Monday, 25 November 2013

Disraeli channelling John Calvin

I recently heard that there are more licensed mediums in France than there are Roman Catholic clergy! If true, this vividly illustrates John Calvin's insight that we humans have an abiding propensity to produce idols:
Man's nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.... Man's mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God.... To these evils a new wickedness joins itself, that man tries to express in his work the sort of God he has inwardly conceived. Therefore the mind begets an idol; the hand gives it birth.... Daily experience teaches that flesh is always uneasy until it has obtained some figment like itself in which it may fondly find solace as in an image of God. (1.11.8)
This confirms what G K Chesterton said:
When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing-they believe in anything. 
This morning I came across a quote from Disraeli which makes much the same point but given that Disraeli could not have read anything Chesterton wrote, I am sure that it was Calvin he'd been reading/had read when he said:
Man is a being born to believe, and if not church comes forward with all the title deeds of truth, he will find altars and idols in his own heart and his own imagination.

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