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Theology of the Reformers - Lesson 10

The Institutes: Book One (continued)

In this lesson, you will delve into John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion" with a focus on Book One. You will learn about the background, context, and significance of this influential work, as well as explore its structure and key themes. The lesson will examine the knowledge of God the Creator, the nature of God, the role of Scripture, and God's providence. By studying the key themes of God's sovereignty, human humility, and the centrality of Scripture, you will gain a deeper understanding of Calvin's theology and its impact on the Reformation and modern Christianity.
Timothy George
Theology of the Reformers
Lesson 10
Watching Now
The Institutes: Book One (continued)

TH230-10: The Institutes - Book One Continued

I. Introduction to the Institutes of the Christian Religion

A. Background and Context

B. Significance of the Work

II. Structure and Overview of Book One

A. The Knowledge of God the Creator

1. The Nature of God

2. The Role of Scripture

B. God's Providence

1. Definition and Implications

2. Human Response to Providence

III. Key Themes and Insights from Book One

A. The Sovereignty of God

B. The Humility of Humanity

C. The Centrality of Scripture

IV. Legacy and Impact of Book One on the Reformation and Beyond

A. Influence on Reformation Thought

B. Continuing Relevance Today


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Transcript
  • 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
th230-10
The Institutes: Book One (continued)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] In Heidelberg, all the Heidelberg catechism written probably by a man named Ursinus and another one named Oliver Onis. But it quickly became one of the standard teaching documents of the reform tradition and was adopted as one of the three great Confessions of the Dutch Reformed Church and still is used that way today. But I want to read as our opening a devotion the first two questions and answers of the Heidelberg Catechism. As you all know, the catechism is a question and answer methodology of teaching Christian doctrine. And it's something that Baptists have also done. In fact, the very first publication ever released by the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1892. The board was founded in 1891 at a meeting of the SBC right here in Birmingham. The following year, the first thing they published was a Baptist Catechism. And some years ago, when I was an interim pastor at Hammer Baptist Church in the city, which is the oldest church in the city, not just Baptist church, the oldest church, the first church in the city, one of the elderly ladies in the church, she's almost 100 years old, over 90, came to me and said, I want to bring you something. And she brought me a copy of that Baptist Catechism that was published in 1892 by the Baptist on the school board. She said her mother had used that in their family when she was a little girl, and it had been in a what do you call these things in the closet, trunks in a trunk in her in her attic for years and years. It was old and and dusty and wrinkled. And she brought it to me, about to fall apart. And so I took it to the church. We had a Wednesday night prayer service and Bible study, and I took it to the church the next morning and I said, Look what Sister so-and-so is giving me, this Baptist catechism, the first thing ever published by the Baptist Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

[00:01:58] And I told a story about how her mother had used that very document when she was a little girl to give religious training in her family. And I said, you know, our theology is kind of about the state of this little pamphlet. It's old and and dusty and crinkled, and we need to get it out of the trunk and bring it out of the attic and learn it all over. We began a series of Wednesday night studies on the Baptist catechism written by John Broaddus that's been republished now in the volume I and my wife, A Verity called Baptist Confessions, Covenants and Catechism. So if any of you are interested in that, you can go and read it there. Well, this is not a Baptist catechism, it's a Heidelberg Catechism. And it comes out of the reform tradition, roughly. It was published a year before Calvin died. I don't think he had anything to do with it directly. But it's a wonderful, wonderful statement of faith, and especially the first two questions, which I required my daughter, Alice, to learn She is being baptized this Sunday night and among many other things, including the Baptist view of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. She also had to learn the first two questions of the Heidelberg Catechism. I'm going to read that to you and then we'll have a time of prayer to. Question one What is your only comfort in life and in death? Answer that. I belong body and soul in life and in death. Not to myself, but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood, has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of that. He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven, not a hair can fall from my head.

[00:03:37] Indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Question two How many things must you know that you may live and die in the blessedness of this comfort? Answer three First, the greatness of my sin and wretchedness. Second, how I am freed from all my sins and their wretched consequences. Third, what gratitude I owe to God for such redemption. Let us pray. Your Heavenly Father. We thank you that in this life of change and vicissitudes, that we have a comfort in life, death for all time and eternity, the comfort that we belong not to ourselves, but to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who at the price of his own blood, has purchased our redemption on the cross through his resurrection and the coming of His Holy Spirit has given us new life and new. That, sir. Even the valley of the Shadow. And we pray that you will assure his present lives, not only today and Eddie, but in all that we that we are, that our lives will yield honor and glory to you. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Today, I want to conclude our discussion of Book one, move into book two and kind of set the stage for some of the closing sessions of this class with profound apologies to books. Two or three and. By the way, I want to mention a little book to you. It's not. And it's no longer available in this edition, but it has been reprinted. Russ, I don't know if you all have this in the bookshop by Francois Von Dale, Debbie and E.L.. In my judgment, it's probably the single best book on Calvin that has been published in the 20th century, and it was published by scholar Francois von Dell.

