Theology of the Reformers - Lesson 12
Calvin's Farewell Address, and Other Issues
Calvin's Farewell Address, and Other Issues
TH230-12: Calvin's Farewell Address and Other Issues
I. Calvin's Farewell Address
A. Historical Context
B. Key Points and Themes
II. Other Issues in Reformation Theology
A. Theological Controversies
B. Impact on Reformation Movements
III. Legacy of the Reformers
A. Influence on Modern Theology
B. Continuing Relevance of Reformation Ideas
- 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.0% Complete
- 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteThrough 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteIn 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteThrough 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteIn 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteBy 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteThrough this lesson, you gain insight into John Calvin's theology, its key components, and its lasting influence on the Reformed tradition and society.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteBy 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteIn 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.0% Complete
- 0% CompleteGain 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.0% Complete
- 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.0% Complete
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
Calvin's Farewell Address, and Other Issues
[00:00:03] The call. Wildlife in the kingdom come and they have lots of different interesting animals. There's an Armenian one and a Baptist one and an Anabaptist and all these Presbyterian. This happens to be the Calvinism. I thought you might enjoy the humor here. Along the mountain ranges known as the Protestant peaks, formed by the enormous shifts caused in the Reformation around 1520. Well, the dedicated herds of the Calvinist having migrated from the Roman regions on account of violent clashes with papal bulls, these staunch survivors flourished for centuries on a diet of divine providence polemic poppies and lush branches of theologically telling tulips. This species can be easily identified by its five point track of antlers, a remarkable feature most helpful to explorers attempting to locate herds and track their migration to scriptural formations. Emphasizing these five things, though at one time the Calvinist herds were vast. In recent years, this creature is rumored to be on the verge of extinction. No doubt this is in part owing to the repeated attack by its natural enemies, the Armenian and the Liberal, as well as certain dispensation, only inclined fundamentalist and wily breeds of penix. Footnote three Some applaud this development. Think the Calvinist long standing claim to being a select species is at an end. Yet many believe that as explorers discover more about these ancient creatures and their feeding habits, the Calvinist is somehow predestined to persevere. In the amazing accompanying illustration we see emerging from the background, the somewhat distinct cousin to the Calvinist, the army rolled in. Note the four point rank of antlers, an expression of unlimited hope for atonement. Also in the upper right corner appears the strict hyper Calvinist whose points are often too numerous to count. So you tell me what kind of animal you are, but that's just a little bit of humor there that someone passed along to me and that I share with you.
[00:01:58] Now let's become a little more serious and look at this handout from William Walker's book, Calvin's Geneva. I recommend this book to you, by the way, if you want just a very good one volume survey of Geneva in the 16th century. It's really what it's like. It goes a lot into detail about the political and social and economic background of the city and the revolution that brought the Reformation into power and that sort of thing. But in the midst of it, he has this quotation from Calvin, which is why I'm using it here. It's actually a transcript of the last message. Calvin delivered his farewell address to the company of pastors. Calvin died on May the 27th, 1564 this month, and a few days, actually, before he died, he gathered into his chamber, the company of pastors, of which he was himself a member, of course, of the City of the Church of Geneva, the Genevan company. The pastor was called. And that's what this famous painting depicts. This actually comes from Geneva itself. It was a it's a print, a lithograph, I think originally done in the city of Geneva. And this is a reproduction of it. And here you see Calvin on his deathbed, surrounded by I think that's intended to be basil. They adore Basil, of course, was his successor in Calvin, the rector of the Academy of Calvin of Geneva, and before that, the reformer of the city of Lowes and just down the lake next to him. I think this is intended to be given for l. Calvin's lifelong friends, 20 years, his senior, who, of course, was very instrumental in bringing Calvin to Geneva in the first place in 1536. At this time, Burrell had become the reformer of the city of Neuchatel, where he had been for many years, a little further away from Geneva, still in French speaking Switzerland.
[00:03:53] And they remained in steady correspondence all during Calvin's life. And Farrell is here at his deathbed, along with other members of the company of Pasteur. There's a photograph of someone. I can't make out who it is on the wall, along with a great collection of writings. No doubt the early Church Fathers, classic commentaries, maybe some of Luther's works, we don't know, but folio volumes in the style of the 16th century. Here's a chair very much like the Genevan chair in which Calvin sat to teach as a very important thing. We speak today about a school based and divinity school has five endowed chairs. Well, this expression of having a chair comes from the fact that teachers would sit and this was the teacher's chair. It's called Calvin's chair. And there's actually one of the original Calvin chairs still on display in the city of Geneva today. But here is Calvin pointing to the Scriptures. The Bible is open to the Gospels. It's one of the evangelists. And here he is reading and quoting and pointing the company of pastors to the Bible, to the written Word of God, again, symbolic of his ministry and of the thrust of his life's work. And in the heat of the institutes themselves, which were intended to be a commentary on the scriptures in the background, there's an hourglass and some medicines and so forth, and a few that are interested in kind of Calvin's own personal life. And they want to read. One of the chapters, I think is the first chapter in the volume I edited called John Calvin and the Church A PRISM of Reform was written by a doctor, and he, with modern medical analytical ability, goes back and really uncovers and surveys and describes the physical illnesses that Calvin had during his life and especially during the end of his life.
[00:05:38] So you want to read that? Not right before dinner, but it's pretty grotesque, really, when you consider all the things that he suffered and the difficulties he had. So here you see some bottles with various medicinal fluids and that kind of thing. Well, that's just a little visual aid. I hope you'll come up and look at it that hangs in my office. Some of you have seen it there before, but I wanted to bring it in and share it with you. But the real purpose is to coordinate it with this text, which is actually a verbatim transcript of Calvin's final farewell address to the company of pastors. And I thought we would just read through this and then I'll make a few comments about it. What I want to do today in this final lecture really is four parts. I'm not sure I'll get through them all, but I'm going to try. The first is to read the Calvin's farewell address to the pastor and make a few comments about it. See if you have some comments about it. And then I want to bring about the bring up to your attention six or seven or eight, depending on how we're doing on time issues in the institutes we have not been able to cover and we won't be able to cover today except to point them out to you and make two or three comments about them. Are you've read them, I assume, by now and maybe have noted them in your outlines and papers, but they're just very important in my view, of things for you to grasp in the whole scope of the Institute, since most of our attention in class has been on book one. And then I want to say a little bit more about the trajectory of Calvin's influence thought of Calvin.
