Posts tagged calvin
Calvin On The Proper Celebration Of The Lord’s Supper

Although the Genevan Regulations on the Ecclesiastical Ordinances which were revised by Calvin suggest the Supper ought to be taken once a month, Calvin, in his Institutes says that the Supper would be “administered most becomingly if it were set before the church very often, and at least once a week.” (4.17.43) He then proceeds to list (what I counted) a twelve step procession of the proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper. 

  1. The service should begin with public prayers.
  2. After this, a sermon should be given. For the Supper must always be accompanied by the preaching of the Word.
    1. Elsewhere, he writes: “The bread is a sacrament only to those persons to whom the word is directed; just as the water of baptism is not changed in itself, but as soon as the promise has been attached it begins to be for us what it was not before.” (IV.XVII.15)
  3. The bread and wine should be placed on the table.
  4. Then, the minister should repeat the words of institution of the Supper.
  5. “Next, he should recite the promises which were left to us in it…”
  6. “At the same time, he should excommunicate all who are feared from it by the Lord’s prohibition.”
  7. “Afterward, he should pray that the Lord, with the kindness wherewith he has bestowed this sacred food upon us, also teach and form us to receive it with faith and thankfulness of heart, and, inasmuch as we are not so of ourselves, by his mercy make us worthy of such a feast.”
  8. Here, either believers ought to sing a psalm or read something.
  9. Then, “in becoming order the believers should partake of the most holy banquet, the ministers breaking the bread and giving the cups.”
  10. “When the Supper is finished, there should be an exhortation to sincere faith and confession of faith, to love and behavior worthy of Christians.”
  11. “At the last, thanks should be given, and praises sung to God.”
  12. “When these things are ended, the church should be dismissed in peace.”

John Calvin, Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. Mcneill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, Paperback (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), IV.XVII.43, 2:1421-22.

Calvin: On the Natural Man and God
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As you may know, I have been reading John Calvin’s tome, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vol. I've had a few people ask me why, to which I quickly point them to CSL’s introduction to Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. In that introduction Lewis writes, “It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.” This has definitely proved to be true concerning my time in Calvin. It’s amazing to see the difference of what was actually said (in context, no-less) compared to what has often been misquoted, misunderstood, or wrongly attributed. With that, I hope to accurately put forth Calvin’s position on the natural man and God.

The question has been posed: How much can the unregenerate know of spiritual things? This inquiry has been a source of much contention over the years. One heavy hitter typically enlisted in this squabble is the somewhat infamous John Calvin. Sadly, in the same way that many call themselves Christians without reading God’s Word, many gladly parade the pews as self-professed Calvinists without even attempting to discover what he himself wrote.

For Calvin, “man’s soul is so illumined by the brightness of God’s light as never to be without some slight flame or at least a spark of it; but that even with this illumination it does not comprehend God...man’s keenness of mind is mere blindness as far as the knowledge of God is concerned.”

Naturally, my first question was, how can we who are dead in our trespasses see, feel, or hear anything? Calvin retorts, “the Lord indeed gave them a slight taste of his divinity that they might not hide their impiety under a cloak of ignorance.” Ultimately, man’s knowledge of God is still God’s own work.

Calvin explains his position further with this illustration:

“They (unregenerate) are like a traveler passing through a field at night who in 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 its help.”

To be sure, Calvin rightly deems human reason impotent in coming to an understanding of God. “Human reason, therefore, neither approaches, nor strives toward, nor even takes a straight aim at, this truth: to understand who the true God is or what sort of God he wished to be toward us.” But I found it interesting that Calvin, when discussing the unregenerate’s natural disposition toward God, describes his condition as blind and not dead.

Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vol. vol. 1. 2.2.18-19, pp. 277-278.

March Breakdown
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“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out” (Proverbs 25:2, ESV).

After a month of Big Brother, Fangs of Dang, and a brood of Wingfeathers I’m hard-pressed to go back to the monotony of monochromatic nonfiction. Like I said, fiction is fun. Fiction is especially fun because it serves as a mental vacation. The extraordinary is just that, because it is not ordinary. Said differently: if every day was a holiday, holidays would be called days. With that, let’s put on our thinking caps and drown in some philosophy. I wanted to do write: “Let’s get philosophical...philosophical,” like that song. But felt it might be weird, so I didn’t.

This month’s theme is ‘read over your head.’ To know that certain philosophies are right or wrong is good. To know WHY said philosophies are right or wrong is better. As the puritan pastor Cotton Mather once said, "Ignorance is the mother not of devotion but of heresy." It is no coincidence that Evangelicalism is on the decline while anti-intellectualism in the church is on the rise. Loving the Lord with all of one’s mind is not a helpful suggestion but an essential part of the greatest commandment. The church, in which I include myself, has been retreating from the public square for far too long. On hearing the imperative to be prepared to give an answer, instead of obedience, we opt to take our ball and go home. We have confused the call for childlike faith with childish thinking. This month we will storm the keep of the ivory tower, and touch profundity with our own hands. Oftentimes before reading something I fear to be over my head, I read CSL’s introduction to Athanasius’ ‘On the Incarnation’ to pump myself up.

If you need more motivation, Kevin DeYoung recently shared five benefits of reading over your head.

He wrote:

  1. Reading over your head keeps you learning and learning keeps you fresh.
  2. Reading over your head keeps you humble.
  3. Reading over your head keeps you hungry.
  4. Reading over your head keeps you balanced.
  5. Reading over your head keeps you edified.

With that, let me introduce you to what I’ll be reading over the next month. I hope that you’ll join me!

MARCH:

HOW WE WILL DO IT:

By now, I realize that I am likely traveling alone on this read-venture. That’s fine, I don’t need you– I’m lying. I’m so lonely. Last month was hefty, I know, but this month we will be reading half of last month’s total.

Like we did last month, let’s rationalize this fear by crunching some numbers. Not counting Calvin’s tome and reader’s guide, there are approximately 697 pg. to read this month. Again, say we only wanted to read on weekdays: there are 21 weekdays in the month of March.

697 pg./21 wkd.= 33.2 pg./wkd.

If you follow my guide, you will have read another 5 BOOKS THIS MONTH! Listen, if I can do it, you can too!

Full disclosure: In January I snuck in Gospel-Centered Discipleship. In February I added Catcher in the Rye to the list. If you want to see my progress and ratings, click here. If you would like to see the master checklist, click here.

*I should mention that Calvin’s Institutes (as well as the Reader’s Guide) will be read over the course of the year. Ergo, you will see it on every month’s breakdown. I put the link for the reading schedule alongside the book.

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Augustine on True Humility
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As a man habitually drowning in pride, Augustine’s words on humility (through the mouth of Calvin), buoyed me up this morning.

When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, ‘Delivery’; what was the second rule, ‘Delivery’; what was the third rule, ‘Delivery’; so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer, ‘Humility.’

For Augustine, humility is not abstaining from pride and arrogance; but is a man who truly feels that he has no refuge except humility. He said it like this:

“When anyone realizes that in himself he is nothing and from himself he has no help, the weapons within him are broken, the wars are over. But all the weapons of impiety must be shattered, broken, and burned; you must remain unarmed, you must have no help in yourself. The weaker you are in yourself, the more readily the Lord will receive you.”

- from Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vol., 2.2.11, 268-269.