Zwinglius Redivivus

Today With Calvin: Troubles with the Libertines

Posted in Calvin, Luther, Zwingli by Jim on 21 Aug 2018

calv_luther_zwiCalvin and the libertines were frequently at odds.  Indeed,

The two parties became more and more enraged against each other. Calvin’s eloquence gave him a decided superiority in the little republic. On the 24th of July 1547 he wrote to Viret:

—“I continue to employ my usual severity while laboring to correct the prevailing vices, and especially those of the young. The right-thinking tell me of the dangers by which I am surrounded, but I take no heed of this, lest I should seem too careful for my personal safety. The Lord will provide such means of escape for me as He sees good.”

The families which belonged to the libertine party took a very formidable position; but Calvin remained master of the field, and never ceased to avail himself of his office as a preacher to attack his opponents. Somewhat later, that is August 21, 1547, he states in a letter to Farel that

–“letters were daily brought him from Lyons, from which he learned that he had been killed ten times over.” “Amadeus is in France; his wife is with her father, where she plays the Bacchanal according to her usual fashion. We besought the council that, if she showed true repentance, all the past might be forgotten. But this has not occurred, and she is so far gone as to have cut off all hopes of pardon. I will seek Penthesilea, when the season for administering the Lord’s Supper arrives.”*

Sadly Calvin eventually lost the war against the Libertines and so did Luther and Zwingli.  There are more of them than there are the faithful to this very day.

*The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer (Vol. 2, p. 61).

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Calvin Wasn’t Bendy

Posted in Calvin, Modern Culture by Jim on 21 Aug 2018

“I continue to employ my usual severity while laboring to correct the prevailing vices, and especially those of the young. The right-thinking tell me of the dangers by which I am surrounded, but I take no heed of this, lest I should seem too careful for my personal safety. The Lord will provide such means of escape for me as He sees good.”  — Calvin to Viret, 1547.

Calvin would never be invited to speak at a PCUSA church nowadays.  Never.

Angels Are Watching You All The Time… ALL THE TIME………

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 20 Aug 2018

So Calvin-

[The angels] are present as spectators, because they have been commanded to take care of the Church. And, indeed, he must be worse than stupid, and must have a heart of stone, whose indolence and carelessness are not shaken off by this single consideration, that the government of the Church is under the eye of God and the angels; and when that solemn appeal is added, our fear and anxiety must be redoubled. — John Calvin

Everything you do as a Christian is being observed… all the time!  EVERYTHING…

(Kinda creepy, but, you go, Calvin).

Today With Calvin: The Arrest of Servetus

Posted in Calvin, Church History by Jim on 13 Aug 2018

Calvin arguing with the first Emergent- Servetus

Miguel Servetus arrived in Geneva in mid 1553 with what Calvin saw as a death wish.  Indeed, Calvin remarked to a friend upon hearing of the heretic’s arrival:

“I know not what to say of him, except that he was seized by a fatal madness to precipitate himself upon destruction.”

Servetus arrived under these circumstances:

… in the middle of the month of July, a man was seen, on foot, entering the gate of the old city; he turned into a little inn used by strangers, called the Auberge de la Rose, and situated on the lake. The night before he had slept in the village of Le Louyset, where he arrived on horseback. It was easy to recognize in the traveller a man of education; in the southern expression of his eye, there was deep thought and dreaming phantasy, and somewhat of passionate excitement: he indulged in some light expressions. The people of the inn wishing to learn more about him, asked if he was married; he answered, that a man could find women enough without marrying. Some one observed him going to the church where Calvin preached.

Servetus the philanderer meandered around the town, listened to Calvin’s sermons, and basically stayed to himself.

After remaining about a month at Geneva, he resolved on making a journey to Zurich. For this purpose he engaged a boat to carry him across the lake; but just as he was on the point of departing an officer appeared, and took him prisoner in the name of the council. This event occurred August 13, 1553.*

Today is the anniversary of that arrest. What follows is the infamous trial and execution of the man who went to the hornet’s nest and shook it and poked it and provoked it and acted surprised when the hive broke out and stung him to death.

Servetus really did have a death wish. Happy “Arrest A Heretic” Day.
*The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer (Vol. 2, p. 192).

The Fool…

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 12 Aug 2018

Calvin’s observations on Psalm 14:1 are worth re-hearing:

As the Hebrew word נבל, nabal, signifies not only a fool, but also a perverse, vile, and contemptible person, it would not have been unsuitable to have translated it so in this place; yet I am content to follow the more generally received interpretation, which is, that all profane persons, who have cast off all fear of God and abandoned themselves to iniquity, are convicted of madness.

