Sunday, September 14, 2008

Calvin was green - who knew?

Despite the 87 degrees and much humidity here today, summer is officially over. This week I put away my beach things and did my best to wrap up some summer reading projects. I say did my best because there are still about 13 books on my to read pile.

Anyway, since I am in the process of joining a church which is essentially Calvinist, I figured it was high time that I read Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion" for myself and see what the man really had to say. I tried to read with an open mind, but as I expected I did find a few points of disagreement, which I won't go into here as they are debated to death elsewhere.

I also found a few surprises, such as this quote from Part 9, chapter 10: So Paul, with good reason, urges us to use this world without abusing it, and to buy possessions as if we were selling them (I Cor 7:30-31).

Of course Calvin probably would not have known what carbon was (when were the elements discovered, anyway?) much less a carbon footprint, but this sounds suspiciously like take good care of the planet to me.

I also was surprised to find a passage with basically says it's ok to enjoy the pleasures of creation. If we think out the reason for the creation of food, we will realise that it was not only for necessity, but for our enjoyment and delight. So with clothing, the purpose was not only for necessity but beauty and honour. ... If this was not so, the Psalmist would not list among God's mercies, 'wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine' (Ps. 104:15).

Of course he also points out the dangers of taking enjoyment to excess, which I agree with, but it's nice to see that the concepts of enjoying and taking care of God's creation are not new.