Black Spirituality Religion : Of the Knowledge of God the Creator

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by dnommo, Oct 12, 2001.

  1. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I have been studying the writings and teachings of Calvin as of late and there are some things he writes that i am seeking insight from different viewpoints. I post it here for those who i have had discussion with before. There is no right or wrong here. I am just seeking different ideals.

    Calvin's Institutes


    Book First: Of the Knowledge of God the Creator

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter 1. The knowledge of God and of ourselves mutually connected. - Nature of the connection.
    Sections.

    1. The sum of true wisdom, viz., the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Effects of the latter.
    2. Effects of the knowledge of God, in humbling our pride, unveiling our hypocrisy, demonstrating the absolute perfections of God, and our own utter helplessness.
    3. Effects of the knowledge of God illustrated by the examples, 1. of holy patriarchs; 2. of holy angels; 3. of the sun and moon.
    1. 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. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility. For as there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we were stript of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense series of disgraceful properties every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, (see Calvin on John 4: 10,) that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.

    2. 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. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white. Nay, the bodily sense may furnish a still stronger illustration of the extent to which we are deluded in estimating the powers of the mind. If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.

    3. Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. When we see those who previously stood firm and secure so quaking with terror, that the fear of death takes hold of them, nay, they are, in a manner, swallowed up and annihilated, the inference to be drawn is that men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God. Frequent examples of this consternation occur both in the Book of Judges and the Prophetical Writings; so much so, that it was a common expression among the people of God, "We shall die, for we have seen the Lord." Hence the Book of Job, also, in humbling men under a conviction of their folly, feebleness, and pollution, always derives its chief argument from descriptions of the Divine wisdom, virtue, and purity. Nor without cause: for we see Abraham the readier to acknowledge himself but dust and ashes the nearer he approaches to behold the glory of the Lord, and Elijah unable to wait with unveiled face for His approach; so dreadful is the sight. And what can man do, man who is but rottenness and a worm, when even the Cherubim themselves must veil their faces in very terror? To this, undoubtedly, the Prophet Isaiah refers, when he says, (Isaiah 24: 23,) "The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign;" i. e., when he shall exhibit his refulgence, and give a nearer view of it, the brightest objects will, in comparison, be covered with darkness.

    But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie, due arrangement requires that we treat of the former in the first place, and then descend to the latter.
     
  2. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Calvin is Interesting!

    Following Calvin through history and especially those who followed his philosophy is a lesson in how different sects of Christianity came to be. Calvin differs in his theory in that he is asking one to expose oneself to God eternalk knowledge and being on one hand and other the other he says that we must face that part in ourselves and only then will we find that God.

    Interestingly, many other faiths make the same claim that one cannot have knowledge of oneself until one has knowledge of God and it is only then that we are aware of ourselves. Further, like Calvin, it is taken as understood that man is filled with evil and is unworthy by nature which is very close to Catholicism and the concept of original sin.

    It is our guilt at our sins that reveals that we are not perfect and that something exists outside of ourselves and that something is God. In the final analysis, Calvin's idea concerning knowiing oneself and the bestowing of personhood is through the knowing of God otherwise all else is useless probing.

    From a theistic standpoint that makes sense to a degree, but revelation of God is often the revelation of self discovery rather supernatural occurrence and there is nothing to prove otherwise in either case. Self revelation or satisfaction of Maslow's hierarchy of needs can all lead to the same place which is self discovery. Of course, this sounds like an element of Buddhism and it is very close to the Nirvana state, but a supernatural prescence is not required to get there--only honest introspection and acceptance of outside views.

    Still, not to put to fine a point on it, I think Calvin probably did Christianity a disservice, but at least he was firm in what he believed and he did influence many others to live better lives although the Calvinists were later involved in the persecution of other Christians--they did it in the name of God.

    Ra
     
  3. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    hmmm, very interesting.

    I have been studying his theories for a while and i was curious as to what many believe of his views. Calvin was one of many who disagreed with a lot of the Catholic beliefs. In other words, Catholics created a monster when they allowed him to further review and question their theology. While he was a true theologian (simply because of his thoughts and analogies only) he still walked his own line of thinking. I have been looking for a subject to write my dissertation on which is why i posted this information. You have helped me greatly. Thank you fro your comments. If i have any question i may ask but for now i am just reading and absorbing.
     
  4. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Calvin

    Calvin is a tough nut to crack because of his ideology. He was an ultraconservative and yet a radical religionist. His views were both revolutionary while at the same time being a step back behind Catholicism, but he wasdefinitely interesting, especially seeing strains of Calvinsim stillpop up in selectedamounts among today's fundamentalists.

    Ra

    ;)
     
  5. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    How true and still many stand on his beliefs that truly challenge their beleifs and not realize the contadiction. Calvin was a wise man but i look to him as one who was too wise. One thing i found in college is when you know too much about a subject you begin to question everything. I feel we shoulld question but to a point where you don't know if black is black and white is white. Or in the words of a favorite columnist of mine, 2+2=4? Calvin saw something in the bible and he expounded on it. But it took him so deep that he began to question his own beliefs. Like i said earlier, Catholics created a monster...

    I truly enjoy reading his works and my next venture is Socrates views as well as Dietrich Bonhoffer. Now That is a deep philospher (Bonhoffer)

    Hey Ra, thanks for ringing in. I always like to poke your brain for some of that insight there...
     
  6. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Bout Gone!

    My brain is about gone--I've been thinking too much instead of just letting it happen--like you said about overthinking--man that can drive you nuts and take you places you don't want to go--like in the wrong direction--Ra

    :toast:
     
  7. MysteryDoors

    MysteryDoors Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    John Calvin
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Calvin
    John Calvin (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was a central developer of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism or Reformed theology.

    Calvinism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism
    Calvinism (sometimes called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life that emphasizes the rule of God over all things.

    CALVINISM’S FALSE DOCTRINE:
    1. TOTAL DEPRAVITY - This “Calvin” doctrine propagates the error that that man is so depraved and corrupt that he is not capable of making a choice to follow the Lord. It is taught that God is the one who predestines some to believe in Him and be born again, and predestines others not to believe in Him. The ones who are not predestined to believe will perish in hell. This doctrine denies free will. They say it doesn’t, but it does.

    SCRIPTURE CLEARLY TEACHES that an individual has the God given ability to choose:
    http://giannina.wordpress.com/2007/09/14/calvinisms-false-doctrine/
     
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