Calvin’s Methodology

May 28, 2009

Yesterday we were well instructed by Andy Davis, who spoke on the subject of John Calvin’s eschatology.  He began by discussing Calvin’s theological methodology, lucid brevity.  Eschatology is a great doctrinal area to see this in practice.  While many evangelicals reject speculative theology in most areas, there is a tendency to turn eschatological speculation into dogma.  Calvin’s caution in this regard is instructive.

Andy, however, challenged us (and Calvin).  Speculation is one extreme to avoid.  But, he argued, the opposite extreme of not saying enough also needs to be avoided.  We don’t want to go beyond the plain teaching of Scripture.  But we don’t want to neglect the plain teaching of Scripture either.  Andy argued that this is what Calvin did when it came to eschatology.  There may have been many factors that lead to Calvin’s reluctance to delve deeply into eschatological questions.  His methodology may have steered him away from questions that he felt were obscure.  The fanatical apocalyptic fervor of some in his day may have made him wary of a preoccupation with such questions.

Andy reminded us that if it is in Scripture then obviously it is important for us to know.  May we be faithful to preach the whole counsel of God.


Willing Indifference

May 14, 2009

Commenting on Luke 12:56 (“Hypocrites, you know how to judge of the appearance of the sky and of the earth, and how comes it that you do not understand this time?”), Calvin says:

There are many persons of the same description in the present day, who plead that on intricate subjects they have a good right to suspend their judgment, because they must wait till the matter is fully ascertained.  They go farther, and believe that it is a mark of prudence purposely to avoid all inquiry into the truth; as if it were not an instance of shameful sloth that , while they are so eagerly solicitious about the objects of the flesh and of the earth, they neglect the eternal salvation of their souls, and at the same time contrive vain excuses for gross and stupid ignorance.

It was so in Christ’s day.  It was so in Calvin’s day.  It is so in our day.  I’m reminded of the false humility that claims to know nothing and charges with arrogance any who claim to have a knowledge of the truth.

Josh Owen