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Calvin in Budapest

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22 Oct 2018 at 5:41 am

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The Folly of Contending With God’s Decrees of Election or Reprobation

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Foolish men contend with God in many ways, as though they held him liable to their accusations. They first ask, therefore, by what right the Lord becomes angry at his creatures who have not provoked him by any previous offense; for to devote to destruction whomever he pleases is more like the caprice of a tyrant than the lawful sentence of a judge. It therefore seems to them that men have reason to expostulate with God if they are predestined to eternal death solely by his decision, apart from their own merit. — Calvin

God is God, for Calvin, and free to decide whatever he wants to decide and if you don’t like it, well, too bad.  The universalists hate that so much that for them God elects everyone to salvation (in spite of the complete absence of any such notion in Scripture) and the angry atheists hate that so much that they attack a God which they don’t believe in (which is, by all accounts, more an indication of madness or mental illness than anything else).

God is God and he can indeed do whatever he wants.  And, truthfully, if you think God should do what you want instead of what he wants you really are quite unhinged.

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17 Oct 2018 at 2:32 pm

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The Day Jerome Bolsec Began Spewing His Heresy

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At a general meeting, held October 16, 1551, the minister of Jussy, Jean de Saint André, in preaching from the words of St. John, (8:47,) “He that is of God heareth God’s words …,” took occasion to develop the doctrine of eternal election, declaring that “those who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God, continue in a state of rebellion even to the end, because obedience is a gift accorded only to the elect.” He had scarcely finished speaking when one of the hearers rose up, and pronounced this doctrine false and impious, accompanying his discourse with coarse abuse of those who make God the author of sin, and exhorted the people to guard against this new doctrine as a detestable piece of folly.

This man was the old Carmelite monk, Jerome Bolsec, a physician, preacher, and poet, who, wandering by turns in France and Italy, had retired to Geneva some months previously, where he had already frequently attacked the doctrines of Calvin. Unnoticed in the crowd, the Reformer, whom Bolsec had thought absent, immediately rose up, and by a succession of testimonies borrowed from the writing of Augustine, eloquently refuted his adversary.

Arrested on account of the temerity of his language, and interrogated by the magistrate, Jerome refused to retract, and was thrown into prison. The case was brought before the Council, where he boldly maintained his opinion, adding, besides, that many of the Swiss ministers shared in his sentiments. Before pronouncing a judgment, which the ministers of Geneva earnestly desired, the magistrates wrote concerning the subject to three reformed towns, namely, Zurich, Berne, and Basle, furnishing them with a list of the errors of Bolsec, and asking their advice as to how they should treat him.*

Later Calvin wrote this letter (in the name of the reformed pastors of the city) to the Reformed ministers of Switzerland (and it’s rather long, but very much worth the read) :

There is one Jerome here, who, having thrown off the monk’s cowl, is become one of those strolling physicians, who, by habitual deception and trickery, acquire a degree of impudence which makes them prompt and ready in venturing upon anything whatever. He made an attempt, eight months ago, in a public assembly of our church, to overthrow the doctrine of God’s free election, which, as received from the word of God, we teach in common with you.

Then, indeed, the impertinence of the man was regulated by some degree of moderation. He ceased not afterwards to make a noise in all places, with the intention of shaking the faith of the simple in this all-important doctrine. At length he openly disgorged what poison was in him. For when one of our brethren, not long since, was expounding, after our ordinary custom, that passage in John where Christ declares that those who do not hear God’s words are not of God; he remarked that as many as have not been born again of the Spirit of God, continue in a state of stubborn resistance to God, even to the end, inasmuch as the gift of obedience is peculiar to the elect of God, on whom it is bestowed.

That worthless wretch rose up, and affirmed that the false and impious opinion, that the will of God is the cause of all things, took its rise during the present century from Laurentius Valla; but that in this he acted wrongly, for he charged God with the blame of all evils, and falsely imputed to Him a tyrannical caprice, such as the ancient poets fancifully ascribed to their Jove. He then took up the second head, and affirmed that men are not saved because they have been elected, but that they are elected because they believe; that no one is condemned at the mere pleasure of God; that those only are condemned who deprive themselves of the election common to all. In dealing with this question, he inveighed against us with a great deal of violent abuse. The chief magistrate of the city, on hearing of the matter, imprisoned him, especially as he had been tumultuously haranguing the common people not to allow themselves to be deceived by us.