[00:07:18] After Calvin, what happened to his theology, what happened to the reformed movement, how it affected the rest of church history. Obviously, that's got to be very sketchy, but there are two or three high points I want to bring to your attention in particular, and then finally to see if you have any concluding comments or questions about any of this. All right. That's a big agenda for today. So let's get right at it by reading this text that we have before us. When I first arrived in this church, there was almost nothing they were preaching, and that's all they were good at seeking out idols and burning them. But there was no reformation. Everything was in turmoil. To be sure, there was good Master young William Burrell, who was standing right by him, and also blind crow. Moreover, there was Master Antoine Sonnier and that fine print preacher Cromwell, who, having put aside his apron, mounted the pulpit, and then climbed back down to his stone store where he would gab, thus preaching a double sermon. The words he was a he ran a store in the marketplace from on. So he was part time. He was a Bible, occasional preacher. So he was light of day. So that was going on. Reflecting back on the early days when he first came to Geneva in 1536. Here. I have lived through wondrous battles. It's an interesting turn of phrase, isn't it? Wondrous battles. I have been saluted in derision outside my door in the evening by 50 or 60 archegos shots. You may well imagine how this could astonish a poor, timid scholar such as I am and always have been. I confess. Then later I was expelled from this city and went to Strasbourg. That was 1536 or 1538, where I lived for a time before I was called back.
[00:09:12] But I had no less trouble than before in trying to do not do my duty. Crime. Rich. Rich. They set dogs at my heels and they called it my robe and my legs. Once I was going to the council of 200 during a fight and I held back the other ministers. Those who wish to enter and those who did not. And although others brag of having done it all, like this year too. So is Nicolas de Gaulle here? I was there and as I entered, they said, withdraw. This year they bear you no grudge. I told them I will not go on. Villains kill me and my blood will be on you. And these very benches Will shouted. Thus I have been in the midst of battle and you will experience once not less, but greater, for you are in a perverse and unhappy nation. And although she has some honorable men, the nation is perverse and wicked. You will have your hands full after God has taken me away. Now the nation He is talking about there is what? Geneva, we would say the city. But of course, you know, the Geneva does have this sense of being a nation. And even today, it's like these Nazionale Protestants, the National Protestant Church in Geneva. So we're talking here about about Geneva. We're even though I am as nothing, I know that I have prevented 3000 tumult that might have taken place in Geneva. But take courage and fortify yourselves for God will use this church and will uphold it. I assure you that he will preserve it. I've had many infirmities which had to be borne, and yet all that I have done is worth nothing. Evil men will seize upon that word. But still, I say that all I have done is worth nothing and that I am a miserable creature.
[00:11:13] But I can say that I meant well, that my vices have always displeased me and that the root of the fear of God has been in my heart. And you can say that my intention has been good. I beg you to pardon me the bad. But if there be some good, you may confirm it and follow it. As for my doctrine, I have taught faithfully and God has given me the grace to write, which I have done as faithfully as I could. I have not corrupted a single passage of Scripture, nor knowingly twisted it. And when I would have brought in subtle meanings if I had previously studied subtlety, I cast all this underfoot and have always striven for simplicity. I have. I have written nothing from hatred of anyone, but have always faithfully propounded what I consider to be for the glory of God. As for our internal affairs, you have elected Mr. De Beers to take my place. Theodore Beza take care to help him, for his burden is heavy and so difficult that he must necessarily be overcome by it. Take care to support him. As for him, I know he has a good will and will do what he can, make everyone keep his obligation not only to this church, but also to the city which we have promised to serve in adversity as well as prosperity so that each man may continue his calling and neither try to withdrawal nor to entry, or when one goes underground to escape. One generally says that it was not premeditated and that he is not sought, this or that. Now you heed the obligation before God that you have here. Take care also that there be no teasing nor harsh words among you, since gibes will sometimes be tossed about or even though this be in jest, the heart will hold bitterness.
[00:13:15] Those things are trifles and besides, they are not Christian. So refrain from them and live in good harmony and sincere friendship. I also ask you to change Nothing to make no innovations for novelty is often requested. It is not that I desire from personal ambition that what is mine remain and that it be kept without seeking anything better. But because all changes are dangerous. Upon my return from Strasbourg, I wrote the catechism hastily, for I would never have accepted this ministry if they had not pledged me these two things, namely to keep the catechism and the discipline while I was writing it. They came to fetch away pieces of paper as big as your hand and carry them to the printers. Even though Master of Europe was in the city, imagine that. I never showed him anything. I never had the leisure. Though I did sometimes think to put my hand to revision if I ever did, if I ever did have the leisure. As for the Sunday prayers, I used the Strasbourg form and borrowed the greatest part from it. I couldn't take the other prayers from them because they didn't have any, but I took the whole thing from Scripture. I also had to compose the baptismal formula at Strasbourg when they brought me Anabaptist children from 5 to 6 leagues around to be baptized. I made this crude formula then, but such as it is, I advise you not to change it. Why were they bringing him Anabaptist children to be baptized with that? That's right. They were not there. Not in that house as infants. So that's what that was the pastoral situation. The Church of Bern has betrayed this church, and they have always feared me more than love me.
