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The Institutes Book 1, Chapter 3
The Institutes of the Christian Religion ^ | 1500's | John Calvin

Posted on 01/27/2003 10:05:20 AM PST by ksen

Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book I: The Knowledge of God the Creator

Chapter 3. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD HAS BEEN NATURALLY IMPLANTED IN THE HUMAN MIND.

Section 1: The character of this natural endowment

That there exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service. Certainly, if there is any quarter where it may be supposed that God is unknown, the most likely for such an instance to exist is among the dullest tribes farthest removed from civilisation. But, as a heathen tells us, there is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish, as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God. Even those who, in other respects, seem to differ least from the lower animals, constantly retain some sense of religion; so thoroughly has this common conviction possessed the mind, so firmly is it stamped on the breasts of all men. Since, then, there never has been, from the very first, any quarter of the globe, any city, any household even, without religion, this amounts to a tacit confession, that a sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart.

Nay, even idolatry is ample evidence of this fact. For we know how reluctant man is to lower himself, in order to set other creatures above him. Therefore, when he chooses to worship wood and stone rather than be thought to have no God, it is evident how very strong this impression of a Deity must be; since it is more difficult to obliterate it from the mind of man, than to break down the feelings of his nature, - these certainly being broken down, when, in opposition to his natural haughtiness, he spontaneously humbles himself before the meanest object as an act of reverence to God.

Section 2: Religion is no arbitrary invention

It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection, while there was nothing which those very individuals, while teaching others to worship God, less believed than the existence of a God. I readily acknowledge, that designing men have introduced a vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious; but they never could have succeeded in this, had the minds of men not been previously imbued will that uniform belief in God, from which, as from its seed, the religious propensity springs. And it is altogether incredible that those who, in the matter of religion, cunningly imposed on their ruder neighbours, were altogether devoid of a knowledge of God. For though in old times there were some, and in the present day not a few are found, who deny the being of a God, yet, whether they will or not, they occasionally feel the truth which they are desirous not to know. We do not read of any man who broke out into more unbridled and audacious contempt of the Deity than C. Caligula, and yet none showed greater dread when any indication of divine wrath was manifested. Thus, however unwilling, he shook with terror before the God whom he professedly studied to condemn. You may every day see the same thing happening to his modern imitators. The most audacious despiser of God is most easily disturbed, trembling at the sound of a falling leaf. How so, unless in vindication of the divine majesty, which smites their consciences the more strongly the more they endeavour to flee from it. They all, indeed, look out for hiding-places where they may conceal themselves from the presence of the Lord, and again efface it from their mind; but after all their efforts they remain caught within the net. Though the conviction may occasionally seem to vanish for a moment, it immediately returns, and rushes in with new impetuosity, so that any interval of relief from the gnawing of conscience is not unlike the slumber of the intoxicated or the insane, who have no quiet rest in sleep, but are continually haunted with dire horrific dreams. Even the wicked themselves, therefore, are an example of the fact that some idea of God always exists in every human mind.

Section 3: Actual goodness is impossible

All men of sound judgement will therefore hold, that a sense of Deity is indelibly engraven on the human heart. And that this belief is naturally engendered in all, and thoroughly fixed as it were in our very bones, is strikingly attested by the contumacy of the wicked, who, though they struggle furiously, are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God. Though Diagoras, and others of like stamps make themselves merry with whatever has been believed in all ages concerning religion, and Dionysus scoffs at the judgement of heaven, it is but a Sardonian grin; for the worm of conscience, keener than burning steel, is gnawing them within. I do not say with Cicero, that errors wear out by age, and that religion increases and grows better day by day. For the world (as will be shortly seen) labours as much as it can to shake off all knowledge of God, and corrupts his worship in innumerable ways. I only say, that, when the stupid hardness of heart, which the wicked eagerly court as a means of despising God, becomes enfeebled, the sense of Deity, which of all things they wished most to be extinguished, is still in vigour, and now and then breaks forth. Whence we infer, that this is not a doctrine which is first learned at school, but one as to which every man is, from the womb, his own master; one which nature herself allows no individual to forget, though many, with all their might, strive to do so.