David does not bring against his enemies the charge of common foolishness, but rather inveighs against the folly and insane hardihood of those whom the world accounts eminent for their wisdom. We commonly see that those who, in the estimation both of themselves and of others, highly excel in sagacity and wisdom, employ their cunning in laying snares, and exercise the ingenuity of their minds in despising and mocking God.

It is therefore important for us, in the first place, to know, that however much the world applaud these crafty and scoffing characters, who allow themselves to indulge to any extent in wickedness, yet the Holy Spirit condemns them as being fools; for there is no stupidity more brutish than forgetfulness of God.


Posted in Calvin by Jim on 11 Aug 2018

calvin_operaThose who think that the authority of the doctrine [of the Church] is impaired by the insignificance of the men who are called to teach, betray their ingratitude; for among the many noble endowments with which God has adorned the human race, one of the most remarkable is, that he deigns to consecrate the mouths and tongues of men to his service, making his own voice to be heard in them. — John Calvin

The Foes of Truth…

Posted in Calvin, Theology by Jim on 10 Aug 2018

…  find great difficulty in refuting the enemies of pure and sound doctrine: possessed of serpentine lubricity, they escape by the most artful expedients, unless they are vigorously pursued, and held fast when once caught.  — John Calvin

Preach it, John!  Or, put in language that our precious teens can grasp, the enemies of truth are slippery and evasive and sneaky and they do whatever they can to escape when cornered by the facts.  They have to be held down by force.

Think, for example, of David Barton.

Calvin: As Equally Gifted as Luther and in Many Respects Moreso

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 8 Aug 2018

I must patiently submit to this condition which providence has assigned me, that petulant, dishonest and furious men, as if in conspiracy, pour out their virulence chiefly upon me. Other most excellent men indeed they do not spare, assailing the living and wounding the names of the dead; but the only cause of the more violent assault they make on me is because the more Satan, whose slaves they are, sees my labours to be useful to the Church of Christ, the more he stimulates them violently to attack me. I say nothing of the old pettifoggers, whose calumnies are already obsolete. A horrible apostate of the name of Staphylus has lately started up, and without a word of provocation has uttered more calumnies against me than against all the others who had described his perfidy, bad morals, and depraved disposition. From another quarter one named Nicolas Le Coq, has begun to screech against me. At length from another sink comes forth Tileman Heshusius. Of him I would rather have the reader form a judgment from the facts and his own writings than express my own opinion.


I shall not quote the bitter words with which you have lately censured me. While you are indulgent to yourself, you represent me as by far too rigid; and yet if you fancy that the easy good nature which you aim at is commended by all, you are greatly mistaken. For there are grave and moderate men, who complain that you are weak and remiss, and are indignant that your other remarkable virtues should be tarnished by this blot. You grant, too, that since the natural temper of all is not alike, it is just that we should promote friendship by mutual forbearance. But here you furnish me with a just reason for expostulating with you, for whatever persons accuse my severity are sure without exception to gain their cause with you as if they were unblamable; and even though you perceive that the fault is on their side, yet am I without any distinction deprived of the advantages of your good word. You mention only three individuals, as if indeed there were not in your territory numberless enraged dogs, who cease not by all the ways in their power to snap at me. I am aware that sometimes you have refuted their calumnies, but you have always contrived to leave along with your refutation the sting of some unfavourable remark behind.

The Earliest Involvements of Calvin in Reform

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 8 Aug 2018

It is the year 1523. Young Calvin had just arrived from Noyon. De Berquin had translated something of Luther into the French. Thoroughly ill at ease the Sorbonne had accused him before the Parlement. His books and papers had been seized, examined, condemned. He was locked up in the Square Tour of the Palace. At the moment when the sentence of death is expected, the Court intervenes. He is freed August 8, 1523.

The University students, elated over this, and more zealous than prudent, celebrate the occasion. They do so by staging “La Farce des théologastres.” The story of the play is evidence of the fact that by 1523 the name of Luther was generally known in Paris, and that it was associated with the progressive group over against the Nachtschule of the Sorbonne. Now since the Thirteenth Century the so-called morality plays had been presented on the stage. Out of twenty-one collected by M. Picot only one was found to have been written by an out and out loyal Catholic. The “Farce des théologastres” was one in line with the tradition of l’ancien théâtre français therefore. It was written by a friend of de Berquin. The title speaks for itself. The play itself heckles the reactionary spirit of the Sorbonne and the Collège de Montaigu. There are six characters: Théologastres, Fratrez, Foy, Raison, Le Texte de Saincte Escripture, Le Mercure d’Allemagne. Louis de Berquin is identified with the last, the messenger from Germany.*

These are the very kinds of things which worried the establishment about Reform. Was it a legitimate desire to reform Church life or was it an attempt to undermine authority? At this stage, no government could really tell.
*John Calvin: a study in French humanism (p. 28).

