Anyone actually read Calvin?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Ignazio_er, Dec 30, 2003.

  1. Ignazio_er

    Ignazio_er
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    A prominent Calvinist pastor recently wrote to me, "I am not a follower of Calvin in the least little bit. I have never read anything by him, save a page or two out of one of his commentaries for a study I did in seminary." I replied that he should continue avoiding Calvin; after all look what happened when Arminius read Calvin and compared it to scripture.

    Has anyone here ever actually read what Calvin wrote? Can you really go to a seminary and get by without reading Calvin, except for a page or two, and what should I think of a Calvinist pastor who admits this?
     
  2. TWade

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    You could always just read reviews from those you trust and go from there.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. KenH

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    Hey, Ignazio_er:

    Since you quoted Robert G. Ingersoll as an authoratative source in another forum, I am curious how much you have read of his writings and how much of them do you agree with?
     
  4. Ignazio_er

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    In the C/A forum, before Pastor Larry deleted the thread and told me to restart it here, another poster asked for references on some of Calvin's excesses as an executor (pardon of the pun) of secular power. I was really quoting him as an additional source (with citations and web links) as an example of the sort of thing a quick google search turns up.

    As for Ingersoll, he was the son of a Presbyterian minister, a lawyer, and such an electrifying political speaker that he could pack the largest theaters while charging exorbitant admissions. As a lawyer he defended a freethinker who was charged and arrested for violating blasphemy laws, which perhaps explains his antagonism toward men like Calvin.

    He was a republican who fought for the rights of women and African Americans. I think he as also an atheist.

    Other than that I don't know much about Ingersoll, but I won't hold his republicanism against him!
     
  5. KenH

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    But you don't mind his atheism. :rolleyes:

    Evidently you and Madalyn Murray O'Hair both admire him. Some company you are keeping in your views toward Christianity. :rolleyes:
     
  6. Ignazio_er

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    But you don't mind his atheism. :rolleyes: </font>[/QUOTE]Actually that makes me devalue his comments on religion. His legal and political experiences and renown, on the other hand, make me value his insights into the nature of tyrannical governments.

    BTW - I voted for dubya.
     
  7. KenH

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    So did I but I have since repented and won't make the same mistake by voting for him again.
     
  8. KenH

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    Devalue? Devalue? But not totally repudiate? :rolleyes:

    Why would you pay any attention to a man who doesn't share your Christian values? You do have Christian values, don't ya?
     
  9. Major B

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    I have read Calvin, a lot. Some in the Institutes, often in his commentaries and sermons. He was a great exegete. You must remember that before Calvin and Luther, the science of exegesis and exposition from the originals was a lost art. Calvin restored it. His theology is sometimes thick, but his exegesis and sermons are clear, deep, and warm.

    Calvin, of course, died in 1564, 57 years before the "five points" were devised at Dort, and before Beza and others scholasticized his exegetical work. A humble man and loving pastor, I think he'd be horrified to think there WAS calvinism.

    John Calvin on John 3:16

    “Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation and He does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought anywhere else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why He was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly for diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because He has reckoned us worthy that He should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols His pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.

    And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when He declares the cause to be in the love of God. For if we wish to ascend higher, the Spirit shuts the door by the mouth of Paul, when He informs us that this love was founded on the purpose of his will, (Eph 1:5). And, indeed, it is very evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at the mercy of God alone. Nor does He say that God was moved to deliver us, because He perceived in us something that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the glory of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still more clear from what follows; for He adds that God gave his Son to men that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated by Paul from a consideration of the time; for He loved us, while we were still enemies by sin, (Rom 5:8,10). And indeed, where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath of God, which draws death along with it. It is mercy, therefore, that reconciles us to God, that He may likewise restore us to life.


    This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and show that out of Him we are hated by God. But we ought to remember—what I have already stated—that the secret love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in Himself is higher than all other causes; but that the grace which He wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the reconciliation which was procured through Christ. For since He necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved by Him until atonement has been made for those sins on the account of which He is justly offended at us? Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness.”…

    And He has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which He formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the World that is worthy of the favor of God, yet He shows Himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when He invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.
     
  10. Ignazio_er

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    Good for you Major. It's so important to go back to the original sources. Thanks for the info on the 5 points origins. I had no idea that came so long after Calvin's death.
     
  11. Aaron

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    I have read a lot of Calvin, and I will say there has not been a better theologian since. I don't agree with everything, but not because I think myself better than he or of a more perfect knowledge, but because I simply don't see the connections he made between some points.

    I think I agree with about 99.9% with what I have read of Calvin.
     
  12. Ransom

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    Several years ago I gave the first volume of the Institutes a close reading while using them as a sample for a desktop publishing package I was trying to learn. I was new to the "Calvinism thing" at the time (and not yet a committed Calvinist) and so I wanted to see what he was all about. I found the Institutes, at least in the Beveridge translation, to be engrossing reading, partly because of the content and partly because I was still relatively new to polemic literature of that kind.

    I hope this year to re-read that volume and move on to the rest of the Institutes as well.

    In the meantime I have also used his commentary on Galatians as part of the regular list of reference works I use in preparing Sunday school lessons, as well as looking up various and sundry other things here and there.

    I'm sure there are many other theologians whom I have read more deeply. It is a stereotype of Calvinists, perpetuated by non-Calvinists, that they constantly have their nose buried deeply in Calvin's books. The vast majority of Calvinists I know have never read any of Calvin's work at all.
     
  13. gb93433

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    I have read The Institutes and have his commentaries. But what I have read I often do not see in those who claim to be his followers. In fact when I ask those who claim to be a Calvinist if they have read The Institutes the answer is often negative.
     
  14. Ransom

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    That's because "Calvinism" does not necessarily mean "a disciple of John Calvin." A Calvinist is someone who believes in the same soteriology. That soteriology was neither unique nor original to John Calvin; in fact there were "Calvinists" before Calvin, only of course they wouldn't have been called that. But one could come to the same position independently of John Calvin's writings.

    For example, before I had read a word of Calvin, I was on my way to becoming a Calvinist because of what I had read or heard of *cough* haroldcamping *cough*, James White, and Charles Spurgeon, and realizing that the theology they were expounding systematically was in accord with what I was already discovering in Scripture on my own. By the time I actually became a self-proclaimed "Calvinist" in 1998, the only Calvin I had read was volume 1 of the Institutes which, so far as I recall, never discusses predestination, at least in any appreciable depth.
     
  15. Major B

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    Well, God saved me through a calvinistic ministry, so I have been one since day one of my Christian life (1973). Cut my teeth on Berkhof, Gill, Calvin, Spurgeon, et. al.
     

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