Monday, June 15, 2009

Contemplation in God of Neighbor

“We ought to embrace the whole human race without exception in a single feeling of love; here there is no distinction between barbarian and Greek, worthy and unworthy, friend and enemy, since all should be contemplated in God, not in themselves. When we turn aside from such contemplation, it is no wonder we become entangled in many errors. Therefore, if we rightly direct our love, we must first turn our eyes not to man, the sight of whom would more often engender hate than love, but to God, who bids us extend to all men the love we bear to him, that this may be an unchanging principle: whatever the character of the man, we must love him because we love God.” -John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book II, CH. VIII, Section 55.

[A succinct formulation of a basic teaching of Christianity...The contemplation of all in God. “In a single feeling of love” - an inner disposition we learn from continual remembrance and communion. ..."the sight of whom would more often engender hate than love" sounds something of a misanthropic note. Perhaps I would feel more the same if for instance a close friend of my youth was burned at the stake for espousing views deemed heretical (as was Calvin's friend). Regardless if we commiserate with the starkness of Calvin's formulation and the hard sentiment, he rightly points the way to love the wellspring of love, that same one as natural human love, but deepened, clarified and revealed.

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