No man is perfect and it can’t go without saying that John Calvin had some concerning theology that every Calvinist needs to know about.
Here are three troubling things John Calvin said in the Institutes of the Christian Religion:
1. Church Buildings Are Sacred Spaces
“…when I consider the proper end for which churches are erected, it appears to me more unbecoming their sacredness than I well can tell, to admit any other images than those living symbols which the Lord has consecrated by his own word: I mean Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” Book 1, Chapter 11, Section 13
2. Baptism Cleanses The Guilt Of Sin
“When it is said that God purifies his Church, so as to be “holy and without blemish,” (Eph. 5:26, 27), that he promises this cleansing by means of baptism, and performs it in his elect, I understand that reference is made to the guilt rather than to the matter of sin. In regenerating his people God indeed accomplishes this much for them; he destroys the dominion of sin, by supplying the agency of the Spirit, which enables them to come off victorious from the contest. Sin, however, though it ceases to reign, ceases not to dwell in them.” ~Book 3, Chapter 3, Section 11
3. Credo Baptists Are Of The Devil
“No sound man, I presume, can now doubt how rashly the Church is disturbed by those who excite quarrels and disturbances because of pædobaptism. For it is of importance to observe what Satan means by all this craft—viz. to rob us of the singular blessing of confidence and spiritual joy… Doubtless the design of Satan in assaulting pædobaptism with all his forces is to keep out of view…In this way, not only would men be impiously ungrateful for the mercy of God, but be less careful in training their children to piety…let us present to him our infants, to whom he has assigned a place among his friends and family, that is, the members of the Church.”~Book 4. Chapter 16. Part B, Section 32
Was Jesus a Calvinist?
This is a question that is worth pondering.
If the answer is yes, have we not just exalted a man above God?
If the is answer no, then why even use the term?
Consider the use of the term in light of the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians:
What does Paul say to the feuding church in Corinthians 1-3?
- Encourages them to have no divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10)
- Stresses the centrality of Christ and not His ministers (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)
- Reminds Christians that to embrace Christ is to embrace intellectual scorn from the world (1 Corinthians 1:22-29)
- Reinforces the idea of the centrality of Christ and not His ministers (1 Corinthians 1:31)
- Attributes his success in ministry to the work of the Spirit of God and not his individual skills or merits (1 Corinthians 2:4)
- Communicates that their allegiance to ministers is a sign of spiritual infancy (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
- Reminds the Corinthians that God’s ministers are nothing and that God alone causes ministry to bear fruit (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
- Explains that Christ is the only One upon which doctrine can be built (1 Corinthians 3:11)
- Reminds them that to embrace Christ is to embrace foolishness and be hated, not respected (1 Corinthians 3:18)
- Commands that they do not boast in men because they are already full in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
The term “Calvinist” is designed to align one’s self with an individual with particular views of theology and is no different from one saying they are of Paul or Apollos. It, therefore, brings unnecessary division instead of unity, something of which Christians are to diligently maintain (Eph 4:3).
I personally consider myself a 5-Point Calvinist, however, I loathe the term and deeply feel it detracts from Christ and puts a focus on theologians instead of the word of God.
What are your thoughts? Will you stop using the word Calvinist to describe yourself?