Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Prefatory Address To King Francis

If you want to know more about this dapperly dressed bloke pictured above, you can go to Wikipedia. This is Francis who was King of France during Calvin's lifetime (he reigned from 1515 to 1547).

Some random comments on the Prefatory Address:

1. He urges the king to attend himself to the great questions, "how God's glory can be kept safe on earth, how God's truth may retain its place of honor, how Christ's Kingdom may be kept in good repair..." (p. 11)

2. Calvin's main concern is that God be glorified, and particularly in our doctrine of salvation. This is largely a concern in light of the Roman doctrines that want to leave room for man's works.

3. He argues that although the Reformed doctrine seems new, it is not. It is just that it has been obscured for so long that it now has this appearance.

4. He argues against "miracles" being a proof of Roman Catholic teaching. He urges rather that we go to the Word to find proof for our beliefs since signs and wonders can and have led people astray.

5. Also, he counters the argument that the Reformation is against the Church Fathers. He does this by showing that he has an exceptional grasp of the Church Fathers and can stand with anyone who wants to go down that path with him.

6. He fully affirms the visible/invisible Church distinction, and warns against those who think they must "see" something for there to be the Church.

7. He clears the notion that controversy means error, by noting that it is when the truth is preached strongly and accurately that Satan is most provoked. Thus the reality of controversy could just as reasonably mean that the Reformed doctrine is the truth!

In the end, Calvin sought in this Preface to open Francis' mind to hear a presentation of the Reformed Faith. He was concerned that there had been so many slanders against it that he would not actually give it a fair reading. Therefore, he was trying to give counter-arguments and reasons for rumors that were afoot. Yet the Preface also shows us Calvin's grasp of Scripture and gives us a foretaste of the kind of biblical backing that he will provide for each doctrine that he discusses.