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Sola Dei Gloria

The Glory of God in the Thought of John Calvin


Billy Kristanto

The study examines the understanding of the glory of God in the thought of John Calvin. The examination is carried out from the historical observation in the first part and the systematic evaluation in the second part. The author describes the development of the concept of gloria Dei in Calvin’s Institutes as well as its significant role as a counterpart to the major Christian doctrines. Following a survey of the historical background, the presence of gloria Dei in the first, second, and last editions of the Institutes is discussed. In the systematic part, the concept of gloria Dei is analyzed in the context of its dynamic presence throughout the central doctrines such as the doctrine of creation, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, eschatology, and ecclesiology. The systematic evaluation shows that gloria Dei is one of the loudest cantus firmi in Calvin’s theological composition.


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Part I: Gloria Die in Calvin’s Institutes of 1536, 1539, and 1559


1.1. Gloria Dei: A Cantus Firmus 1.1.1. Historical Background Although d o, xa and doke, w can be described as the “true conviction” by Plato, when do, xa is used with a more subjectivity, it becomes more obviously an anto- nym of gn w , mh, n o, h sij, evpisth , mh, a negation of a vl h ,q eia as well as a synonym for fa n ta si, a and analogous pejoratives.31 Plato can employ the word also to denote reputation and glory.32 However, in other writings, the word is also used to con- vey a more negative tone such as bad reputation or unreasonable pretension.33 In the pagan Roman thought, Cicero for instance understands that glory, honor, and praise are awarded by the Roman citizenship.34 There is strong rela- tionship between glory and good deeds, particularly in terms of great services performed for the state.35 This glory is manifested not only in the life and actions of virtuous individuals but also those of the multitude. However, Cicero also warns that the pursuit of popular favor could make one so foolish that he/she would prefer useless power rather than real glory.36 Immortality in the honorable memory of the citizens is the reward of glory, which in turn stands as a compel- ling example for later generations to emulate or surpass.37 On the other hand, in his De republica, Cicero postulates that true glory is not a virtue but a natural ef- 31 Cf. Ferdinand R. Prostmeier, “Do, x a...

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