A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. ~John Calvin
Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ. ~John Calvin
The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul. ~John Calvin
There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence. ~John Calvin
Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness. ~John Calvin
We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too. ~John Calvin
In the words of John Calvin, “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” These words encapsulate the essence of Calvin’s unwavering commitment to defending the truth of God. Calvin, a prominent figure in the Protestant Reformation, was not afraid to speak out against the prevailing religious norms of his time. In this article, we will explore the courage and conviction behind this quote, delving into the life and beliefs of John Calvin.
John Calvin: A Brief Introduction
Before we dive deeper into the meaning of Calvin’s quote, let’s take a moment to understand who John Calvin was. Born in 1509 in Noyon, France, Calvin was a theologian, pastor, and influential figure in the Protestant Reformation—a period of religious upheaval and reform in the 16th century. His most significant work, “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” laid the foundation for Reformed theology.
Calvin’s theology emphasized the sovereignty of God, predestination, and the authority of Scripture. He believed that God’s truth should be upheld and defended, no matter the cost. It is within this context that we should consider his quote about barking like a dog when God’s truth is attacked.
Barking Like a Dog: Defending God’s Truth
Calvin’s comparison of himself to a barking dog when God’s truth is attacked may seem unusual at first glance, but it carries a profound message. In Calvin’s view, just as a loyal dog instinctively protects its master when under threat, so too should Christians vigorously defend the truth of God when it is under attack.
The quote underscores Calvin’s unwavering commitment to his faith and his willingness to speak out against the prevailing religious authorities of his time. At a time when dissent could lead to persecution and even death, Calvin’s courage in defending the Reformed faith was indeed remarkable.
Science and Faith: Calvin’s Perspective
Calvin’s thoughts extended beyond theological matters. He believed that “knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.” This quote reflects Calvin’s perspective on the relationship between science and faith.
Calvin did not reject the pursuit of knowledge or scientific exploration. Instead, he emphasized that true wisdom and understanding could only be attained when grounded in faith in Christ. For him, the pursuit of scientific knowledge should not overshadow or diminish the importance of faith in God.
The Torture of Conscience: Calvin’s View on Sin
“The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul,” said John Calvin. This quote delves into Calvin’s understanding of the human condition and the weight of guilt and sin. According to Calvin, a guilty conscience could be more tormenting than any external suffering.
Calvin’s belief in the inherent fallen nature of humanity led him to stress the importance of repentance and seeking forgiveness through faith in Christ. He saw the relief of a troubled conscience as an essential aspect of salvation, underscoring the central role of grace and redemption in his theology.
Humility and the Spirit
Calvin cautioned against overconfidence in one’s intelligence, stating that “there is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.” This quote reflects Calvin’s belief in the need for humility in the pursuit of spiritual understanding.
In his view, intellectual pride and self-reliance could hinder a person’s receptivity to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Calvin encouraged believers to approach the study of Scripture with humility, recognizing their dependence on God’s guidance and illumination.
Trusting the Divine Pilot
“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.” These reassuring words from Calvin highlight his unwavering trust in God’s providence and guidance.
Calvin likened God to a skilled Pilot who navigates the ship of human existence. Even in the face of life’s storms and challenges, Calvin believed that God would ensure the ultimate safety and well-being of His people. This trust in God’s sovereignty provided solace and strength to Calvin and his followers during times of adversity.
Beware of False Miracles
In his final quote, Calvin warned, “We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too.” This cautionary statement serves as a reminder that not all supernatural occurrences are necessarily from God. Calvin believed that Satan could deceive people with false miracles and wonders, leading them astray from the true faith.
Calvin’s emphasis on discernment and the need to test spiritual experiences against the litmus of Scripture was instrumental in protecting his followers from potential deception. He urged believers to be vigilant and anchored in the truth of God’s Word.
Conclusion: John Calvin’s Enduring Legacy
John Calvin’s quotes offer valuable insights into his theology, beliefs, and character. His unwavering courage in defending God’s truth, his perspective on the relationship between science and faith, his understanding of the torment of a guilty conscience, his emphasis on humility and reliance on the Spirit, his trust in God’s providence, and his warning against false miracles all contribute to his enduring legacy in the world of theology and Christian thought.
Calvin’s teachings continue to influence Reformed Christianity and have left a lasting impact on the broader Christian tradition. His commitment to upholding the truth of God, even in the face of adversity, serves as an inspiration to all who seek to defend their faith with courage and conviction. As we reflect on these quotes, we are reminded of the importance of remaining steadfast in our beliefs and always being vigilant in the pursuit of spiritual truth.