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Religion Library: Presbyterian and Reformed

Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

Written by: Ted Vial

The purpose of existence is to glorify God and to live in God's presence, not separated from God.  This is true in this life, but especially true in the life to come, where the goal is to live eternally with God in heaven.  Since God cannot tolerate sin, those who die without forgiveness for sin will not be able to enter heaven.  It is not possible for humans to live sinlessly, so forgiveness from God is required.  This forgiveness saves us, and confidence in this forgiveness is faith.  Calvin and Luther agreed on this, though Calvin's idea of faith included slightly more intellectual content than did Luther's.  According to Calvin, we cannot have full confidence in forgiveness unless we understand something about the nature of God as a benevolent omnipotent father.  When we understand sin and are confident in God's forgiveness, we are able to fulfill our purpose by glorifying God. 

Study Questions:
     1.    How has the “center of creation” shifted since the fall of Adam and Eve?
     2.    Describe Zwingli and Calvin’s understanding of original sin.
     3.    How do Calvin and Zwingli understand the Ten Commandments? Does one have to be holy to follow them? Explain.
     4.    What do Presbyterians understand as the purpose of existence? How is it achieved?


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