Moreover, if all are born and live for the express purpose of learning to know God, and if the knowledge of God, in so far as it fails to produce this effect, is fleeting and vain, it is clear that all those who do not direct the whole thoughts and actions of their lives to this end fail to fulfil the law of their being. This did not escape the observation even of philosophers. For it is the very thing which Plato meant (in Phoed. et Theact.) when he taught, as he often does, that the chief good of the soul consists in resemblance to God; i.e., when, by means of knowing him, she is wholly transformed into him. Thus Gryllus, also, in Plutarch, (lib. guod bruta anim. ratione utantur,) reasons most skilfully, when he affirms that, if once religion is banished from the lives of men, they not only in no respect excel, but are, in many respects, much more wretched than the brutes, since, being exposed to so many forms of evil, they continually drag on a troubled and restless existence: that the only thing, therefore, which makes them superior is the worship of God, through which alone they aspire to immortality.


TOPICS: Apologetics; General Discusssion; History; Theology
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BOOK ONE:
Chapter 1 - THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND OF OURSELVES MUTUALLY CONNECTED. - NATURE OF THIS CONNECTION.
Chapter 2 - WHAT IT IS TO KNOW GOD,--TENDENCY OF THIS KNOWLEDGE.
1 posted on 01/27/2003 10:05:20 AM PST by ksen
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To: RnMomof7; Corin Stormhands; Jean Chauvin; Dr. Eckleburg; the_doc; xzins; fortheDeclaration
Bump to Chapter 3.
2 posted on 01/27/2003 10:06:59 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
But, as a heathen tells us, there is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish, as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God. Even those who, in other respects, seem to differ least from the lower animals, constantly retain some sense of religion; so thoroughly has this common conviction possessed the mind, so firmly is it stamped on the breasts of all men. Since, then, there never has been, from the very first, any quarter of the globe, any city, any household even, without religion, this amounts to a tacit confession, that a sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart.

Dr. E, I think this quote by Calvin addresses what we were talking about the other day. That Mankind has a sense of God and seeks to express their worship for "him" no matter how crudely.

3 posted on 01/27/2003 10:11:07 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen; OrthodoxPresbyterian; Jerry_M; the_doc; CCWoody; Matchett-PI; JesseShurun; gdebrae; ...
Bump to #3

Nay, even idolatry is ample evidence of this fact. For we know how reluctant man is to lower himself, in order to set other creatures above him. Therefore, when he chooses to worship wood and stone rather than be thought to have no God, it is evident how very strong this impression of a Deity must be; since it is more difficult to obliterate it from the mind of man, than to break down the feelings of his nature, - these certainly being broken down, when, in opposition to his natural haughtiness, he spontaneously humbles himself before the meanest object as an act of reverence to God.

Wow interesting insight....still reading

4 posted on 01/27/2003 10:48:23 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: ksen
It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection, while there was nothing which those very individuals, while teaching others to worship God, less believed than the existence of a God

How little sinful human nature changes huh? This sounds like the USSR's hatred of religion as the opiet of the masses"

5 posted on 01/27/2003 10:53:13 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
It will be interesting to see how Calvin gets from: "...in opposition to his natural haughtiness, he spontaneously humbles himself before the meanest object as an act of reverence to God."

To Man not being able to overcome his sin nature to bow down to the Creator of the Universe.

6 posted on 01/27/2003 10:55:31 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: RnMomof7
This sounds like the USSR's hatred of religion as the opiet of the masses"

Yeah, when I read that part I immediately thought of Karl Marx. There were also a few people who hang out on the CREVO threads that I thought of showing this to as well. ;^)

7 posted on 01/27/2003 10:57:54 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen
To Man not being able to overcome his sin nature to bow down to the Creator of the Universe

I ~think~ the point is by "nature" man does not want to bow down to the True Holy God of creation..but they chose to make gods they are comfotable kneeling before..

Did you see The Gladiator? ..I watched as he handled his little gods..it was a very telling moment to me (pre calvinist days) that a man could worship there little things..may I give a brief example of what happens when a carnal man first sees the Holiness and power of God?