[00:05:59] That's w e n dl. You can tell from his name. He was French and this book was originally published in French. This is an English translation, came out some time ago and has been reprinted in a little larger and more user friendly format available in your friendly books and bookshop. So this is a this is. This is a great book on Calvin, and I follow a lot of his interpretation in my own discussion of Calvin in Theology of the Reformers. So I commend that to you. If you're interested in additional reading or resources on Calvin, I quoted from the catechism in this little book by Mark a null. So if you know him or know of him, he's a professor of history at Wheaton College, a good friend of mine, a fellow worker with me at Christianity Today, and he has this little book which is published by Baker called Confessions and Cataclysms of the Reformation. I've used this as a textbook in some other classes I've taught in the past. It's just a very handy addition of a number of well, actually asked 1095 theses of Luther, the 67 articles of Zwingli from 1523 The Anabaptist slight Heine confession of 1527 Luther Small Catechism. Wonderful, Wonderful resource. The Augsburg Confession of 1530 The Genevan Confession of 1536. The Heidelberg Confession of 1563. The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, The Profession of the Tridentine Faith and the 39 Articles of the Church of England. So you can hardly find that set of documents brought together in one volume and such a nice addition. So I recommend that to you as another good primary source collection. The name of the book author Mark Noel. Noel L Mark A know you have this for us in the bookshop.

[00:07:44] Don't know. Okay, good. Now let's go to chapter 15, page 183. And I have resolved to talk less and discuss more because I think that's a good way to get input from you and to advance our learning together. So I'm going to try to discipline myself and the amount of stuff I say here. But I want to say one or two words about Calvin's anthropology. I think is where we left off last week, Right? Those of you that were here see just blank stares. This is Calvin in the reform tradition. Huh? Great creation. Yeah, we got to creation, but we didn't really get into anthropology. So I think we're in chapter 15, which begins on page 183 of book one. There's a debate in Christian theology as to whether human beings should be divided into two or three parts, whether we are dichotomous or track items. The dichotomous people say we are body, soul and spirit. Three parts. The dichotomous people say we are only soul and body. And which shot of that debate this Calvin fall on? Yeah yeah yeah We're going to dichotomous he's he's essentially that he quite soul and spirit doesn't see much distinction there and he distinguishes these two in a significant way and that's really important for kind of understanding some of his spirituality as well because he sees the soul in particular as being the primary locus for the image of God in human beings. And he discusses that in various ways, though though the image of God also extends, he says this on page 188, even to the body in some regard. But this is about almost near the end of page 188. And although the primary seed of the divine image was in the mind and the heart or the soul kind of lumps those all together and its powers.

[00:10:03] Yet there was no part of me, and not even the body itself, in which some sparks did not glow. So what would be an example of that, do you think? Where in the structure of the human body are some sparks of the divine image of God being reflected? Any guesses? Five. Eyes. Calvin says It's the very fact that we walk upright and that we look up at the stars and at the heavens. That that in itself is an indication that we are created in the image of God. So even the way in which the human body has been constructed and framed and made to fit together, there is some little evidence even there, but the primary evidence is not in the body, but it is in the soul. And he goes into the conscience in the way in which all of these things are worked themselves out. Now, here's the main point of this whole discussion on anthropology page 189 in my edition of the Institute, this one that I've used often when I read through them just before I go to sleep at night, or, you know, when getting ready for lectures, I start certain things. Do you all do that? You go through certain, you know, that they may not be the most important things, the things that strike you as either odd or interesting or you really agree with it or you violently disagree with it. Well, I star this. This is something worth noting. Okay. First, it's a paragraph for page 189. Nevertheless, it seems that we do not have a full definition of image. If we do not see more plainly those faculties in which man excels and in which he ought to be thought the reflection of God's glory.

[00:11:57] Here's the key line that indeed can nowhere be better recognized than from the restoration of his corrupted nature. There is no doubt that Adam, when he fell from his state, was by this defection, alienated from God. Therefore, even though we grant that God's image was not totally annihilated or destroyed in Adam, yet it was so corrupted that whatever remains its frightful deformity. Consequently, the beginning of our recovery of salvation is in that restoration which we obtain through Christ, who also is called the second Adam for the reason that He restores us to true and complete integrity. In other words, what Calvin is saying here, if you want to find out what a human being really is, where do you look? You do not look at yourself. Nor do you look at Adam, the first human being. But instead you look at the second atom at Christ. Here is a very crucial theological methodological point. Jesus Christ is the only truly fully human being who has ever lived. And much of the problem of the way. Human beings are analyzed in the post-Enlightenment world. Begins with the assumption that. If we really want to find out what human beings are like, we look at ourselves. We we study ourselves. Psychology. So psycho analysis is based on that premise. Well, we can learn a lot from psychology. We can learn a lot from psychoanalysis, but we cannot learn from them what a true human being is like, because that can only be found in the one in whom that nature was so fully restored that we call him the second atom that is Christ. I am glad. Well into which we had before. Yeah. Why don't we go back to Adam? David wants to know why. What was missing in Adam? Well, the problem with Adam before the fall was that he was not all that God intended him to be.

[00:14:31] He had not yet reached that level of completion. He was still in process when he fell. And so what you have in Christ Jesus doesn't just bring you back to Adam. What you have in Jesus is what God intended for the human race to be before the fall. Before Sandy entered into the picture and disrupted and destroyed that that magnificent creation. So at the end of regeneration, Calvin says, is that Christ should reform us to God's image. Isn't that an interesting use of the word reform? What is the Reformation about? Well, don't think that it's just about, you know, doing away with indulgences and correcting some of the abuses that had crept into the church. Those are expresses those are just the outcroppings of something that is far more important, namely this sentence here, that Christ should reform us in God's image. That's what the Reformation is about. It's about our being reshaped and reformed in the way that God intended through His Word and by his spirit and in the company of his church, of his people. That's what the Reformation is about, and all these abuses and so forth. That was a part of the process of enabling this to happen. But that's not the end. That's not the purpose of the Reformation. Okay, look on page 190. When does this happen? This being reformed into the image of Christ. Into the image of God by Christ. Well, this is the last sentence or so in the first full paragraph beginning now God's image Page 290. Now God's image is the perfect excellence of human nature, which shown in Adam before his defection, but was subsequently so vitiated and almost blotted out that nothing remains after the ruin except what is confused, mutilated and disease ridden.

