Convinced

I’ve read the Bible solely as an important work of literature. I’ve also read it with the intent of using it as a weapon against the faith of someone who was utterly convinced of its unique divine inspiration.

In fact, it was during this time that I myself became utterly convinced that the Scriptures were of divine origin.

Yes, I know that the Bible “did not arrive by fax from heaven”.

As a matter of fact, Dan Brown might have benefited from reading John Calvin before erecting such an absurd straw man through one of his characters.

How did I become convinced that the Scripture is from God? Well it’s hard to put into words but I think Monsieur Calvin adequately describes my experience here:

Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit.

Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God.

We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our judgment, but we subject our intellect and judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.

This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it—an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge.

Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce.

I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality.

Taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, ch.7, s.5

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3 Responses to Convinced

  1. Aaron says:

    That’s really cool.

    Thanks for some of your story, by the way.

    I like it because I don’t think it’s circular at all (correct me if I’m wrong). He isn’t saying that faith is the only way to accept the Bible as God’s word. It’s more than simple belief. It is a conviction born of the something otherworldly (i.e. the Holy Spirit).

    My favorite part is this:
    We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our judgment, but we subject our intellect and judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.

    The Bible, like God, won’t let us down. It teaches truth, hard truth sometimes, but real truth nonetheless.

    Thanks for this.

  2. katdish says:

    Weird timing. At any given moment, I have at least 2 or 3 books written by Christian authors sitting on my nightstand with bookmarks in them. Recently (like yesterday) I had an overwhelming desire to put aside everything else and simply read the gospels. I read Mark yesterday — that is to say, I literally devoured it, let it sink in, and reflected upon what an amazing and righteous God we serve. Not only was I astounded at how Jesus taught and lead his disciples and how incredibly thick-headed they were, verbally spanked the pharisees, and displayed incredible acts of compassion and love, I am now completely convinced that He was the most righteously cool dude ever to walk the face of the earth. I’m going to re-read John over the next few days, then on to Matthew and Luke. I wish that someone had told me when I first picked up a bible not to read any other book (except perhaps for reference) in the bible until I had read and understood the 4 gospels and understood the totality of them.

  3. Laz says:

    Thanks to both of you for the comments.

    Aaron:
    It was really something to read a book written more than 400 years ago, and find a description of my personal experience.

    I do admit that Calvin’s argument might seem circular, but it only appears that way to someone who has not had their eyes opened (i.e. during my B.C. days). The Spirit’s work in us is the clincher.

    Those without the Spirit, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians, cannot understand this and think us insane or misguided. Very similar to how a man born blind would chide a person with vision for claiming that there is light when then only thing the former sees is dark.

    Kat,
    Strangely enough the 4 gospels are often overlooked, then people wonder why they have a poor understanding of Jesus. Jacob’s main focus has been to introduce the students to the Jesus of Scripture, thereby blowing up whatever misconceptions they might bring in from their travails through pop culture or whatever niche they have been dwelling in.

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