for Page? What? 41. Read it to us real loud. Said this little louder. Excellent. That reverence, every one of those words is really important.

[00:19:19] Piety is that reverence which is joined with the love of God. Reverence and love aren't exactly the same, but again, they're closely intertwined. Reverence joined with the love of God, which the knowledge comércio again of His benefits induces that piety. Now, unfortunately, this is a word that has taken a lot of hits in recent decades and even the past century. And so that today piety is often equated with pie offsetting. And that is to say we speak disparaging disparagingly about a person who could be called a Holy Joe or a sacred Sally or something like that. You know, it's a term of derision. But Calvin says no piety is reverence for the real God who exists, joined with love for him. So there's this reverence. And that reverence makes you respect the character and being of God. And so there is there an element of fear? Yes, in the sense of respect. Not in the sense of a servile fear of a trembling creature that is afraid to come out of the shadows and face this God who's really an ogre. That kind of stereotype. Not that kind of fear. But what is Proverbs one seven say? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That kind of fear. Yes. Reverence involves that. That means there is this note of the transcendence of God in Kabul. Some people would say it's the greatest note in his whole theology the sovereignty of God, the transcendence of God, the otherness of God. I'm not sure I quite agree with that, but it's clearly a strong note in Calvin's theology, no doubt. And so reverence implies the transcendence, the otherness of God, the sovereignty of God, the power and majesty of God. All of that comes together in that response that we make, which Calvin calls reverence reverential.

[00:21:47] But there's also this focus on the imminence of God because it's reverence that is joined with love. There's not only the otherness of God. There's the here and now and of God. There is the immediate closeness, the inescapable nearness, the presence of God. And again, I want you to see how Calvin is balancing these ideas all the way through the institutions. That's why people who interpret Calvin in some kind of extremist way are going to likely be wrong in their interpretation of Calvin, because Calvin is working with and enemies. He's working with dichotomies. In other words, he's trying to steer a balanced medium. Course not. Not. Not in the sense that he just wants to always be in the middle. Because as you probably have gathered by reading as far as book three, he can be pretty extreme himself on some points. But in the theology he wants to hold together these ideas that are in tension with one another transcendence, eminence, reverence, love, and that is evoked within us. Calvin says. Because it is that reverence, Dawn with love, which is prompted by which is called forth by not age of. The benefits. Right? Work the benefits. But God provides what benefits. What blessings, what good things. That's what benefits are. You know Binay and Boccieri and Latin to to make something well God done made well and given to us. Well, what hasn't? And so the proper attitude for Calvin is the attitude of gratitude. And that's another very important part of piety. He doesn't use that word here. But when you begin to contemplate the benefits of Christ, the benefits that God provides for us in his son, the incarnation, the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection from the grave, his ascension back to heaven, that wonderful exposition of the Apostles Creed.

[00:24:22] Did you pick that up? Another high point in the Institute. Holy scriptures. We'll get to that in a minute. Our next week, maybe we get to it. The church. Calvin you get the book for has a tremendous focus on the visible church as well as the invisible one. Again, a balance. The sacrament. Some of us want to argue with him at least about baptism and maybe a little bit about the Lord's Supper, though I think he got it pretty right on the Lord's Supper myself. But he has a powerful sense that God communicates benefits to us from the sacraments. Calvin is not a single man on either baptism or the Lord's Supper. These are not naked signs. These are not mere symbol. There is a reality which the sign itself points to and indeed conveys by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be sure. And through the exercise of faith, no doubt through the sacrament. Those are all benefits. And when we think about these benefits that come to us from our salvation in Jesus Christ, and then we begin to think about the benefits that God provides in creation itself. We have a lot of things for which we can and ought to be grateful. Gratitude and piety, as is the way Calvin talks about that. Now, where does this piety come from? Deep inside every human being there is this what Calvin calls calls it a number of different things. He calls it the same religion as the seed of religion. But he also calls it. He calls it the spark of immortality. Uses different names. But he says within every human being, there is a bent cord that if now he's not a new ager, he's not saying we're all God's inside it, but he is saying God has made us in such a way as we cannot help but be homo religious, religious, human beings, religious in the sense of being directed toward the divine.

