Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Calvin or Calvinball?

Anyone reading this blog who has also read the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip will almost certainly be familiar with "Calvinball," a game in which the characters make up the rules as they go, invariably creating rules that they deem as some way advantageous to themselves.


In the comic strip, this game is always depicted as being great fun. Having played games like this as a child, I can report that it is NOT a good thing to have no set rules. The game starts out exciting, but soon the players are all angry at each other, and only the child with the most bullying personality has any chance of winning.

Calvinball is a good metaphor for the way most Americans live their lives. People make up the rules one decision at a time according to what seems right or pleasurable to them with no controlling principle from outside their own mind and feelings. People tend to live as if there is no God to whom they will be accountable.

On his radio show earlier this week, Dr. R. Albert Mohler made some excellent points along these lines, with reference to the theological insights of John Calvin, saying:

John Calvin, by the way, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion ([Calvin was] one of the greatest theologians of the Christian tradition) helps us to remember the fact that the sole substance of our knowledge comes down, most importantly, to the knowledge of God and to the knowledge of ourselves.

Now, here is the real question: Can we really know ourselves if we do not know God? See, that’s the whole difference between the Christian worldview, or a biblical worldview, and a secular worldview. Or you might say a biblical worldview and any other worldview: we’re the ones who know that we cannot understand ourselves until we first of all understand God. To understand God is the necessary pre-understanding to understanding ourselves. See, here is the problem: what we see around us right now is this incredible, almost universal attempt to define ourselves without reference first to God. If our reference is first to God, then we understand, ‘Well, yes, there is a Creator and since there is a Creator, He gets to determine the nature of His creation; if there is a Creator, He gets to tell us who we are. If we are made, and we didn’t make ourselves– if we’re not a biological or evolutionary accident– but we are the loving creation of a purposive Creator, then guess what: He gets to tell us who we are. We don’t get to name ourselves, we’re named; we don’t get to decide what categories best fit us, those are assigned to us.’

If, on the other hand, we start out just with ourselves, if we’re just going to look in the mirror and do our best, if we’re just going to gather together and say, ‘Alright, let’s make no reference to a Creator, let’s either deny there is a Creator or let’s just ignore the Creator; let’s come up with how we will describe ourselves, what we will name ourselves, how we will organize ourselves, think of ourselves, conceptualize ourselves, then we can do that.’

And what you’ll find is, well, exactly what you find… it’s the playground of the world where there is no God who sets the terms. It’s really sad; it’s a lonely place.

[Here the entire radio program HERE.]

It is my hope that the above quote will be helpful in our thoughts on our own lives and will influence our conversations with others.

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