Blogging The Institutes

Blog 244: 4.20.27 - 4.20.32

Calvin's sensitivity to the different circumstances in which people live lead him to flip-flop, or at least to be somewhat ambivalent in his attitude to the magistrate. Citing the case of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27), Scripture requires obedience to bad kings, and...
Posted December 18, 2009 @ 5:12 PM by Paul Helm
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Blog 243: 4.20.10 - 4.20.26

No doubt having the Anabaptists in mind,  and having already defended the right to litigate, Calvin proceeds to defend the entire judicial process. He discourages using the law for the taking of revenge, but upholds the use of due process,...
Posted December 18, 2009 @ 5:10 PM by Paul Helm
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Blog 242: 4.20.12 - 4.20.18

Calvin borrows the idea of a just war from Augustine. Everything is to be tried in order to preserve the peace before war is declared, though waging war obviously means that reparations must be made, if necessary. A consideration of...
Posted December 18, 2009 @ 5:06 PM by Paul Helm
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Blog 241: 4.20.8 - 4.20.11

Calvin here shows two things - his concern about the dangers of tyrannical government, and also his apparently relaxed attitude regarding forms of political government. You may say that he derives the possible forms from the ancient world, but in fact...
Posted December 15, 2009 @ 6:10 PM by Paul Helm
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Blog 240: 4.20.2 - 4.20.7

Calvin has already established his understanding of "a twofold government" to which human beings are subject: an inward government in which God rules over the individual human soul for eternal life and an outward government in which God through human...
Posted December 14, 2009 @ 10:05 AM by Sean Lucas
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Blog 239: 4.19.33 - 4.20.1

Marriage has been instituted by God, but it is not a sacrament. Many are the good things which God has instituted, but that does not make them sacraments, which are, by definition, signs and ceremonies to confirm God's promise to...
Posted December 13, 2009 @ 10:59 PM by Iain D Campbell
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Blog 237: 4.19.20 - 4.19.25

Calvin continues his diatribe against false sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church, wrapping up his denial of the sacrament of final unction.  In paragraphs 19-21, he levels two criticisms: the proof text (James 5:14) does not pertain to the church...
Posted December 11, 2009 @ 10:49 AM by Rick Phillips
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Blog 236: 4.19.14 - 4.19.19

Calvin continues his critique of Catholicism by applying a biblical definition of "sacrament" to the Roman rite of penance.  He begins with a clear and careful distinction between public repentance, as it was practiced in the early church, and the...
Posted December 8, 2009 @ 12:29 PM by Phil Ryken
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Blog 235: 4.19.7- 4.19.13

Confirmation, a sacrament in Roman Catholic theology, was an offence to Calvin because it sapped the meaning of baptism. In scholastic terms, baptism only washed away original sin and those sins committed before baptism. Confirmation was viewed as a sacrament...
Posted December 8, 2009 @ 12:25 PM by Derek Thomas
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Blog 234: 4.19.1 - 4.19.6

More on sacraments - additional ones invented by men. Using the formula that sacraments are "visible signs of an invisible grace" Calvin notes that there is no limit to the inventions that can pass this test. Reverting again to the...
Posted December 4, 2009 @ 11:35 AM by Derek Thomas
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Blog 233: 4.18.14 - 4.18.20

Calvin had studied Plato - no friend to Christianity - and is amused how accurately he depicted (in the Republic) the antics of medieval priests in celebrating the Mass - preying on the innocent and uneducated by fooling them into...
Posted December 3, 2009 @ 2:49 PM by Derek Thomas
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Blog 232: 4.18.8 - 4.18.13

Private Communion (or Masses): Calvin is against them. True, he is against the Mass "period"; but mutatis mutandis he is against private celebrations of the Lord's Supper for the same reason: the Supper is meant to define the communion of...
Posted December 3, 2009 @ 2:46 PM by Derek Thomas
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Blog 231: 4.18.2 - 4.18.7

The Mass. At the heart of Calvin's theological method in assessing the value of the Mass is the cross. The Mass signifies an on-going ritual of sacrifice, undermining the "once-for-all" of Calvary. By its constant repetition, it declares all prior...
Posted December 1, 2009 @ 9:51 AM by Derek Thomas
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Blog 230: 4.17.46 - 4.18.1

Scottish Highland Presbyterians need to hold their breath for a second while Calvin refers to an annual Lord's Supper ritual as "a veritable invention of the devil" [4.17.46]. Calvin then adds, something which he has been cited for ever since,...
Posted December 1, 2009 @ 9:49 AM by Derek Thomas
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Blog 229: 4.17.40 - 4.17.45

One of the other debated issues in the Lord's Supper, in addition to the question of presence, is that of fencing the table. Who may participate?  What does it mean to eat and drink unworthily? Who is worthy? Who is unworthy? Calvin takes...
Posted November 25, 2009 @ 2:02 PM by Stephen Nichols
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