[00:26:46] This is really what Saint Augustine said in the first chapter of the confessions, isn't it? Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord. And our hearts are restless until they find their rest in the soul. Calvin is saying in his own way, In the 16th century, human beings are worshiping animals. They're not thinking animals. They're not even willing to molt at the most basic root of our being. We are animal. And that's because God has placed this within us and he's placed it within everybody so that wherever you go in the world, whatever tribe or kindred or nation or people group or language group that you come across, they will have some manifestation of this same religion within them. And it shows itself in one of two ways. Calvin says one way, the right way, the godly way, the way that leads to eternal life is piety. Down here now about spirituality. I said you can't separate theology and spirituality. And so this seed of religion. Ought to lead us to piety. And it will if the right things are in order. But if it doesn't. And if. It isn't somehow reshape regenerated. Use that good old word. Then it's going to issue in something else. And what is that? Ideology? Those are you. You don't have any others. You're either a pious person in Calvin's sense of the word, or you're an idolatrous person. You're worshiping the creature rather than the creator. And so he's in chapter three, saying that this knowledge of God has been naturally implanted in our minds, naturally implanted in our mind. Now, does this mean Calvin teaches natural theology? Big debate. The century. I talked to you about the debate, I think earlier between BART in question and where Bart issued his famous nine.

[00:29:15] No. Against Amy Brunner's contention that Calvin was really a founding father of natural theology. Well, I don't think Calvin himself has a natural theology. If you mean by that, you can deduce from nature something about the character and personhood of God. Now you can deduce to do certain things from nature. Calvin tells us very clearly about that. God is God has imprinted his reality all over nature so that they bear witness to him. But what is the character of this witness that is born by nature? Anybody. Well, if there had been no fall, this witnessed this same unreality on us could have led us into a right relationship with God. But of course, we know that's not the case. There's a sentence in here, and I didn't bring my mocked up edition, so I'm scrambling a little bit where Calvin says, if Adam had not fallen, Do you remember that? Oh, it's a rat. Early page 40. One way to read the Institute is to read it through the lenses of several hypothetical phrases if clauses that Calvin introduced. There's one here. There's one at the beginning of book two. There's another one, the beginning of book three. And I think if you caught that when you were reading it, no reason for you to, unless you read it 100 times like I have seen it stick out. But notice this sentence type of 40. I speak only of the primal and simple knowledge to which the very order of nature would have led us if Adam had remained right. That's a big if. If there had been no fall then out of this seed of religion, there would have been a natural theology and Bruner would have been right instead of Bach. If there had been no fall, then we would have had this kind of easy automatic access to God where you just kind of grow into being a Christian.

[00:31:36] You just kind of grow incrementally into a right relationship with God. If Adam had remained upright, but of course we know Adam didn't remain upright. And as the first book that was published in America, the Psalter said in Adam's fall, we seen it all. We didn't remain upright either. And because of that, we find ourselves in a major league dilemma. What is that dilemma? Well, the dilemma is that the same in religion as cannot lead us in and of itself by natural processes alone to a right relationship with God. They can. Because it's not functioning correctly and it can do something, it can render us inexcusable before God. This is what Paul is saying in Romans one. When we stand before God at the bar of judgment on the last day, no body there will be able to stand up in the face of God Almighty and say, you know, I don't deserve to be here. I've got a bum deal. Nobody will be able to say that. Whether you've heard of Jesus Christ in this life or not, whether you've been brought up in a Christian family or not, you'll not be able to say that to God because God has put his fingerprint in your heart, on your soul, in your conscience, and in creation itself. And that witness does render us inexcusable. We won't be held accountable. This is Calvin's view. It's also mine. But this is Calvin. You won't be held accountable for rejecting like you never we see. In other words, a person who's never heard of Jesus will not be judged on the basis of their having rejected Jesus whom they never heard of. What they'll be judged on is the basis of the revelation God has in fact given.