Luk 5:8   When Simon Peter saw [it], he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

THAT is our inital human instinct..we want (like Adam and Eve) to run and hide so we do not have to look at ourselves in HIS light..

The problem is not getting men to kneel before a god..the issue is can the grace of God overcome our natural response to make us desire to kneel before the One true holy God of creation...and not run away to hide behing the leaves?

8 posted on 01/27/2003 11:09:46 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
Hmm, I took what Calvin said a little differently. I thought he may have been saying that Man has the need to worship God, but due to our warped view of God, because of sin, we CANNOT worship the True God, only our pale caricatures of Him.

Am I way off base?

Oh, and do you find it odd that we are three chapters into "The Institutes" and Calvin hasn't made an appeal to the Scriptures yet? Maybe he's building up to it.
9 posted on 01/27/2003 11:30:14 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen
Hmm, I took what Calvin said a little differently. I thought he may have been saying that Man has the need to worship God, but due to our warped view of God, because of sin, we CANNOT worship the True God, only our pale caricatures of Him.

I would say that is accurate..man does have a "need" to worship ...the question is (as I see it??) as Cain shows us we want it on our terms ..thus the gods of mans own making...

I am not sure if we are looking at flip sides of the same coin ??

Remember I am reading these for the first time with you..

10 posted on 01/27/2003 11:50:23 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
I would say that is accurate..man does have a "need" to worship ...the question is (as I see it??) as Cain shows us we want it on our terms ..thus the gods of mans own making...

Ok, so does Man having a "need" to worship the True God (but not being able to do so because of sin) have any implication for the Calvinist's statement that the Unregenerate Man is at war with God?

11 posted on 01/27/2003 11:53:47 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: RnMomof7; Jean Chauvin
Remember I am reading these for the first time with you..

I hope we are doing ok. ;^)

Where's Jean?

12 posted on 01/27/2003 11:54:36 AM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen; RnMomof7; Jean Chauvin
He's been busy working odd shifts.

I need to talk to him about other stuff, and even I can't track him down.

Very frustrating.
13 posted on 01/27/2003 12:00:40 PM PST by Wrigley
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To: ksen; Wrigley
I have sent him a couple frmails..but no answer...hey wrig tell him we are looking for him:>)..You have any imput?
14 posted on 01/27/2003 12:07:25 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
I'll let him know he's missed.

I talked to his wife in church yesterday. She is very frustrated with his schedule.

Maybe later.

I'm trying to do three easy things at once.
15 posted on 01/27/2003 12:10:51 PM PST by Wrigley
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To: ksen
Ok, so does Man having a "need" to worship the True God (but not being able to do so because of sin) have any implication for the Calvinist's statement that the Unregenerate Man is at war with God?

Did I miss something??Here is what I see

"That there exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead,

That is different than a sure knowlege of the one true God..but an awareness of a Diety...

Am I misreading this??

16 posted on 01/27/2003 12:14:37 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
...but an awareness of a Diety...

Well, the quote you pulled does say "with some idea of his Godhead."

Man has a need to worship God. That need comes from our sense that God does exist. Our sin nature hides God's true Nature from us. We worship the image of God that makes it through the veil of our sin.

Our sin may cause us to worship God incorrectly, making Him into a whole different god, but our sin does not block our need to know God and worship Him.

How can we be said to be at war with the one we have a need to know and worship?

17 posted on 01/27/2003 12:22:59 PM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: RnMomof7
Am I misreading this??

I don't think so.

18 posted on 01/27/2003 12:23:50 PM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen
Man has a need to worship God. That need comes from our sense that God does exist. Our sin nature hides God's true Nature from us

How does this fit?

    Rom 1:21   Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

     Rom 1:22   Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

     Rom 1:23   And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things

  Rom 1:24   Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

     Rom 1:25   Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. .

It seems that God darkened our understanding???

