Category Archives: Calvin

Quote of the Day

Jeremiah teaches us, by his own example, that our constancy and firmness ought not to be weakened though the whole world loaded or almost overwhelmed us with reproaches. We ought, then, to understand that courage of mind ought not to fail or be weakened in God’s servants, however wickedly and contumeliously they may be treated by the world. – John Calvin

Quote of the Day

It was not without reason that the ancient proverb so strongly recommended to man the knowledge of himself. For if it is deemed disgraceful to be ignorant of things pertaining to the business of life, much more disgraceful is self-ignorance, in consequence of which we miserably deceive ourselves in matters of the highest moment, and so walk blindfold. — John Calvin

We Will Not Bow Down Nor Worship You…

Calvin writes of Daniel 3-

When men entice us to deny the true God we must close our ears, and refuse all deliberation; for we have already committed an atrocious insult against God, when we even question the propriety of swerving from the purity of his worship through any impulse or any reason whatever. And I heartily wish every one would observe this! How excellent and striking is the glory of God, and how everything ought to yield to it, whenever there is danger of its being either diminished or obscured.

After which he prayed-

Grant, Almighty God, since we see the impious carried away by their impure desires with so strong an impulse; and while they are so puffed up with arrogance, may we learn true humility, and so subject ourselves to thee that we may always depend upon thy word and always attend to thy instructions. When we have learned what worship pleases thee, may we constantly persist unto the end, and never be moved by any threats, or dangers, or violence, from our position, nor drawn aside from our course; but by persevering obedience to thy word, may we shew our alacrity and obedience, until thou dost acknowledge us as thy sons, and we are gathered to that eternal inheritance which thou hast prepared for all members of Christ thy Son.—Amen.

Calvin at Prayer

Grant, Almighty God, (since we are nothing in ourselves, and yet we cease not to please ourselves, and so are blinded by our vain confidence, and then we vainly boast in our virtues, which are worthless,) that we may learn to put off these perverse affections. May we so submit to thee as to depend upon thy mere favour: may we know ourselves, to stand and be sustained by thy strength alone: may we learn so to glorify thy name that we may not only obey thy word with true and pure humility, but also earnestly implore thy assistance, and distrusting ourselves, may rely upon thy favour as our only support, until at length thou gatherest us into thy heavenly kingdom, where we may enjoy that blessed eternity which has been obtained for us by thine only-begotten Son—Amen.

Quote of the Day

Monarchy is prone to tyranny. –  John Calvin

Calvin: On Those Who Endure Persecution

English: Anonymous 16th century portrait of Ca...

If, while conscious of our innocence, we are deprived of our substance by the wickedness of man, we are, no doubt, humanly speaking, reduced to poverty; but in truth our riches in heaven are increased: if driven from our homes we have a more welcome reception into the family of God; if vexed and despised, we are more firmly rooted in Christ; if stigmatised by disgrace and ignominy, we have a higher place in the kingdom of God; and if we are slain, entrance is thereby given us to eternal life. The Lord having set such a price upon us, let us be ashamed to estimate ourselves at less than the shadowy and evanescent allurements of the present life. — John Calvin

Quote of the Day

“I have the testimony of my own conscience, of angels, and of God himself, that since I undertook the office of a teacher in the Church, I have had no other object in view than to profit the Church by maintaining the pure doctrine of godliness; yet I suppose there is no man more slandered or calumniated than myself.” — John Calvin

Fun Facts From Church History: The Caroli Affair

calvin_bookAt the conclusion of the whole sordid affair (about which you can read in Schaff’s history),

Caroli was deprived of his functions by the synod. The great council of Berne confirmed this sentence; pronounced Farel, Calvin, and Viret innocent of the charges brought against them; condemned Caroli to banishment as guilty of slander and other excesses; and remitted the cause to the consistory to be formally terminated.

As the presumptuous doctor was unwilling to submit to that authority, the parties were summoned before the civil magistrates (avoyers) and the councils. Calvin, Farel, and Viret accordingly presented themselves, June 6, but Caroli did not appear.

An usher, sent by the lords of Berne to seek him, brought word that he had disappeared. He had in fact fled early in the morning, and had taken the road to Soleure. From that place he withdrew into France, to the cardinal of Tournon, the great enemy of the Reformation.

The latter obtained absolution for Caroli from the pope. The wretched man had hoped that, by returning into the Roman Church, he should get a good benefice; but he found that he was held in equal contempt by Catholics and Protestants.

To close the affair, it was agreed to approve the terms Trinity, substance, and persons (Calvin himself had made use of them); but at the same time that if any pious man declined to employ them, ‘he should not be cast out of the Church, nor should be looked on as one who thought wrongly as to the faith.’

And then this very interesting remark in our author-

This episode in Calvin’s life shows us not only his firm attachment to the truth, which everyone acknowledges, but likewise a spirit of freedom which is ordinarily denied to him. It is clear that with him the Word of God stood before all, and that the faith, the life, and essence of Christianity had more value in his eyes than mere traditional terms, which are not to be found in the Scriptures.*

*History of the reformation in Europe in the time of Calvin (Vol. 6, pp. 383–384).