[00:33:37] And that's enough. Calvin says, echoing Paul and Romans, to render us all inexcusable before God. Now, so Calvin is. Talking now here about a different kind of duplex cognate code. Originally, I said this was the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Correlative one informs the other. You can't have one without the other. It's relational. But now we get into the real heavy meaning of this word as Calvin unpacks it. And that is to say, the two fold knowledge of God manifests itself in the knowledge of God as Creator and the knowledge of God as Redeemer. One of the standard distinctions of reformed theology, the knowledge of God as Creator and the knowledge of God as Redeemer. So I've just been talking about how this manifests itself in different ways. One way is to say there are what Kalvin calls the opera Daisy. That is the work of God, the works of God in creation, in nature, in the universe, in the cosmos, the opera, the works of God. What are they? Well, they are to start with the conscience. Calvin has a very robust understanding of the conscience. He talks about the worm of conscience. What an image. Knowing a way. Like a worm, eating out a piece of lumber. You've got a conscience that works like that. A worm of conscience. And so, God, that's one of the works of God. He's revealed himself and does to our conscience. And then also, of course, through the cosmos. Through creation. The heavens are telling the glory of God. Calvin has some amazing paragraphs on nature and creation and the beauty of nature. And you know, it's people that think Calvin was just this dour ascetic who couldn't appreciate a sunset or a rope. I just haven't read very much of, you know, Calvin was a lover of nature, in fact, spent a lot of time, as much time as he ever spent anywhere outside of his study, walking in the woods, picking flowers, listening to the music of the birds.

[00:36:29] I mean, that's a part of God's opera day. And it's right and good for us to to relish that and rejoice in that and hear the voice of God through that. He speaks to the opera day, the cosmos. And then, of course, he also speaks and this is a little trickier through history, that is to say, through the events of the course of human life, the rise and fall of nations and empires. He speaks through through history, through famine and war, and he speaks through assassinations and he speaks through these in ways that we can't always hear exactly what he's saying. But God is shaping the course of this world. He hasn't left it just out there to run on its own willy nilly. Now, that's the deist God, it's not Calvin's God. The Deist have this idea that God is a God that sits in a watchtower. Calvin talks about that later Book one You get to Providence, this God that sits in a watchtower and he looks down on the world and everything is happening from a distance. And every now and then, you know, he gets off his high tower and comes down to check on things to be sure everything's in order. Flaps a few people around, maybe goes back to his watchtower, keeps on watching. That's not the Bible. God, that's not the Christian God. And it's not the Calvin God either. That God is an idol, somebody. One of my teachers wasn't George Williams. Nobody else. I've never forgotten this line because I think it's absolutely fascinating way to describe theism, said Deism is Calvinism without tears. Because what the deist wanted, I mean, they were theists, they believed in God, but they weren't a God that didn't get his hands very dirty.

[00:38:34] An absentee landlord, God, you know, he owns the slums, you know, I guess the rent money. But, you know, he's not going to get down there and fix the plumbing as the deist god Calvinism, without any tears. Well, God does speak through history. And if we're discerning and listen carefully in the events of our lives and of our time, perhaps we can hear what God is saying in the fall of the Berlin Wall or massively evil event as the Holocaust or the murder of unborn children in our own country. What what? What's God? What is God in the midst of all of that? Well, there's a part of so God in judgment, Grace. Now, for all of what we might hear and learn about God, though, from the Opéra de. We have to keep we have to keep focused, Calvin says on the oracular day in the Hall of God. We can learn about God, the Creator from the opera. David and I haven't listed all the channels in which God speaks, but some of the major ones. But now, if we really want to learn about God the Redeemer, the God who saves us and dances as Luther says, then we've got to pay attention to the Oracles, the special oracles of God. And what are they? Well, anybody. Okay. The Bible. I wouldn't put that first for Calvin, but let's let's do because it comes up very importantly in book one, certainly the scriptures. He has a whole doctrine of scripture. We'll look at that. That's one of the major ways in which God speaks to his oracles. But what else? Well, let's say Jesus Christ. He's pretty important here in this list, isn't he, for Calvin? Another way of understanding, Calvin, I've said some people see is theology revolving around the idea of and sentence or sovereignty.

