Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Calvin on Teachers Who, in Their Attempt to be Novel, Do More Harm than Good

“If we intend to reform affairs which are in a state of disorder, we must always exercise such prudence and moderation, as will convince the people, that we do not oppose the eternal Word of God, or introduce any novelty that is contrary to Scripture. We must take care, that no suspicion of such contrariety shall injure the faith of the godly, and that rash men shall not be emboldened by a pretense of novelty. In short, we must endeavor to oppose a profane contempt of the Word of God, and to prevent religion from being despised by the ignorant.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Harmony of the Gospels, addressing Matthew 5:17)

1. Calvin warns teachers to be prudent in their attempts at reforming doctrine, reminding them that without careful attention, in the zeal of their enthusiasm they might end up going against Scripture. In other words, in a nobel attempt to address wrong emphases we must be careful not to create additional error.

2. Teachers must be so clear about what they are teaching that they do not raise any suspicion of established truth that might “injure the faith of the godly.” It is wrong, and cruel, to create doubts about Scripture’s truth in the hearts of earnest believers.

3. “Novel” teachers must also be careful not to embolden “rash men” who will eagerly embrace novelty and cause further harm. Certain people will rush to new sounding doctrine and they will typically exercise even less caution than the original teacher.

4. Teachers should further be careful not to teach anything that creates contempt for God’s Word, or that would lead the unbelieving to question the clarity and truth of God’s Word. If what we say seems to make the Bible seem less clear and less authoritative, we are doing tremendous harm.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully put, Gary! Rob Bell certainly comes to mind when I read this....