Friday, June 25, 2010

Calvin on Fasting

This upcoming Sunday we will be discussing the issue of fasting (yes that is a Christian discipline).  I am convinced that this is an area we need to work on as a church and as individual believers.  As I was studying, I came across the following quote from the Great Reformation theologian John Calvin who summed up our text from Matthew 6:16-18 quit well.  He wrote:

May for want of knowing its usefulness undervalue its necessity.  And some reject it all together as superfluous, while on the other hand, where the proper use of fasting is not well understood, it easily degenerates into superstition

In his infamous Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin wrote:

fasting in itself is not of great value in the sight of God, unless accompanied with internal affection of the heart, true dissatisfaction with sin and with one's self true humiliation, and true griefs from the fear of God; nay, that fasting is useful for no other reasons than because it is added to these as an inferior help. There is nothing which God more abominates than when men endeavour to cloak themselves by substituting signs and external appearance for integrity of heart. -IV.12.19

I find myself in there.  I oftentimes "undervalue" the "necessity" of fasting and at the same time find it to be "superfluous."  As we will discuss Sunday, there are a number of biblical reasons to fast.  It should be an interesting discussion.

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