[00:40:51] Another very popular interpretation of Calvin, especially in the thirties and forties during the heyday of neo orthodoxy, was to see everything revolving around his understanding of Jesus Christ. And some of, you know, a book by Wilhelm Missal called The Theology of Calvin, published in the Thirties. And he was a great man. I met him once. He was about 95 when I met him, so I was toddling along. He was he was a member of the Confessing Church, very involved in the struggle against the Nazis. And he wrote a book called The Theology of Calvin in the Thirties, in which he says, You really learn from Calvin's theology. You don't begin with sovereignty or transcendence. You begin with Christ. And so he gives this wonderful interpretation where every doctrine focuses around the person of Christ. Now, that's a wonderful idea. I mean, I like that idea when I read Calvin. I'm not sure you can say that even that doctrine is the center around which everything else revolves. In fact, I don't think Calvin theology has such a center. Why? Because it is a theology that is based on the unfolding of revelation in Scripture. And it lurches and it lunges here and there, the way the Bible does. But that's beside the point. Not really beside the point, but another one of the oracular deity, somebody said it was the church. And along with that, let's add again the sacraments. In all of these ways, God is revealing himself to us as the Redeemer. And Calvin's going to unpack that distinction. You've got to understand this distinction, or you haven't gotten to the first base in understanding Calvin. Everything else in the institutes flows from this outline I put on the board. Now another way that later theologians talk about this.

[00:42:45] I don't particularly like this term that maybe some of you have studied Bobby or somebody else in the reform tradition, and you've read about general revelation and special revelation. That's a pretty standard way of talking about the duplex Cabinet's the day, God's general cure in creation and the conscience in history. God's special revelation in Scripture and Christ in. Thing I want to impress upon you is that by general revelation alone, you'll never be able to understand. You'll never be able to reach a right relationship with God. That's Calvin's point. That's why the mediator is such a big category for him when it comes to talk about Jesus Christ, the God man. Okay. I do today because we're going to we're going to stop early. Let's don't do a break, All right? Is that okay, everybody, If you have to go the bathroom, you know where it is. We'll just keep on going because I want to take now some time and have a little feedback and we'll stop a little before 430. Okay. Comment questions. Russ, I just don't think we're going to. You can't go on the road a lot. Yeah. Yeah. I'm not against them. I mean, I use them myself sometimes. I don't think they're very precise, frankly. I mean, special. Well, they operate. They are special, too. So it's just the inadequacy of terminology. And my point, it's not the distinction that I object to. It's the way of characterizing them as general and special, everything special with God and even what he does in nature and in the conscience. Earlier, you mentioned during the National Development Conference that all of us believe you believe in God. Very strong and all of that. How do we balance that? If they didn't know, Christ would be killed on that goal.

[00:45:09] The second believed do believe this will particular. I guess the point is to be sure because that because I mean, Jesus Christ didn't stop being in Bethlehem. Yeah. So the so the presence of Christ in the Old Testament, I mean, they clearly they didn't understand with the clarity that we do now on this side of the cross in those terms. But he certainly knew about the promise of God and justification by faith alone that Paul what Paul argues in Galatians. So that's all of that is a part of the oracular date. We could call it salvation history, if you will. And the Old Testament. Now it gets trickier. If you really want to ask a tricky question, what you would have asked is what about people, you know, religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, whatever. What about them? They haven't heard of Jesus. Do they get a regular day or when they believe that they're people of faith? Is that the same as believing in Jesus? And if you take that tact, where you end up is somewhere where Carl Reiner, the great Catholic theologian of the century, probably the greatest Catholic theologian of this century, and with some kind of idea of what he called anonymous Christians, so that even these people who haven't heard the gospel haven't heard the name of Jesus. If they're pious people, they're people of prayer, you know, good moral and so forth and so on. That's some indication that they're are people of faith and therefore God just kind of counts that as faith in Christ. The only thing about it, that's his idea of Christianity. I think you have to squeeze in our turn turnip, to get that out of Calvin. But he damaged it in the sense that we didn't know what these guys were.

