What Does "whatever its precise character" Mean in Dort 3/4.4?

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Canons of Dort 3/4.4 says

Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature​

There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in all people after the fall, by virtue of which they retain some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrate a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling humans to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him—so far, in fact, that they do not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways they completely distort this light, whatever its precise character, and suppress it in unrighteousness. In doing so all people render themselves without excuse before God.

Do the words "whatever its precise character" mean and why are they included? What doctrine do these words defend, dispute, or define?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
What is aforementioned…..
“by virtue of which they retain some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrate a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior.”
Probably referring to common grace and being made in the image of God.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
So, the argument is that natural revelation, common grace, and fallen design is enough light for condemnation, but not for regeneration which is a supernatural work of the spirit.
 

Μαρτιν

Puritan Board Freshman
Canons of Dort 3/4.4 says

Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature​

There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in all people after the fall, by virtue of which they retain some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrate a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling humans to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him—so far, in fact, that they do not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways they completely distort this light, whatever its precise character, and suppress it in unrighteousness. In doing so all people render themselves without excuse before God.

Do the words "whatever its precise character" mean and why are they included? What doctrine do these words defend, dispute, or define?



What translation are you using? the words seems missing in the orginial 17th century dutch. If i have more time i will look at the latin text.

"ja veel meer hetselve, hoedanich het oock is, geheelick op verscheyden wijse besoedelt ende in ongerechticheydt 't onderhout, 't welck dewijle hy doet, soo wort hem alle onschult voor God benomen."

This is a much more faithfull english translation :
Nay farther, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it [back] in unrighteousness; by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.

Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 588.
 

Μαρτιν

Puritan Board Freshman
Like Calvin (II 2 12-17) and the belgic conffesion ( article 14) the cannons learn that ther is still a spark of divine knowledge within him. Without the holy ghost, from nature, humans can learn that there is a God and good and evil. But this knowledge is not engough to be saved. It only increases there guild becouse the now know, there is a God, and there is something like good and evil. And so before the throne of God the have no excuses for there sins.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Also, if that is what it means, your translation is definitely easier to understand.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
What is aforementioned…..
“by virtue of which they retain some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrate a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior.”
Probably referring to common grace and being made in the image of God.

I love your Avatar, BTW. You and I must be about the same age.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
"Nay farther, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted," what do the words "such as it is" mean? Are they in reference to the inferiority of the light of nature opposed to the light of special relation?

I take it to mean something like, "this light of nature, as beneficial as it is (even though limited), is rendered even less useful by being polluted."
 

Μαρτιν

Puritan Board Freshman
It is from the CRC website. https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/canons-dort

Going by your translation, "Nay farther, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted," what do the words "such as it is" mean? Are they in reference to the inferiority of the light of nature opposed to the light of special relation?
Art. IV. There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly external deportment.
But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay farther, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it [back] in unrighteousness; by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.

Yes, look at the structue of the cannon. In the first part it is stated that there is such a thing as natural light, through which al humans know there is a God and good and evil. In the second part it is stated why it is inferior to the light of devine revalation. 1) This natural light brings not to saving knowledge nor true conversion. 2) People are incapabele of using this natural light to live acording aaccording to God original design, due to there fallen state. 3) As this natural light is incapable of true convesion and bring fallen men to holiness it only bring further unrighteousness, in so far that sin is heavier because the know there is somthing like a God and Good and Evil en the do sin.

Such as its, refers back - in my opinion- to the earlier statements (1 and 2 in my summary) about the natural light.
 
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