I lament often at how my generation of Churchy McChurchursons in Ireland seem to have a weird and ignorant bias against Augustine and Calvin, the two guys I am planning to invite onto my 5-a-side team in heaven. I write this without evidence because the evidence is in facebook status messages, dismissive grunts in conversations and a general failure to engage even superficially with these giants.
But from the excellent blog of Travis McCracken, here is something to consider that I think opens up beyond the sheer majesty of his thought, why you should read him. His grave is unmarked. At his own request. Lest anyone make pilgrimage to him. Lest anyone think that he is the father of a system (hear that ya CalvinISTS?). He is a saint in this: he was a man dedicated to following Jesus with passion and willingness to sacrifice. That the Spirit blessed him with genius and insight in handling the Scriptures makes him an invaluable aid to any Christian leader trying to do the same but it is his love of God that makes him a man all Christians should befriend.
Here’s a bit from his preface to the New Testament in French:
“It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune. For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death. This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.
And here is a bit from his preface to his commentary on the Psalms:
God having taken me from my originally obscure and humble condition, has reckoned me worthy of being invested with the honourable office of a preacher and a minister of the gospel.
So the fact opens up this claim of mine. Calvin: humble, not an asshole. Imperfect but a valuable friend.
Your Correspondent, Believes very firmly that paradise was lost