Saturday, 15 August 2015

3. Man before God’s majesty

Are we never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of our lowly state until we have compared our self with God’s majesty?  Could this mean anything to those who are not Christian believers?  For many people their God is themselves, but yet ask many a non-Christian and you will find that they do see some overall plan or coherence in their life and some awareness of human frailty.

In this section Calvin it seems that Calvin is trying to illustrate how impoverished the human state is alongside the glory of God and he refers to places in the scriptures where God’s glory is manifested such as Isaiah 6:5 “for my eyes have seen the King the Lord of hosts” and Judges 6:22-23 “I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face”.  Then Calvin illustrates the depravity of human existence through such references as Job 13:28 “Man wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth eaten” and Job 7:5 “My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt”.

But just how great is the gap between human beings and God? So much that we should hide from God’s power? Isaiah 2:10 “Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the Lord and from the glory of His majesty”.  Is modern science responsible for encouraging us to think that we can know God’s ways and do better?

Think about the power locked up in a thunderstorm or torrential rain shower: no human contingency can control it, we might think we can.  Possibly we can harness some aspects of it but control is not a possibility.  So does modern science inhibit our reading of Calvin, catching us in a dual bind:  (1) as humans we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we have progressed beyond the need of God? And (2) we have forgotten how powerless we are in the face of God’s glory?