Saturday, April 9, 2011

John Calvin on the Trinity

As I continue to work through The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, I have reached Calvin's discussion of the trinity. I particularly enjoyed this section and the seriousness and consideration with which the author tackles it. Calvin also approaches the doctrine with humility, stresses on numerous occasions that we cannot know, and should not delve, beyond what Scripture teaches about the trinity.

I section 18 of chapter 13, Calvin writes,
...the Father is attributed the beginning of activity, and the fountain and wellspring of all things; to the Son, wisdom, counsel, and the ordered disposition of all things; but to the Spirit is assigned the power and efficacy of that activity. Indeed, although the eternity of the Father is also the eternity of the Son and the Spirit, since God could never exist apart from his wisdom and power, and we must not seek in eternity a before or an after, nevertheless the observance of an order is not meaningless or superfluous, when the Father is thought of first, then from him the Son, and finally from both the Spirit.
Of course, the trinitarian discourse presented throughout is heady stuff, but it is a discussions that is of great import;
...Satan, in order to tear our faith from its very roots, has always been instigating great battles, partly concerning the distinction of the persons. He has during nearly all ages stirred up ungodly spirits to harry orthodox teachers over this matter and today also is trying to kindle a new fire from the old embers. (1.13.21)

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