Sunday, May 31, 2009

6/1- Living with mystery

(image of the Spirit in advent)

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/1- The mystery of the Holy Spirit

I have many other things to tell you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit comes, He will lead you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:12,13)

Calvin (writing about angels and the Holy Spirit): Nevertheless, we will take care to keep to the measure which the rule of godliness prescribes, that our readers may not, by speculating more deeply than is expedient, wander away from simplicity of faith. And in fact, while the Spirit ever teaches us to our profit, he either remains absolutely silent upon those things of little value for edification, or only lightly and cursorily touches them. It is also our duty willingly to renounce those things which are unprofitable. (I.14.3)

Calvinists are often accused of being over-rationalistic. Tillich said that you could tell a Reformed church because they didn’t have a lot of dark sanctuaries filled with dark stained glass windows. But often Reformed churches had more light so that people could read the Bible. More light, less candles, incense, oil, darker robes point to the rationality and focus involved in Calvin’s worship style. Yet there was a mystery in Cavlin’s thinking. He wanted to know as much as one could know about God- but the limits to our knowledge of God were found in God’s Word itself. So, Calvin would limit his questioning. He would try not to raise silly, unusual questions (like how many angels can fit on the head of a pin). Not everything is explained, and we should not try to spend too much time making guesses about the spiritual realm when we cannot see it, and God has not revealed it. Calvin, in recognizing this saw the limits of our human knowledge,and the need to keep the faith simple and focused. Calvin was not a great conjecturer. Despite his emphasis on knowledge, he was willing to live with mystery when the Spirit was silent in scripture.

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