John Calvin: Scholar of Grace


If you think you know all about Calvin, or all you want to know about him, I urge you to read this post by Jonathan Goos, who is posting on the Reformers all during the month of October. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Continuing Reformation

"John Calvin" - Believed to be authored by Hans Holbein c. 1540 - Heckman Digital Archive. “John Calvin” – Believed to be authored by Hans Holbein c. 1540 – Hekman Digital Archive.

Everyone knows John Calvin. He is beloved and reviled; the object of praise and respect and the object of scorn and resentment. John Calvin is claimed by Reformed Christians, the Church of England, the Free Will Baptists and Westboro Baptist Church. Indeed, Calvinism has become an utterly useless term. Those who claim to be Calvinists sometimes have little to no relation to each other whatsoever. In his article “Calvin and Calvinism,” Carl Trueman states, “we need to understand that the term ‘Calvinism’ is profoundly unhelpful. It was coined as a polemical tool for tarnishing the reputation of the Reformed, and it is of no real use to modern intellectual history.” (The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin, Ch. 13) Love him or hate him, John Calvin’s writings continue to shape and change…

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14 thoughts on “John Calvin: Scholar of Grace

  1. I’ve always hated the term, “Calvinism” because it makes it appear as if Calvin invented a new doctrine from his own interpretation of the Scriptures.
    Thanks for the post, Marie! God bless you!~

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    • Yes, Jonathan did a very good job with this. I learned something about Calvin from a teaching series that included a talk by Dr. Robert Godfrey on Calvin’s bio. It’s good that Jonathan is taking a month to cover things in preparation for Reformation Day. I don’t know anyone who celebrates it here where we live, but I remember it with gratitude. So glad to have you read this, Dan!

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  2. I don’t use the tem Calvinism because most people don’t really have any idea what it means. Years ago, I preached in several fundamentalist Baptist churches. They all loved it until they learned that I was “a Calvinist.” That was that.

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    • Clarence, avoiding using this term is wise. About your experience, I understand on a smaller scale, having lost a friend very recently because she felt I deceived others here at my blog by not saying outright “I’m a Calvinist”. Maybe to use the term Reformed Doctrine is better because it’s more accurate…?

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      • Thank you for your reply. I don’t know of a term that raises people’s blood pressure more quickly than the term “Calvinist.” I’m sorry that you lost your friend over not using it. As for the term “Reformed,” though I do agree with the Synod of Dort in their response to the Arminian view, and have done so for about 50 years, yet, I have always held to a premillennial eschatology, never having seen anything from Scripture or Reformed writings that makes me be otherwise. Considering the time in which they lived, I value what the Reformers did. At the same time, I wish they would have returned to the New Testament and not tried to mold NT Christians on an OT pattern. I know that there are many good people who differ with me on these subjects, but I don’t believe in infant baptism or in an office of “priest” or in a national church. So I don’t really know that I can use the term “Reformed,” either.
        Again, I thank you for your reply. I value your friendship through our blogs and appreciate your stand for the truths of the grace of God in our salvation. God’s best to you, Maria.
        Clarence.

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        • Clarence, thank you for your reply – it’s helpful! It seems to be best to just call ourselves Christians because other terms fly in the face of Paul’s concern that Corinthians were declaring themselves to be of certain men; and also terms have so much baggage.
          I haven’t read the papers from the Synod of Dort but simply know about it. Your concerns with Reformed doctrine are real, and I feel this is why people are half-hearted in their appreciation of the Reformers. Everything in this life is imperfect.
          About premillenialism, to hold this doctrine seems to be the only way to take the Scriptures at face value, that is, that there are two resurrections – and blessed are they who have part in the first resurrection.
          I value your explanations and just want to thank you. We attend an independent Baptist church and it is tough – but we would have difficulties with differences anywhere.
          Pray your wife and family are well, in the Lord!
          Maria
          p.s. please continue your study of Hebrews.

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