Blog: Men's Study

Creation
Posted June 06, 2018 by Judson Marvel

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It's been a few weeks since an update on Calvin's Institutes has been published.  Since the last update, we've gathered to discuss chapters 14-17.  Our next gathering is Saturday, June 16 as we end Book I of the Institutes by studying chapter 18.

In chapters 14 and 15, Calvin addresses the topic of creation and humanity as originally created.  He addresses the topics of angels and demons in many sections of chapter 14.  A reason for the topic on Satan and devils is to remind believers of their daily struggle.  He writes, "The fact that the devil is everywhere called God's adversary and ours also ought to fire us to an unceasing struggle against him" (I.XIV.15).  Another reason is to assure us of our final victory even though we struggle.  "Often, indeed, are they distressed, but not so deprived of life as not to recover; they fall under violent blows, but afterward they are raised up; they are wounded, but not fatally; in short, they so toil throughout life that at the last they obtain the victory" (I.XIV.18). 

In section 20, Calvin turns his attention to creation.  He tells us how we are to study creation.  "For, as I have elsewhere said, although it is not the chief evidence for faith, yet it is the first evidence in the order of nature, to be mindful that wherever we cast our eyes, all things they meet are works of God, and at the same time to ponder with pious meditation to what end God created them."  In other words, creation is not a machine to which we determine its purposes; instead, we discover the good ends of creation with "pious meditation." 

In chapter 15, Calvin explains our twofold knowledge of ourselves: creation and fallen (I.XV.1).  For Calvin, this distinction is extremely important, for we can only understand our fallen nature if we understood from where we fell.  In section 7, Calvin points to this same distinction as ignored by philosophers.  While the will might follow understanding in the original creation, the understanding follows the will in the fallen nature.

What do you think of Calvin's point about the relationship between the understanding and the will in our fallen nature?     


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