Discussion Questions for Calvin study, Thursday, April 30

Discussion Questions for Thursday, April 30 (Zoom links here), pages 111-126 (=Institutes, 3.10)
  1. Calvin points out that Christians might be tempted to avoid the things “which seem to serve our pleasure more than our necessity,” i.e., the things of this world that “serve delight” vs. “necessity" (111). What is he talking about? Why might Christians be tempted to do this? Have you ever experienced or seen this? 
  2. Calvin says the main rule here is to consider God’s “purpose in creating and designing [his gifts] for us” (114). How does this apply to food? Alcohol? Clothing? Art + culture? Nature? Money? How do the things of this world (even things that are not “spiritual”) reveal God’s character to us? How are you cultivating an attentiveness to God through receiving his gifts? E.g., Calvin talks about how God has given us flowers so that they might move us by their beauty and pleasantness. (116)
  3. However, Calvin also says that there’s a danger that we would give in to our fleshly desires in the name of liberty, refusing to limit and constrain ourselves as we should. Which one of these two dangers (more restrictive than God says vs. less restrictive than God says) is a greater danger for you? 
  4. How does excess keep us from knowing God in the way his gifts are meant for? (117) E.g., Calvin’s rhetorical question: “How can there be acknowledgment of God if our minds are enchanted by the splendor of his gifts?” (118)
  5. Calvin argues that “we should considerably curb such freedom that leads to abuse” — why is this so difficult in our day?
  6. How does meditation on heaven help us with both dangers (legalism vs. license)? (119-120) How does it help us when we are enjoying abundance? (120) When we are experiencing scarcity (121)?
  7. How does love for God factor into our proper use of the things of the world? Our love for neighbor? (123)
  8. Calvin ends by arguing that we should submit to God’s calling(s) on our life, no matter how humble — what does he mean here? Why is this so counter-cultural today? This is as great line!: “Every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant — most valuable in the eyes of our Lord” (126).