CALVIN on the Use of SECULAR Sources
In preparing to preach on Titus 1:10-16, I ran across an interest quote by John Calvin regarding Titus 1:12-13. In that passage, Paul quotes Epimenides, a Cretan poet 1:12-13. The quote reads: “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true.”
Now what is fascinating here is how Paul quote a secular source and uses it to reinforce a point he is making about the Cretan opponents of the Christian Faith. He draws out a TRUTH found in secular literature.
Calvin says this:
“From this passage we may infer that those persons are superstitious who do not venture to borrow anything from heathen authors. All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men, have said anything that I true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God. Besides, all things are of God; and therefore why should it not be lawful to dedicate to his glory everything that can properly be employed for such a purpose?”
I think this is a helpful way of approaching secular literature as we seek to live and think biblically. Surely, we don’t want to be “superstitious” by rejecting wisdom found in secular writings and media or try to be more spiritual than Paul, who quoted from secular sources to make his points and use in analogies to explain the gospel message. We can and ought to use secular literature and wisdom; we can “plunder the Egyptians” as Augustine described it, for God’s glory and the good of our souls and others.