[00:46:52] Not exactly. No, that was another issue. But he. Damn that for sure. Yeah. We really wanted to see a movie like that when there was this incredible in terms of the human being, that he might understand that when we don't expect to be revived and a person to be brought in some kind of like time, you can relate to people. MM That's really a good point. I guess I'd want to ask Dr. Galloway how he understands Wesley's view there too, because I know Wesley expert. I do know that Wesley has this sense of what does he call it, prevent grace. His term whereby there is something very similar, I think to the same in religion. But I think where they would differ, probably I'm skating on thin ice here, where they would differ probably would be the role in which that poor man of religion, really the role it plays in the process of conversion and salvation. I think, oh, you should all know that John Wesley had a very strong doctrine of original sin. He wrote a book 600 pages long on it, and there's a lot of commonality between Wesley and Calvin. I think would be a good dissertation from you that want to pursue that somewhere. Because, you know, Wesley has this point within a within a hair's breadth of being a Calvinist. And we know That's right. But then, of course, he has some very strong objections to predestination and to some other of Calvin's ideas. But on this point, original sin and the role of the conscience within one, the part that plays in coming to faith in Christ, I don't think he would be that far from Calvin. But also the knowledge of what they were doing was making all the sudden all the baseball.

[00:49:12] One of the. But most of the things that. The court then allowed them to challenge the. The moral of the story is that they all tell you that you come in and they have all these and this and that and so that and with that, I think that in the course of the. Not because talking about it. Physical and emotional energy is even more important than the substance of the ball in terms of. Thanks for everything that I've done. You are paid for. That was over a month ago. Yeah. Good. Excellent. You know, Calvin's one of his favorite phrases is to talk about the world as the theater of God's glory. He picked that up in book one over and over the theater. A lot of drama language in there. You're absolutely right. It is a scene for the display of God's glory. But I would add one more thing that you said. Not only is glory and honor and majesty and all is at stake, but there's another reason why God wants to get his hands dirty, and that is because he really cares about this world. His love and his mercy and his compassion are never ending, as the psalmist says. So you've got to read Calvin's commentary on the Psalms alongside Brooke, one of the institutes to get that feel or resonance that you're absolutely right. The world is a theater in which God's majesty and glorious under display. Yeah. Oh, I'm not. I understand. What? Within the past week, revelations that the revelation that he's previously resurfaced and I'm. How far behind? Well, at first I thought that person was not engaged right now, so. Yeah. Right. Right. But that is. Yeah. You believe that? You think that's a right reading? Paul in Romans? Yeah.

[00:52:11] Okay. Yes, he does. But the person can only be saved by thankful. Yeah. Through the Holy Spirit. Right. Right. Got it. Yeah. Yeah. This is where I'm not sure where you can help me with things that have the normal revelations over the revelation that are needed in my life and my family. Because the reason why I'm here is playing football. I'm not joking. I think you like this one to really ask the question. But it seems like the who got this man done one somehow or another between the two, that it seems like these two revelations on me and then know that part of it almost sounds like you're saying that you do not mean. Hmm. Pick up on that. I think you're on to something. Yeah, right about. So. You. The. All, of course, after Adam had remained upright. This would not have been the case, but because of the fall after the fall. That's true, I think. And to some extent, he's not. And you're saying things differently than Thomas Aquinas. Thomas To say, as we can tell from nature that God is but not what God is that leads to. But yeah, that was very. I feel so dispensable. Burton said. And I'm thinking that we're, you know, ready to do it and to. Instead. Regulation central. Is a person with certainty this. If we're not careful, we think are preaching the gospel. The regeneration. That's a problem long enough to make you know how it is that they're going to be involved as far as integration. The third book for sure. Third book now on the Justice Department. Right on. Well, I mean, you know, any distinction that you make is going to break down in some way. For example, the Opara and the Iraqi law lady when we come to look at Calvin's doctrine of Scripture.