[00:16:37] Therefore, in some part. It now is manifest in the elect insofar as they have been reborn in the spirit, but it will attain its full splendor in heaven. Which is another way of saying we haven't arrived yet. And we will not fully be reformed in the sense that Calvin is talking about here until we reach heaven itself. And we are removed not only from the power, the grip of sin, but even from the presence of sin. In that wonderful way in which revelation describes that city of light, where there is no darkness and no tears and no death. So I know there was a lot of pain here, but do you think there is any progress? Oh, yeah. I mean, that's the point of. That's what both there is about, isn't it? That's what the Christian life is intended for. Absolutely. Sanctification is another word for that. Sure. But help does in the sense I know we always talk about that. You know, the good works of art in front of, you know, some truth. Yeah. True. So. So you're sanctified, but you're sanctified by grace as well as justified by grace. Yeah. If you took Jerry Bridges course when he was here a year or two ago. Isn't that what he's. He was saying? And what's the name of his book? Yeah, I think that's very much Calvin's perspective on it. But there is progress along the way. It's Christ who works in us by His spirit. But the main point that what he wants to guard against here is what? What's the what's his enemy? What's he fighting? Perfectionism. Perfectionism. At least in the way in which it was touted by some of the radical reformers. This particular never, ever became part until to say one more time and never really became a legislation.

[00:18:41] I mean, with it be man crazy. You fall into the bucket. I mean, I see your point. Yeah. Perfectionism is easier for Appalachians than for Augustinians. Yeah, I'm not sure. I think there is a perfectionist strain in the reform tradition. Yeah. And, you know. Mm hmm. Mm. Mm. Yeah. Okay. Okay. The main points I want to make there is that the restoration of our of the image of God is in Christ. That's the main point I want to make about his anthropology. Anything else you want to add to that? There's a lot more that could be said in this whole Chapter 15 that I want to go on to Providence. Okay. That's. Yes, I'm going to do that. And they got to differentiate. But this. With that being said. Well, what? What is. Yeah, that's a problem for Calvin. You know, in the early church there were two classical Christology that evolved. One of them associated more with Alexandria than the city of Alexandria. And the teaching there was to focus on the unity of the person of Christ, Cyril, of Alexandria, and that great tradition. The other one focused, centered more on Antioch and came to be associated with death. And they distinguished divinity and humanity and the council of emphasis in 431 was an attempt to kind of refute the Nestorian view. Luther in the Reformation leans toward the monotheistic view. Calvin leans toward the Nestorian view, though neither Luther nor Calvin, in my judgment, fall off the fence into those heresies. But they are tempted in different ways. And so this is a problem for Calvin. How did you know? Because you make such a point here about looking to Christ the restoration. So Calvin from running throughout Calvin's Christology, this comes out in book two is this tension between divinity and humanity in the God Man and almost a division of labor that is going on between divinity and humanity.

[00:21:07] Now he wants to hold them together. He doesn't want to be an historian. He repudiates an historian ism. But when you read how he executes these New Testament passages, he's tempted by an historian rather than a monopoly side view. Luther, on the other hand, has no problem saying, Oh, gross, a note under God is told, Oh, blessed pain, our God is slain. Talking about the death of the human nature of Christ on the cross talks about the death of God on the cross. That's Luther's language, Conrado Cyril of Alexandria, under the open shots of the early church. So to answer your question, how would you answer your own question? Well, I'm sorry, though, that you're probably going back to Adam and Jesus because Adam wasn't God, right? When we say that, we know that you. And then the question is, will it be restored that it was then maybe it will be repaid? I hope to God no. One of the coming to a word that we're not God, but remember but remember Jesus in his earthly life, in his incarnation, didn't didn't start to exist in Bethlehem. So he's the second person of the Trinity from all eternity. Right. And what happened in in his incarnation is God manifested in the flesh. That's what was new. That's what that was something that, if you want to speak of it this way, did not exist before Bethlehem. You can't really talk about the human nature of Christ in eternity past. And so, you know, Calvin wants to say you still have to look to Jesus, though. Certainly Jesus isn't just a human being out to the potential. You know, he's he's not just a human being. Magnified to the greatest degree is unique. He's the God man.

[00:22:53] And so for that reason, he can't he can't be simply an example. He has to also be a substitute, a mediator. But in his humanity, his true and full and unabridged humanity, you do have the full restoration of the image of God that you find nowhere else. And where do you find that? Well, that's where Calvin says you've got to read the scriptures. You've got to distinguish his humanity from his divinity as you read the Gospels and so forth and so on. You know, the way they did that, you know, the historians, for example, is very artificial. They would say, if you want to see Christ divinity, you know, you stilling the storm, doing the miracles. You won't see his humanity. He's asleep on the boat and got tired. He slept. He was human. But he woke up and he rose. And still the storm. He was God. So you've got kind of a division of labor going on, and you push that very far. It becomes somewhat artificial, doesn't it? Sort of, you know, which which switch does he push today, humanity or divinity? And of course, that's why the doctrine of the unity of the person is so important. But but I mean, this problem is like all the problems in theology, How how can God be one and yet three, how can Jesus be fully human and yet completely divine? How can God allow human beings a measure of freewill and responsibility in the decisions and accountability for the decisions they make? And yet, at the same time, be as Calvin says here in book one, in his doctrine of Providence, the God who decrees all things that come to pass. I mean, I don't think these that these are these are all, you know, pretty hard problems, aren't they, for human beings to figure out? And we simply believe them to be true, not because we like a religion that has paradoxes we can't solve A rational means no, we believe them to be true because we don't think there's any other way to read the Bible except to affirm both sides of it.

