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CHURCH HISTORY II Lesson 7 The Theology of John Calvin.

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1 CHURCH HISTORY II Lesson 7 The Theology of John Calvin

2 “The histories of all past times” are “a true school on how to regulate our lives” but sacred history is superior because it lays down “general principles by which we may examine every other history” and because it displays more clearly “what should be imitated and what avoided.” John Calvin “Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out” Romans 11:33

3 “Of all the famous theologians of church history, the titans of knowledge upon whose shoulders we stand, none has been more maligned or vilified than John Calvin” R.C. Sproul

4 REFORMER “Calvin found Protestantism a mob and transformed it into a church”B.B. Warfield Church: Ecclesiastical Ordinances of the Church in Geneva Elders Pastors Teachers (Doctors) Deacons

5 StateCalvin not a dictator Geneva not a theocracy Michael Servetus ( ) “I was willing to risk my life to win him to our Lord, if possible”

6 Institutes of the Christian Religion ( ) I. Growth of a book A. From ‘booklet’ of 1536 to 4 books in 1559 B. Not revised but expanded Study of the church fathers Ministry at Strassburg and Geneva Study of Scriptures “God limits our knowledge “first that we should be kept humble and also that we should continue to have dealings with our fellows.” “holds a place in the short list of books that have notably affected the course of history”John T McNeill Accuracy – Clarity – Brevity - Humility “The majesty of the Word of God is somehow diminished if we do not interpret it with great discretion and moderation”

7 “God has given me grace to write what I have written as faithfully as it was in my power. I have not falsified a single passage of the Scripture, nor given it a wrong interpretation to the best of my knowledge…and always aimed at simplicity.” 1544 Treatise by Calvin C. Not revised but re-arranged ORDER AND CONTENT Book I: God the Creator Book II: God the Redeemer Book III: God the Giver of Life Book IV: God the Lord of the Church

8 II. Characteristics of the Institutes A. Biblical 1. Priority of Scripture 2. Use of Scripture B. Systematic Calvin “was a wholesale plagiarist, from Moses and David, Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jesus and John, Peter and Paul” The Gospel as Taught by Calvin, R.C. Reed 1. Not iron clad logic 2.Respects the limits of Scripture “learned ignorance “it is not the head but the heart that Calvin is appealing to in his Institutes” B.B. Warfield C. Devotional

9 1.Summa pietatis “the whole sum of piety and whatever is necessary to know in the doctrine of salvation” 2. “unless (we) establish our complete happiness in (God), we will never give (ourselves) truly and sincerely to Him” 3. Goal is worship D. Practical 1.“not in an ivory tower, but against the background of teething troubles” T.H.L. Parker Doctrine of God Doctrine of election Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper

10 2. Not scholastic but a ‘street corner’ theologian 3. The principal of accommodation a. Scripture “proceeds at the pace of a mother stooping to her child, so to speak, so as not to leave us behind in our weaknesses” b. “We must, therefore, consider what questions each is able to bear, and accommodate our doctrine to the capacity of the individual” Commentary Romans 14:1 “May the Lord grant that we may contemplate the mysteries of his heavenly wisdom with truly increasing devotion to his glory and to our edification” preface to 1559 edition


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