John Calvin

Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Use and Abuse of Images
What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all… Continue reading The Use and Abuse of Images
The Cause of Evil
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence comes evil?” This saying attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to Epicurus is a common argument against the existence of God. When talking about the problem of evil, everyone seems to point his finger at either God, or the world around him. … Continue reading The Cause of Evil
Grace and Free Will

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. Psalm 14:2-3 Calvin inherits Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin, which teaches that, subsequent to his infidelity and disobedience against God in the Garden of … Continue reading Grace and Free Will

A Definition of Faith
The pagan philosopher Plutarch writes that, regarding beliefs in God, we should avoid two extremes: atheism and superstition. The former abandons all ideas of God, whereas the latter holds false ideas of a malevolent deity. In Book 3 Chapter 2 of the Institutes, Calvin provides a definition of the Christian faith, which is opposed to both atheism and superstition … Continue reading A Definition of Faith
Faith and Works
Aristotle writes that the end of man is to think and act. If a man doesn’t think or act, he is not actually living nor fulfilling his telos; If a newborn baby doesn’t eat, grow and play around, something is terribly wrong. From a Calvinist perspective, man in his fallen state is spiritually dead. It is impossible for him … Continue reading Faith and Works

By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation. …Not only in the case of single individuals, …but the future condition of each nation lives entirely at his disposal. — John … Continue reading Predestination
The Origin and Purpose of Doctrine

There is an autobiographical story of how Lu Xun became a writer, which I read many years ago and cannot forget: Lu Xun studied medicine in Japan, and prepared to be a doctor, for he wanted to relieve human suffering. However, when he saw that those patients who nearly died from opium overdose went right back to opium after their treatment, he decided to take up writing instead …Continue reading The Origin and Purpose of Doctrine