“God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit.” (1.7.4)N.B. When Calvin says ‘certain’, he does not mean ‘justified true belief’ in the usual philosophical sense. Rather, he is alluding to a form of knowledge that corresponds with its object – in this case, God. Also, it is a shame that the term ‘self-authenticated’ is used as opposed to sticking with the agency of the Holy Spirit, which is clearly the dominant theme in this material. Finally, my thanks to Shane Wilkins for digging up these quotes. He has recently purchased a copy of Calvin’s Institutes, and I am happy to know that he is digging in to them!
“Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearths through the Spirit. Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit to it as a thing far beyond any guesswork!” (1.7.5)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Calvin on the Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit
John Calvin, Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (Translated by Ford Lewis Battles; Edited by John T. McNeill; Library of Christian Classics vol. 20-1; Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1960).