Isaiah asked to be home schooled this year and we agreed to give it a shot. In fact, I decided to take out the big guns. Isaiah is now ten years old and he has the mind of a theologian, so as a part of his reading program, I have assigned Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (1,520 pages in two volumes). Since he is young, and I didn’t want to overwhelm him, I’m only assigning him a chapter a day (generally, 10 to 15 pages). During each reading, he writes down some of the key items from the chapter.
Below, I’m posting from Isaiah’s journal on Calvin. I’m pretty happy with his work so far, but I was even happier when, at breakfast this morning, Isaiah corrected Leslie and me about what it means to fear the Lord, “Well, Calvin actually says that the reason the fear of the Lord helps us obey, is not so much because we fear his judgment, but because we don’t want to displease him.” See below (Isaiah’s notes on II:8) how Isaiah took the two concepts of 1) not judgment and 2) but love, and put them together to say, Calvin says, “we don’t want to displease him.” It’s so good to see that the reading is already paying off and that this is not just some abstract assignment.
Isaiah’s Words (uncorrected):
Chapter I (35-39)
1. To know God you must know yourself. You were made in God’s image.
2. To know your self you must know God. After all, God knows you more than you know your self.
3. Comparing yourself to God really bring out the dirt. A pure white blanket compared to a blanket that was rolled in mud.
Chapter II (39-43): What it is to know God
1. know there is a God
2. realize the benefits of knowing him
3. having piety for God is essentiall for knowing him what’s the use of knowing a God who (you think) doesn’t care about you?
4. We must have a want/need to seek him and nothing else before we can know him
5. Until we realize that we owe everything to God, that he nourishes us in his fatherly care, and that he is the author of our every good, we will not serve him whole heartedly.
6. Our knowledge (of God) should teach us fear and reverence, and, with it as our guide, should learn to seek every good from him, and having received it, credit it to him.
7. The pious mind does not dream up any god it pleases, but sticks with the one true God and doesn’t try to add anything to him.
8. A pious mind restrains itself from sinning, not in the fear of judgement, but because it loves and reveres God as father.
Chapter III (43-47)
1. The human mind can sense divinity.
2. To keep anyone from being ignorant, God has implanted a certain understanding of him.
3. It is stupid to say religion is something invented to keep people under control.
4. Everyone who says he is an atheist ultimately shudders at a God he doesn’t think exists.
5. The impious mind cannot turn himself loose from the fear of God.
6. The world tries to cast away all knowledge of God.
7. When there is no religion in a man’s life, he is no wiser than animals.
1. God has sown a seed of religion in all men. But very few men let the seed prosper.
2. No real piety remains in the world.
3. Stupid men measure God with there own judgement
4. Men do not accept God as he is, they make him whatever they want him to be
5. David’s statement that fools feel in their hearts that there is no God is limited to those who purposfully repel away fiercely all rememberance of God
6. When sinning, the wicked persuade themselves that God does not see, and end up congradulating their own wrong doing.
7. Although they are compelled to recognize some god, they strip him of glory by taking away his power.
8. We are not to fashion God according to our own whim
9. Fools never consider God at all unless compelled to
1. God reveals himself to us, so we have no excuse for being ignorant
2. There is no place in the universe that does not show at least some sparks of God’s glory
3. The universe is a mirror in which we can contemplate God
4. What we need to know about God has been disclosed to us, for one and all gaze on his invisible nature
5. Man is one of the best proofs for God
6. God blesses men and they get puffed up with pride and turn from him
7. Men mistake creature for creator
8. When me study our own nature, always remeber your creator
9. Though God is kindly and beneficiant to all, he still proclames forgiveness to the godly and severity to the ungodly
10. In your desperate straits, God will suddenly and wonderfully rescue you.