[00:24:57] Yeah, we said that after we got the picture being told, you know, even before. Right. It is still the same. What do you mean? Yeah. Well, what he was lacking before the fall was that sense of maturity. That God intended human beings to be. In other words, God didn't create Adam the way He intended. Human beings finally to to be. He created him as a creature who would grow, who would be, for example, tested by temptation. You gain something in your humanity by being tempted and overcoming temptation. Right. So Adam was tempted and he fell. He didn't overcome. So. So what was missing? He lacked that sense of of fullness, of maturity, of rest. It's another word for it. That we have in Jesus, who was also tempted. In all points as we are yet without sin. I have very skeptical eyes looking at me. Am I making this up? It's all in August. And I tell you, everything is in the Bible or August and it's all there. Calvin is a footnote to these people. Calvin has nothing new, really. Which doesn't mean he isn't important, because the way he puts things together is quite important and interesting. But it's all there is. Let's go to Providence now. Chapter 16. All right. Now, you have, of course, the 1559 edition of the institute here. And if you go back and compare earlier editions of the Institute as to where Providence really fits in to Calvin, then you find that he's made a shift when he comes to this final and definitive edition of 1559. He is constantly moving providence and predestination around. He never again, it seems, be satisfied until he gets to this addition. And this is how I thought it through. I've tried it here, tried it there.

[00:27:15] This is where it belongs in theology. And so what he does here is take Providence and connect it directly through the doctrine of creation. He takes predestination and moves it. So we've talked about this before all the way to the end of book three in the context of so Trilogy and the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Christian life. Well. Why does he connect Providence so directly and so closely to creation? Because he realizes that Providence is nothing less than the continuous action of God in the midst of creation. Providence is the continuous action of God in the midst of creation. And that's what he says here in the very first line, the first sentence of this Chapter 16, page 297. Moreover, to make God a momentary creator who once we're all finished, his work would be cold and barren. And we must differ from profane a man, especially in that we see the presence of divine power shining as much in the continuing state of the universe as in its inception. Again, if you'll come down to that next, the end of the page at first, then the next paragraph starting. But faith. But faith ought to penetrate more deeply. Namely, having found him creator of all. Forthwith to conclude he is also everlasting governor and preserver not only and that he drives the celestial frame as well as its several parts by universal motion, but also in that he sustains, nourishes and cares for everything he has made, even to the least sparrow. Matthew 1029. So it's God's continuous activity. In fact, one way of expressing this. Is is the words criteo continua. A continuous creation. What Calvin is against in this whole section on Providence, what he is constantly, it seems, almost every page lambasting over and over again is this idea of a lazy God.

[00:30:16] There's O.T., also a lazy God who sits me by in a watchtower. You remember how often he uses that phrase observing from a distance. Look on page at the bottom of page two or one when he's defining the nature of Providence. He says there's a number of different times, but he says here. At the outset, then let my readers grasp that providence means not. Not that by which God idly observes from Heaven what takes place on Earth, but that He but that by which, as keeper of the keys he governs all events eaten on the minus odd, minus quam odd oculus pertinent. It pertains no less to his hands than to his eyes. An interesting way of putting it, not just God for seeing something kind of knowing it's going to come to pass. But He sits back in his heavenly watchtower, observing idly as the world goes on its way. But no, it pertains to his hands as well as to his eyes. He's involved. He's a guy who gets his hands dirty with the events of this world and its history. That's Calvin's understanding of an activist God. Now, what's another name for this view of God that Calvin is opposing here? What do we call it now on this side of deism? The God of Deism, God who is transcendent, who is sovereign, Who is all powerful. You read The D-List writers? There's not that you know, they're not they're not process theologians. They are they are very traditional theist in the sense that their God is high and even holy, but also aloof and distant. But a God who made the world set it spinning and seldom, if ever, manages to get involved with it. That is not the godfather of our Lord.

[00:32:48] Jesus Christ is not the God of the Bible, Calvin says. Because this is a God who for whom providence pertains as much to his hands as to his eyes. Now, one place you see this is in the way in which Calvin understands the creation of human beings. But, you know, there again, two traditional views of how human beings get their souls. It comes out a little bit later in this section. Traditionalism and creationism has nothing to do with modern scientific creationism summed about the view of how human beings get get their souls. Well, the traditionalist view says that we inherit our souls as a part of the biological package. We inherit through our parents all the way back to Adam and Eve. By the way, on this issue, two August and went back and forth, back and forth. You can read them on both sides of this point. Luther was a traditionalist. And so original sin is passed on genetically, as it were, biologically. Through the genes and chromosomes of human parents down to their offspring. And the soul see then enters into the stream of human history in this kind of way it shaped. And so he interprets Luther interprets Psalm 51 five in this way. Behold, I was conceived in iniquity and in sin, you know, Did my mother bring me into this life? So is there from the moment of conception that's reductionism. Calvin is not a traditionalist. Calvin is a creationist. That is to say he believes that souls are created a new and a fresh by God every time a baby is conceived. God creates a soul. Yeah, somewhere. I think this is in his commentaries rather than the institute. He says it says, I'm like, God creates a million souls a minute every time a little baby's conceived.