19 posted on 01/27/2003 12:36:49 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: ksen; RnMomof7
I think you're both doing great! We are made in His image and therefore long for the Creator. Problem is, sin/rebellion causes us to re-make Him into our image...whether that be a trinket or, a "God who would never cast anyone into hell"...or even a "God who made me a homosexual".....and so on....
20 posted on 01/27/2003 12:39:59 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: RnMomof7
Darkness existed (in the beginning/creation) until He brought the Light. Light rejected = back to just plain old darkness.

I have done lengthy studies in Romans and find this whole set of verses you replayed here to be so fascinating. Have you noticed the progression of 1)disregard to 2) speculation to 3) lies to 4) living in sin. Interesting stuff. Disregard = rejecting the light. Speculation = the state of returning to darkness and feeling the need to fill it with something. Lies = what it is filled with. And living in sin = Eyes adjusting to the darkness, perhaps?

Throwing out more food for thought.

21 posted on 01/27/2003 12:48:11 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun
Good thoughts..I have been reading genesis ..It reveals alot about the Character and Holiness of God..as well as His justice and mercy
22 posted on 01/27/2003 12:56:07 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7
I love Genesis! In fact....I just love the Word of God. What's your favorite book of them all, Mom?
23 posted on 01/27/2003 1:02:53 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun; RnMomof7
My favorite passage is Ge 1:1-Re 22:21 ;^)
24 posted on 01/27/2003 1:14:36 PM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen
Not fair! You have to tell us which ONE is your fav!
25 posted on 01/27/2003 1:17:13 PM PST by anniegetyourgun (Inquiring minds want to know...)
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To: anniegetyourgun
Ok, ok, Isaiah barely edges out Jeremiah with me.
26 posted on 01/27/2003 1:27:53 PM PST by ksen (HHD)
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To: ksen
Hhhmmm, seems like we ought to allow for a NT choice too....now that you mention it...

What a grand book you've chosen as favorite.

27 posted on 01/27/2003 1:31:53 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun
OT? History Genesis ..Prophetic..Isaiah...Wisdom Psalms (Job fits in there too)
28 posted on 01/27/2003 2:29:07 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: ksen
My favorite Chapters are Eze 47 and companion Rev22..to me they are a picture of the grace of God..
29 posted on 01/27/2003 2:33:20 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: anniegetyourgun
#29
30 posted on 01/27/2003 2:34:12 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: anniegetyourgun
I have done lengthy studies in Romans and find this whole set of verses you replayed here to be so fascinating. Have you noticed the progression of 1)disregard to 2) speculation to 3) lies to 4) living in sin. Interesting stuff. Disregard = rejecting the light. Speculation = the state of returning to darkness and feeling the need to fill it with something. Lies = what it is filled with. And living in sin = Eyes adjusting to the darkness, perhaps?

You seem to have started your "progression" too late in the chain. Notice verse 18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

Some translations have the word "hold" as suppressed, or repressed. The verse teaches that truth is known, (although not a total or even salvific knowlege), and men suppress it because of their unrighteousness...i.e., they know their lives do not match up with the knowlege of God that they have, and out of what the "psychobabble" schools call 'cognitive dissonance', deny knowlege of that truth.

The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

31 posted on 01/27/2003 3:31:34 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (He must increase, but i must decrease.)
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To: ksen; irishtenor
Hey ksen, fun to find you here!

I've just been reading through some of the discussion and enjoying it, glad you started this thread/study.

...and adding my 2 cents.... ;)

Just because man has some inherent knowledge of God and need for God, that does not mean that man will worship Him as the one true God, as the almighty Creator. Romans 1 gives us the picture of that dichotomy. Man knows God, so he is without excuse, yet he suppresses that truth--he suppresses that knowledge of God, in order to avoid worshipping and glorifying Him as God. But...the need for God is still there, so man then substitutes anything and everything he can to try to fulfill that need for God. This results in worshiping of the creature rather than the creator, or in the case of many of the religions in the world, the worshiping of a god that simply doesn't exist.

I think that in many ways, in these first chapters, Calvin is laying the groundwork for the point that man knows God, that God has revealed Himself to man, so that man is without excuse. The punchline of what man does with this knowledge and need, in terms of salvation, is still to come.
32 posted on 01/27/2003 3:42:43 PM PST by Penny1 (HHD-timidly venturing out of her hole....)
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To: RnMomof7; ksen; Wrigley; anniegetyourgun; Penny1; fortheDeclaration; xzins
This is great -- reading the Institutes step by step.

