Friday, March 29, 2013

The Greatest Lesson I Have Learned from John Calvin

  • Where did Satan come from?
  • Why did God create a world in which the New York Yankees (evil) would win more championships than the Kansas City Royals (righteous)?
  • In the mind of God which came first…the chicken or the egg?
  • If you were the only person in the world would Jesus have died for you?

These and a host of other questions are not directly or clearly answered in Scripture. There are many things that the Lord has not chosen to reveal to us. What I have learned from John Calvin is to ground all my knowledge of God in what God has revealed about Himself. If He has not revealed something to us in Scripture we shouldn’t plunge too deeply or speak too confidently about it.

He is actually speaking of unbelievers here—but I think believers can fall prey to this as well:

Indeed, vanity joined with pride can be detected in the fact that, in seeking God, miserable men do not rise above themselves as they should, but measure him by the yardstick of their own carnal stupidity, and neglect sound investigation; thus out of curiosity they fly off into empty speculations. They do not therefore apprehend God as he offers himself, but imagine him as they have fashioned him in their own presumption. When this gulf opens, in whatever direction they move their feet, they cannot but plunge headlong into ruin.

This is only one quote among many in Calvin’s Institutes that helped me to see this grand point. Whenever the Scriptures are silent on something I’m pretty stupid to spend my time on speculation and I had best not speak with much certainty.

One of the statements that I make in my book*, Torn to Heal, is that me trying to solve the problem of evil is like a sumo wrestler attempting to river-dance on a patch of thin ice. He’s going to get in a few sweet moves here and there but eventually he is going to fall through the ice—making himself and every onlooker wet in the process. This statement was largely influence by John Calvin.

I can say this because God has not seen fit to solve the problem of evil in Scripture. I’m not responsible for untangling the paradoxes that the Lord has revealed to us in Scripture. I’m just responsible for grabbing hold, in faith, to everything that He has revealed. I don’t want to back away from anything that He has said. But I also don’t want to proudly proclaim a god of my own making.


*I am not certain as of yet if this statement will make the final cut.

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