Tag Archives: Calvinism

An Observation on ‘The Handbook of Dutch Church History’

selderhuis10I’ve taken time to mention this forthcoming (in English) volume several times now because I’ve found it so very useful.  Today, however, I have to say that it isn’t merely useful or engaging; it is actually amazingly informative.  Indeed, in the 4th chapter during its examination of the Arminius controversy it manages to tell the story so well that I have to confess as to never having seen it done better, more precisely, nor more grippingly.

The debate occasioned by Arminius stirred such an episode in the theology of the Reformed branch of Christianity that it still reverberates.  Said episode is sorely misunderstood and grossly mischaracterized so very broadly and in so many corners of the Church that one can scarce imagine that it can be clearly and correctly discussed.  But that’s exactly what happens here in this book.

If I hadn’t been sold on its value before, I absolutely am now.  It cannot appear in English soon enough.

Does Calvinism Lead to Anti-Mission Sentiments?

No.  In a word.  No.  But there are more words supporting the no here.

The accusation that Calvinism leads to antimission sentiments has sometimes been leveled, but as Michael Horton shows in his recent book For Calvin, nothing could be further from the truth. Horton observes, in the section titled “Calvinism and Christian Missions” (p. 151), that, in fact, Calvinism has been and remains one of the most important sources of Christian missionaries, with no less than Thomas Mayhew, David Brainerd, David Livingstone, Robert Morrison, and Jonathan Goforth stemming from Reformed churches and practicing Reformed theology. Quoting Horton—

With growing interest in Calvinism in Southern Baptist circles, some leaders have expressed alarm that it will dampen the denomination’s enthusiasm for evangelism and missions . . . . [But] the Southern Baptist Convention sponsors “about 5000 home missionaries” and “more than 5000 foreign missionaries.” For a denomination of sixteen million, this comes to approximately “0.000625 missionaries per capita.”

By contrast, the 310,000 member Presbyterian Church in America has “about 600 foreign missionaries.” That is 0.001935 foreign missionaries per capita, commissioned and supported by the PCA. Thus, the PCA supports three times as many foreign missionaries per capita as the SBC supports foreign and domestic missions combined (p. 162).

And the PCA gives twice as much per dollar to international missions as the SBC does (p. 162).

Enjoy the rest- that’s just the beginning.

Baptist History Resources

Logos has assembled a very nice collection of Baptist History resources (including many volumes by that brilliant Greek scholar A. T. Robertson).  You can find the details here. As they rightly note

Now is the perfect time to examine Baptist history, study the differences between Arminianism and Calvinism, and brush up on other Baptist theologies. Logos offers a myriad of books by, for, and about Baptists.

Some very, very useful things there indeed.

One Preliminary Observation on Olson’s ‘Against Calvinism’

His apparent willingness to equate Calvinism with ‘Reformed Theology’ and use the terms interchangeably is extremely unfortunate.  Calvinism is indeed Reformed Theology, but Reformed Theology is not necessarily Calvinism.  Zwingli and Bullinger both offer Reformed Theology and that before Calvin even came along.

There’s sufficient confusion amongst the masses concerning the Reformation in its many manifestations and the suggestion, hint, or even misprision that Reformed Theology = Calvinism simply adds to and continues that misrepresentation.

Hopefully he will correct this misrepresentation in due course but he should have done so at the very outset.

More, of course, anon.

UPDATE:  Fortunately he does distinguish between ‘Calvinism’ and Reformed, though not till the second chapter.  I reiterate, he should have done so from the start.  A simple sentence could have sufficed to deter his readers from thinking that Reformed = Calvinism.   Further, his failure to do so simply opens the door to misunderstanding.  ‘Well at first it seemed like he saw the two things as one and now he’s saying they’re different…’  one can easily imagine readers saying to themselves, and justifiably.

Do We Need ‘Adam and Eve’?

Karl Hand has written an essay that deserves a read titled Covenant and Myth: Can Reformed Theology Survive Without Adam and Eve?

Abstract: Reformed theology is a diverse movement, and has found many ways to interact with the presence of mythical stories in scripture. There is a strong tendency, however, to draw a ‘line in the sand’ at the historical existence of Adam because of the function that he plays in the history of the covenants – particularly the ‘covenant of works’. This article problematises that line by suggesting that it is possible to build an authentically Reformed and covenantal theology without a historical Adam. The problem of the theologian is to keep his symbol translucent, so that it may not block out the very light it is supposed to convey. “For then alone do we know God truly,” writes Saint Thomas Aquinas, “when we believe that He is far above all that man can possibly think of God.”

You might want to read it. You may not agree, but you’ll learn.

Calvin: An Observation on the Papacy

Now then let the Papists, in order to extenuate their vices as much as possible, deny, if they can, that the state of religion is as much vitiated and corrupted with them as it was in the kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam. They have a grosser idolatry, and in doctrine are not one whit more pure; rather, perhaps, they are even still more impure.   — John Calvin

You may not agree with Calvin (and these days, on this, who could?) but you always know exactly what he thinks.  And that’s a virtue widely lost among theologians of the present.

[PS- I read this and immediately thought of Jeremy Thompson.  I don’t know why].

Wow! Calvin’s 1541 French Edition of the Institutes Now Available Online

Brilliant!  Thank you E-Rara!  And thank you PRDL for mentioning it!

This edition of the Institutes is unlike any other.  It’s the only edition originally composed in French, and it’s the only edition that was never translated into English until Elsie Anne McKee did it in 2009.  Put frankly, the 1541 edition is the best of the lot.  Yes, even superior to the final 1559 edition.

If you’ve not read the 1541 publication, do so.  Either in French or English.  Just do so.  You’ve no excuse why you can’t.