"I readily acknowledge that designing men have introduced a vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious..."

An early conspiracy theorist...and so true.

33 posted on 01/27/2003 3:51:34 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; ksen
I think it is a great idea too..if you read then alone you skim,here you think
34 posted on 01/27/2003 5:13:20 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord
Good catch....and that certainly fits with all that I know about the sinful mind. After all, isn't that what repentence is all about - agreeing with God (and thereby the knowledge He has already revealed) about what constitutes sin?
35 posted on 01/27/2003 5:56:30 PM PST by anniegetyourgun (Silly lib/dems.....tricks are for Saddams.....)
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To: anniegetyourgun; RnMomof7; OrthodoxPresbyterian; the_doc; Jean Chauvin
i am still curious over whether or not Calvin endoursed the idea of immediate imputation, that is to say 'implanted' knowlege of God without virtue of a media, such as creation in Romans 1 and Psalm 19.
36 posted on 01/27/2003 7:27:19 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (He must increase, but i must decrease.)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; ksen; RnMomof7
This is great -- reading the Institutes step by step.

You may want to sit down before you read this, but I appreciate this too. I've got so many things on my reading list(s) that I'd probably never get around to reading these on my own.

Doing it this way, with the commentary is very helpful.

Thanks, ksen.

37 posted on 01/27/2003 8:22:45 PM PST by Corin Stormhands (HHD)
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord; OrthodoxPresbyterian
Ask OP if he has anything definitive on this. I am not sure when the question of immediate versus mediate imputation surfaced.

The real problem arose in the New School Theology among Edwards' supposed spiritual descendants. They MISUNDERSTOOD Edwards. Alas, so did Charles Hodge, as Warfied proved.

38 posted on 01/27/2003 8:29:53 PM PST by the_doc
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To: the_doc
Ask OP if he has anything definitive on this. I am not sure when the question of immediate versus mediate imputation surfaced.

Thanks for the reply. As far as i know, this particular issue has been around for quite a while. The Roman Catholic Church rejected immediate imputation according to Sproul. What has made me curious about the issue recently is that i have been considering the case of John the Baptist leaping for joy in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's salutation. Thanks again

39 posted on 01/27/2003 8:42:16 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (He must increase, but i must decrease.)
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To: Corin Stormhands
You may want to sit down before you read this, but I appreciate this too.

Thanks for the warning, CS. Those dead faints can be unsightly. 8~)

40 posted on 01/27/2003 10:04:25 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord; the_doc; Jean Chauvin; RnMomof7; Jael
i am still curious over whether or not Calvin endoursed the idea of immediate imputation, that is to say 'implanted' knowlege of God without virtue of a media, such as creation in Romans 1 and Psalm 19.

Ask OP if he has anything definitive on this. I am not sure when the question of immediate versus mediate imputation surfaced. The real problem arose in the New School Theology among Edwards' supposed spiritual descendants. They MISUNDERSTOOD Edwards. Alas, so did Charles Hodge, as Warfied proved.

I haven't anything "definitive" about Immediate Imputation off the top of my head, except for an observation about the progression of the Presbyterian understanding of Covenant Baptism.


Before I get into that, I think it is obvious that the Bible endorses the Fact of Immediate Imputation as the terms have been applied here -- "'implanted' knowlege of God without virtue of a media". That is to say, I don't think that the record of the Regeneration of John the Baptist is really in dispute.

I have heard Arminians argue that John the Baptist was not Regenerate in his mother's womb, that this was only the "force" of the Holy Spirit acting upon him, but I think it's pretty obvious that they are fighting a rear-guard battle on this point (for if even one not-dying-in-infancy Adult man is Regenerate from Birth unto Death without a prior "choice for God" at the so-called "age of accountability", then even that one Adult case overthrows their entire Theological system, as they well know)


But getting back to what I was saying about the progression of the Presbyterian understanding of Covenant Baptism...