‘By Their Fruits You Will Know Them…’

We do not justify men before God by works, but say, that all who are of God are regenerated and made new creatures, so that they pass from the kingdom of sin into the kingdom of righteousness. In this way they make their calling sure, and, like trees, are judged by their fruits. — John Calvin

Quote of the Day

We are all by nature the children of wrath, and conceived in sin, to which damnation adheres – John Calvin

The Anniversary of the Death of John Calvin

farel_telling_calvin_genevaCalvin died on 27 May, 1564; aged 54 years, 10 months, 17 days.  He was a young man.  Or at most a young middle aged man. He died poor in material wealth:

“He left behind him only $170 in money; but an incalculable fortune in fame and consequential influence.”

Philip Schaff tells the story of Calvin’s departure from this depraved world as follows

On the 19th of May, two days before the pentecostal communion, Calvin invited the ministers of Geneva to his house and caused himself to be carried from his bed-chamber into the adjoining dining-room. Here he said to the company: “This is the last time I shall meet you at table,”—words that made a sad impression on them. He then offered up a prayer, took a little food, and conversed as cheerfully as was possible under the circumstances. Before the repast was quite finished he had himself carried back to his bed-room, and on taking leave said, with a smiling countenance: “This wall will not hinder my being present with you in spirit, though absent in body.”


From that time he never rose from his bed, but he continued to dictate to his secretary.  Farel, then in his eightieth year, came all the way from Neuchâtel to bid him farewell, although Calvin had written to him not to put himself to that trouble. He desired to die in his place. Ten days after Calvin’s death, he wrote to Fabri (June 6, 1564): “Oh, why was not I taken away in his place, while he might have been spared for many years of health to the service of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thanks be to Him who gave me the exceeding grace to meet this man and to hold him against his will in Geneva, where he has labored and accomplished more than tongue can tell. In the name of God, I then pressed him and pressed him again to take upon himself a burden which appeared to him harder than death, so that he at times asked me for God’s sake to have pity on him and to allow him to serve God in a manner which suited his nature. But when he recognized the will of God, he sacrificed his own will and accomplished more than was expected from him, and surpassed not only others, but even himself. Oh, what a glorious course has he happily finished!

Calvin spent his last days in almost continual prayer, and in ejaculating comforting sentences of Scripture, mostly from the Psalms. He suffered at times excruciating pains. He was often heard to exclaim: “I mourn as a dove” (Isa. 38:14); “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it” (Ps. 39:9); “Thou bruisest me, O Lord, but it is enough for me that it is thy hand.” His voice was broken by asthma, but his eyes remained bright, and his mind clear and strong to the last. He admitted all who wished to see him, but requested that they should rather pray for him than speak to him.


On the day of his death he spoke with less difficulty. He fell peacefully asleep with the setting sun towards eight o’clock, and entered into the rest of his Lord. “I had just left him,” says Beza, “a little before, and on receiving intimation from the servants, immediately hastened to him with one of the brethren. We found that he had already died, and so very calmly, without any convulsion of his feet or hands, that he did not even fetch a deeper sigh. He had remained perfectly sensible, and was not entirely deprived of utterance to his very last breath. Indeed, he looked much more like one sleeping than dead.

The Church in the Genevan Confession of John Calvin

calvin_bookWhile there is one only Church of Jesus Christ, we always acknowledge that necessity requires companies of the faithful to be distributed in different places. Of these assemblies each one is called Church.

But in as much as all companies do not assemble in the name of our Lord, but rather to blaspheme and pollute him by their sacrilegious deeds, we believe that the proper mark by which rightly to discern the Church of Jesus Christ is that his holy gospel be purely and faithfully preached, proclaimed, heard, and kept, that his sacraments be properly administered, even if there be some imperfections and faults, as there always will be among men.

On the other hand, where the Gospel is not declared, heard, and received, there we do not acknowledge the form of the Church. Hence the churches governed by the ordinances of the pope are rather synagogues of the devil than Christian churches.*

Bam!  Take that, Francis!  And Pentebabbleists!  And Emergents!

*Calvin: Theological Treatises (p. 31).

Calvin Writes About his Future Wife…

Such a romantic soul…  He wrote, on May 19, 1539,

“Remember what I expect from one who is to be a companion through life. I do not belong to the class of loving fools, who, blinded by passion, are ready to expend their affection on vice itself. Do you wish to know what kind of beauty alone can win my soul? It is that in which grace and virtue, contentedness and suavity are united with simplicity; and I can hope that a woman with these qualities would not be negligent of my general well-being.”

