What Kind of Dreams Was John Calvin Having?

John Calvin believed that God places an imprint of immortality upon the soul of every human being.  In defense of such belief, Calvin employs a litany of examples from real life experiences.

When speaking of “the sure indications of the agency of God in man,” Calvin offers the following rather unusual example of what the soul does while a person is asleep.   Calvin asks,

“What shall we say of its [i.e., the soul's] activity when the body is asleep, its many revolving thoughts, its many useful suggestions, its many solid arguments, nay, its presentment of things yet to come?  What shall we say but that man bears about with him a stamp of immortality which can never be effaced?”

—From Calvin’s Institutes (1.5.5, p. 60)

Did Calvin just say that he can see the future in his dreams?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he did.  Hmm?  Maybe there is more to the concept of déjà vu than I realized.  Calvin appears to think so.

My wife probably thinks I’m crazy, but there have been occasions in my life when the example Calvin gives of our dreams providing a “presentment of things yet to come” really clicks for me.

If I tell you the stories I have in mind you’ll likely think I’m crazy too.  Let’s just say that when I read the highlighted passage from Calvin—I definitely related.

P.S.  In case anyone is wondering, I’m referencing the free PDF version of John Calvin’s, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, available online at Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

4 thoughts on “What Kind of Dreams Was John Calvin Having?

  1. Ha ha. Interesting. The translation by Battles that I’m reading says “Why is it that the soul not only vaguely roves about but conceives many useful things, ponders concerning many, EVEN DIVINES THE FUTURE – all while man sleeps…”

    So, from another translation, it does not seem like you’re reading that incorrectly. Very interesting…

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