[00:35:12] Anyone? Well, God's proofing a soul poo poo poo souls coming in to be gods, mate. He's busy. Not an idle God in a watchtower looking on Set the process working. He's active. He's at work. This might also have some implications for the whole topic of abortion in our own day. That could be an interesting article for some enterprising ethicist to write. But Calvin's a creationist. And it has to do with the way in which he understands providence as a career will continue on. It's a part of the continuing creation of God that's going on all the time all around us. Now, this creates some problems for Calvin, this understanding of the soul and how it comes into being. What problems does it create for Calvin? What problem would it create for you if you believed this, John? Not true. There you go. How do you get skin into a soul that's made fresh by God? That's the problem. It's not so much a problem if you're a traditionalist, because then you've got it. You've got an explanatory way to account for this. You know, it's kind of comes with a fall in human nature, sort of passed on biologically. It's much more of a problem if you're a creationist. Well, how does Calvin solve that problem or try to solve that problem? He does have an answer to it. I think this is actually a book, too, isn't it? Yeah, I'm jumping ahead a little bit, but it's all kind of connected to Providence, too, so. Well, what he does in book two, somebody find that passage for me real quick? There's a Yeah, it's on page 250, I think. He's discussing here the transmission of sand from one generation to another. Just what I was talking about.

[00:37:00] And then he says on page 250. Near the end of that first full paragraph at the beginning of Korea of corruption in Adam was such that it was conveyed in a perpetual stream from the ancestors into their descendants. For the contagion does not take its origin from the substance of the flesh and or ends or soul. That's tradition ism, but because it had been so ordained by God. That the first man should, at one in the same time, have and lose both for himself and for his descendants. The gifts that Christ had bestowed upon him as Calvin's answer to that problem. You could call it, for lack of a better term, a federal view of the human race. God ordained. So you're back to the will of God. And this is the way God ordained it. There's no answer beyond that. But he ordained it so that. Adam represented federally the entire human race. So as in the Basin book, when in Adams Paul we sent it all. That's that's that's what Calvin is saying here. Just as Jesus Christ. In his role as mediate or had a representative function. The second. Adam. So the first Adam two had a representative federal function. It's almost original sin by. By this federal ordination. It's the ordination of God. So that in Adam, we were there. We're not disconnected from Adam. Don't think what happened in Adam was just some distant event. And, you know, antique history. No, you were there. Remember that? That TV series? No, no, you remember that. Maybe Carol. And she's. She's. She's a little younger than I am. You were there. Right. You ever see that on the reruns? You were there. You know, World War Two, the beaches of Normandy. You were there, you know.

[00:39:12] Well, that's the way it was. The Garden of Eden. You were there. You know. Well, that's Calvin's way of dealing with this problem. I'm not saying it solves all the issues. In fact, in some way, some people say it just magnifies the issue onto a different level. And so that's a critique you can bring. But my point now is to connect this to his doctrine of Providence and to show how for him God is directly involved in all of these events that come to pass. His fingerprints are all over this universe. You can't get away from it. That's a very uncomfortable god in a lot of ways. I mean, you know, it would be easy if you could compartmentalize God, if you could say, well, I deal with God in this. This is a God seminar. I talk about God and you go over here and talk about real life, or you go to seminary and you get your M.D. over your M.D.s, and then you go out. And the real life can't do that without God's everywhere. One or two more things about Providence, then I want to open it up to some discussion about this issue. I want to quote not from the institute's now, but from a treatise of 1545 where Calvin wrote against The Libertines. I know you haven't read that, but he does refer throughout the Institutes to The Libertines. Who are The Libertines? Well, they were a group of heretics. Yes. Spiritualism, radical rationalist reformers. And Calvin opposed them very strongly because of what he considered their corruption of of Christian teaching. And he wrote a treatise against The Libertines in which you set forth more clearly, I think, than he does here in book one of the institute's three aspects of Providence.

[00:41:05] He mentions these here, too, but not quite so clearly and schematically, as he does in this treatise of 1545 against The Libertines. Three aspects of Providence. First is the aspect of Providence that pertains to the order of nature. The order of nature or what Calvin calls here in Book one, the Universal Operation of God. To God's special providence which pertains to human beings. The order of nature that pertains to the whole structure of the universe, the cosmos. The creation as God made it. But the second relates to human beings as the special creations of God. And here Calvin also brings in what he's discussed earlier in book one, The Devils and the Angels. And you may remember, what's the main purpose of the angels is that they may communicate to us the benefits of God. And what's the main purpose of the demons, if you will? And they carry out sinister purposes and God uses both. Does. Why would Calvin say something like that? Well, clearly because the Bible says something like that. What this Paul say in Second Corinthians. About the thorn in the flesh. You know what he says there? Second Corinthians 12. What does he say? They. Go to her something like read it. You have a Bible reading for us. You're close, though. You're on target. Nephew of the messenger of Satan as the term. It's about verse six or eight, somewhere in there. Even so, I should choose to vote. I would not be a fool because I would be speaking the truth. But I am afraid that no one will think more of me. What I do for space to keep me from becoming increasingly becoming a piece of trash from the great revelation. It was given to me.

