Monday, May 2, 2016

4.20.26 'God is Punishing You!'

The Wicked Ruler a Judgment of God  "Accordingly, (a very wicked man) should be held in the same reverence and esteem by his subjects, in so far as public obedience is concerned, in which they would hold the best of kings if he were given to them."

No matter who is elected President this fall, it is our duty to give them our complete respect, not only because we are representatives of the Christian faith and need to set an example of proper conduct, but also because Calvin is right!  We get the government we deserve.  Once I dismissed the idea that everything happens for a reason, but now Calvin has persuaded me with his theology of Providence. We should not carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and lay awake all night.  

Life would be easier if I could totally buy into Providence.  Sometimes the whole forest does have burn to the ground to bring about a rebirth of greater sustenance for the creatures that depend on it.

 Today as I was mowing my lawn, I walked into a branch and cut my scalp, because I didn't see it.  I am losing my sight and it used to be that I was afraid of my future, then I met our classmate Rick Watson, blind from birth.  Did I meet him by chance?

Also when I look back on my journey of faith and call to ministry, I think about the sensitivity I now have because of my struggles.  I know I am not unique.  How has God used your difficulties for a greater good?  Is Calvin right about providence, even as it applies to bad kings and presidents?


  1. Hey Tim, nice post. I never before connected that saying about us getting the political leaders we deserve with Calvin's idea of predestination. But I have to admit, I think there is a lot of truth there.

    In history class we have been reading some about how many view history as progress. ML King in his, Letter from Birmingham Jail, points out that time does not necessarily bring progress. I think he was right about that notion. History does not always flow to a better world. Francis Fukuyama in 1989 hypothesized that history as a series of conflicts was pretty much over. I think it is evident today that history is not going on his time table.

    Not sure how it will all turn out, just praying it will end well. Which it should, as eventually history will end, not as Fukuyama hypothesizes, necessarily, but as God wills.

    1. I guess I don't define providence as a part of predestination. I see it more as Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

      Talking about Predestination is equal to wondering what time is it in heaven?

  2. Interesting post. In this last chapter, Calvin is running into some of the foundational problems of his theology and his inability to define clearly whether or not we should resist corrupt rulers really reflects this. I admire Calvin's overall attempt to write and unified theology and I agree that God has a providential plan for humanity. But, like Tim, I think it is different than predestination and I think his description is ultimately to simple. Calvin in the earlier chapters notes that we can choose not to follow God's path, and yet he knows all. I think the defining of human freedom within the context of providence and, of course, God's sovereignty is where Calvin is showing the weakness of his theology.

  3. Years ago when I was a baby Christian in my late 30's, I was a fundamentalist on the bible as it related to social issues. I also attended a bible study led by someone who was not. He would say this prayer at the beginning of every session, "Lord help us to discern your word as we read it today and protect us from those who think they know."

    Calvin has painted himself into a corner as one who claims he knows. As a lawyer he also knows that when you admit that one section of your argument is weak or wrong, it calls into question 'all of it'. I think he is bending these final pieces to make them all fit.

  4. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for this post regarding the corrupt rulers. I guess if we're all honest, sometimes we bend the pieces of theology to make them fit. Part of who we are as Christians is the ability to recognize that everything won't always fit but we are tempted to try to make everything work together. That's part of human nature and I think this is what Calvin is trying to do at this point in his theology.