[00:56:15] Well, clearly, you know, that's a special revelation when you use that term. It's it's something God does over and beyond his work in creation or in the conscience. It's a word that comes a double that comes from God. But even the Bible is in some ways also involved in the old paradise, written on paper or parchment. It's it's written in a language of human language. It's not in the language of angels. It's in the language that shaped by history and by culture. And so, yes, there is an intermingling of the two in the sense that, God, we don't live in a Gnostic world. We live in a world where or a dualistic world, but a world that is as a whole the creation of God. And He's able to use the old paradigm to convey to us the oracular day there's that time. But I think you're asking a more fundamental question, and that is to say, or maybe you're asking this question and coming to faith in Christ. Every generation use your language. Calvin's language, too. Is there some kind of continuity, some kind of gradual building from nature to grace, from lost to save, from damnation to salvation? And I would have to say my reading of Calvin is clearly. No, that isn't. There's always a point where a person with. But not just that there's we're talking here about two different realms, two different worlds, a world of death, the world of life, the world. Luther would say this louder than Calvin. The world of the devil. It's like riding a horse. He's in control of you and the world of Christ who is triumphant over the devil and all his pomp. John Paul. Welcome include. All. Well, we haven't read enough, Calvin.

[00:59:13] We may have read the wrong Calvin, as we suspect, been pulled either by our pieties or, on the one hand, into some kind of sloppy, sentimental spirituality experience based apart from the objectivity of the truth of God's Word. Or we've gone the way you're suggesting a lot of evangelicals have toward some kind of what I would call false objectivity, where we study about God, we study doctrines of God. We become experts on God and on theology, but our hearts aren't really engaged by it. We've been pulled in our history in both of those ways. Some elements that come out of Protestant scholasticism. Not all, but some would tend toward the latter toward this false objectivity. And we clearly know there are a lot of elements that come out of revivalism in all kinds of spirituality groups today that that go in the other direction. We talk about this as head and heart in popular lingo, and I think Calvin wants to keep them together. In fact, I think the first sentence of the institute said, God, unless you have them together, you can't know yourself. You're going to be stuck and lost. Now, your question is, how did we get here? I guess. And I think it's because the church has lurched and lunged and that's the way it is with movements. You have a movement in the 19th century, like the second Great Awakening, which was a great movement of God in many, many ways, But it also had some elements in it that were not very healthy spiritually. And so that become for a whole generation of Christians, becomes definitive for various institutions and schools of thought and theology. And then you have somebody else over here and then lurching in another way.

[01:01:06] And what you're seeking I want to come back to this word balance, because Calvin, it seems to me, if I'm reading him rightly, wants to always keep those elements in very harmonious balance. It's not easy to do. Yeah, Yeah. Right. Of course, it all depends on what you mean by objective truth. If you mean what I just characterize as false objectivity, I think it's that's a dead end. But I don't want to give up the idea that God truly speaks. And when he speaks, he says something that's intelligible. And so Scripture is not simply a what do you think this verse means kind of kind of thing. Scripture is the word of God, and there is an objectivity to want to use that word. There is a given this to what God has said and spoken in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. That's not reducible to our own private, subjective feelings. Now, I think we have to be very careful when we want to. We want to say that we know what that is with infallible clarity, because one of the great themes of the Protestant Reformation is that all of our creeds and confessions and these are creedal and confessional people are subject to revision in the light of holy Scripture. So is John Robinson, the pastor, The Pilgrim Fathers said before he left, before he said goodbye to his dear colleagues and friends who were coming to America, the Lord hath yet more truth and light to break out of his holy Word. We don't want to forget that aspect of it, but I am not in favor of a lot of kind of pop evangelical. I don't know what to call it, something really bad. I can call it here a sloppy avant garde thinking that basically wants to gut the notion that God has truly spoken even propositional, even in words and language that has meaning across time.

