Calvin on original sin

originalI’m trying to read through Calvin’s Institutes in a year (and am failing dismally!). From yesterday’s reading, here are a few striking quotes from the start of book 2 of Calvin’s Institutes:

“that primal worthiness cannot come to mind without the sorry spectacle of our foulness and dishonour presenting itself by way of contrast, since in the person of the first man we have fallen from our original condition. From this source arise abhorrence and displeasure with ourselves, as well as true humility; and thence is kindled a new zeal to seek God, in whom each of us may recover those good things which we have utterly and completely lost.”

“Ambition and pride, together with ungratefulness, arose, because Adam by seeking more than was granted him shamefully spurned God’s great bounty, which had been lavished upon him. To have been made in the likeness of God seemed a small matter to a son of earth unless he also attained equality with god – a monstrous wickedness!”

“Bernard rightly teaches that the door of salvation is opened to us when we receive the gospel today with our ears, even as death was then admitted by those same windows when they were opened to Satan.”

Reading this material again challenged me as to the way in which I’m tempted to ‘soften’ sin to something which feels more unfortunate, rather than something monstrous as Calvin describes. Some of that may be cultural, but I suspect that if I’m honest I just need to have greater faith in God’s power through his word, drink a can of man-up, and discharge my duty faithfully. Any thoughts on the difference between Calvin’s forthright description and our own, often weak, efforts?

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4 thoughts on “Calvin on original sin

  1. Ah I was more thinking that if you managed to achieve Calvin in a year you could then create a “Calvin in a year” with manageable sections, study guide etc. Sort of thing you could then give to an apprentice as as reading plan for the year.

    I’ll stick to the English version …though apparently (according to an early on Church History lecture) I had the awkward to read ye olde, wrong version. It’s served me alright though and comes in one version :o)

  2. I’ve long since come to the conclusion that my sin-sense is one of the most unreliable functions I have. That I have to keep my eyes on the cross to persistently remind me of what it cost my Saviour to redeem me. When I see again the “sorrow and love flow, mingled, down, I begin to sense its weight and it’s horror.

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