Today With Calvin: In Which He Describes a Truly Perfidious Wretch

Posted in Calvin, Church History by Jim on 23 Jul 2018

In his preface to the commentary on Jeremiah, dedicated to a certain German Prince, Calvin writes, on 23 July, 1563,

calvino-1All know how basely you have been deceived by that most audacious and unprincipled man, at the same time vile, proud, and perfidious—in short, a monster, made up of a mass of filthy materials, even Francis Baldwin, and yet a skilful collector of the Civil Law.

For having been in THE NETHERLANDS, and having, under the pretext of the Gospel, been received under your patronage, and being made a Professor of the Civil Law through your liberality in THE UNIVERSITY OF HEIDELBERG, he ought to have considered himself as altogether bound by kindness to so munificent a Prince; but he regarded his elevation as advantageous to him to seek, after his own manner, a new situation. Hence, as soon as hope appeared, he deserted his station, having despised the honourable office which he had fraudulently attained, and passed over to the enemies of true and pure Religion, the name of which he had assumed.

And first indeed (as though he retained some portion of shame) he went on stealthily in a clandestine manner, he discussed some secret treacheries with The Cardinal of Lorraine, into whose favour he had insinuated himself. The object of the whole was to subvert the CHURCHES OF FRANCE by means of a spurious doctrine and a mixture of ceremonies.

calvin_bookBut as there appeared no reward for masked and hidden perfidy, he not only rushed headlong into open defection, but so insolently boasted of his wickedness, that he has surpassed similar apostates in canine wantonness.

It is however well, that the perfidy of one unprincipled man does not stop the course of your kindness towards others; and you have some recompense for your perseverance, for among the ornaments of your University are to be found some foreigners well known for their high character, whom it is unnecessary for me to name.

Now THAT’S how you name names and call a thing what it is.

The Calvin Congress, Phildelphia

Posted in Calvin, Church History, Conferences by Jim on 22 Jul 2018

The schedule is online.  I hope to see you there.

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Zwingli, Calvin, and Luther on the Jews: Decidedly Not Three Peas in a Pod

Posted in Calvin, Luther, Zwingli by Jim on 17 Jul 2018

Die Schweizer Reformatoren Ulrich Zwingli und Johannes Calvin seien weniger aggressiv gegenüber Juden gewesen als der deutsche Reformator Martin Luther. Dies teilte Serge Fornerod, Projektleiter Reformationsjubiläum 2017 beim Schweizerischen Evangelischen Kirchenbund (SEK), auf Anfrage von mit. Hintergrund ist eine Diskussion in der Evangelischen Kirche Deutschland (EKD) über eine Einbindung von Vertretern des Judentums in das Reformationsgedenken, weil Luther sich sehr verletzend über das Judentum geäussert haben soll.

That’s absolutely right.  Even Melanchthon was very displeased with Luther because of the latter’s anti-Jewish polemic.  Our essayist is also correct to observe

Im Vergleich zu Luther seien die Schweizer Reformatoren Zwingli und besonders Calvin «viel freundlicher zu den Juden gewesen, oder genauer gesagt viel weniger aggressiv», so Fornerod gegenüber Man finde bei ihnen keine Schriften zum Judentum wie bei Luther, was daher komme, dass die Schweizer Reformatoren stärker als Luther durch den Humanismus geprägt worden seien. «Das bedeutete unter anderem, dass man die Texte in der originalen Sprache lesen wollte, und dem ‘Alten’ Testament genauso die Qualität des ‘Gottes-Wortes’ gab wie dem Neuen Testament.»

Laut einem Lexikonartikel über Zwinglis Haltung gegenüber dem Judentum auf der Homepage der reformierten Kirche des Kantons Zürich ging Luther «offenbar ganz traditionell davon aus, dass die Kirche das Judentum als auserwähltes Volk ersetzt habe.» Zwingli sei dieser Tradition nicht gefolgt.

It’s a better essay than most on the subject.  Give it a read.

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The Calvin Congress 2018 Proposed Schedule

Posted in Calvin, Church History, Conferences by Jim on 12 Jul 2018
View this document on Scribd

Be sure to come Tuesday for the paper on Zwingli.  That guy is a paper presenting delight…

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Calvin on Doctrineless Sermonizing

Posted in Calvin, Modern Culture by Jim on 10 Jul 2018

[Where] there is seldom any doctrine used … it were better for the wicked babblers even then to hold their peace, who thrust in their own unclean inventions instead of the Word of God, and pollute with the stink of their impiety whatsoever is holy. — John Calvin

If you are one of those unfortunate souls who attends a church where ‘doctrine doesn’t matter’, do yourself a favor and flee Sodom.

