Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Calvin Book 1, Chapters 4-5

These chapters are dealing with the general subject of the knowledge of God and specifically the fact that everyone has an innate knowledge of God. That is, everyone knows (of) Him as he contemplates himself, and everyone knows (of) Him as they contemplate the world around themselves.

As is seen in this section, and a theme which will continue, is the inseparable tie between the knowledge of God and the worship of God. And Calvin shows that we fall into a sort of hypocrisy when we gaze at the majesty of God, and yet then turn away from Him to fashion our own rites and devices of worship: "all who set up their own false rites to God worship and adore their own ravings." (Vol. 1, p. 49) Indeed he agrees with one Lactantius, who asserted "no religion is genuine unless it be joined with truth." (Vol. 1, p. 50).

The height of this 'hypocrisy' is seen in those who pretend to be religious, pretend to be following after God, but in reality they are running from Him and hiding from Him under the guise of their own religious actions, will, and works.

On the creational side of things, Calvin clearly has a high view of and admiration for God's creation. He wonderfully calls it "divine art" (Vol. 1, p. 53), and then makes a connection between art and wisdom...and is that ever a needed connection! Today, "art" is divorced from wisdom, and all manner of idiocy is accepted as "art". But a biblical view of art would return us to a view of art as the wise expression of its creator, just because the creation-the divine art-expresses the wisdom of the Creator.

In this vain, and a theme I will revisit in later posts, is the whole question of the 'subject' of art. In other words, are there subjects that are off limits when it comes to art. I would emphatically answer 'yes', and especially I am thinking about God as a subject of art. We are not to paint Him, draw Him, make statues of Him, nor create images of Him through prose...

...again, I will revisit this theme in other posts, but for now we need to begin seeing that as Calvin addresses the subject of the knowledge of God, He is simultaneously and necessarily treating what is called the "Regulative Principle of Worship".

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