On being brought before the Senate for trial, he proceeded to defend his error with no less obstinacy than audacity. He, moreover, made it his boast that a considerable number of the ministers of the other churches sided with him; on which we requested the Senate not to give its final decision until, having heard from your church, it should ascertain how this worthless wretch had wickedly abused your name by making you sanction his error. Overcome by shame, he at first did not decline the decisions of the churches, but began to jest about having good reason to mistrust you from your familiar intimacy with our brother Calvin.

The Senate, however, according to our request, resolved upon consulting you. Besides, and in addition to this, he was implicating your church. For while denouncing Zwingli above all others, he said that Bullinger was of precisely the same opinion with himself. He has craftily watched for a handle of discord among the Bernese ministers. We are really anxious to have this plague so removed from our church, that it may not infect our neighbours when we have got rid of it ourselves. Although it is of very great importance to us and to the public tranquility, that the doctrine which we profess should meet with your approval; yet we have no reason to entreat your confidence in many words.

The Institutes of our brother Calvin, against which he is especially directing his attacks, is not unknown among you. With what reverence and sobriety he has therein discussed the secret judgments of God, it is not for us to record: the book is its own bright witness. Nor in truth do we teach anything here but what is contained in God’s holy word, and what has been held by your church ever since the light of the Gospel was restored. That we are justified by faith, we all agree; but the real mercy of God can only be perceived when we learn that faith is the fruit of free adoption, and that, in point of fact, adoption flows from the eternal election of God.

But not only does this impostor fancy that election depends upon faith, but that faith itself is originated as much by man himself as by divine inspiration. There can be no doubt, on the other hand, that when men perish, it must be imputed to their own wickedness. But by the case of the reprobate whom God, from His own mysterious council, passes by and neglects as if unworthy, we are taught a striking lesson of humility.

Yet such is this Jerome, that he will not admit that God does anything justly unless he has palpable evidence of it. In fine, this much is fixed and conceded by us all, that when man sins, God must not be regarded as having any share in the blame, nor that the word sin can in any sense be applied to Him. Yet this does not hinder Him from exercising His power, in a wonderful and incomprehensible way, through Satan and the wicked, as if they were the instruments of His wrath, to teach the faithful patience, or to inflict merited punishment on His enemies. This profane trifler cries out that we bring an impeachment against God when we allege that He governs all things by His providence.

Destroying, in short, in this way, all distinction between causes as remote and concealed, on the one hand, and as near and patent on the other; rendering it impossible to regard the sufferings to which holy Job was subjected as the work of God, but that He may be held as equally guilty with the Devil, the Chaldeans, and the Sabæan robbers.

Our mutual relationship, therefore, demands that you will not consider it troublesome to uphold and maintain, by your countenance, that doctrine of Christ which has been outraged by the profanity of a wanton and ill-disposed man. As we confidently trust that you will do this gladly and of your own accord, we consider it useless to ply you with anxious and earnest requests; and, on the other hand, should our services be at any time of advantage to you, you will ever find us prepared to discharge every brotherly duty.

—Adieu, most beloved and esteemed brethren. May God guide you by His Spirit, bless your labours, and defend your church!*

_________________________
* J. Bonnet, Letters of John Calvin-IV (Vol. 1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Written by Jim

16 Oct 2018 at 7:46 am

Posted in Calvin, Church History

Bad Things Happen to Sermon Skippers…

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As Calvin demonstrates pretty convincingly as he tries to warn people about attempting it-

An individual during the time of sermon on the Lord’s day went into a wine shop to drink; by chance he fell on his sword that had slipped out of its scabbard and was carried out in a dying state. Another in the month of September last, on a day in which the sacrament of the Lord’s supper was administered, as he was secretly attempting while intoxicated to creep through a window to get to a strumpet, had his bones broken in several places by a terrible fall.

At last I said in conclusion, “Till hell swallow you up with all your houses, you will not give faith to God when he stretches forth his hand.” I perceived that my zeal gave no great pleasure to a good many, because they would not be willingly wakened from their lethargy. For you can scarcely believe how torpid the conscience of many is, who seem puffed up to the skies. The greater part of them fear disgrace to the city; a few of them, to our doctrine; but all of them quite foolishly. For what more glorious for us than this notable vengeance of God against the despisers of our doctrine?

Or, in short, skip Calvin’s sermon and you’ll really regret it.  A lot.

