Never Despise The Truth

What did John Calvin mean when he said that we should not despise the truth wherever it might be found?

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Some people have talked about John Calvin in his view when he said that we should accept truth wherever it is found. That led to a more general way of saying it, that all truth is God's truth. So, what did he mean by that? Well, if you read his commentary on Titus, also his Institutes, in one place in his Institutes he says that God the Creator has, in a way, given common grace, and he said, the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, and therefore, even though man is fallen, because of common grace, even the fallen man could know truth about the universe. And he said to despise that truth would be actually offensive to the Spirit of God, which I would agree with. I think there is a great truth in that, that even though man is fallen, he is not, as Schaeffer would say, he's not "a zero"; he can understand things about our world. Scientists have done marvelous things. Unsaved scientists, the medical profession, all the way down the line, we just see people who have not trusted in Christ. And yet, because the world is one way and not another, and because we all live in the same world, why some of these people stumble upon—maybe they stumble upon truth, and if it comports with the text, the Bible, then we should not despise it. We could even learn something from it. Here's the concern that I have, is that when we take that truth that we don't drag some of the naturalistic thinking along with it. When a man has a toolbox, and he picks out one tool, well, seldom do we just get one tool in this work. We usually get the whole toolbox. So, unless we're very discerning, when we say, yes, that's a truth, we must always make sure that it's a truth that we can substantiate from the text and that we don't let any of the worldview in which that truth was revealed come along with it, because that, I think, would be kind of dangerous. But as a comment as Calvin made that "All truth is God's truth," I think we have to say that is right because Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." I don't know where else truth would reside if it doesn't reside in God. And if this is his creation, then I would expect no matter who looks at it, if they get it right, they've got truth, and we should not despise it.

Answer by Dr. Bruce Little

Dr. Bruce Little is Senior Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Collection.