[00:43:35] A thorn in my flesh, a messenger of faith. Poor man. Okay. And he goes on, talks about that now. Who gave him this thorn in the flesh? Who sent the messenger of Satan? Okay. So that's that's an example of the special providence of God as it relates to, in this case, the Apostle Paul, where God is using God's not directly himself, always doing these things He uses up. Times they are personal agents, demons or angels. In order to create and shape. The destiny of individual human beings. And thirdly. The first one is the order of nature. The second is the special providence that pertains to human beings. The third aspect of Providence is that by which God governs believers living and reigning within them by His Holy Spirit. Look on page 210. Chapter 17 How we may apply this doctrine to our greatest benefit. 210. Page 210. Chapter 17. Okay. Finally, it strives to the end that God may reveal his concern for the whole human race. That's the second point I was making. But especially his vigilance in ruling the church, which he deigns to watch more closely. So there is this sense in which there is a unique, providential oversight and care, fatherly favor and beneficence, as Calvin calls it here for those who are in the church, for believers who are in dwelt by the Holy Spirit. Now. Chapter 17, I think is is one of the most important chapters for really understanding Providence, what you might call the spirituality of Providence or something like that. Chapter 17 and Chapter 18 these last two chapters of Book one. I want to mention one or two things here. The classical objections to Calvin's Doctrine of Providence are that it makes God the author of evil.

[00:46:47] Or too that it makes providence into a kind of fatalism. Therefore, leaving no room for true, spontaneous human responses for freedom in any meaningful sense. Those are the two, I think, weighty, really serious objections to Calvin's doctrine of Providence. And I don't know how you come down on those yourself in your own theology, but I would point out to you simply that Calvin was aware of those objections and tried to answer them not as fully here as he does elsewhere, but you get you get here also something of his awareness of those problems that are raised by his understanding of the doctrine of Providence. Well, how does. What are some of the responses that he makes to this? Well, one is kind of the response of Paul in Romans 9 to 11. Who are you, old man, to say this to God? You know what? How can the pot say to the pot? Or why did you make me this way? Page 211 That first of all, paragraph. But we must we must so cherish moderation that we do not try to make God render account to us. But so reverence is sacred judgments as to consider his will, the truly just cause of all things. So when this dense clouds dark in the sky, a violent tempest arises because a gloomy mist is cast over our eyes. Thunder strikes our ears and so forth and so on. Everything seems to be confused and mixed up. But all the while, a constant, quiet serenity ever remains in heaven. So we must infer that while the disturbances in the world deprive us of judgment, God out of the pure light of His justice and wisdom, tempers and directs these very movements in the best conceived order to a right in classic statement there of how we are not to make God render an account to us.

[00:48:49] But there's more than that to be said. If you go over near the end of this treatment, Chapter 18, Page 234. It makes a couple of other moves here that are, I think, very interesting and important. One is the concept of the twofold will within God. We talked about the two fold knowledge of God at the beginning of book one, and here at the end he's talking now about a two fold will within God. Now, I don't think he's saying here that God is somehow schizophrenic, but he's saying that we human beings, given our limited capacity and inability to fathom the mysterious death of the reality of God as we look and think about God's actions in the world and in Providence, it seems to us that there is a two fold character to the way in which God acts and wills that what he's saying on page 234 on the top of the page, and he's dealing here classic example in the Bible about the death of Christ, which after all, is prophesied the Old Testament, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22. Right. Messiah would come, He would die, thus saith the Scriptures this was done that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the prophets again and again. Jesus said this himself, and we know from the Apostle Paul that Jesus Christ was the LAMB of God slain from the foundation of the world, from all eternity. This was purposed and planned and intended by God. And yet and yet He was also put to death at the hands of wicked men who are responsible to God for their sinful acts. How can both of those be true? That's our question. It's Calvin's question. Well, here's what he says about that. God's will is not at war with itself, nor does it change, nor does it pretend not to will what he wills.

[00:50:56] But even though his will is one and simple in him, it appears manyfold to us. Because on account of our mental incapacity, which has nothing to do with your IQ, has to do with the fact that you are a finite and fallen human being. We do not grasp how. That's what we don't grasp how. In divers ways. It will and does not will something to take place. It appears that there's there's a contradiction here. It appears manifold to us, our God, goodwill, the death of Christ, the Messiah from all eternity, even before creation, according to Paul. And yet, at the same time, surely he did not will for those human beings to spit upon Christ. He did not will for them to sin and rebell and rebuke the Son of God with such slander. How could both of those be true at the same time? That's a problem. Well, he goes on to say a sentence or two later, rather, when we do not grasp how God wills to take place, what he forbids to be done. The murder of an innocent man. Let us recall our mental incapacity. And at the same time, consider that the light in which God dwells is not without reason called unapproachable. Because it is over. Spread with darkness. And there quote Saint Augustine again. And all this is leading down to this main point. Here's another place to put a star. If you're if you're a star footer, the bar on page 234. This is, I think, the bottom line for Calvin. You can't get any any deeper than this. This is as far as it'll take you. If you need something else, you've got to go get on another wagon. This is it. There is a great difference between what is fitting for man to well and what is fitting for God and to what end The will of each is directed so that it be either approved or disapproved.

