Saturday, March 13, 2010

Theater of God's Glory

John Calvin eloquently described creation as the theatrum gloriae dei (spectacle or theater of God's glory). A few samples of his well-known metaphor from the Institutes are worth noting from the theologian who loved God's revelation in the book of nature and who loved God's revelation in the sacred scriptures even more.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion I.5.8:

But as the greater part of mankind, enslaved by error, walk blindfold in this glorious theatre, he exclaims that it is a rare and singular wisdom to meditate carefully on these works of God, which many, who seem most sharp-sighted in other respects, behold without profit. It is indeed true, that the brightest manifestation of divine glory finds not one genuine spectator among a hundred.

Institutes I.6.2:

Therefore, while it becomes man seriously to employ his eyes in considering the works of God, since a place has been assigned him in this most glorious theatre that he may be a spectator of them, his special duty is to give ear to the Word, that he may the better profit.

Institutes I.14.20:

Meanwhile, being placed in this most beautiful theatre, let us not decline to take a pious delight in the clear and manifest works of God.

Institutes II.6.1:

By the “wisdom of God,” he designates this magnificent theatre of heaven and earth replenished with numberless wonders, the wise contemplation of which should have enabled us to know God. But this we do with little profit; and, therefore, he invites us to faith in Christ,—faith which, by a semblance of foolishness, disgusts the unbeliever.

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