Tuesday, December 12, 2006

John Calvin on the role of Scripture in the formation of Ethical Conduct

I have been re-reading Calvin this week and especially his understanding of the role of Scripture in the formation of ethical conduct. Calvin comments that when we devote ourselves to the study of Scripture that this devotional discipline aids in the values conversion the Gospel demands:

"This is also evidence of great progress: that, almost forgetful of ourselves, surely subordinating our self-concern, we try faithfully to devote our zeal to God and his Commandments. For when scripture bids us leave off self-concern, it not only erases from our minds the yearning to possess, the desire for power, and the favor of men, but it also uproots ambition and all craving for human glory and other more secret plagues. Accordingly, the Christian must surely be so disposed and minded that he feels within himself it is with God he has to deal throughout his life. In this way, as he will refer all he does to God's decision and judgment, so will he refer his whole intention of mind scrupulously to Him... “
We seem to have lost something today of the formative power of reading and studying God's Word.

For more on this see Luder G. Witlock’s excellent article, “Spiritual direction in the Reformed tradition.” in the Journal of Psychology and Theology. December, 2002.