[00:53:22] My ways are not your ways, says God in the Bible. There is a difference. And so when you come to to sit as the grand jury and judge of God's providential ways in the world, and you decide what what God is right and wrong to do, just remember. There's a great difference between what is appropriate and right for human beings and what is appropriate and right for God. Another way of putting the same point represents the great debate between Luther and Erasmus. 1524 1525 Erasmus, This great humanistic reformer, supported Luther's protest against indulgences. He defended Luther against the Pope and others that were condemning him even after he was excommunicated. But finally, finally, Erasmus, too, had to break with Luther. And it was on this very point here because Erasmus said, we must let God be good. We must let God be good in a way that we human beings understand goodness and can adjudicate goodness and justice. Else God is a monster. Else God is a tyrant. Let God be good, Erasmus said. Luther in 1525. They servo arbitrary on the bondage of the will as let God be God. And Calvin is saying the same thing here. There is a great difference between what it is fitting for human beings to will and what it is fitting for God to will. And so. We have to understand that difference if we're going to be able to accept in any sense this kind of doctrine of providence without making God the author of evil. Okay. Now let me take that one step more into the modern context. The greatest challenge to the Christian faith in the 19th and 20th century, at least until now, with the rise of postmodernity, whatever that is. But I mean, it just means we don't know what it is, right? I mean, it's something that comes after modern.

[00:55:50] We don't know what to call it. So it's postmodern and we don't know what it is. That's what it means. But the greatest challenge really came from two, two figures, I think. One of them was Ludwig Fairbank, who published in the 1830s a treatise on the essence and manifestation of religion. What Feuerbach said was that religion is the projection of human consciousness. Other words, we imagine in our mind what God should be like. Could be like, ought to be like. A God who's loving and kind and just and merciful and sweet. A God who's, in other words, just like we are. Or just like we ought to be. And we project this idea of God out there onto some imaginary God. And that becomes the God we worship. That becomes the God we follow that square box. That's the foundation for all serious modern atheism. Now, the person who really nailed that in the coffin for the 20th century was, of course, whom. Sigmund Freud wrote because it was Freud who then applied this, of course, through his psychosexual understanding of human beings, the rejection of the human father onto God and all of that. I don't think there's an answer to either for everybody or Freud, except the answer that comes from a view which makes some kind of move like Calvin makes here. Whether you accept his detailed understanding of this or not, a view which says God is not us. God is God, and we are in no position to adjudicate God because God is not the projection of our human consciousness or our human morality or our human way of thinking. God is God. And we know about him at all. Only because in His great mercy and grace, he has chosen to reveal himself to us in his son and in his word and by his spirit.

[00:58:12] And the action is all the way unilateral from God to us, from God to us, from God to us, not from us to God, From us to God. From us to God. Well, that's taking a little bit beyond Calvin, but I think there's an implication here of some contemporary theological, philosophical debates that are very relevant to where Calvin is coming from on this kind of issue. All right. I'm not going to give you a break. If you have to use the bathroom, you know where the little boys and girls room are. So go to go to it. We've got to evaluate this class in a few minutes. But before we do that, we're going to take a few minutes and have some discussion about this or anything else that you want to bring up of that book. One Calvin, a little bit more predestination because there is less interconnectedness between providence and predestination. Think we'll have some limited out of the crowd and allow to God free will. But back in the election not. So that last point one more time is in the context of everything that we presented in the referendum. But really we didn't. They were providing the effect and failing to deliver in the another way. If you saw progress in both in one way and in. Yeah, right. Through repentance and faith and the work of the spirit and so forth and so on. Yeah. I think the reason why he moved predestination from book one to book three has to do with the role of the doctrine of predestination in his understanding of the Christian life. In other words, if you put predestination up here in Book one, under these kind of opening comments about the doctrine of God and God's providence and all of this knowledge of God, then it tends to become a governing, almost metaphysical principle for your whole theology.

[01:00:05] And Calvin was afraid of what actually did happen with the doctrine of predestination, and that is that it would become a source of pride. I'm elect you're not, you know, you know, and the hyper Calvinism of those who say we're the Lord's elected for you, let all the rest be damned. There's room enough in hell for you. We don't want heaven crammed. And you know, Calvin was a was was as a pastor, as a pastoral theologian, he was really concerned with how predestination could be twisted into an occasion for pride and arrogance rather than being what it is intended to be in Scripture, an occasion for gratitude and humility. Amazing grace. How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. And that's that was written by a strong Calvinist predestined area named John Newton. And because he was concerned about how that could be misused and abused, I think that's why, you know, he never told us why he moved it. I'm just guessing here. But because he places it so far, not just at the beginning of book three, but near the end of book three, after he's gone through. As you all know by now, you've outlined it, you know, sanctification, justification, the Christian life, repentance, faith, prayer. You know, it's right next to the resurrection. That's where he puts it, because it's an ex post facto judgment. Looking back on your life, looking back on the experience of the Christian life, then you say, Aha, how could this be? Could only be through God's sovereign choice and election. That's, I think, the response Calvin wants you to have not We began with this bifurcated universe, the elect and the reprobate. And I'm going to be wrong about that. And maybe there's a better thesis or theory on it.

[01:02:04] Any other comments? Okay. Yes. But. Carl Bernstein Not going to lie. The Nobel Peace laureate has already been. Today is the house. I think it. Club. That was in the realm of public. Yeah. Can you believe it and feel more like God? So that last word again. Totally. And very much in the realm of being other. Uh huh. Because you believe in a God who thinks and even his own political moral absolute is. I mean, it's very difficult casting your. Yeah, he's a power is something that inspires reverence and holiness. Just a couple of weeks in the theater. It's eligible to determine the notion of Pakistan to do. Yeah, it sounds a little bit like. Throughout the entirety of the project, and that not only does that tend to awaken some Apple and Google. That we are in for time to adjudicate that and make a measure up to our own standards in that respect. Who's going to be the author of. Yeah. Yeah. Another reason that, you know, along with what they say, the reason we have such a hard time being talked about in our modern postmodern world is that it's not like the other side of life. We just don't want to think the They had it better, you know? Yeah. We've got you know, we've got a lot of these problems with the world that we don't talk about and where the Bible teaches that we've got a God. We have that at the end of the note and everything we do and we're all accountable and we're going to have important accountability in my body, you know, And I don't think that that's very well what our current nation and I do believe in God and we want to they don't want anybody else to hold.

