Saturday, January 7, 2012

Institutes, Preface (1.27-31)

In our final entry on Calvin’s prefatory letter to King James we have Calvin refuting alleged insurrection on the part of protestants and beseeching the King to rule justly in these matters.

There was a faction of radical reformers, the catabaptists (Anabaptists to us), that would divorce themselves from earthly rule and were proving troublesome to the King. Calvin discusses how groups such as this were stirred up by Satan, who could sense true reformation coming and would use men associated or within the church to bring about trouble for the “true seed.” For the true seed should not be found causing trouble for the governments of the world, but giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, found to be law-abiding citizen, and praying for their leaders – familial, ecclesial, and civil.

And in the irony of this worldly system, unregenerate men are often raised up within the church to bring trouble upon the true seed, and other unregenerate men then bring trouble upon the unregenerate men that are bringing trouble within the church (along with the true seed). The blind attacking the blind, with those that can see getting caught in the fray - while we walk amongst them commanding them to see. Sometimes it is easier to do what we are commanded if we remember the occasional thump we receive is because we are dealing with the blind. And once we were them.

But lest we get too sympathetic (or is it empathetic? I never quite remember) there are fools out there too. There are those that will say “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace, so cut me some slack on this sin stuff,” or “I see a lot of sin out there, but it’s ok because it just shows more of God’s grace.” Men “creep” into the church and teach all sorts of foolishness because the natural man will love it, and it will keep the foolish, false teacher with a fat head or a fat belly.

In this case in France, it was the perfect time for rebellious men to find some rebellious leaders that would tell them that Christianity was all about taking down the “evil” government. But this isn’t the goal of the true seed. Calvin’s Institutes will the apology for the true seed’s doctrine.

And so Calvin asks the King to check these accusations against the protestants against the truth of the doctrine which will be presented. Also, check to make sure that the right party is being accused when accusations are made. Calvin notes that King Francis opinion is turned against them at this time but believes that his favor can be regained if he will read this confession in a “quiet, composed mood.” I trust that everyone who reads the Institutes in such a manner will be moved, by God’s grace, to find the truth presented herein.

So, we have come to the conclusion of the Prefatory Address to the King of France. End of Week 1. I can tell you now that I had not really prepared myself for the preface. I thought I would just dig in to the Books and hadn’t anticipated blogging on this material. I hope it has been a bit helpful in making connections. I’m still working through whether this is going to be like Cliff’s Notes or my own ramblings. :) Until next week.

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