The funny thing is, this was originally Luther's argument against the anaBaptist belief in "Believer's Baptism". Remember that Luther was a strict Augustinian in almost every point of his theology (a good way to understand Luther, I think, is the following formula: Start with a Strict reading of Augustine, Subtract the Papacy, and Keep everything else that is Augustinian. It's quick-and-dirty, but it is usually roughly accurate IMHO).

Luther, like Augustine, was a Baptismal Regenerationist. That is, he believed in Absolute Predestination, but he believed that "temporary converts" who had been Saved by Word (preaching) or by Sacrament (baptism) could be Lost if God had not Predestined to Keep them.

And against the anaBaptists, Luther (who believed that the "Believer's Baptist" arguments had some bit of Merit) essentially responded, "SO WHAT?! Baptism makes them Believers, so then Infant Baptism IS 'believer's baptism', and if God has PREDESTINED to Keep them in the Faith -- then Our God is in the Heavens, He accomplishes His pleasure, and He Will!!"

John the Baptist was Luther's favorite example of Infant Regeneration.

Now, John Calvin simplified this idea a great deal. Calvin earned the everlasting displeasure of the Strict Augustinians (with whom he is otherwise in almost-total agreement) with that which is called the Fifth Point of Calvinism, by saying that "God is never just kidding about Salvation. If the Father sends a Sinner the Jesus Christ, then the Son (who is Himself all-powerful) accepts the Father's gift and never lets him go."

On this basis (among others) Calvin rejected the idea of "Baptismal Regeneration" and "Falling from Grace". In John Calvin's view, a man may be "just kidding" about his Baptism and Profession of Faith (in which case he may not be Saved at all, and so is not "falling" from a Grace in which he was never resident)... but God is never kidding about Salvation (whether a man is baptized, or dies as a Thief upon a Roman cross having only truly repented to Christ once in his life, without water).

Covenant Presbyterianism, then, originally held to the "Circumcision of Christ" (Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11-12) argument for Infant Baptism, for at least the first two hundred years after John Knox. In the Presbyterian/Dutch Reformed view, we have been grafted into the True Vine of Israel; Israel has been told that "the promise is for You and Your Children" (Gen. 22:18; Isaiah 44:3; Acts 2:39; I Cor. 7:14), and Baptism is the New Covenant symbol of Circumcision.

In recent years, (well, the last two centuries) however, Presbyterians have tended to accommodate Luther’s “believer’s baptism” argument. Why? Because we have come to realize that John the Baptist is a better example of the Presbyterian/Dutch-Reformed argument, than ever he was an example of the Lutheran argument in the first place!!

The Lutherans say, with Saint Martin the Reformer, that John the Baptist is an example of the fact that God can make a Believer even of an Infant, and therefore such an Infant is entitled to “Believer’s Baptism”. But against the Lutherans we would argue, Baptism did not make John a Believer; the Holy Spirit made John a Believer even in his mother’s womb! You do not Baptize someone to MAKE him into a Believer, you Baptize him BECAUSE he is a Believer already!!

And this, we Presbyterians/Dutch-Reformed confess of our children, if we have obeyed God’s Law for His People. For though we are ardent Calvinist Predestinarians, yet we believe that God is faithful to His Promises. He has ordained to bring Adults to Salvation by the faithfulness of Gospel Preachers, and He has ordained to bring Children to Salvation by the faithfulness of Gospel Parents.

Because we believe that God is faithful to Gospel Parents, we do not treat our children as little “baby Cains”. Because we believe that God is faithful to Gospel Parents, we treat our children as little “baby John the Baptists”.

And if anecdotal evidence counts for anything, I had never known a congregation where virtually all the children were home-schooled, where Obedience to Parents was cheerful and immediate, where Elders (even a young punk like me who is not a “formal” Elder) were uniformly respected by the children, and where Disobedience was uniformly silenced with a single Parental word -- until I joined an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation full of Covenant Children. Impossible? I certainly would have thought so. I was a much more rebellious, sin-loving little Son of Adam than this, myself.

But to those of us who are of little Faith, seeing is believing. I confess that it has certainly made an impression.