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Beza on the Birth and Life of Calvin

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 10 Jul 2018

JOHN CALVIN, the celebrated reformer, was born at Noyon, a town in Picardy, on the 10th of July 1509. Undistinguished by the splendor of family consideration, it was reserved for him to give dignity and perpetuity to a name, which had hitherto occupied an humble but respectable rank in society. His father, whose name was Gerard, a sensible and prudent man, had gained the esteem and friendship of all the neighbouring gentlemen, and particularly of the family of Montmor, a family of the first distinction in Picardy. John Calvin was brought up with the children of this family, and though his education was very expensive to Gerard, he bore it with great cheerfulness. He even wished his son to accompany them to Paris, and to pursue his studies with them under Marturin Cordier, regent of the Collége de la Marche; a man illustrious for his erudition and integrity, and as his talents were particularly adapted to the instruction of youth, he spent his life in tuition at Nevers, at Bourdeaux, at Neuf Chatel, at Lausanne, and at Geneva, where he died in the eighty-fifth year of his age, and in the same year as Calvin.

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On the Anniversary of Calvin’s Birth

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 10 Jul 2018

THE guiding care of God in the lives of his servants may be traced even in their earliest childhood. Thus Luther, destined to become the man of the people, was the offspring of poor miners. “I am a peasant’s son,” said he; “my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were honest peasants.” And all his life long he manifested his ability to speak convincingly to the people. Calvin, who was destined to employ his influence in the world as a theologian and thinker, enjoyed from his childhood the benefit of a learned education.

Calvin was born at Noyon in Picardy, July 10, 1509. His father, Gerhard Cauvin or Calvin, was Procureur Fiscal of the lordship of Noyon, and secretary of the diocese. His grandfather Böttcher lived in a neighboring village, Le Pont l’Evêque, where Calvin had many relations, who however, out of hatred, laid aside his name. His mother was Anna Franke of Cambray. Of the outward appearance of young Calvin, destitute as we are of information, we can say little.

The wood engravings, found in old editions of his works, present noble and very characteristic traits of countenance, but of one worn by toil and anxiety, and offering a strange contrast to the round, full, and cheerful physiognomy of Dr. Luther. This however may not have been the case in Calvin’s youth. The nose is finely shaped. His father was well formed, and his mother was considered beautiful. In some old editions printed at Geneva in his life-time, he is represented with a little cap upon his head, with a pointed beard, and his eyes raised to heaven. Beneath is this motto, Prompte et sincere: “Promptly and honestly.”*

‘Les choses de petite durée ont coutume de devenir fanées, quand elles ont passé leur temps.
‘Au règne de Christ, il n’y a que le nouvel homme qui soit florissant, qui ait de la vigueur, et dont il faille faire cas.’ — CALVIN

*The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer (Vol. 1, p. 21).

Call For Papers: Calvin and the Old Testament

Posted in Calvin, Conferences by Jim on 9 Jul 2018

All the details are available here.

Calvin Studies Society 2019 Colloquium on  Calvin and the Old Testament. 11-13 April 2019 at Trinity Christian College.

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Praying with Calvin

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 9 Jul 2018

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast once appeared in the person of thy only-begotten Son, and hast rendered in him thy glory visible to us, and as thou dost daily set forth to us the same Christ in the glass of thy gospel,   —O grant, that we, fixing our eyes on him, may not go astray, nor be led here and there after wicked inventions, the fallacies of Satan, and the allurements of this world: but may we continue firm in the obedience of faith, and persevere in it through the whole course of our life, until we be at length fully transformed into the image of thy eternal glory, which now in part shines in us, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Wretched State In Which Pride Leaves Us

Posted in Calvin by Jim on 9 Jul 2018

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Calvin: On Ridding the Church of Wicked Pastors

Posted in Calvin, Church History, Theology by Jim on 7 Jul 2018

This is becoming more and more important.  Churches should pay attention and act accordingly:

We recognize no other pastors in the Church than faithful pastors of the Word of God, feeding the sheep of Jesus Christ on the one hand with instruction, admonition, consolation, exhortation, deprecation; and on the other resisting all false doctrines and deceptions of the devil, without mixing with the pure doctrine of the Scriptures their dreams or their foolish imaginings.

To these we accord no other power or authority but to conduct, rule, and govern the people of God committed to them by the same Word, in which they have power to command, defend, promise, and warn, and without which they neither can nor ought to attempt anything.

As we receive the true ministers of the Word of God as messengers and ambassadors of God, it is necessary to listen to them as to him himself, and we hold their ministry to be a commission from God necessary in the Church.

On the other hand we hold that all seductive and false prophets, who abandon the purity of the Gospel and deviate to their own inventions, ought not at all to be suffered or maintained, who are not the pastors they pretend, but rather, like ravening wolves, ought to be hunted and ejected from the people of God.*

*Calvin: Theological Treatises (p. 32).