Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Remembering Calvin's God

In his exposition of 2 Kings 2 ("Seismic Shift in the Kingdom of God") Dale Ralph Davis underlines the point that not only is God's power not tied to a particular era, it is also not tied to a particular instrument.

He then relates the details of John Calvin's funeral as described by Emanuel Stickelberger:
Calvin had given definite instructions for his funeral. Nothing must distinguish it from that of any other citizen. His body was to be sewed into a white shroud and laid in a simple pine coffin. At the grave there were to be neither words nor song.

The wishes of the deceased were scrupulously carried out. But although in accordance with his will all pomp was avoided, an unnumbered multitude followed the coffin to the cemetery Plainpalais with deep respect and silent grief.
He who was averse to all ambition did not even want a tombstone.

Just a few months later when foreign students desired to visit the place where the Reformer's earthly remains rest, the place could no longer be pointed out among the fresh mounds.

2 Kings: The Power and the Fury, p. 33
As Dale Ralph Davis vividly expresses it "Why do we need a Calvin grotto when we have the God he served?"

1 comment:

Bill Hornbeck said...

Thank you for this post. This was a very interesting and unique subject to consider.

I have not read exactly why Calvin wanted his funeral arrangements so simple and not distinctive. I can imagine that Calvin was so averse to being deified or his burial site becoming worshipped as an idol that he made those arrangements. I can imagine that he wanted to contrast himself from so many "statues" that he saw. I can also imagine that he wanted to give all the credit and glory to God. These are noble motivations.

However, Scripture does give room for more complex, distinctive, and memorable funeral arrangements.

Psalm 112:6 states: "For he will never be shaken; The righteous will be remembered forever."

Proverbs 10:7 states "The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.

Moreover, Hebrews 11 and other Scripture preserve the memory of the righteous and show that their memory can be a real good example, inspiration, and encouragement to us.