[00:15:02] I would like them to know that I die with this opinion of them, that they have feared me more than love me and still fear me more than love me, and have always been afraid that I would meddle with their Eucharist. You may keep in mind that the reason why Calvin was expelled in 1538 had to do with the fact that he refused to serve the Lord's Supper to some of the town councilors of Geneva who were trying to make an alliance with the Church of Bahrain. And so there's always been this enmity between Geneva and Belen. Even before Calvin arrived, that was the case, and it continued all during the years of his reforming ministry there. Well, what's your take on his farewell address to the company of pastors? For that reason, for what I'm. Hmm. Actually, I can speak a little louder than I thought it would be when you Almost 200. Oh, yes. I do need to do that. Don't. Let me. You? Yeah. Oh, my God. Yeah. To. And what about his own view of himself? Like, Boy, I don't know. I don't. Okay. I'm a little bit out of desperation, you people, that my feeling is that we never really did what I wanted to do, but I don't know that. And I mean, there was nobody around and really tough. Well, I think it reflects the fact, as he says here, that he had had what did you call it? Marvelous, wondrous battles. You know, the whole thing was a struggle from the first almost to the last. Now, in the last four or five, six years, as the refugees had fled into Geneva from France and Italy and in Germany, England, they had shored up his support so that he had a lot more influence.
[00:17:22] But this thing about their setting, their dogs on me, you know, I went to the town council and they were firing guns at me and so forth. And then, you know, that that was pretty routine stuff for him. So I think there is I think it would not be fair to say that at home the bitterness is absent. I think you're right in picking up on that. There's whether anger is the overwhelming. But there is there are some people here. You're right. And, you know, he's he calls these Geneva and swap this miserable nation perverse and unhappy nation, essentially. He never became a citizen of Geneva until 1559. Lived there all those years until five years before his death, he finally became a citizen for free, improved the whole thing about democracy because yeah I mean and one him that says I think my work is complete. We're going to be up to do that. He changed a lot of things that he had in the whole idea of giving things away from any very good example. And that for statement to here it is almost stranger. But what do you think is intrinsic conservatism, maybe is reluctance, but also remember the fear. Why? Why does he want them to change? Because all change dangerous. There's a sense that this was happening. Remember, this is 1564. So what's happened in Europe? Wars of religion, in France, in England, you've just been through ten years of Bloody Mary and persecution and all of that. That's in the that's in the background, the flames and the fires and the the distress. And so I think he's there's a sense in which Geneva is, at this point in his mind, something of a shining light. And I think he's afraid if they begin so many innovations, they'll lose that and be swept into the Gulf.
[00:19:07] But still, I think your point is well made that maybe he's a little too tenacious here in holding on to some things that should be looked at differently places. You realize, how significant is World War II? And yeah, by this time by this time, of course, the institutes had become much as we think of them today, they've been translated into English. Of course, he did a French edition in 1560. They were in practically every language of Europe. It had become the standard statement of Protestant theology. And so, you know, and in fact, he says almost nothing. But he says one line about his writing, that's one or two lines I've taught faithfully, and God has given me the grace to write, which I've done as faithfully as I could. And he says, I haven't corrupted a single passage of Scripture or knowingly twisted it. And that's a wonderful testimony for any writer or pastor to make at the end of their life, if they can say that truthfully. I mean, some of us maybe look back and say, Calvin probably did unknowingly. Let's give him the credit, unknowingly twist a few things. All right. But, you know, he says before God is the testimony of his conscience is he hasn't intentionally corrupted or twisted scripture. He's wanted to be faithful to it. He's pointing to it as the thing. Within a couple of times, Michael referred to the personalities in a very playful. And especially when he was thrown out along with the guy. I was in prison for sermon that morning and he got out of that movement that he didn't intend to allow to the end of the day for any of these people, really. He wanted to go to the place that originally thought thought to.
[00:21:08] Apologize. It's really important to know that the left has not been wrong and I don't want it to be. And that is very. If you want to know who. Even though he's not backing down. You know you so. You know what? You're right. And you're wrong in that. You know, it depends on what episode you're talking about and whose perspective. I think in general, yes. I mean, there was a flexibility about Calvin that you don't often pick up just by the stereotype of rigid, authoritarian. And I've got all the truth. And, you know, if you be damned. I mean, that's the kind of image you get of Calvin. That's how sometimes how he sounds. But in fact, he was very often willing to negotiate on things he felt were not essential. On the other hand, he could be, you know, very staunch. And I think the word that comes to mind, whether you like him or not, is principled. He was a he was a person of conviction and sincerity and principle. And as we if he were to take the Myers-Briggs, he would probably out as an anti-gay. You know, you and I, A.J., I mean, as or not, but but I was young, Jones. I mean, you know, I mean it you know, it it can go it can go both ways. I mean, you know, it on, you know, whether your principles are right or not. But at least in the end, we did not he did not do anything out of your depth to the question. You know, do I think he was going to do. Yeah. Yeah. When he calls them, you know, dogs and scoundrels and asses and all of that sort of, you know, the language. I think again, you have to put it in the context of the day, and it certainly sounds harsh to us.
[00:23:15] We wouldn't recommend using that kind of language. But your point is that, you know, they shouldn't even necessarily read as a personal attack, but more as a defense of the of the truth of the doctrine of the gospel as he saw it, which was under attack itself. Yeah, Well taken. Yeah. This is the first album people don't even know. Yeah. And only have one sentence where you have to serve. God is good, right? Right. I don't know. I've got to do it right here on the television. Yeah, good point. You know, this is a remarkable passage because it is so uncharacteristic of Calvin. Calvin almost never speaks about himself. If you want to know about his conversion, there's that one little paragraph I said in conversion. God subdued my heart to teach ability, which you wrote 30 years after it happened. That's just testament, Luther. You know, it spills all over the place. Calvin is very reticent and this is an exception to the rule. Clearly, you will not find many passages where Calvin is talking so much about himself. Keep in mind, it's his deathbed. Keep in mind, these are his most intimate friends and colleagues in the ministry, the people to whom he is closest, literally, in life. Carol Bays are these men who have stood the storms with him through the years and who have. And so I think it's in that setting. And the only. Right he didn't write this. Keep in mind, this was something he spoke to them. And one of the people who was there wrote it down. And so we have a transcript of it. But I mean, still your point, you know, holes. I mean, it is focused on Calvin, but notice what he says about himself.
