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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

JOHN CALVIN and HUMANism

Christian Humanism is a topic that alot of people don't talk about. Some calvinists are quick to pick on Erasmus for his humanistic studies, but in doing so they are blind to John Calvin's own humanistic studies at Paris University. I may be wrong, but I think he went there around the sametime the future founder of the Jesuits(society of Jesus) went there.

John Calvin was a student of Law and Theology. It was at Paris University that he first learned one of the products of the "Renaissance" called "Literary criticism". The Renaissance was a revival of the greek pagan classics.

Therefore it should be to noone's surprize that Calvin was either directly or indirectly influenced by Aristotle. This style of interpreting the scriptures differed from the church before him. Alot of patristic exegesis believed in multiple interpretations of scripture. Some had a 3 teir system while others 4. I may be wrong but I think Martin Luther still held to a multiple level system.

The Lutherians kept a type of mystery whereas the Reformed seemed to have went in the other direction .....a direction which would eventually make some of them fall to rationalism in the Enlightenment era.


But to deny that John Calvin wasn't influenced by christian humanism is to deny the obvious.





JNORM888

4 comments:

Pizza Man said...

Excellent points. Calvin is heavily indebted to both the Greek fathers and to Augustine. And Augustine himself was influenced by the Greek concepts of God.

I watched a video series a while back called "That the world may know" by historian Ray Vanderlaan. His series had nothing to do with Calvinism per se, but a point he makes over and over again is that the Western understanding of God is quite different than the ancient Jewish understanding.

For example: ask a Westerner to explain God, and you hear things like: God is all-powerful, God is all-knowing, God is love. These are all fair and true explanations of who God is, but they are not very personal terms.

However, if one were to ask an ancient Jew to describe God, you'd hear things like: Shepherd, Living Water, Lion, Abba-Father, Rock, Bread of Life, etc. The point being that the Jewish understanding of God (and the actual Biblical concept of God) is much more personal than the Western/Greek concepts.

Jnorm888 said...

Interesting. I wonder if I can find any of his DVD's online?




JNORM888

Pizza Man said...

His website is: www.followtherabbi.com

Given the focus of your blog, you would probably enjoy a lot of his stuff here's a quote from his site:

One way for us to know Jesus—and thus God the Father and the Holy Spirit—more intimately, is to carefully assess our 21st-century culture and Western attitudes in relation to and in light of the 1st-century world of Jesus. Immersing ourselves in the culture of Scripture and Jesus of Nazareth often brings additional insights to our understanding of the text. It is helpful to learn to "think Hebrew" in the way that the original writers of the Text thought.

Jnorm888 said...

Thanks Pizza man!!!




JNORM888

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