Calvin’s View of Life: The Meaning of All Existence to John Calvin

"God [the Father], by the power of His Word and His Spirit, created the Heavens and the Earth out of nothing."   Thus begins the famous Christian Theologian John Calvin’s view of life and the meaning of all existence.1  

The Triune God, Calvin continues, "produced things inanimate and animate of every kind. He arranged an innumerable variety of objects in admirable order – giving each kind its proper nature, office, place and station….   Thus Heaven and Earth were adorned most richly, and copiously supplied with all things – like a large and splendid mansion gorgeously constructed and exquisitely furnished.   At length, man was made – man, by the beauty of his person and his many noble endowments, the most glorious specimen of the works of God." 

This, of course, is exactly what the Holy Bible initially declares about the Triune God. ‘In the beginning, Elohim created the Heavens and the Earth.’   Genesis 1:1.   ‘And Elohim said, "Let Us make mankind in Our image!"‘   Genesis 1:26.

"Elohim," Calvin comments here,2  is "a noun of the plural number.   Thence the inference is drawn that the three Persons of the Godhead are here noted….   The Scripture…always recalls us to the Father and His Word and Spirit….   Christians thus properly contend from this testimony, that there exists a plurality of Persons in the Godhead….   There is  something in man [as God’s image] which refers to the Father and the Son and the Spirit"- such as man’s body/soul/spirit and humanity’s father/mother/child and church/state/society etc.

Then, continues Calvin,3 "God decreed to honour man…so that he should have authority over all living creatures [Genesis 1:28].  He appointed man…lord of the World….   This authority was given not only to Adam, but to all his posterity as well as to him….   Men were created to employ themselves in some work….  

"Let him who possesses a field…endeavour to hand it down to posterity…even better cultvated!  Let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses!… 

"Man was the governor of the World….   God, from the beginning, imposes a Law upon man, for the purpose of maintaining the right….   Our life will then be ordered rightly – if we obey God, and if His will be the regulator of all our affections."

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 All of the arts and sciences, declares Calvin, were designed for man – by which he should glorify God.   "In attestation of His wondrous wisdom, both the Heavens and the Earth present us with innumerable proofs…which astronomy, medicine, and all the natural sciences are designed to illustrate….   In each of the works of God…the divine perfections are delineated as

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in a picture, and the whole human race thereby invited and allured to acquire the knowledge of God – and, in consequence of this knowledge, true and complete felicity."4 

On the science of chronology, Calvin is of the opinion that "nothing is more natural than for spring, in its turn, to succeed winter, summer spring, and autumn summer.   But in this series the variations are so great and so unequal – as to make it very apparent that every single year, month and day, is regulated by a new and special providence of God."5

On numbers and mathematics, Calvin believes that the superstitious Chaldeans "abused an honourable name when they called themselves mathematicians – as if there were no scientific learning separate from those arts and diabolic illusions!"6   In reality, however: "To investigate the motions of the heavenly bodies, to determine their positions, measure their distances and ascertain their properties – demands skill, and a more careful examination!"7

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