[00:25:01] I'm a miserable whatever. I've done nothing. So what's on it that's very much in the Calvinist vein? That's what you would expect. And it's interesting, there were plans when he died to erect a great memorial to Calvin, to bury him in an auspicious place, along with the great fathers of the city of Geneva and so forth. And he forbade that to happen. He said he wanted to be buried in a common grave, and he did not want the place of his interment to be marked. And it wasn't. And this to this day, when you go to the city of Geneva, you really can't find where Calvin's grave is. You can find that section of town where they used to bury the paupers and the the nameless nobody. So that's where they are. And there was no monument erected over the place of his grave. And the reason he said he didn't want that to become a shrine people to come in and observe and venerate Calvin. But. But Calvin's God. So. But still, you know. That's right. You know, he's talking here to his friends and he does sort of let his hair down, so to speak, or anything else about this kind of difference. But this was a cultural figure in the meantime was everybody thought, well, what do you die of? You read chapter one of my book, John Calvin. In the church, you get a doctor's opinion, all these horrible small stones and kidney bladders and all, you know, just stuff like that. But this happened a few days before his death. He died on May 27th. And I don't this doesn't give the date, does it? But it was a week or so. It was in May of 1564. This happened.
[00:26:37] That's when he died? Yeah, that's when he died. Okay. Let's go and talk now about some of the issues in the institutes I would have talked about had I had time to do so. I've got a list here of about six or seven. Okay. On page 282 of Volume one, McNeil Battles. Natural law. Calvin And natural law. He defines natural law here on page 282. The purpose of natural law, therefore, is to render man inexcusable. This would not be a bad definition. Natural law is that apprehension of the conscience which distinguishes sufficiently between just and unjust, and which deprives men of the excuse of ignorance while it proves them guilty by their own testimony. His definition of natural law. Again, the what is the the basis of. No, that's the wrong word. What is the outcome of natural law? What's the product? What's the benefit of natural law? There is such a thing as natural law in Calvin's mind, but the benefit of it, the product of it, is to render us inexcusable before God. And so natural law is a part of general revelation. He describes this very graphically back on page 277. I think this is you know, Calvin so often is best when he gives images, you know, the labyrinth or the spectacles of scripture or the nurse using baby talk. Well, here's another image that just is so graphic. Page 277. Talking about people who are basically depending on their natural knowledge of God. They were passing through the field at night when a momentary lightning flash sees far and wide, but the sight vanishes so swiftly that he is plunged again into the darkness of the night before he can take even a step, let alone be directed on his way by his help.
[00:29:14] That's a graphic description of what things natural law can do for us. These are the God. These are they are standing before God. Like a flash of lightning in the middle of a forest at midnight. It illuminates every moment, but then immediately you're plunged back into the pitch darkness of midnight. And you can't even see one step ahead of you. That's the way it is with these insights. And, of course, that's not the fault of natural law. That's not the fault of general revelation. If Adam had remained upright, Doctor. Not at all. But it has. It takes into consideration the fall and the effects of sin on the human condition. Now, what I bring that up is a topic worth pursuing. Well, because there's a lot of interest and controversy about natural law today, not only in the field of theology, but also in the field of ethics of public policy and philosophy and that sort of thing. And a recent book is entitled A Preserving Grace Protestants, Catholics and Natural Law, published by Erdmann, edited by Michael CROMARTIE. It's a record of a very interesting conversation that took place in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center there. A year or two ago. I was a part of it, and I have a chapter in here responding to a Professor Susan Shriner of the University of Chicago on Calvin's Use of Natural Law. So if you want to know more about this or more about what I think about this, here's a chapter to read. The debate comes down to this. There are some people who think that natural law, whether it's Aquinas or Calvin, provides a basis for public policy or ought to. In our culture today, when we're dealing with issues like abortion.
[00:30:59] Well, you know, there are certain ways Christians would argue about the sanctity of life and this, that and the other one about people who aren't Christians. How can you appeal to them? They don't believe the Bible necessarily. So the idea is, well, there's natural law. And natural law is something that we can agree on, whether we're Protestants or Catholics, whether we're believers or atheists. And that's the debate. And is Calvin a resource for that? Well, some people say yes, and some people say no. And here's an interesting symposium very recently produced that gives you pros and cons from a lot of different, particularly Catholic and evangelical perspectives on this. And we could get to. Well, I can't really answer that question without getting into my argument here. So I recommend this to you. But essentially, I think not. I think not. As I read what he says, natural law is is valuable for for making us inexcusable before God is not very valuable for building a basis for a common public policy in a post enlightenment post-modern secular society, in my judgment. But there are very learned people who disagree strongly, and I wish they were right. I mean, that would be great if it were true. Okay. Now, let's let's go to the second point I want to bring about. I would have talked about if I had time on page 294. I just point this out to you because it seems to me here's one of those places where Calvin is aware of the criticism that is coming against him and tries to deflect it, tries to respond. And this has to do with his distinction between necessity and compulsion, man. Sins of necessity, but without compulsion or not. Another way to put that human being sin inevitably, but also responsibly.
[00:32:59] And this is in the context of book two, where he's working through the whole question of free will and human responsibility and so forth and so on, and is making this for him very important distinction between that which is of necessity and that which is by compulsion. And he's saying that God has so constituted the structure of human beings that when we sinned against God and his law and his will, we we do not sin of compulsion. No one is making us forcing us against our will to disobey God's purpose. And his commandment we do it willingly. And so there is a free will here involved and therefore a responsibility entailed. But it's free will in quotes. Of course, you always have to put that kind of word in quotes. But the distinction he makes between necessity or is he talks about it in the context of providence, of fatalism and. Compulsion. All right. I just point that out. We don't have time to talk about it. Something you've already read. But I think that something it would bear revisiting at some point to see how he dances around that very difficult problem. Okay. Now let's get to one of your terms on the study guide. The triplex oozes legacy. What in the world is that? Well, it simply means the threefold use of the law. Three fold use of the law. And look on page 273, book two. And this whole section. Really, I guess. I'm sorry. That's not right. Where does that start? A little bit later in. I didn't jot down my reference there right before the exposition of the Ten Commandments. Now, page 348 right. Think, which is three different uses of the law. He did invent this. Melanchthon has something very similar to it.