[01:04:24] And Calvin's word for that was the we all have business with God. You know, the goods come down, transactions. We you know, we can't escape from that. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that's true. Yeah. Because you're holding the information to the wind tunnel and in a week. A month. Oh, yeah. They had a strong doctrine of immortality of the soul, you know, that they were not nihilist, you know. Sure. But now that now most of them also tended to be quite Palladian in their soul trilogies, I thought, you know, you achieve eternal life by your good works in your efforts rather than the unilateral grace of God. But yeah, they believed in eternity and in heaven and all that stuff. They were super naturalist in that respect. They were very orthodox in many respects as the problem of the days. And somebody said Deism was Calvinism without tears. Calvinism went out two years. You think about that? That's probably true. Yeah. Other comments about Providence or Book one? Well, when we, uh, years ago, when we found out that Elizabeth decided that. I remember we came to a point in our lives from the very time of crisis and we asked God why. And we asked him a lot of for a long time. And he said nothing. At least not until we decided that we were going to. Say it to us. And we trusted that. And that's what he spoke to. And I don't think. I think maybe what Calvin is recognizing his importance. That God is always. And God reveals his goodness to us at the worst times when we trust him. You see what I'm saying? The question is a good thing. And we asked him why was the act of doing that place of birth above? And it doesn't seem possible and necessary to do that.

[01:06:38] We were approaching him the wrong way. And it's only when we just think. Okay. But I'll just be admitting that we still. Mm hmm. We live in. Yeah. Amen. You know, Luther struggled with this issue as well as Calvin. And, you know, one of the texts that both Calvin and Luther commented on, not here in the last years, but in their commentaries on John Chapter nine about the man born blind. A classic example in Scripture about Providence. There's also Lord Hassan, this man or his parents. He was born blind, and Jesus gave the answer Neither this man sin nor his parents. But this has happened in order that so that it's a purpose statement in Greek so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. And they pointed out that Jesus doesn't bear talk about what caused that man's blindness. Now, he says, I didn't cause it. It wasn't his sin. It wasn't his parents in eliminating those causes. But he never answers the question What caused that man's blindness? Instead, what Jesus talks about in John nine is the purpose. Purpose. This happened in order that so that for the purpose that the work of God could be displayed in his life. And so the doctrine of Providence in Calvin isn't so obsessed with causation, whether it be direct or secondary or tertiary. It's concerned with telos, with goal, with purpose. Where it's headed. And as it's in that light, I think that you have to understand this kind of way of putting it. Now, what Luther brought to it when he was perplexed with these issues and with predestination too, went to Elvis, Remember his great mentor and teacher and leader, Johann Vincent Office and stalwarts would always point Luther to the wounds of Jesus.

[01:08:50] You can get lost in the labyrinth of God's will and God's mysterious purpose in eternity. And all of this sort of thing is too much. So it's the wounds of Jesus, because there you have something that's very palpable, very historical, very concrete. And by looking at the wounds of Jesus and you take into consideration not just the physical pain, but the fact that God was in Christ, reconciling the whole world into himself, and the fact that this was the enactment of God's purpose and God's providence using the means of wicked men to bring about something God had from all creation intended to be. When you consider that and you look at the wounds of Jesus, there you have an index. There you have a window into the heart of God. That might enable you to get through the night. So that's another side to this that comes out more, I think, in the sermons and the commentaries of both Luther and Calvin than it does just reading through something like the Institutes. But that's always in the background. He was a pastor. He was a preacher. He was a counselor of souls. And he's dealing with people who have life and death issues they're confronting. And this is a framework, a theological framework, a biblical framework in which to wrestle with some of these questions. All right. And it's that kind of theology you see that undergirds what I read at the beginning of this class from the Hamburg Catechism. That's really where where this theology is coming from. What is your only comfort in life and in death that I belong? Body and soul in life and in death. Not to myself, but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood, has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil.

[01:11:07] That he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven, not a hair can fall from my head. That's not prosperity theology. This was written to people that were dying in prison, that were being put to the sword. They. But that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of the eternal life and makes me whole heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. And what's the response to these things? The knowledge of your own wretchedness. The knowledge of your own redemption, how you were freed from your sin and wretchedness through Christ. And then thirdly, what gratitude you owe to God for this redemption. This is theology of martyrdom. This is a theology that undergirded those who were being called on to give their lives for the sake of the gospel. Okay, That's book one now. Book two, which deals with minor matters, sin human beings, the law, atonement, Christology, stuff like that. We've got to touch on some of those things, too, because again, they're really so important. I'm just going to sort of have to hunt and peck here to finish out the term because there are so many highlights I want to bring to your attention. How many more weeks do we have? One. Only one more class. Are you sure? I gave you 3 hours. I thought this went to the end of May. One more class. Are you serious? Only one more class time. If you want, you can lecture instead of final. That's okay. That's right. You have a final exam today. Okay, well, next week we'll try to wrap it up, I guess, and see where we are. But okay. Anton has some words of wisdom from the powers that be about this course and your evaluation of it.

[01:13:19] And we would appreciate your honest response to these things. Doesn't affect my salary one way or the other, whether you say it's a great course or a horrible course. So tell the truth.