The Promise is to Us, and to our Children.

And so, for at least the last 200 years or so, Presbyterians have preached both the Covenantal argument – that we Covenant our Children because God commanded Abraham and His Law has not changed; and because we believe that God is faithful to Gospel Parents, we treat our children as little “baby John the Baptists” – entitled to Believer’s Baptism.

Now, I am saying all this for a couple of Freeper’s benefit.

To the Presbyterian/Dutch-Reformed, the views of some 1500 year-old Romanist are entirely too recent for our taste. Our Doctrine of the Church goes back over 6,000 years to the Garden of Eden, not to what some Romanist newcomer was saying a mere 1500 years ago. You can call us “Romanists” if you like, but that’s like calling Elijah a Baal-worshipper because they both built Altars.

2000 years of Rome? Gee, how very recent and novel a Religion. The Pope may have baptized infants 1500 years ago, but so did the Presbyters of Iona – who told the Pope to go take a long walk off a short pier. Like Judah and Israel, they both circumcised their children – but one guarded the True Temple, and one just made up their own Religion. In our Presbyterian/Dutch-Reformed opinion, the Pope is just another New Kid on the Block.

We care about the Faith of Abraham, not the Roman Papacy.

...then after millennia of Biblical Law since Abraham we would expect the New Law to say so -- TELL US that God has changed His Mandate ANYWHERE in the New Testament -- and it doesn't.

The New Law tells us that Baptism is the Circumcision of Christ. But the New Law NEVER tells us to stop Covenanting our Children. And Orthodox Presbyterians take this "grafted into the True Vine of Israel" stuff seriously. It is not "make-believe" feel-good words for us. We think that "grafted into Israel" means something and we care about the Law of God and we seek to obey it.

The way that God's Children have obeyed His Law for 4,000 years since Abraham....
Not the bloody newcomer "Pope", fer the luv of saint pete.

Now, I could be wrong. But if I wanna talk Infant Baptism, then I am prepared to listen to the Arguments of a Historic Calvinist Baptist like “the_doc”. He may – perhaps – be incorrect, but at least his antecedents went to the trouble of being burned at the stake by Rome for nearly 2000 years to get “the_doc” here long enough to make his point. I have to respect that.

I am a little less likely to respect the opinions of some “Independent Bible-Believer Non-Denominational Make-It-Up-As-You-Go” Parson whose own seminary was founded while I was still in the Third Grade.

The Bible is our sole rule of faith and practice, but I am a little more inclined to listen to Historic Calvinist Baptists who have been reading that Bible and arguing the Mode and Application of Baptism from that Bible for almost 2000 years, than I am inclined to listen to some yokel "non-denominational" Parson who just fell off the turnip truck.

Meaning no offense, does that make any sense to you?


Thus endeth the latest OP “book in digest form”.

41 posted on 01/28/2003 1:52:30 AM PST by OrthodoxPresbyterian (We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
"I readily acknowledge that designing men have introduced a vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious..."
An early conspiracy theorist...and so true

Prophetic in many ways..or maybe the devil has simply worked the same in all generations

42 posted on 01/28/2003 5:49:41 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Corin Stormhands; ksen
I am really glad to read it too

Actually ths is a "Christian thing" not really a Calvinist thing..remember there was no such thing as "Calvinism" when he wrote this systematic way of looking at God and our relationship to him

This was a note written to me..worth posting

Credits to the author. That may prefer to be unnamed

"The Institutes of the Christian Religion is universally acknowledged by real theologians of virtually every stripe as one of the most important books in the history of Christianity. The only reason why it is not widely known today is because today's Protestants are mostly Arminians."

The book actually defined French spelling and grammar from that point on. Prior to Calvin, the French language was a disorganized mess. Calvin's Swiss French had a standardizing effect on the language!

This was a MONUMENTALLY significant book.

And as I understand it, Calvin's editor was the man who actually created the chapter and verse designations which are now universally used for the Bible. (I am not sure whether this started with the Institutes or with Calvin's Commentary, however.)"