[00:35:17] Even Luther has something very similar to it. But Calvin does give it an exposition that becomes very important for later reform theology and for thinking about the law in the life of the believer today. What are the three uses of the law as Calvin spells them out here in book two? Well, use number one. We might call the punitive use of the law. That's Calvin's word for it. Luther calls it, I think, the theological use of the law or something like that. But essentially it's what Paul says in Galatians three. The law is our schoolmaster, our tutor, to drive us to Christ. It shows us our sin and our inadequacy and therefore impels us to turn to Christ for salvation and for forgiveness. That's the primary ball. That's why God gave the Lord basing this on Romans, of course, four and five as well as Galatians. The punitive use of the law. Now, the second use of the law is what Calvin calls the determined use of the law. Luther calls the political use of the law. And it's the idea that the law was given to restrain the ungodly. It was given in order that there might be a civil society. And so in this sense, it you might say it's an earthly temporal use for the law just to keep people from absolutely running stark raving wild and and killing one another, obliterating any form of of of human society. God has established a law that also, like, commit murder. And so this is one very important use of the law. Calvin does say and this is on page 273, that there is some seed of political order that remains even in fallen human beings. And here we're back to natural law a little bit, some seed of political order so that even among people who are far away from jurors or any knowledge of Jesus Christ, imagine some distant, far away people have never even heard the name of Christ or the Scriptures.
[00:37:27] Even they will have a key or a chiefdom or some order to their society. Where does that come from? Well, that's the law in a sense. Not maybe not the Ten Commandments if they don't have the scriptures. But that's you see the natural law, which in a sense God has written on their hearts. And it leads to some kind of political order and stability in society. That's the second use of the law. There's not too much controversy about those first two uses of the law. But the real controversy has to do with the third use of the law, the term to use use as legacy. And what is that? Well, on paper in 60 and 362 and following. Calvin talks about the third and principal use of the law, which pertains also to believers, those who have been regenerated. Born again. And he says there are basically two principle uses of the law that apply to believers. This is the third use of the law in the first place. He says God's law finds its place among believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already lives and reigns, where even though they have the law written and engraved upon their hearts by the finger of God, that is, they have been so moved and quickened through the directing of the Spirit that they long to obey God. They still profit by the law in two ways. In the first place, the law is an instrument for them to learn more thoroughly each day the nature of the Lord's will to which they aspire, and to confirm them in the understanding of it. And so the law spells out what God's will is. And in this third use of the law, it's not the motivation for godly living that comes from the law, that comes from the Holy Spirit.
[00:39:22] But the law is, as it were, a standard and inviolable standard by which we learn more deeply and accurately what God's will is. And so the Ten Commandments and the importance of the Ten Commandments in the life of the Christian, as well as the life of the unbeliever, pointing him to Christ only. And they can't keep the law. That's the first. Yes. But also, now that you are regenerated, the Ten Commandments have a sanctifying role in the life of the believer that's very deeply embedded in the reformed tradition. It's very strongly challenged, I might add, by Lutherans, among others. And then he goes on to talk about also the laws, exhortation and so forth and so on. So in a sense, he summarizes this on page 362. That last paragraph before Section 14 begins. We ought not to be frightened away from the law or to shun its instruction merely because it requires a much stricter moral purity than we shall reach while we bear about with us. The prison house of our body, for the law is not now acting toward us as a rigorous enforcement officer who is not satisfied unless the requirements are met. No, but in this perfection to which it exhorts us, the law points out the goal toward which throughout life we are to strive, say. And so it's an it's a stimulus for us to move forward and to move onward in our growth and holiness. Now, why didn't Lutherans not like the third use of the law? Anybody? Why don't you like it So you might not like it. Everybody here likes the third use of the law. What a group. Okay, so one more time, gentlemen. This is what. All right. And so. Go on. Why is that a problem? And I don't want to know because it's this condemnatory nature.
[00:41:26] But Luther says that's the first time that he agrees with you fully. The law condemns us. Calvin agrees that you follow the law and this. But it goes on to say it doesn't only do that. Yeah. So yeah, yeah. It's just I mean, the objection to it, what both of you said is that it's it's the back door into legalism. And it does undercut the gratuitous character salvation if it's applied in a certain way. And I don't think you can get that out of what Calvin says here about the third use of the law. But it certainly is true in my experience of legalistic Christians, including myself, at times in my life. Maybe. But anyway, I mean, there is that temptation thing. And so this is a very controversial point within the Reformation tradition between Lutherans and the reform tradition and even within the reformed tradition. You've got a lot of people who who differ exactly on what the role of the law is or ought to be in the life of the believer. Somebody over here had a comment. He believed that the law was almost like a legal right. They'll say they will say that you're back. What do that he's. Yes. Boy, that's a tough question. Yes. No. Is it a means of grace? Yes, I did. I'm becoming more Lutheran every minute here. I mean, that's the problem. When you when you exalt the law in that way is the law means of grace. It is a means of sanctifying grace. Yes. I think Calvin would have to say that in the way that the Lord's Supper and Baptism and all of the Scriptures are a means of grace, but not a means of grace. If you mean by that, I have to obey this commandment in order to gain God's favor.
[00:43:24] Not a means of grace in that sense. There's always a fine line, it seems to me, between legalism on the one hand and anti nominalism on the other. A fine line, and I hope under God that you can walk a straight path between those two errors because they're both very dangerous errors to the Christian life. But if you have to tilt one way or another and I shouldn't even say this because it will tilt, it will tempt some of you to tilt. But if you have to tilt one way or another, in my judgment, the safer tilt, slightly safer tilt. Is toward anti communism and not toward legalism because of the very thing that you have mentioned. That's okay. But don't tilt too far toward anti no mean because if you do, you're back to Romans What shall we say Let us say. And that grace may abound, God forbid. Good. But the danger depends on where you are and where you're coming from in your Christian life. In my experience, the danger is more in our culture, more from the legalism side than the anti-Mormon side. But it may be different where you live. Somebody else have a comment. At the end of the day, we're all still the same extreme that that danger. That's why people are doing a great thing about their lives and their capacity building. Yeah, you can read Paul that way, but he sure resists that, doesn't he? And he says, That's not what where I'm coming from. People that want to knock on my door, that. This more than any more people want to show. The men and women that have over 40 have been more respectful of nimrods and in your heart than. You know, it's surely true that the Holy Spirit has to give you the power, the energy, the what Calvin calls vilification for you.
