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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.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

John Calvin’s Theology (Part One) - The Knowledge of God as Creator and as Redeemer

Calvin opens his Institutes by declaring, “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” Calvin believed that these two forms of knowledge were so closely tied together it is difficult to know where the one begins and the other ends. What he means by this is that we cannot know ourselves in any depth without knowing God. However, everyone knows God in some sense regardless of our fallen condition. Thus, knowledge of God as creator and knowledge of God as redeemer is intrinsic to each of us.

Calvin taught that mankind’s fallen condition in no way thwarted mankind from a knowledge of God. Rather, Calvin declares, “. . . our feelings of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness.” However, due to the fall, man can never attain to a true self-knowledge until he contemplates “the face of God” and by doing so looks into himself. And this is why Calvin declares that these two forms of knowledge are so closely related.

Surely Calvin does not teach that all we merely need to do is look into ourselves and by doing this we will gain knowledge of God. Certainly not! This is why Calvin begins the Institutes in this manner, in order to establish the character of God and the character of man and how these two relate (i.e. via certain knowledge).

Calvin, in this same section goes on to state that mankind’s corruption is so great that our innate pride keeps us from truly understanding our vileness, folly, and impurity, but it in no way keeps us from understanding who God actually is. In short, Calvin opens his Institutes by describing that man has knowledge of God but due to the fall man is shortsighted and sees only his own self in such a way that he at once elevates himself to a status of demigod. It is not until man contemplates God in all His glory that he fully understands himself and his own corruption. But how can man possibly do this when his sole focus is on himself?

[Stay tuned . . . more to come]

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