“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
All People Possess Some Knowledge of God
It’s beyond argument that some knowledge of God resides in a person’s mind. Why? Because God Himself has given it to them. He even renews that knowledge and occasionally will give people an even bigger glimpse of who He is. Why would He do such a thing? He implanted that knowledge in people so that they could not claim ignorance of Him.
All people instinctively know that God exists and that He is the Creator. Again, God has given people this knowledge so that they would be condemned by their own consciences when they refuse to worship God or live for Him. Now, where would you expect no knowledge of God to exist? Probably, in some remote village of some remote tribe of people somewhere in the world. But even a pagan—Roman philosopher Cicero—tells us that every people group or nation has some knowledge of God. This is universal; all people have some knowledge of God.
Therefore, since all people at all times in every area of the world—even down to an individual household—practice religion, such reality demonstrates that all people have some sense of God inscribed on their hearts. Even idolatry is evidence for this fact. People like to exalt themselves, not humble themselves. Thus, when a person chooses to worship something like a wooden carving or an image made out of stone, rather than worship nothing, this is evidence of how strong the impression of God must be upon the human mind. It is harder to get rid of this implanted knowledge of God than to get rid of a person’s pride. Because whenever people worship an idol they instinctively humble themselves, even though it’s only an idol. This shows that it’s easier to get rid of pride than the knowledge of God.