[01:03:25] Part of the problem with some of the post-modernist thinking is that all of this is kind of reducible to a very finite narrative, a story, but it's a story that's disconnected from a meta narrative. It's disconnected from the story, from God's story. And therefore it becomes simply, you know, are you a Democrat or Republican? You like vanilla or chocolate, you are minion or a Calvinist. And and when we do that, well, we can all set up our tents and, you know, have a fair. But it's not it's not theology, it's not responsible theology, and it doesn't lead to responsible worship and spirituality. If I if I answered you a little bit. Yeah. We can pursue. That's a good question. It's a tough question. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, do. Thank. I think he's discovered his game. The only reservation I would make in your statement is existentialist is such a loaded word in our modern 20th century. I think I would rather say Calvin is a theologian. Who for whom? What's the right word? Being committed. Being engaged is a theologian of engagement. If that's what you mean. Existentialism. I agree completely. I think that's very, very right. Other words, you know, there is no objective, neutral epistemological platform on which you can stand to evaluate these things. There isn't. And that's the myth. It's the myth of Descartes and Conte and the whole modern project. And in that sense, back to John Paul, the postmodern people have something to say to us that what they say isn't right and it isn't enough, and sometimes it's quite wrong. But at that point, they are very right and they're very much in Calvin's tradition, I believe. And so, yes, Jesus said the same thing in the Gospel of John.

[01:06:19] It's always nice when Calvin and Jesus agree. And and didn't they didn't Jesus say, if you do what I command, you will know the truth. But like that, somebody help me. You Johannine Scholars. John six. John seven. So he knew exactly. That's wonderful. Oppressed. John 717 So yes, it's good. Got about 5 minutes or so. 10 minutes let's. Yes, sir. Paul. They said if you go back to the press reports, it will be suitable, the war and the whole thing. And hopefully they will go with all the latest information and believe it's only going to take a while to get a hold of it in the way it did. We want to get you a little bit more and more. No better than 95. So. All this time we're doing anything by the phone and. We all want to see how long that will be. Yeah, that's good. When we get to book two, we'll talk further about Calvin's Doctrine of sin, harm intelligence, and his understanding of depravity. My own thinking is that it is the key element in understanding his social reality. How about the five points of Calvinism? Unconditional love action, limited time and all those things. It's really what you're talking about. Yeah. Yeah, that's my that's my understanding of it. And my own kind of embracing of the doctrines of grace, as we call them. That was a very key element for me. I told depravity doesn't mean, of course, that we're as bad as we could be and certainly doesn't mean that we're everything we do is just marked with evil and sand and ugliness. Now there's a lot of beauty and good in the works. The people may be pretty well hidden, but it's there. But but but.

[01:09:04] COREN Dale, when you when you when you get a sense back to the tenets, one knowledge of God's knowledge of yourself, when you get a sense of who God is, his Holiness, his power, His Majesty, his unalterable purity and the light of that faith. Woe is me, I am unclean. We were reported long ago. It was a very familiar relationship. But now we don't know anything about God. Well, no, no, no. What I'm talking about is theological balance here. You've got to keep these ideas in tension with one another as you're going to run off into one. Yeah, right. Absolutely. Very, very quickly, Calvin, just because of the way he was trying to help. Don't you think there needs to be every every doctor who is equal to every doctor who goes to and from Providence, Rhode Island. And you know when. Okay. I was there too. I know you do all that all the time that he ever built correctly and unbalanced with so many. I don't think so. Now, expressing an opinion and a prejudice there. And maybe you can come back and argue against me. Maybe you have in your papers already, But that's not true. Calvin's often accused of that, but I myself think he does a pretty good job of not running the field on that. But we'll talk about that later. It's a good question. Let's regroup those things and come back home to meet Dr. McGrath. You're welcome to.