Written by Jim

11 Oct 2018 at 2:25 pm

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Quote of the Day

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All theology, when separated from Christ, is not only vain and confused, but is also mad, deceitful, and spurious. – John Calvin

Written by Jim

10 Oct 2018 at 6:53 am

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Looking For Calvin’s Grave

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In case you didn’t know- Calvin was buried in an unmarked grave; Zwingli was hacked to bits and his body burned and the ashes scattered, and Luther was buried in the Church. So we know where Luther’s buried, we know where the Papists slaughtered and dismembered Zwingli, but we don’t know where Calvin was laid to rest. So this is an interesting foray into the quest for Calvin’s grave:

Written by Jim

9 Oct 2018 at 7:15 am

Posted in Calvin, Luther, Zwingli

Quote of the Day

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Written by Jim

7 Oct 2018 at 8:23 am

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Stop What You’re Doing RIGHT NOW and Go Get The Calvin Handbook e-book for $3.99

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Offer appears to be good through the end of October.  And get Julie’s book while you’re at it.

Written by Jim

4 Oct 2018 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Books, Calvin

Since It’s ‘Marburg Colloquy’ Day, And I’m Thinking About the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper…

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Let’s hear what Calvin said on the matter in 1559- 30 years after the colloquy-

The presence of Christ in the Supper we must hold to be such as neither affixes him to the element of bread, nor encloses him in bread, nor circumscribes him in any way (this would obviously detract from his celestial glory); and it must, moreover, be such as neither divests him of his just dimensions, nor dissevers him by differences of place, nor assigns to him a body of boundless dimensions, diffused through heaven and earth.

Right!

Written by Jim

1 Oct 2018 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Calvin, Church History

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Danger all Around- But Providence Intervenes

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For what else can you say of it, when neither cold nor heat in any considerable degree can be endured without danger? Now whithersoever you turn, all the objects around you are not only unworthy of your confidence, but almost openly menace you, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark in a ship; there is but a single step between you and death. Mount a horse; the slipping of one foot endangers your life. Walk through the streets of a city; you are liable to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs. If there be a sharp weapon in your hand, or that of your friend, the mischief is manifest. All the ferocious animals you see are armed for your destruction. If you endeavour to shut yourself in a garden surrounded with a good fence, and exhibiting nothing but what is delightful, even there sometimes lurks a serpent. Your house perpetually liable to fire, menaces you by day with poverty, and by night with falling on your head. Your land, exposed to hail, frost, drought, and various tempests, threatens you with sterility, and with its attendant, famine. I omit poison, treachery, robbery, and open violence, which partly beset us at home, and partly pursue us abroad. Amidst these difficulties, must not man be most miserable, who is half dead while he lives, and is dispirited and alarmed as though he had a sword perpetually applied to his neck? You will say that these things happen seldom, or certainly not always, nor to every man, but never all at once. I grant it: but as we are admonished by the examples of others, that it is possible for them to happen also to us, and that we have no more claim to exemption from them than others, we must unavoidably dread them as events that we may expect. What can you imagine more calamitous than such a dread? Besides it is an insult to God to say that he hath exposed man, the noblest of his creatures, to the blindness and temerity of fortune. But here I intend to speak only of the misery which man must feel, if he be subject to the dominion of fortune. —  John Calvin

Written by Jim

28 Sep 2018 at 6:05 am

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When Someone Teaches Something ‘Weird’… What is a Christian To Do?

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Calvin offers this advice:

When the Church is disturbed by discords and contentions, many, as it has been said, being frightened, depart from the Gospel. But the Spirit prescribes to us a far different remedy, that is, that the faithful should not receive any doctrine thoughtlessly and without discrimination. We ought, then, to take heed lest, being offended at the variety of opinions, we should discard teachers, and, together with them, the word of God. But this precaution is sufficient, that all are not to be heard indiscriminately. — John Calvin

I.e., find out what QUALIFIED theological teachers say on the matter and DO NOT give every voice equal weight.

Written by Jim

24 Sep 2018 at 1:24 pm

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Fun Facts From Church History: Geneva to Zurich, on Servetus

To the Burgomaster and Council of Zürich.
Geneva, September 22, 1553.

High and mighty Lords!—We know not if your Lordships are aware that we have in hand a prisoner, Michael Servetus by name, who has written and had printed a book containing many things against our religion. This we have shown to our ministers; and, although we have no mistrust of them, we desire to communicate the work to you, in order that, if it so please you, you may lay it before your clergy, together with the replies and rejoinders that have been made in connection therewith. We therefore pray you to be good enough to submit the documents now sent to your ministers and request them to give us their opinion of their merits, to the end that we may bring the business, to which they refer, to a close.

