28 November 2005

Calvin and Proof

A couple of my teachers (whether people or books) have mentioned somewhat offhandedly that they thought that John Calvin belonged to the presuppositional camp of apologetics. They grant that his position is not fully developed, but they insist that there is more continuity between Calvin and Van Til than between Calvin and Warfield. At the time I found such a historical proposition to my liking, but did not consider it of sufficient importance to research it for myself. I put it in the back of my mind for further investigation.
Recently, I read a couple of passages which seem to indicate that the estimate of my teachers is correct.

For example:
"For the truth is vindicated in opposition to every doubt, when, unsupported by foreign aid, it has its sole sufficiency in itself" (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 8).

In the preceding chapter, Calvin makes the point that there is something about the Scriptures that makes them qualitatively different from all human-originated works of literature. He reminds his readers that it is not necessarily the style or the form that makes the difference. Whatever topic it addresses, it addresses it like no other book does. It speaks with a kind of authority that no other literature has. It speaks with authority from God. It is self-authenticating.

While Calvin protests that this qualitative difference between the Scriptures and other literature is real and observable, he is also clear in the other direction: No one who denies the difference will be able to observe it without the inner work of the Spirit breaking sin's domination over his mind.

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14).

He sounds pretty presuppositional to me.

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