[00:45:32] Yeah, but he comes back and says, Don't forget that you're still in the prison house of the flesh and you need the standard of God. You're not just out there as a Lone Ranger Christian. You're in the Holy Spirit. You're you've got this, this. You're tempted and you're enmeshed in the flesh. You resist perfectionism here. And so the law is, in that sense, important in the sanctifying process. When you think about baptisms in 1909 regarding Luther and the letter that they were reading, the issue of the law of the people, but without resorting to everything, I don't really need to show that, but I know he did with it. It was misrepresentation of what the theology of the law actually was. Apparently, they were no, they were reading back something as they fell into the final argument. And that's where they away and that's where we get a lot of understanding of it. In other words, they did what Paul said in enforcement pointed out, and I think it's called not an exercise in faith in a lot of times. And we get Luther And I think you talk about how nobody is going to let you go into this situation. I'm not worthy to unlock the latches of Dr. Thielman sandals when it comes to New Testament scholarship. But I would simply remind you, I've also written a book on Paul and the commentary on Galatians, and I'd advise you to read what I wrote there. You know what I thought? Let's take a little break for minutes. We'll come right back. Okay. Real quick, you're pointing out that faith rests upon the word of God. On page 551, you have probably the clearest definition of faith in the institute's. The end of Section seven, Page 551.
[00:47:14] Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit. You see the Trinitarian character, that definition knowledge of God, that is God, the Father benevolence. But remember, God doesn't love us because Jesus died for us. Jesus died for us because God loved us. What John 316 says that's where He begins his definition of faith, the freely given promise in Christ. The truth of that. But then it must be received, sealed, revealed in our hearts. We would say perhaps use Henry Black of these terms, experiencing God through the Holy Spirit. And so faith, as he says on page 552, has more to do with the heart than with the brain. Interesting. One liner from Calvin. More of the heart than of the brain. More of the disposition than the understanding. That's not to say that there isn't a cognitive or intellectual dimension or element in faith, but it certainly isn't the primary place where Calvin puts his emphasis. It's more of the heart than of the brain. I would just underscore the the way in which Calvin also entertains the role of doubt in connection with faith based 562. Here's a line for you. Section 17 Faith in the Struggle against Temptation. Surely why we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured. We cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. So Calvin thought that Christians should be sure, but not cocksure that that faith that is not tested by doubt or assailed by anxiety is not a very real faith.
[00:49:33] It's liable to be a fake faith. So he you know, he's not unrealistic here as a father and a counselor of souls dealing with people who are struggling and searching, as we would say, seeking for a true and lasting relationship with God. But you know, it doesn't end in battle. He doesn't end in uncertainty. But on page 564, the end of the conflict is always this, that faith ultimately triumphs over those difficulties which besiege and seem to imperil it. There's the up and down. There's this, there's the storm that you go through the struggle. But in the end, this is the perseverance of the saints. In the end, that faith will not be finally, nor fatally overcome by all of the attacks that are launched against it. What kind of doctrine was this in the context of Calvin's own life? I want to read a letter from Calvin. I haven't read many letters of Calvin in this course because we focus more on the institute's. But I remind you that he was a prodigious, prolific letter writer correspondent, and in 1553 he wrote a letter to certain prisoners of Leon in France who were awaiting execution. They had been in prison for their faith. They were facing severe suffering and persecution and torture even in prison, and they were awaiting execution. He wrote this letter to be then assured that God, who manifested himself in time of need and perfects his strength in our weakness, will not leave you on provided with that which will powerfully magnify his name. It is strange indeed to human reason that the children of God should be so servitude with afflictions while the wicked to support themselves and delights, but even more so that the slaves of Satan should treat us under foot as we say, and triumph over us knowledge.
[00:51:57] And this is this is difficult to understand. However, we have wherewith to comfort ourselves in all our miseries, looking for that happy issue which is promised to us that he will not only deliver us by his angels, but will himself wipe away the tears from our eyes. And thus we have good right to despise the pride of these poor, blinded men who have to their own ruin, lift up their rage against heaven. And although we are not at present in your condition, writing to these prisoners yet, we do not on that account leave off fighting together with you by prayer, by anxiety and tender compassion as fellow members, seeing that it has pleased our Heavenly Father of His infinite goodness to unite us into one body under his son, our head, whereupon I shall beseech him that he would vouchsafed to you this grace that being stayed upon him. You may in no wise waver, but rather grow in strength that you would keep keep you under his protection and give you such assurance. To give you such assurance of it that you may be able to despise all that is of the world. My brethren greet you very affectionately, and so do many others. Your brother, John Calvin, one of the prisoners who received that letter, wrote a letter back to Calvin in Geneva saying how his letter had found its way into the prison and was read by one of the brethren who is in a vaulted cell above me, as I could not read it myself, being unable to see anything in this dungeon. He expressed gratitude for Calvin's calm. Consolation for it invites us to weep and to pray, he said. So here you have Calvin taking his theology and applying it in a situation of dire extremity for these brothers who are under duress and persecution.
