Blog 110: 3.4.32 - 3.4.35

Stephen Nichols

Here Calvin turns to the issue of God's chastisement of his children as opposed to vengeance and punishment of his enemies, no easy subject to talk about let alone experience.  A couple of things may be worth emphasizing.  First is Calvin's setting God's chastisement in the context of God as father.  Calvin lands on the metaphor.  Fathers want to see their children flourish, and they recognize that certain behaviors and actions either contribute to that or hinder that.   The ones that hinder need to be dealt with.  Fathers also want to be quick to be merciful, quick to restore.  God as father is a beautiful metaphor. 

One other point is this:  "He who in the end profits by God's scourges is the man who considers God angry at his vices, but merciful and kindly toward himself" (3.4.34).  Calvin is right:  We are "more helped by God's fatherly chastisements than oppressed by them" (3.4.34).   God, our father, does know what's best for us and wants what's best for us.  God is for us, Deus pro nobis, as the theologians say.