Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Calvin explains virute in the unregenerate

One of the mistakes that is commonly made when questioning the doctrine of total depravity is thinking that this doctrine purports that every human being is as wicked and sinful as they possibly could be. This not the case, clearly. John Calvin addresses this issue in Book II, Chapter 3, Section 3 of Institutes of the Christian Religion. He recognizes that not only are people not as wicked as they could be, but some unregenerate people pursue a life of virtue. As we see below, Calvin attributes this to grace:

In every age there have been some who, under the guidance of nature, were all their lives devoted to virtue. It is of no consequence, that many blots may be detected in their conduct; by the mere study of virtue, they evinced that there was somewhat of purity in their nature. The value which virtues of this kind have in the sight of God will be considered more fully when we treat of the merit of works. Meanwhile however, it will be proper to consider it in this place also, in so far as necessary for the exposition of the subject in hand. Such examples, then, seem to warn us against supposing that the nature of man is utterly vicious, since, under its guidance, some have not only excelled in illustrious deeds, but conducted themselves most honourably through the whole course of their lives. But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint.

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