Blogging the Institutes–1.8.1–Arguments are not ultimate, but helpful

“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.

Arguments are not Ultimate, but Helpful

Unless the authority Scripture is ultimately founded upon something greater than human reason, all the arguments and evidences for Scripture will prove to be in vain. Until the authority of Scripture rests upon the Spirit’s testimony, it will be up for debate. Although arguments and evidence for the authority of Scripture are not persuasive in the ultimate sense, they can still be useful for the believer. We will be strengthened in our faith when we consider how God’s wisdom is arranged in Scripture. For example, the Scriptures are free from any taint of human corruption. They is also are perfectly consistent and contain divine truth.

Furthermore, our hearts will have assurance when we realize that our admiration for Scripture is based more upon the content than the writing style. God’s word unpacks heavenly mysteries, yet it does so with finite and limited human language. If Scripture was written in an elegant style, unbelievers might be tempted to see all of its “power” merely in its eloquence. Think about this: when Scripture’s unpolished simplicity which borders on rudeness, makes a deeper impression upon people than the most elegant writings, what does this tell us except that the Scriptures are so powerful that they need any “improvement” from a speaker?

For good reason, then, the apostle Paul declares that the Corinthian church’s faith did not rest on the “wisdom of men” but rather upon “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). His speech and preaching to them was “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” (1 Corinthians 2:5), because Paul preached the Scriptures.

Truth is vindicated from every doubt when it is not supported by arguments, but rather, works powerfully by itself. No human writing can ever affect someone in a way that is similar to Scripture.  Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle. No doubt, you will be allured, pleased, and enchanted by their writings. But after reading them, read Scripture. It will so affect you–pierce your heart, and work its way into your bones and marrow.  In comparison to those other writings, Scripture will make those other writings disappear from your mind. It will be clear that the Scripture is God’s truth, something which makes it superior to all the gifts and grace attainable by people.


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