Zurich (that is, Bullinger) responded in agreement with Geneva: the heresy must be expunged along with the heretic.

Written by Jim

22 Sep 2018 at 7:21 am

Posted in Calvin, Church History

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I Hate it When Calvin @’s Me

We must exercise moderation, so as not instantly to declare every man to be a “heretic” who does not agree with our opinion.

But if they disagree with me they HAVE to be heretics….

There are some matters on which Christians may differ from each other, without being divided into sects. Paul himself commands that they shall not be so divided, when he bids them keep their harmony unbroken, and wait for the revelation of God. (Phil 3:16.)

Stop @-ing at me, Calvin.  Stop it right now.

But whenever the obstinacy of any person grows to such an extent, that, led by selfish motives, he either separates from the body, or draws away some of the flock, or interrupts the course of sound doctrine, in such a case we must boldly resist. — John Calvin Commentary on Titus 3.

Ok that’s better.  Whew.

Written by Jim

14 Sep 2018 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Calvin

#HolyCrossDay

Today is ‘Holy Cross Day’ across the globe.  It’s the day commemorating the ‘discovery’ of the ‘true cross’ by Helen in her little trip to the ‘Holy Land’…

So many bits of the ‘true cross’ were scattered across Europe that in the day of Calvin, in France, they were carried in processions and venerated by the faithful and treated with contempt by Calvin himself –

‘Here comes the true cross!’ Again there was a rushing and shouting, citizens and strangers crushing one another.—‘It is not the only one,’ said the reformer, ‘there is no petty town or paltry church where they do not show you pieces; and if all were collected together, there would be a load for a great barge, and three hundred men could not carry it.’

His biographer goes on to remark more fully

In 1544 he published a little treatise which he calls “An Admonition,” showing the advantages which Christendom might derive from an Inventory of Relics. It is one of his most popular productions and affords unlimited range for his powers of irony and sarcasm.

He begins by saying it would be a good thing to catalogue all the relics which are said to exist in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and other countries, and he suggests that as the monks have very little to do they might employ their time usefully in making such a catalogue. He himself has no complete knowledge, but he is aware that if all the relics throughout Christendom were catalogued, it would be seen that every apostle had four bodies at least, and every saint two or three. The relics of Christ are very numerous.

Besides the teeth and hair, the monks of Charrox give out that they have the piece of skin cut off at His circumcision. His natural blood is shown at a hundred places, sometimes in drops and sometimes in goblets-full. In Rome there is the manger in which He was laid at His birth, the linen in which He was swaddled, His cradle, and His shirt, and the altar on which He was presented in the temple. Elsewhere may be seen the waterpots of Cana, the wine with which they were filled, the bread used at the Last Supper, the dish in which the Paschal Lamb was placed, the knife with which it was cut up and the towel used to wipe the disciples’ feet. No less than fourteen nails are shown as the nails used in the crucifixion. What remains of the crown of thorns would make a substantial hedge, and what remains of the true cross would fill a ship.

The purple robe in which Christ was exhibited to the people is shown at two places. Relics of the saints are even more numerous. There are the milk of the Virgin Mary, the shoes of Joseph, the sword with which the Baptist was beheaded, and so on. Anna, mother of the Virgin, has one of her bodies at Apte in Provence, and another in the Church of St. Mary Insulan at Lyons. Besides, she has one of her hands at Treves, another at Turin, and a third at a town in Thuringia which takes its name from it. Lazarus likewise has three bodies, one at Marseilles, another at Austum, and a third at Avallon.

The entire body of Petronilla, St. Peter’s daughter, lies in the church at Rome dedicated to her father, but there are some separate remains in the Church of St. Barbara, and there is another of her bodies in the possession of the people of La Maine. It is alleged to cure fevers. What evidence can be produced to show which if any of these relics is genuine? At present you may be worshipping the bones of a horse or a dog when you believe that you are worshipping those of a saint. Nor can the ring and comb and girdle of the Virgin Mary be revered without the risk of discovering that the articles in question were really some part of the dress of a strumpet. For those who profess the name of Christ the best thing is to abolish the heathenish custom altogether as a thing that leads to idolatry and that is offensive to God.*

The absurdity of relic adoration is plain for all to see if they but have one good eye.

