Dave and I became close friends at seminary. Afterward, he shared with me what he had learned about John Calvin’s character. This is the first time I’ve seen it in writing from him.
If there is anyone who should know, it’s Dave. He’s probably read everything from at least every American library written by or about John Calvin, often even in the original languages. Dave is pure genius, having this amazing memory!
In Birmingham (his home), I went with him to the library one day to drop off and pick up the books he ordered. I watched him exchange about 30 books for the 30 books he was getting. I think he said he did this every week. His Ph.D. thesis blew the professors away. Apparently, it had this bibliography that was almost endless. I’ll have to ask him again about the specifics. He’s not one to toot his own horn.
How John Calvin Made me a Catholic
Jun 1st, 2010
This is a guest post by Dr. David Anders. David and his wife completed their undergraduate degrees at Wheaton College in 1992. He subsequently earned an M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1995, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2002, in Reformation history and historical theology. He was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. He will be on EWTN Live on June 23rd, 7:00 pm Central (8 EST), and may be discussing some of the material from this article.
When I finished seminary, I moved on to Ph.D. studies in Reformation history. My focus was on John Calvin (1509-1564), the French Reformer who made Geneva, Switzerland into a model Protestant city. I chose Calvin not just because of my Presbyterian background, but because most American Protestants have some relationship to him. The English Puritans, the Pilgrim Fathers, Jonathan Edwards and the “Great Awakening” – all drew on Calvin and then strongly influenced American religion. My college and seminary professors portrayed Calvin as a master theologian, our theologian. I thought that if I could master Calvin, I would really know the faith.
Strangely, mastering Calvin didn’t lead me anywhere I expected. To begin with, I decided that I really didn’t like Calvin. I found him proud, judgmental and unyielding.
I already knew that Calvin himself, for all his insistence on unity and authority, had been unable to deliver the goods. His own followers descended into anarchy and individualism.
I realized instead that Calvin was part of the problem. He had insisted on the importance of unity and authority, but had rejected any rational or consistent basis for that authority. He knew that Scripture totally alone, Scripture interpreted by each individual conscience, was a recipe for disaster. But his own claim to authority was perfectly arbitrary. Whenever he was challenged, he simply appealed to his own conscience, or to his subjective experience, but he denied that right to Bolsec and others. As a result, Calvin became proud and censorious, brutal with his enemies, and intolerant of dissent. In all my reading of Calvin, I don’t recall him ever apologizing for a mistake or admitting an error.
• • • • •
So can John Calvin be in heaven?
Unlike Calvin, Paul actually did ~”work out his own salvation through fear and trembling.” He made sure he ALWAYS right with everyone and God.
“Herein I also practice *always* having a conscience void of offense toward God and men.” (Acts 24:16)
He overcame sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. He once lived in Romans 7 before he became born-again. Then he lived in Christ, not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit:
“There is therefore now *no condemnation* to those who are IN CHRIST Jesus, who don’t WALK according to the flesh, but ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT.”
Consider Paul’s words in Paul in Galatians 5 & 6. In which list do we find John Calvin?
13 For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let’s not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another.
1 Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each man test his own work, and then he will take pride in himself and not in his neighbor. 5 For each man will bear his own burden.
6 But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches. 7 Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
9 Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let’s do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.
John Calvin Didn’t Follow Christ: “If you can burn people at the stake, and drown people in the river, and drive them out of town into a Swiss winter, and say you got that from the Bible, you’re not an exegete. And that’s the kind of man John Calvin was” – Mike Floyd
The Protestant Reformers Were Frauds: By their Fruits You Will Know Them — Martin Luther was a false teacher, a racist, a persecutor and a murderer! John Calvin was a false teacher, a deranged tyrant, a persecutor and a murderer!
Felix Manz (1498-1527) – Drowned by Zwingli for Rebaptizing — Manz wanted to bring together those who were willing to accept Christ, OBEY the Word, and FOLLOW in Jesus’ footsteps, to UNITE with these by baptism
Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way | Who are the Children of God? — “There is therefore now *no condemnation* to those who are IN CHRIST Jesus, who don’t WALK according to the flesh, but ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT.”
My friend, David Anders on Catholic TV (I don’t recommend Catholicism, but I’m a big fan of Dave)