Posted by: Dan | March 11, 2006

Wrestling with Calvin

Yet there is, as the eminent pagan [Cicero] says, no nation so barbarous, no people so savage, that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God.
~ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

Hmmm, so does our contemporary situation prove Calvin (and others) wrong? Can we say that there are now nations full of people who possess a deep-seated conviction that there is not God? Perhaps not. For as Calvin also says:

Indeed, even idolatry is ample proof of this conception. We know how man does not willingly humble himself so as to place other creatures over himself. Since, then, he prefers to worship wood and stone rather than to be thought of as having no God, clearly this is a most vivid impression of a divine being.

A person's dedication to a cause, an object, an Other, all these things can be taken as a reflection of a conviction that there is a God. Here even selfishness is shown in dedication to something else — money, pleasure, power, etc.

It is an interesting idea. Does our contemporary situation contradict Calvin, or does Calvin help us to realise that our contemporary situation is not so godless as we may have supposed?

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