Saturday, 20 June 2015

Calvin - not a designer but a thinker?

Blog on the Institutes of John Calvin. Can we gain a contemporary understanding?

The Blog is not a detailed exegesis but designed to stimulate thought and reflection on the relevance of John Calvin’s Theology to Church Life and wider society today.  Can volumes written over four hundred years ago in a different culture (both spiritual and secular) tell us anything about how to live as a disciple of Christ today?  Each section of the Institutes will be studied and I will supply a reflection to provoke thought and interaction about the meaning of Calvin’s work today.

Book 1 The Knowledge of God the Creator

1.      The knowledge of God and that of ourselves are connected. How they are interrelated.

Calvin writes “In the first place no one can look upon himself without turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God in whom he “lives and moves”

In a world where self esteem, especially among young people is low then does this sentence have any relevance.  For most would not contemplate God but do think about other things: appearance: both virtual and real, cars, houses, material possessions and relationships.  Is it deliberate that Calvin speaks of contemplation of God?

Can awareness of God only increase when some life changing event is hurled at us so that “each of us must then be so stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness as to attain some knowledge of God”?  In such a place where does the knowledge of God come from?  Is it solely from experience apart from the very few who are reading the Scriptures?  Is this why so many seek new experiences through holiday destinations, extreme sports, thrills using drugs and sex.  Do any of these cause us to seek God? If none of them then does our own misery when they do not satisfy us bring us to seek God even if we do not acknowledge Him?  Should this be the case perhaps we are closer to John Calvin and his world than we had previously dared imagine?