Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Embarrassed by John Calvin's Longing for Heaven?

Charlie Dennison wote on Calvin's Institution book 3 (especially the section known as "the golden booklet of the Christian life):
"I fear many present-day Calvinists are embarrassed by the reformer's longing for heaven. Such an eschatological orientation also dominates the work of the Westminster Assembly if we take the Shorter Catechism as a key. Glorifying and enjoying God forever (Question 1) and being made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to an eternity (Question 38) set the tone at Westminster Abbey."
Which reminds me of the article 'het hemelse betrachten' which discusses chapter 9 (chapters 6-10 are part of the socalled 'golden booklet of the Christian life') of this book that starts with the phrase:
'Whatever be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life'
On the implications for ethics:
 'Life is a school of training ( a term Calvin adopts from the classics). The totality of Calvin's ethics is based on this. The calling starts here and continues. Even through these unfathomable Sizoo-phrases (translator Sizoo) we sense Calvin's thought resonating towards us: like a song that doesn't stop. It is grand and simultaneously sharp, it is heavy and it lifts you up. It's all at once.'
The same topic is at the heart of two sermons on James T. Dennison's website Kerux, number one is The Weeping of Rachel where we read:
'Rachel's pain is a crisis for many because we all suffer with Rachel's illness. But a crisis yields to either good or evil.
The second sermon is The Year of Destruction in the Light of the Year of Jubilee where we read:
'Now we can do two things. We can say the year of destruction is still there and this is very serious indeed. Therefore we groan and moan, which makes us sink even deeper in the swamp. Or we can say the year of destruction is there, but we are children of the promise and so we will place the year of calamity in the light of the year of jubilee which is coming. Only in this way will we be pulled out of this swamp with the cords of God's love, our Father in Christ Jesus, our Lord. For that is truly Christianity. In this time of Advent, we must place all the years of destruction in the light of the year of jubilee of Christ Jesus, which was and is and is to come, in order that we might be children of the promise.'
William Dennison refers to Calvin's Institution book 3 chapter 9 section 4 in this interview:
'if heaven is our homeland, what else is earth then our place of exile?'
Lane Tipton mentions Calvin's Institution book 3 chapter 9 as well in relations to this subject.

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