MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

712 views

Explain Calvin's understanding of Knowledge

In the Institutes, God separates out our natural knowledge of God as Creator and revealed knowledge of God the Redeemer. 

His basic idea is that we have an in-built, instinctive awareness of God (sensus divinitas) which is not dependent on logical arguments or examination of the world around us. A good quote to use here may be: 'There exists in human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute.' (Insititutes)

Calvin's concept of 'knowledge' can, I think be split up into two distinct ideas. The first being his sense of Divinity. 

A good start to a paragraph, in my opinion, would be to quote the bible. A good one that sums up everything we are going to say: 'For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.' - Romans 1:19-20 

 For Calvin the whole point in doing theology (although he did not like that term) was to gain wisdom that we might live for the glory of God.  

God has revealed himself to us in creation. Each human being has a sense that God exists, the sensus divinitas. 

But what about the people who claim not to believe in God? Or those who believe in other religious ideas? Calvin, unfortunately has a rather harsh outlook upon these people. (To get top marks you will have to discuss limitations of Calvin's ideas, and so this may be a very good one to use!) In his eyes, when we sin, we distort and suppress the witness of the sensus, but a sense of God cannot be totally eradicated from the human heart.  

This means that at the end of the day, we know enough to be held accountable for our unbelief and idolatry. However, according to Calvin, all is not lost! God can still redeem us, for he is revealed through scripture. The way that scripture is revealed is through prayer- indeed, for Calvin, prayer was ‘the chief exercise of faith’ Institutesand the fundamental expression of Christian piety. Knowledge of God as a redeeming figure is also found when we look at what the Bible says about Jesus (remember, Cavin thought that the Bible was the absolute word of God and everything that was written in it was the exact word of the Holy Ghost). If we look at Jesus' story Vhristians may see that God saved them through the death of his Son, to reveal the depth of his grace and love.  This is the redeeming God. 

Another aspect of Calvin's ideas on knowledge may be the concept that nature is a witness to God's power. In other words, knowledge of his greatness is 'revealed' to us through nature. Again, it is always best to use a Bible quote here to show that you are basing your ideas on real theological ideas; a good one is 'God’s power and divine nature are clearly seen since creation, being understood from what has been made' (Romans 1:20). For Calvin, if we witness a beautiful sunset or go to the grand canyon and see how vast it is, we can infer from these sights the power of God. This quite close to Aquinas' Design argument. A limitation of this concept might be that surely the power of nature is just as much a testament to the greatness of evolution as it is to the power of God? 

As such, we have 3 clear concepts, that would fit nicely into 3 paragraphs for an essay. To get the best marks, memorising quotations, and criticising theological theories is very important!

Rose N. A Level Religious Studies tutor, GCSE Religious Studies tutor...

2 years ago

Answered by Rose, an A Level Religious Studies tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

19 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£22 /hr

Rini J.

Degree: Philosophy and Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Oxford, St Hilda's College University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, Philosophy+ 6 more

Religious Studies
Philosophy
French
English and World Literature
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“An Oxford student and aspiring teacher with extensive tutoring experience in the UK, France, and China. ”

£20 /hr

Jack G.

Degree: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (Bachelors) - Warwick University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, Maths+ 2 more

Religious Studies
Maths
Economics
.TSA. Oxford.

“Hello, I'm Jack and am studying politics, philosophy, and economics at Warwick.  Having recently been through the subjects I'm looking to tutor I feel like I know first hand what difficulties you'll be facing. I always found I wanted ...”

MyTutor guarantee

£26 /hr

Adrienne J.

Degree: BA (Hons) Religion, Philosophy & Ethics (Bachelors) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, Spanish+ 3 more

Religious Studies
Spanish
Philosophy and Ethics
French

“I am a Theology & Philosophy student at King's College London (University of London). As an aspiring ph.D student, I have taught students from GCSE to A Level in Religious Studies, Philosophy & Ethics, and French (AQA, Edexcel, and OC...”

About the author

£20 /hr

Rose N.

Degree: Theology (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered:Religious Studies, History+ 2 more

Religious Studies
History
Geography
English Literature

“Top tutor from the renowned Russell university group, ready to help you improve your grades.”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Rose

Explain Calvin's understanding of Knowledge

To what extent can Othello's ending be described as 'self inflicted'?

What did Aristotle mean by the 'Final Cause'?

What does Plato's Cave analogy in the 'Republic' tell us about his understanding of reality?

Other A Level Religious Studies questions

What are the different ideas about freewill and determinism?

What is the Verification Principle?

What is St Anselm of Canterbury's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God?

How do I break down, criticise and memorise a philosophical or ethical argument?

View A Level Religious Studies tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok