The Sixth Sense

Many, if not all, of us have heard at some point in our lives that there are five senses. The senses are sight, taste, smell, hearing,  and touch. Scripture, on the other hand, teaches that all men (whether they lack any of the above senses) have a sixth sense. It’s what Calvin called the “Sensus Divinitatis” or the “Sense of Divinity”.  In the third chapter of Book 1 of the Institutes, Calvin writes the following:

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.

Well that’s quite a statement! But where is Calvin getting this from? Calvin seems to be following The Apostle Paul when he writes in his epistle to the Romans Chapter 1 verses 18-22  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

A few quick points we should make about this sense:

1)  This is universal, all men have this sense.  “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness”

2) The reason all men have it, is because God created us with it. “For since the creation of the world”

3) This sense is internal, and so inescapable, that all creation is understood as created by God. “evident within them; for God made it evident to them” “have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made”

4) Naturally, men suppress this truth in their sinfulness, in spite of their knowledge of God. Their irrationality demonstrates God’s wrath. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all.. who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”

5) This sense renders men without defense. In other words, there are no apologetics or defeaters that can be employed from an unbelieving worldview that will excuse them of their unbelief.

There is certainly more that can be said about the “Sense of Divinity”, but these are some general observations.


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