This post is part of our group read of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.
There are a couple of asstounding assertions made in Book First - Chapter 14. Astounding because they are so contrary to our modern ears but not contrary at all to the word of God.
Assertions regarding the Creation of the World:
We read that one use of the account of the creation is to provide us with a more "intimate knowledge in order that we might not wander to and fro." Calvin indeed often warns us against probing beyond the revelation of scripture. Or allowing our imaginations to trump the word of God. Or allowing any thought to trump the revelation God has given.
Another example was pointed out to me by Jim in a recent phone converation:
"It was a shrewd saying of a good old man, who when some one pertly asked in derision what God did before the world was created, answered he made a hell for the inquisitive, (August. Confess., lib. 11 c. 12.)"
FIRST BOLD ASSERTION:
"...the period of time is marked so as to enable the faithful to ascend by an unbroken succession of years to the first origin of their race and of all things.... " and the 6000th year has not yet completed.
(in otherwords you can trace back the ancestry through scriptures arriving at a time of the creation.)
Uses of First Bold Assertion and the history of creation: 1) antidote to monstrous fables, 2) "clear manifestation of the eternity of God contrasted with the birth of creation, and thereby inspiring us with higher admiration. " 3) Don't complain: "as if, in the period of six thousand years, God had not furnished facts enough to exercise our minds in ceaseless meditation. Therefore, let us willingly remain hedged in by those boundaries within which God has been pleased to confine our persons, and, as it were, enclose our minds, so as to prevent them from losing themselves by wandering unrestrained."
Now a days Bishop Ussher has been pictured in a dunce hat foolishly suggesting the world is only 6000 years old. see link for short article by translator of the Annals of World . I loved reading this quote from Calvin. Believe it to be a true statement. Don't want to fight. Will seek for peace. Am thoroughly persuaded in my own mind. Read much - some from both sides. Wish believers would calmly discuss these differences as between brothers realizing they may not have all the facts. Refreshing to hear Calvin simply affirm the same.
SECOND BOLD ASSERTION:
"Moses relates that the work of creation was accomplished not in one moment, but in six days."
Hey this agrees with the Westminster Confession of Faith - it is not a novel idea - But above all this is the testimony of the holy word of God:
WCF IV.1 I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.Use of this 2nd assertion: "By this statement we are drawn away from fiction to the one God who thus divided his work into six days, that we may have no reluctance to devote our whole lives to the contemplation of it."
In so many ways I am just a simple believer. I don't like to think that I only believe as a simpleton but rather have a heart to accept just what the scriptures say. That doesn't mean I always get what the scriptures are saying - but I do want to be believing and honor God and honor God by believing and accepting the testimony he has given. Also, I am not so naive as to to not know there are many godly men, whom I respect, who yet take exception with these two assertions listed above. So how do we come together in this kind of disagreement? How do we keep peace when there are such strong differences of opinion? Tough questions. And two questions I think about quite often.
Some thoughts I have on these two questions:
Rejoicing when we embrace the same Gospel.
When we both have a high view of the Scripture.
When God's Glory is our mutual goal.
Thinking also, that I have held positions as a believer which called for repentance when understanding came.
Thinking also, how whatever understanding we have it is of grace.
Thinking also, how we are members one of another with differing gifts, and differing grace.
Hoping to grow together in the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
I'll leave it here for now. Please feel free to comment. Would love to discuss face to face or possibly interact further within this blog.