procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

calvin on prayer

"Hence, as the ambitious adopted Jupiter as their patron; the avaricious, Mercury; the literary aspirants, Apollo and Minerva; the warlike, Mars; the licentious, Venus: so in the present day, as I lately observed, men in prayer give greater license to their unlawful desires than if they were telling jocular tales among their equals. God does not suffer his condescension to be thus mocked, but vindicating his own light, places our wishes under the restraint of his authority. We must, therefore, attend to the observation of John: "This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us" (1 John 5:14)." Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, Book 3, Chapter XX, Point 5 *

it's interesting, not to mention culturally unsettling, to see the emphasis Calvin puts on the manner and the mind in which we come to God in prayer. with the contemporary estimation of the spontaneous, this is a healthy rebuke to those who esteem this too highly.

(however, before the liturgists give a triumphant huzzah, he is quick to apply the counterbalancing argument, in the very next point!)

* accessed from here, as for some unknown reason, several chapters of the macsword (a free mac bible program) copy don't work...

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