43 posted on 01/28/2003 5:58:06 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord
Could you explain it to me ? I do not understand the issue?
44 posted on 01/28/2003 5:59:30 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7; ksen
I do not question the significant contributions of Calvin and the Calvinists (including my Huguenot ancestors).
45 posted on 01/28/2003 6:00:52 AM PST by Corin Stormhands (HHD)
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To: gal220
Post #41 for your readingt
46 posted on 01/28/2003 6:13:42 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Corin Stormhands
My comment was simply that this is a religious classic and should be read no matter where you come down on the argument..It is good backround
47 posted on 01/28/2003 6:14:50 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: the_doc; OrthodoxPresbyterian; RnMomof7; George W. Bush; Jean Chauvin; lockeliberty
The real problem arose in the New School Theology among Edwards' supposed spiritual descendants. They MISUNDERSTOOD Edwards. Alas, so did Charles Hodge, as Warfied proved.

IMHO, this sounds as if it should be a separate thread of it's own. i would volunteer for such a thing, but it is beyond my capabilities at this time...

To: whom it may concern.
hint,hint.

48 posted on 01/28/2003 7:37:01 AM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (He must increase, but i must decrease.)
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To: RnMomof7
Could you explain it to me ? I do not understand the issue?

i'll make an attempt at it mom, though if i fail, you are free to blame the inadequacy of my explanation rather than your comprehension.

OVERVIEW: i have spent most of my life in Christ working in the area of apologetics. In that time, the main emphasis has 'evolved' from Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses to aberrant groups within Cristendom (Word of Faith movement, heretical pelagian groups, psycho/socio heresies, etc.) to out and out skeptics and athiests. i suppose it is a natural progression, but i may be wrong about that.

In debating skeptics and atheists, one must face the choice of apologetic method. There are two majour ones that are currently in practice in Christianity. They are called Presuppositionalism, and Classicalism, (or, Evidentialism). The difference between the two is where they start.

Presuppositionalism starts with the presuppositions that God exists, that the bible is His special revelation to humanity. The school of thought was popularised by Dr. Cornelius Van Til in recent times. This method is quite good when dealing with persons who already believe the presuppositions. After all, why 're-invent the wheel'? It's weakness is that it is ill equipped to deal with the one who does not accept the presuppositions. It's view of General Revelation, which Calvin is speaking of above, is that it does exist, but that man, having an entire depravity,(i.e., all areas of man has been affected by sin, mind, emotions, physical attributes, will, etc.) is unable to gain an accurate knowledge of the content of General Revelation. Presuppositional apologetics relies heavily upon the power of the Holy Spirit to convince the hearer of the truth (as do all methods).

Classicalism is that which starts out with man as he is, and through reason is able to demonstrate the existence of God, and the inspiration of the bible. After reason has made that determination, it then takes a subordinate role to the special revelation of scripture. The classical theistic proofs are a product of classicalism. The method fell into disrepute after Kant. It has been revived recently by a student of Cornelius Van Till named John Gerstner. Gerstner and two of his former students, R.C. Sproul, and Arthur Lindsley. In their book Classical Apologetics, they have revived the use of General revelation, and the theistic proofs.

It is a much better method for dealing with skeptics, but let me caution you here, One still must rely on the convicting and convincing power of the Holy Spirit to convince anyone.. In a sense, it is still presuppositional, it simply has a different starting place for the presuppositions.

The debate is whether Romans 1 teaches that a General Revelation of God is given by virtue of the media of His Creation, or is it 'implanted directly' in the individual by a direct act of God, without virtue of a media, or secondary cause.

Roman Catholics have rejected the idea of 'immediate imputation', that is to say, God imputes knowlege of His existence into each individual with out the use of a secondary media, such as creation.

i am simply trying to acertain whether or not Calvin is argueing for an immediate imputation, or an imputation by virtue of the media of creation, or both.

Was that any help?

49 posted on 01/28/2003 8:29:55 AM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (He must increase, but i must decrease.)
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To: OrthodoxPresbyterian
Thanks for the great read.

Chuckles and insight -- who could ask for more? 8~)

50 posted on 01/28/2003 8:39:23 AM PST by Dr. Eckleburg
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