Calvin and Thomas

Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty…On the other hand, it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also – He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced.

– John Calvin, Institutes, Book 1 Chapter 1

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A comment from Watty reads, “The jump to asserting Christianity is correct is immensely larger than the jump asserting the existence of any God.”

The “jump”? The jump from what? Watty is immensely confused. But he is new to the site, so it is to be expected.

We are not Thomists here. We do not argue from some ultimate interpretive principle outside of our worldview to the existence of a generic god discoverable through unaided fallen human reasoning.

We are Calvinists here. We argue from the ultimate interpretive principle inside of our worldview to the foolishness of unaided fallen human reasoning.

The Christian God in particular is our ultimate interpretive principle. He is the absolute authority who has revealed Himself to us. We evaluate evidence in virtue of our Christian presuppositions. We do not argue to God. We begin our argument with Him.

You will object that there is something unconscionable about us presupposing the existence of God. I reply that it is no more unconscionable than your presupposing the opposite.

You will respond that the reason you do not believe in God is because there is no evidence for His existence. I reply that when you make the aforementioned claim, you merely assume your position for the sake of arguing for your position.

Your ultimate interpretive principle requires you to believe that there is no evidence for God. Our ultimate interpretive principle requires us to believe that the evidence for God is abundant and plain.

When you complain that the “jump” to God is too far, you take out the Thomists, and leave us standing.

When you complain that the evidence is not extraordinary, you opine according to your own presuppositions, and leave us alone.

The way you present your objections is a bit like coming down hard on someone for driving on the left hand side of the road without taking into account that he’s in England.


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