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What Calvin said about Creation, Part I April 15, 2010

Posted by Dave Landis in Christian, creation.
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Over the next several days, there will be some posts about what some famous and influential Christians said about creation.  Since I’m a Reformed Christian, I will kick off with several Reformed scholars.  Today, I begin with John Calvin.  Calvin was a prolific writer.  He wrote a systematic theology; The Institutes of the Christian Religion,  a number of commentaries from books of the Bible, and his sermons were widely published.  That he had a tremendous influence upon Presbyterianism and other Reformed Churches cannot be understated.  What did Calvin say about Genesis 1?   Here are some excerpts of his views:

For it is not without significance that he divided the making of the universe into six days [Gen 1:31], even though it would have been no more difficult for him to have completed it in one moment the whole work together in all its details than to arrive at its completion by a progression of all this sort. Institutes of the Christian Religion, J.T. McNeill, editor, Vol I,p. 182.  From this we see that Calvin would not fall into the Day-Age or theistic evolution camps.  He was a young earth creationist.

They will not refrain from guffaws when they are informed that but little more than five thousand years have passed since the creation of the universe. Ibid., vol 2, p. 925.   Today, there are  plenty of guffaws concerning Calvin’s view of the age of the earth.

More on Calvin tomorrow.



1. dancingfromgenesis - April 15, 2010

I look forward to this series, and does anybody know if Calvin or any of the others said anything about the Seder Olam Rabbah?

And have not theologians through the centuries pointed to the fossils in the rocks as evidence of Noah’s Flood?

2. Kirk Bertsche - April 15, 2010

Calvin also made some fairly strong statements to the effect that God “accommodated” his language to man’s limited understanding, using simplistic, “childish” language that would not be considered technically correct today. He claimed that the Bible does NOT intend to teach science. Here are some quotes from his commentaries on Genesis and Psalms:

“For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere.”–Gen 1:6

“…it would have been lost time for David to have attempted to teach the secrets of astronomy to the rude and unlearned; and therefore he reckoned it sufficient to speak in a homely style, … This, then, is the reason why he says that a tent or pavilion has been erected for the sun, and also why he says, that he goes forth from one end of the heaven, and quickly passes to the other and opposite end. He does not here discourse scientifically (as he might have done, had he spoken among philosophers) concerning the entire revolution which the sun performs, but, accommodating himself to the rudest and dullest, he confines himself to the ordinary appearances presented to the eye, and, for this reason, he does not speak of the other half of the sun’s course, which does not appear in our hemisphere.”–Ps. 19:4-6

“It is true, that the other planets are larger than the moon, but it is stated as second in order on account of its visible effects. The Holy Spirit had no intention to teach astronomy; and, in proposing instruction meant to be common to the simplest and most uneducated persons, he made use by Moses and the other Prophets of popular language, that none might shelter himself under the pretext of obscurity, as we will see men sometimes very readily pretended an incapacity to understand, when anything deep or recondite is submitted to their notice. Accordingly, as Saturn though bigger than the moon is not so to the eye owing to his greater distance, the Holy Spirit would rather speak childishly than unintelligibly to the humble and unlearned.”–Ps. 136:6

3. dancingfromgenesis - April 16, 2010

Calvin was limited by the level of scientific knowledge at that time.

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