I liked Brevard Childs’s (1923–2007) reflections on John Calvin’s view of biblical doctrine:
I think it is fair to say that there are few elements of Calvin’s biblical exegesis more alien to the heirs of the Enlightenment and the postmodern era than his view of biblical doctrine. It has become a truism in many contemporary theological circles that doctrine is rigid, oppressive, and authoritarian. It only serves to stifle human imagination and to destroy creative spirituality. In contrast, Calvin speaks of these Christian doctrines as useful, joyous, comforting, and liberating. These doctrines [of the Bible] are a sign of God’s gracious guidance that, when embraced, lead to a good and happy life.”
Two thoughts came quickly to mind as I read this paragraph. The first is: Two cheers for rejecting the Enlightenment approach to Scripture. (For more on this, see Craig Carter’s book Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis, and track down David Steinmetz’s seminal essay, “The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis.”) The second is: This is all the more reason to read Calvin’s Institutes. Two doctrines he hammers away at in his Institutes are the doctrines of Scripture and providence—two that are particularly precious to me. I’ll never forget his assertion that “knowledge of God does not rest in cold speculation” (1. 12. 1), followed by his admonition: “And let us not take into our heads either to seek out God anywhere else than in his Sacred Word, or to think anything about him that is not prompted by his Word, or to speak anything that is not taken from that Word” (1. 13. 21). Amen!
I liked reading Andy Crouch’s new book The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I sense that this may turn out to be one of the best books I read all year. Why? The topic is important and Crouch’s prose are phenomenal. Tolle Lege!