I’m sure he made the womenfolk swoon with talk like this…

Those Who Are in Need of Excommunication

Because there are always some who hold God and his Word in contempt, who take account of neither injunction, exhortation nor remonstrance, thus requiring greater chastisement, we hold the discipline of excommunication to be a thing holy and salutary among the faithful, since truly it was instituted by our Lord with good reason. This is in order that the wicked should not by their damnable conduct corrupt the good and dishonour our Lord, and that though proud they may turn to penitence. Therefore we believe that it is expedient according to the ordinance of God that all manifest idolaters, blasphemers, murderers, thieves, lewd persons, false witnesses, sedition-mongers, quarrellers, those guilty of defamation or assault, drunkards, dissolute livers, when they have been duly admonished and if they do not make amendment, be separated from the communion of the faithful until their repentance is known.  – Calvin (The Genevan Confession)


Quote of the Day

Even brothels display their prostitutes more discreetly and modestly dressed than their churches display those images [of the saints], which they expect to be viewed as virgins! — John Calvin

NB- You should follow Randy B. on the twitter.  He’s a delightful source of all manner of great tweets.

Tomorrow- May 17th at 10 A.M.

If you live in the area where I live you’re invited to, on Thursday May 17th, join us at the Big Emory Baptist Association Office for a roundtable discussion titled  “Calvin In the SBC“.  We begin at 10:00 AM. We’ll then take a short break at 11:00 and conclude at noon with lunch provided by BEBA.  I’m leading the session.

The location’s address is 1245 S. Roane Street, Harriman, TN 37748.  There’s a sign out front with ‘Big Emory Baptist Association’ on it.

Karl Barth, The ‘Kind of Doctor Who Doesn’t Help Anyone’

The story is told- and I don’t know if it’s true or not- that shortly after Karl received his VERY well deserved doctorandus honoris causa his little son Markus was playing with a school-mate and his little friend asked him what kind of Doctor his father Karl was, Markus is said to have quipped

‘The kind that doesn’t help anyone’.

Karl apparently loved to tell that story and it is cute.  But if one were to ask Emil Brunner what he thought his reaction might well have been a bit different.  Brunner took theology quite seriously and believed that there was no higher or more important calling or work.  For him, Karl was – qua theologian – the precise sort of Doctor who DOES help people and in fact helped in matters far more important than a mere MD or Podiatrist or Gynecologist or whatever.

Karl did too.  But just not as seriously as Brunner.  That’s why I call Karl the Neo-Calvin and Brunner the Neo-Zwingli.  Thankfully, there has only ever been one Luther.

NB- By the by, Charlotte v. Kirschbaum always thought Karl was ‘very’ helpful… *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*.

Calvin on the Schismatics and their Insulting Words About Zwingli and Oecolampadius

Melanchthon showed Calvin an anti-Zwingli anti-Oecolampadius pamphlet written by a schismatic and Calvin remarked

What good purpose could it serve to assault the Zwinglians every third line, and to attack Zwingli himself in such an unmannerly style?   And not even to spare Oecolampadius, that holy servant of God, whom I wish that he resembled, even in being half as good, in which case he would certainly stand far higher in my esteem than he does. O God of grace, what pleasant sport and pastime do we afford to the Papists, as if we had hired ourselves to do their work!”

The last line means that Calvin saw these schismatics as doing more harm to the Reformation than the Papists could ever hope.

Psalm 90:12

‎לִמְנ֣וֹת יָ֭מֵינוּ כֵּ֣ן הוֹדַ֑ע וְ֜נָבִ֗א לְבַ֣ב חָכְמָֽה׃

ἐξαριθμήσασθαι τὴν δεξιάν σου οὕτως γνώρισον καὶ τοὺς πεπεδημένους τῇ καρδίᾳ ἐν σοφίᾳ

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

What can be a greater proof of madness than to ramble about without proposing to one’s self any end? True believers alone, who know the difference between this transitory state and a blessed eternity, for which they were created, know what ought to be the aim of their life. No man then can regulate his life with a settled mind, but he who, knowing the end of it, that is to say death itself, is led to consider the great purpose of man’s existence in this world, that he may aspire after the prize of the heavenly calling.  — John Calvin

The Birth of Heresy

WHEN THE CURATORS OF LEYDEN UNIVERSITY (in the town of the same name in the Netherlands) appointed Jacob Arminius as professor of theology on this day, 8 May 1603, they did not realize what a controversy they were creating. It initially seemed they had made a great choice. Arminius was not only well-educated, but a popular preacher in Amsterdam. In fact, the real difficulty was getting Amsterdam to let him go. He had a lifelong contract with a church there. Furthermore, he said that he found too much theological study dried up his personal spiritual life.

Arminius considered himself a Calvinist, but he was not comfortable with the strict Calvinist view of predestination. Strict Calvinists believed Christ died only for the elect. Arminius held that Christ died for all, although not all would be saved. Not wanting to stir up trouble, when he had to lecture on the topic, he presented a wide range of Scripture with minimal comment. However, by presenting Scriptures that declared that Christ died for all men, he challenged the strict position. He also argued that people have genuine free will and that God’s grace is in most cases resistible, against the strict Calvinist claim of irresistible grace.