[00:54:05] Now, yes, who converted the world is going into one of those very good times with the country. He wrote. He wrote Catholic theologians. And he. I don't know that he. I'm trying to remember. Did he addressed his antidote to the council of Trent, to the pope? I'm not sure if he did or not, but he certainly addressed Catholic theologians in his time and he argued and debated with them in various colloquy. Now, on page 684 begins, I think one of the most useful sections of the institutes that I hope you read carefully and go back and reread again as you go with the institutes through your life. And this is on the life of the Christian. It's just a marvelous section, very practical. If you want to talk about the spirituality of John Calvin, this is where you would find it set forth in the institutes. You find it, of course, in his letters and in his prayers and in the liturgy. But here in the institute's commentaries, but here in the institutes, you deal specifically with the Christian life and the various elements of it. I'm not going to take time to say much about that self-denial, the bearing of your cross, the role of mortification and vilification and all of those things are set forth in the Lord's Supper. I don't have time to get into that today. I will save a few minutes for it, but I know we won't have time. Let me remind you, it begins on page 1364 of book four. That's volume two. MacNeil Battle's Edition. And keep in mind that Calvin is arguing against two different fronts on page 30. Let me just mention this on page 1364. We ought to guard against two faults on the Lord's Supper, he says.
[00:56:02] First, we should not buy too little regard for the signs. Divorce them from their mysteries through which they are, so to speak, attached. That's the first mistake. You should avoid giving too little regard to the science, the bread and the wine. But the second one, of course, is the opposite error that you should not. By extolling them, you moderately seem to obscure somewhat the mysteries themselves. Now, as your footnote tells you, at least in the opinion of this editor and I happen to agree with him here, this is a somewhat not really very veiled reference to the vigilantism on the one hand, and Lutheranism on the other. And Calvin is trying to steer a middle path between the zwingli and tradition, at least as it's been interpreted. And I think more or less accurately, a view which sees the Lord's Supper as a bear or mere memorial supper and the Lutheran. And you can certainly add the Roman Catholic view which sees the elements themselves as having more significance than they should. Somewhat divorced from faith in Christ. He wants to avoid both of those errors, and he sets forth his own view, which is the Lord's Supper, not as a mere memorial. He has a lot of bad negative things to say about those who make about the naked signs, but a real feasting on Christ in our hearts by faith. This is spelled out really very beautifully. I think it's one of the best sections of the institute in terms of the clarity of the presentation. This whole treatment of the Lord's Supper and on page 1370 and many other places. But here he's talking about the way in which Christ is present in the Lord's Supper and that what happens there is a nourishment.
[00:58:12] And he uses the image of a banquet as a spiritual banquet. And a participation. So we think about the words remembrance, and of course, that's one of the words Paul uses in first Corinthians 11. Right. Do this in remembrance of me. You see that written in the front of our Lord's Supper table in Greek in the Chapel of Remembrance. But there's also this word in first Corinthians ten. Look it up in your Greek New Testament participation. What's the Greek word there? First Corinthians 1016. The Greek word is koinonia. Fellowship participation. A sharing in the body and blood of Christ. And Calvin is building on that New Testament language to talk about the real spiritual presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. And then he gets into this business about, well, how can this be? Is bodies and heavens, the right hand of God? Zwingli was right on that point. And so he says, We don't bring Christ down from the heavenly sanctuary and encapsulate him here on this wafer on the table, but rather in some mysterious way that we're not able fully, rationally, logically to explain exhaustively. It's like predestination. We can't explain that that way either. But our hearts are lifted up by the Holy Spirit into that heavenly sanctuary where Christ is seated and in the partaking and the conscience of the bread in the wine. We have real communion with Christ. What Calvin thought about the word suffer. Now I want to read to you. I can find it quickly here. Oh, did I not? Yeah. A definition of the Lord's Supper. It comes from the Baptist tradition and also very close to one that is in the Reformed Presbyterian tradition. Yeah. This is from the Philadelphia convention of 1742. Based, of course, on the second London confession of 1689, which parallels very closely, but not exactly the Westminster confession.
[01:00:49] Were the receivers outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance? Do then also inwardly by faith? Really? And indeed yet not Connolly and corporeal but spiritually receive and feed upon Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death. The body and blood of Christ being then not corporeal or carnal, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance as the elements themselves are to their outward senses. That is a beautifully balanced and I would suggest Calvinist as opposed to zwingli in understanding of the Lord's Supper. That was the mainstream Baptist understanding of the Lord's Supper until the last hundred years or so. And it still is today among, you know, we true Baptists that still believe this. But I mean, don't let anybody tell you that you know this the words of read just a memorial bear memorials, a mirror symbol. Now there is a communion with Christ. Be careful that you don't focus so much on the elements that you become guilty of. The Lutheran and Catholic view of exalting the elements above the right that they have. I mean, they are instruments. And, you know, Calvin was against the consecrated host and that sort of thing. And the Reserved sacrament itself, all of that was superstitious. But the Lord does meet us when we gather around his table for a real spiritual feasting on Christ in our hearts by faith, not apart from faith. All right. Well, I maybe gave more of my opinion there than I should, that, you know, there are other ways of single word separate. In fact, there are other ways of seeing all these things. And I commend this one to you. Let me say in closing just a little bit about the Calvinist heritage or the theology of Calvin and what happened to it following Calvin.
[01:02:56] There was a major dispute that arose within the reformed the Dutch Reformed Church focused around Jacobus Arminius, Jacob Arminius. And we sometimes hear the five points of Calvinism. The five so-called points of Calvinism were really a response to the five points of our meaning as they were set forth in 1610 in a document called the Remonstrance. And therefore, the followers of Arminius Arminius had died in 1609. But the followers of Arminius in Holland were known as the Roman struts and their opponents the counter remonstrance. So essentially the five points that were set forth at the Synod of Dort in 16, 18, 16, 19 that we call the five points of Calvinism were an answer to a critique that had been earlier given by Arminius and his followers. Well, I think the traditional way in which these doctrines have been set forth is almost universally unfortunate. The language use, the connotations they have are inaccurate. Basically, to describe the doctrine that is being set forth, say, for example, at the Synod of Dort, much less in the theology of Calvin and what respect? Well, let me just go through one or two of them total depravity. Well, it's clear that Calvin believed that these are the God human beings. Last fallen, finite, didn't have a leg to stand up. But total depravity did not mean for Calvin that there was absolutely nothing good about human beings, that human beings had no virtue to society, had no ability to create art and literature and and all and civilization. He had a very robust view of that. So total depravity has to do if you want to use that language with our standing. These are the God with reference to salvation. What about unconditional election? Is condition Is election unconditional? Well, does God save people apart from faith and repentance? No.
