Worshiping God Aright: Torrance and Calvin on ‘radical inversion’

We were created to worship. Humanity will worship, left to themselves; themselves, and various post-scripts of themselves. So what is the key to worshipping in the way we were created for? Thomas Torrance has a good answer as he continues to comment on Calvin’s doctrine on sin and ‘Total Perversity’; he writes:

[I]n order to worship God aright, that is, in accordance with the motion of grace, man must learn to serve God against his own nature, [Calvin’s, Sermon on Job 10:16f.; 37:1 f.; Commentary on Romans 7:9 ff.] “acknowledging that he lives not by his own power but by the kindness of God alone, and that his life is not an instrinsic good, but proceeds from God alone. He cannot otherwise retain it than by acknowledging that it was received of God.” [Calvin’s, Commentary on Gen. 2:9] This means that Calvin defines the life-motion of man made in the image of God as the motion of faith, while the contrary motion of unthankfulness and rebellion he speaks of as incredulity and unbelief. “God does not manifest Himself to men otherwise than through the Word, so neither is His majesty maintained, nor does His worship remain secure among us any longer than while we obey His Word. Therefore unbelief is the root of defection; just as faith alone unites us to God.” [Calvin’s, Commentary on Gen. 3:6; Institutes 2.2.4; 2.2.12] Hence knowledge of God is possible only if the inverted motion of the soul in mind  and will is re-inverted by an acknowledgment of grace such that it is dragged out of its self-assertion or concupiscence, out of its self-imprisonment and blindness, in order to find life and being only as deposited in the Word. The radical inversion of all human wisdom and understanding that this entails indicates how deep going and total is the perversion of sin. A complete conversion of man’s relation with God is required. [brackets mine] (T. F. Torrance, Calvin’s Doctrine of Man, 115)

The cool thing that happens when you read Torrance on Calvin is that you get both at the same time; you get Calvin, but you get Torrance’s Calvin, which for me is the best of both worlds. Anyway, if you are struggling with how you ought to worship God; then you ought to consider radical inversion!

*This post dovetails somewhat with the last one, where we so both Torrance and Calvin thinking from an Augustinian frame, wherein the locus (or location) for a proper understanding of what constitutes humanity is by God’s grace in Christ, and thus the turn elsewhere is into the abyss of ourselves or nothingness. -repost

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