Skip to comments.9 Things You Should Know About John Calvin
Posted on 05/28/2014 7:41:25 PM PDT by ReformationFan
Yesterday marked the 450th anniversary of the death of John Calvin. Here are nine things you should know about the French theologian and Reformer.
1. From an early age, Calvin was a precocious student who excelled at Latin and philosophy. He was prepared to go to study of theology in Paris, when his father decided he should become a lawyer. Calvin spend half a decade at the University of Orleans studying law, a subject he did not love.
2. Calvin wrote his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, at the age of 27 (though he updated the work and published new editions throughout his life). The work was intended as an elementary manual for those who wanted to know something about the evangelical faith"the whole sum of godliness and whatever it is necessary to know about saving doctrine."
3. Calvin initially had no interest in being a pastor. While headed to Strasbourg he made a detour in Geneva where he met the local church leader William Farel. Calvin said he was only staying one night, but Farel argued that it was God's will he remain in the city and become a pastor. When Calvin protested that he was a scholar, not a preacher, Farel swore a great oath that God would curse all Calvin's studies unless he stayed in Geneva. Calvin later said, ""I felt as if God from heaven had laid his mighty hand upon me to stop me in my courseand I was so terror stricken that I did not continue my journey."
4. Calvin was a stepfather (he married a widow, Idelette, who had two children) but had no surviving children himself. His only son, Jacques, was born prematurely and survived only briefly. When his wife died he wrote to his friend, Viret:
I have been bereaved of the best friend of my life, of one who, if it has been so ordained, would willingly have shared not only my poverty but also my death. During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance.
5. During his ministry in Geneva, Calvin preached over two thousand sermons. He preached twice on Sunday and almost every weekday. His sermons lasted more than an hour and he did not use notes.
6. Around 1553, Calvin began an epistolary relationship with Michael Servetus, a Spanish theologian and physician. Servetus wrote several works with anti-trinitarian views so Calvin sent him a copy of his Institutes as a reply. Servetus promptly returned it, thoroughly annotated with critical observations. Calvin wrote to Servetus, "I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity." In time their correspondence grew more heated until Calvin ended it.
7. In the 1500s, denying the Trinity was a blasphemy that was considered worthy of death throughout Europe. Because he had written books denying the Trinity and denouncing paedobaptism, Servetus was condemned to death by the French Catholic Inquisition. Servetus escaped from prison in Vienne and fled to Italy, but stopped on the way in Geneva. After he attended a sermon by Calvin, Servetus was arrested by the city authorities. French Inquisitors asked that he be extradited to them for execution, but the officials in Geneva refused and brought him before their own heresy trial. Although Calvin believed Servetus deserving of death on account of what he termed as his "execrable blasphemies", he wanted the Spaniard to be executed by decapitation as a traitor rather than by fire as a heretic. The Geneva council refused his request and burned Servetus at the stake with what was believed to be the last copy of his book chained to his leg.
8. Within Geneva, Calvin's main concern was the creation of a collège, an institute for the education of children. Although the school was a single institution, it was divided into two parts: a grammar school called the collège and an advanced school called the académie. Within five years there were 1,200 students in the grammar school and 300 in the advanced school. The collège eventually became the Collège Calvin, one of the college preparatory schools of Geneva, while the académie became the University of Geneva.
9. Calvin worked himself nearly to death. As Christian History notes, when he could not walk the couple of hundred yards to church, he was carried in a chair to preach. When the doctor forbade him to go out in the winter air to the lecture room, he crowded the audience into his bedroom and gave lectures there. To those who would urge him to rest, he asked, "What? Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?"
10. He was so wrong
And just how much time have you spent studying his life and work? Do you know what he actually taught and why? Have you been a Berean in the Acts 17 sense and searched the Scriptures to disprove Calvin?
Proverbs 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”
Of the five points of Calvinism (TULIP) I hold that Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Preservation of the Saints are Biblically based. Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace are not.
You got it. Anything I’d have written at age 27 would have either been renounced or attenuated by now. Same with Calvin’s immature rubber-stamping of Augustine’s proclivities. Too bad so many people are willing to go to the mat for this misguided fellow today.
The Bereans, on the other hand, were not adherents of sola scriptura, for they were willing to accept Pauls new oral teaching as the word of God (as Paul claimed his oral teaching was; see 1 Thess. 2:13). The Bereans, before accepting the oral word of God from Paul, a tradition as even Paul himself refers to it (see 2 Thess. 2:15), examined the Scriptures to see if these things were so. They were noble-minded precisely because they "received the word with all eagerness." Were the Bereans commended primarily for searching the Scriptures? No. Their open-minded willingness to listen was the primary reason they are referred to as noble-mindednot that they searched the Scriptures.
Why did the Bereans search the Scriptures? Because they were the sole source of revelation and authority? No, but to see if Paul was in line with what they already knewto confirm additional revelation. They would not submit blindly to his apostolic teaching and oral tradition, but, once they accepted the credibility of Pauls teaching as the oral word of God, they put it on a par with Scripture and recognized its binding authority. After that, like the converts who believed in Thessalonica, they espoused apostolic Tradition and the Old Testament equally as Gods word (see 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:16). Therefore they accepted apostolic authority, which means that the determinations of Peter in the first Church council, reported in Acts 15, would have been binding on these new Gentile converts.
By contrast, the Jews of Thessalonica would have condemned Peters biblical exegesis at the Council of Jerusalem. They would have scoffed at the Churchs having authority over themthe Torah was all they needed.
Ray, S. (1997). Why The Bereans Reject Sola Scriptura. This Rock Magazine. Retrieved May 28, 2014
Calvin - no matter what, you are destined before you were born so no matter what sort of Christian life you lead if you were destined for Hell, well there you went. Predestination.
Yes, that is why I know he is wrong!
11. He was a cruel arrogant SOB that had those who disagreed with him burnt at the stake.
12. No one knew of God’s love better than Calvin.
I don’t know if you are a fan of John Piper, but the following link is a biographical sketch of John Calvin that he presented at a pastors conference in 1997.
Please note that you can read, listen from the web-page, or download the msg as an MP3. The length is ~1.5 hrs
Give it up! They can’t help being against Calvin.
How much time have you spent really studying the Doctrines of Grace? Do you really understand what Calvinists believe and why? Are you sure? That’s are rhetorical questions for you to consider. I have neither the time nor inclination to debate it and you don’t have to prove anything to me.
I was an ardent Arminian for nearly 40 years. Due to a convergence of circumstances, one day I decided to really study what Calvinists believe and why. What I discovered changed my life and ultimately my entire family. Short of salvation it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I now realize what I had been presented as “Calvinism” was a weak caricature. That same caricature is the common understanding among American evangelicals.
Piper gives a compelling argument here:
IMO, piper does his homework. He doesn’t pull any punches; he presents contrary opinions and then logically walks through why he believes what he does.
If you have the time to listen, I believe - if nothing else - that you will be blessed by hearing the word of God exposited by a man who loves God and loves the Word...
If anyone says that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less his own proper work than the vocation of Paul, let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the grace of justification is attained by those only who are predestined unto life, but that all others, who are called, are called indeed, but do not receive grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil, let him be anathema.
The Council of Trent (1547). Decree Concerning Justification. Canon 6 .
Post of the year!
I guess I believe in them in a broad sense, not in the way Calvin address them. With total depravity I hold that yes man cannot do any good, but he can come to God by himself. With Unconditional Election I hold to the idea that we saved by grace alone and nothing we have done special. As for preservation of the Saints, I hold that once saved always saved.
Predestination is Biblical? Then we’re all doomed. What do we need Yashua for?