[01:05:10] Not according to Calvin. As long as Christ remains divorced from us, what he did on the cross is to no avail. Remember that statement? The book of beginning of book three. So. So faith and repentance. You can think of those as conditions, but they are conditions which are also at the same time gifts. That's where Calvin differs from Arminius. Their gifts. Faith is a gift and repentance is a gift of God. God doesn't repent or believe for us. We believe. Yes, we repent, but we do so because our hearts have been changed supernaturally by the work of the Holy Spirit. What about irresistible grace? I mean, this this is one of the most interesting. Why is Grace irresistible? Well, one way of reading the Bible is to say the whole history of the Bible is a history of the resistance to God's grace. Jonah running away from God. People are always resisting God's grace. I mean, that's the nature of human beings, right? The rebellion against God, their sinfulness, their waywardness. So, yes, the resisting. But what the doctrine of the effectual callings is, is that God's grace and his power and his love and his mercy and Christ overcomes that resistance. And so a better way of talking about it is not irresistible grace, but overcoming grace. It overcomes the resistance. It's not as though, you know, we are sticks and stones and God is zapping us with some electrical charge here. In fact, the Synod, the Council of the Synod of Dorset refutes that idea specifically. No, We're made in the image of God. We have a we have a responsibility and a spontaneity. But the grace of God so shapes us and draws us that that resistance that we naturally put up is overcome in effectual calling.
[01:07:03] What about limited atonement? Again, limited is a word that makes us talk. Maybe there's some problem with the atonement. Wasn't God big enough to make an unlimited atonement? Where's the limitation here? Well, I think a better way to talk about it is particular redemption. Or if you want to use the term atonement, definite atonement. I remember as a young Southern Baptist kid growing up in Chattanooga, my pastor saying to me when Jesus was on the cross, he had you in mind. If everybody else in the world had already have been a Christian, you were the only person who ever lived. Jesus loves you enough. He would have died for you. That's particular redemption, not dying from a glob of people here. Some conglomerate, you know, it dies for. For me. He died for you. That's particular redemption. That's what that's about. Nothing limited in it. That sense. And then perseverance of the saints. I actually kind of like this one. I think that's pretty good the way it Spirit Express. It's often gets distorted when we talk about what saved always saved. I understand what that means. I can accept that language, but it also can lead to a kind of presumption and easy believe ism that is a danger, the eternal security language, which is not biblical language. It's better to use the language that the New Testament uses about the the preserving work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Does it mean we won't see? Doesn't mean we won't backslide. Doesn't mean we won't fall even grievously. But it means that at the end of the day, when everything is said and done, that God's grace will so work in our lives that we will be brought to repentance in faith and not eternally lost.
[01:08:54] Now, those by reading. SPURGEON By the way, this is in the volume Treasures from the Baptist Heritage that I've edited for the library that takes the sermon High Doctrine and Broad Doctrine. Charles Head and SPURGEON, who was a pastor in London in the 19th century, a great admirer of Calvin, though not uncritically. So obviously he would have been a Baptist. But on this point about the sermon high doctrine and Broad doctrine, he's he's dealing with this question about the verse in the Gospel of John him that cometh to me. I will in no wise cast out. This is one of the most generous gospel text I do remember through have met with between the covers of this book him that comes to me. I will in no wise cast out. He may have hardened his neck against the remonstrance of prudence and the entreaties of mercy. He may have sinned deeply and willfully, but if he comes to Christ, he shall not be cast out. He may have made himself as dark as Knight, as black as hell. And yet, if he shall come to Christ, the Lord will not cast him out. I cannot tell what kind of persons may have come into this hall tonight, but if burglars, murderers and dynamite men were here and some may be with them, I would still bid them come to Christ, for he will not cast them out. I suppose that most of you are tolerably decent as the moral character. And I say to you, if you come to Christ, he will not cast you out. Children of godly parents, hearers of the word. He will not cast you out. You only like one thing, but that one thing is needful. He will not cast you out.
[01:10:46] Backsliders. Are there some such here? We have almost forgotten the way to God. Sanctuary for whom? The Sabbath. Bell proclaims No Sabbath now calm you to Jesus and He will not cast you out. Or you Londoners. You have grown weary of God's house, millions of you. But if with all your religion, you are here tonight, the truth holds good of you also. If you trust in Jesus, he will not cast you out. If amidst this company, there should be some whose character we had better not describe, who had already shrank into themselves at the very idea of being picked out and mentioned by name. If such persons come to Jesus, he will gladly receive them. Be your character. What it may. You are wrapped in mystery. You shall not be cast out. I wish that I could put to those who are troubled about a life of grievous sin. My Lord proclaims an act of oblivion concerning your past. It shall be as though it had never been through. Jesus Christ, if you will believe in Him, the whole past shall be rolled up and put away any hymn. Any hymn. No limit is set. Any hymn in all the world, any blaspheming devilish hymn that comes to Christ shall be welcome. I use strong words that I may open wide the Gate of Mercy, any hymn that comes to Christ. Now we come from the slum or the tap room or the betting ring or the gambling hell, prison or brothel. Even from hell itself, Jesus will in no wise cast out. Well, here's somebody who accepted all of the doctrines of grace, as we call them, without any equivocation whatsoever. But who found in them not a hindrance to evangelism, but a motivation for evangelism and for calling all kinds of people to trust in Jesus to come to Jesus, because they would, in no eyes, be cast out.
[01:12:50] And so I would come in to you, along with the Synod of Dork, also the writings and the sermons of Charles Head and SPURGEON and Worth reading and preaching. Even today, you're going to plagiarize somebody's sermon, plagiarize somebody worth plagiarizing, like Charles Hodson. And on that dubious note of ethics, we better close to the semester. Thank you all very much.