________________
*Hugh Y. Reyburn, John Calvin: His Life, Letters, and Work (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914), 212–213.

Written by Jim

14 Sep 2018 at 6:41 am

Posted in Calvin

Fun Facts from Church History: The Day Calvin Returned To Geneva

Calvin, having arrived from Strasburg on September 13, went to the Town Hall, and was received by the syndics and Council. Some hearts had, no doubt, been beating high in anticipation of this interview; and the reformer himself did not set out to it without emotion. When he came to Geneva, in 1534, he was twenty-seven years of age, rather young for a reformer. He was now thirty-two, the age of our Saviour at the time of his ministry. He could already speak with authority; nevertheless, it might be said of him as of St. Paul—his bodily presence is weak. He was of middle stature, pale, with a dark complexion, a keen and piercing eye, betokening, says Beza, a penetrating mind. His dress was very simple, and at the same time perfectly neat. There was something noble in his whole appearance. His cultivated and elevated spirit was at once recognisable; and although his health was already feeble, he was about to devote himself to labours which a man of great strength might have shrunk from undertaking. Amiable in social intercourse, he had won all hearts in Germany; he was now to win many at Geneva.

On presenting himself before the Council, Calvin delivered to the syndics the letters from the senators and pastors of Strasburg and Basel. He then modestly apologised for the long delay which he had made. He had intended to vindicate his own conduct and that of his colleagues who were banished with him three years and a half before; but the very warm reception given him in the town, and by the magistrates, showed him that Geneva had quite got over the prejudices of that period. A vindication would have involved recalling to mind painful facts and ungracious sentiments; and this was not the business which he had to do at this moment. His Christian heart, his intelligent mind joined to counsel him otherwise, to forget. He therefore did not vindicate himself either before the Senate or before the people.*

__________________
*J. H. Merle D’aubigné D.D. and William L. R. Cates, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, vol. 7 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1876), 66–67.

Written by Jim

13 Sep 2018 at 7:02 am

Posted in Calvin, Church History

Quote of the Day

Peace is not to be purchased by the sacrifice of truth. – John Calvin

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13 Sep 2018 at 5:50 am

Posted in Calvin

When a Leader Departs From God, They May Be Disregarded

So soon as rulers do lead us away from the obedience of God, because they strive against God with sacrilegious boldness, their pride must be abated, that God may be above all in authority. Then all smokes of honour vanish away. For God doth not vouchsafe to bestow honourable titles upon men, to the end they may darken his glory.

Therefore, if a father, being not content with his own estate, do essay to take from God the chief honour of a father, he is nothing else but a man. If a king, or ruler, or magistrate, do become so lofty that he diminisheth the honour and authority of God, he is but a man.   —  John Calvin

Written by Jim

6 Sep 2018 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Calvin

Quote of the Day

Thus, it seems that original sin is a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature that ranges over all parts of the soul, which first exposes us to the wrath of God and then produces what Scripture calls “the works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19). — Institutio 2.1.8

Via Randy *The Calvin Translator* Blackateer

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31 Aug 2018 at 1:43 pm

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When Calvin Lost a Book, He Got Sick(er)…

I feel ya John, I feel ya bro…

Throughout his life Calvin suffered from poor health – he had a delicate frame, pushed to the edge by incessant work. But this particular physical collapse had a proximate cause. One of his manuscripts had gone missing. Calvin, as was his wont, had dispatched the text of his commentary on Two Corinthians to a messenger to carry to Strasbourg, to be printed there by Wendelin Rihel. Rihel was a printer with whom Calvin had a long- standing relationship ; nevertheless, it was a complex procedure, and a risky one, as it turned out in this case. Somewhere on the 400-kilometer journey the manuscript went missing. Calvin’s reaction was extraordinary. He found he could not work. Eventually, after some months, the text turned up, but only after he had endured the sort of heartache that would all too often be associated with his writing. – Andrew Pettegrew

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29 Aug 2018 at 6:58 am

Posted in Books, Calvin

A Bit of Calvin to Start Your Day

All men of sound judgment will therefore hold, that a sense of Deity is indelibly engraven on the human heart. And that this belief is naturally engendered in all, and thoroughly fixed as it were in our very bones, is strikingly attested by the contumacy of the wicked, who, though they struggle furiously, are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God. – Calvin

Written by Jim

27 Aug 2018 at 7:46 am

Posted in Calvin, Theology