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John Calvin’s errant views

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by Van, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Mar 4, 2011
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    In book three, chapters 21, 22 and 24 of John Calvin’s “Institutes of Christian Religion” Calvin presents doctrine now known as Calvinism. It is underwhelming rather than compelling. But lets go through it, point by point and see what we shall see. The words expressing John Calvin's view
    are partial quotes and paraphrases from his writings.

    Not everyone hears the gospel. (True.) Not everyone responds in the same way to the gospel. (True) The apparent injustice is acceptable because God’s election for His purpose aligns the seeming injustice with justice. (False premise. The actual premise from scripture is that everyone deserves destruction, and so granting mercy to some does not undercut the justice encountered by all others.)

    Election is a puzzling subject because it is hard to understand why some people are predestined to destruction and others mercy. (False premise, individual pre-selection is the fundamental error of the doctrine.) God not giving grace to all, but only to some illustrates God’s grace. (Gibberish. Grace is not grace if based on works but God granting salvation by grace through faith rather than by works illustrates the unmerited favor of grace.) Not understanding this prevents true humility. (Ad hominem of no merit.)

    Paul teaches that grace can only be understood if works are set aside, and it is recognized that grace is given only to predestined and foreseen individuals. (False premise, grace can be understood as God granting mercy to those who deserve justice. Also, in His sovereignty He chose to grant grace to those who call upon the name of the Lord because He is opposed to the proud (Habakkuk 2:4). What is not right within Calvinism, is arrogantly replacing “saved by grace through faith” with “saved by election through irresistible grace.”)

    Calvin next begins his assertion concerning eternal security. To make us invulnerable to the discouragement of life and its hardships, God promises safety to all He has taken into his care. (True) Therefore those that argue against eternal security do a disservice to salvation. (False premise. All those that stay in God’s kindness, in their faith in God and His Christ, can be confident of their security in Christ. God wants us to live in fear of Him, but in fear of nothing else.) Security lies in the lap of predestination. (False premise. Security lies in unwavering faith as protected by God Almighty, made stronger by acts worthy of repentance.)

    Calvin closes part one of Chapter 21 with an appeal to stick with the truths revealed in the word, and not invent answers to mysteries, but rather accept and worship Him cloaked in part in mystery. (True)

    Calvin opens part two with the statement that our first aim must be to know only the doctrine of predestination as set out in scripture. (True) Calvin closes part two with the statement we should rightly be alarmed about presumption, which could plunge us into ruin. (Amen.)

    In part 7 of Chapter 21, Calvin asserts that whom God dooms to destruction are shut off from eternal life, by God’s perfect but incomprehensible judgment. (False. God’s Word explains that all deserve destruction, we are doomed from conception because of Adam, and we also appoint ourselves to destruction by our deeds including, if given the opportunity, when we reject Christ. Those that never had an opportunity of accept the gospel will receive perfect justice, being judged based on the Law written on their heart (Romans 1:20; 2:12-16).

    In Chapter 22, Calvin continues his argument as follows: “People” imagine that God makes election according to merit, from foreknowledge he grants adoption as sons to the worthy, and condemns evil-doers. (False premise if applied to all people. Some people study God’s Word and conclude that God makes election based crediting our worthless faith as righteousness never merit.)

    Next, his argument, as least as I understand the translation, drifts toward incoherency. Calvin rightly points out that the truth of God is clear and cannot be shaken by human authorities. But then he says that his “experience” proves his assertion that God makes His election unconditionally (False and incoherent. God does as He pleases, but if He pleases to grant salvation to whoever believes in His Son, He can do it without a blindfold.)

    Calvin reveals the human logic that drove his doctrine as follows: If election precedes justification, (which it does) what does God see in our depraved dirty rags to persuade Him to elect us? (He sees through all our worthless works and finds in our depraved heart: belief, faith, love and commitment to Christ Jesus, our Lord and our God. He chooses us while we are yet sinners.) The underlying false premise of his doctrine is individual pre-selection for salvation; this drives everything else.

    At the close of Chapter 22, Calvin seeks to support unconditional individual pre-selection by extrapolating the selection by Jesus of His apostles whom had been given Him by the Father. This is also a false premise. God does select individuals, in order to further his purpose and plan. He hardens hearts and causes calamites and otherwise supernaturally alters the natural course of events to bring His predestined plan to fruition. But, since His plan included choosing believers based on granting grace through faith, extrapolation of God’s choices not conditioned on faith, runs counter to the evidence presented in His Word. Scripture can and does support both corporate selection of the kind of people – believers - and individual selection. God did not choose Abraham for unknown reasons; but scripture says He found him a man of faith. Many times, God appears to include His evaluation of the human heart in His selections. When God chose Christ, Christ existed as the Word (John 1:1) Therefore, when God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world He chose us corporately -believers in Christ as the target group of His redemption plan, and then subsequently during our lifetime He chose us individually by putting us in Christ, choosing people whose faith He credited as righteousness, according to His redemption plan.

    In Chapter 24, Calvin makes many solid points without muddling his exposition of God’s Word with false premises. He points out that hearing the gospel and responding sincerely are strong evidences of election. Faith and communion with Christ also should give us confidence. And if we have confidence, based on our past persistent faith, we should have confidence in our future security, for nothing can pluck us out of His hand. He correctly addresses the issue of those who sincerely thought they had responded to the call of the gospel, but subsequently went out from us because they never were of us.
    Salvation comes when God chooses us, not when we think we have chosen God.

    In summary, the false premise of unconditional election of individuals before creation, rather than accepting the view of God’s corporate election of His target group - believers in Christ – before creation, followed by our individual election based on God choosing us through faith in the truth, is what drove Calvin into error.