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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

A Year with the Institutes, Day 10

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Calvin extends his argument that "a sense of divinity is by nature engraven on human hearts" (1.4.4) by listing those things that corrupt that engraven sense, namely hypocrisy, a conscious turning away, and superstition.

A word about superstition. "Vanity" and "pride" combine, for Calvin, to produce superstition, a state in which "miserable men do not rise above themselves as they should, but measure [God] by the yardstick of their own carnal stupidity, and neglect sound investigation" (1.4.1). Nurturing that seed of a sense of divinity requires sound investigation, then, the right method of examining the right sources. Sound much like the scientific method?

Calvin adds that superstition involves people "claiming for themselves more than is right" and from "an inordinate desire to know more than is fitting" (1.4.1). There are things we do not, cannot, and, therefore, should not, know. To try and know them is superstition and will not lead to a right knowledge of God, which, after all, is what Calvin is concerned with to begin with.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:12 AM


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