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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Monday, January 16, 2006

John Calvin’s Theology (Part Five) – The Human Condition: How Did Adam’s Sin Affect the Human Race?

Calvin taught that Adam’s sin had a serious affect on the state of the entire human race. Because of the first sin of our Parents, Calvin declares that sin has ever since had dominion on human kind; but in what ways?

Calvin states, “Having seen that the dominion of sin, ever since the first man was brought under it, not only extends to the whole race, but has complete possession of every soul, it now remains to consider more closely, whether, from the period of being thus enslaved, we have been deprived of all liberty; and if any still remains, how far its power extends.” However, Calvin taught that human liberty was not the only thing affected by Adam’s sin. Calvin also believed that the human mind, human uprightness (or righteousness) and every other aspect of our being was affected by Adam’s sin.

According to Calvin we can simply observe and see how man is now slothful, arrogant, prone to erroneous thinking, and enslaved by our appetites and desires. Therefore, the mind, the soul, and the body are duly affected by Adam’s sin.

Post fall, Calvin believed the facilities or faculties of the mind (i.e. reason, appetite and will) which work in conjunction with the soul have been corrupted to such a degree, without special grace, man cannot perform good works. Now, by “special grace” Calvin means that work of God in an individual to change the individual’s disposition. While Calvin believes that the fall of mankind certainly did not eliminate human freedom (i.e. liberty), the fall did, nonetheless, affect it in such a way that human freedom is now very limited. Calvin supports this by declaring, “All this being admitted, it will be beyond dispute that free will does not enable any man to perform good works, unless he is assisted by grace; indeed, the special grace which the elect alone receive through regeneration.”

So, for Calvin, post fall, mankind’s freedom is not eliminated. Man is still free to choose, and does freely choose. However, man cannot choose that which is good (i.e. God) without the special grace of God. Moreover, the noetic effects of sin are such that man is no longer able to think the thoughts of God, and the human mind is now prone to error. Sin also has affected the soul and its appetites in relation to the mind, since prior to the fall man only desired God, now man desires all sorts of impurities and lusts. In short, the fall, according to Calvin, affected mankind’s reason, appetites, will, and liberty, to such an extent that it takes an act of God in the individual to alter this sinful disposition and change these faculties (or facilities).

[Stay tuned . . . more to come . . . we will now turn our attention to Calvin’s Christology]


Anonymous Puritan Belief said...

Or we are free to do the works of the devil. Yet it is only through regeneration that we are free to do the works of God.

P.S I just read sinners in the hands of an angry God by Jonathan Edwards. Now that was a vivid picture of what God thinks of Sin.

7:50 PM, January 16, 2006  

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