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From Calvin to Calvinism, by Dr. D. G. Barker

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From John Calvin
to Calvinism
Leading up
to the Reformation …
• The Black Plague (1346-1353)
• swept across Europe killing 30-60%
of Europe’s total population
• No explanation or solution
could be offered by the RC Church.
The Renaissance (1300-1600)
• A rise in scientific development and optimism
in man’s ability and achievement.
• An intense focus on the “how” of the universe
rather than the “why”.
A number of factors in the mix
• Adult literacy was increasingly becoming commonplace.
• Humanism, Printing press, growth of paper industry,
social advancement
• Enchiridion militis Christiani
or Handbook of the Christian Soldier
by Erasmus, 1503 (3 ed.s)
(translated into English by William Tyndale in 1533)
A number of factors in the mix
• Adult literacy was increasingly becoming commonplace.
• The growth of a popularist, personal religion
vs. the traditional, medieval, institutional church.
• A rise in anti-Clericalism
• Local priests were often untrained, unschooled
• Official positions in the church were among the highest paid
• Corruption and immorality had grown rampant.
The Institutes
of the Christian Religion (1536)
made religion transparent and relevant.
• Implicit faith was replaced with understanding of the Bible.
• The Bible regained the primacy of authority from God.
• It connected the believer directly to God
vs. the mediation of the church.
• Challenging the church could be legitimately done by the individual.
• The individual understood his own responsibility to God.
Calvin died
in 1564
“By the end of the third quarter of the sixteenth century Calvinism was established as an
international religion, convinced of its ability and right to cast society in a new mould.”
(McGrath, p. 196)
“Calvin’s greatest achievement was the creation of a new type of human being – the Calvinist,
with a ‘can-do’ attitude to life, grounded in a sense of God’s calling and empowerment.” (E.
Leonard)
Lutheranism had been “the first wave of the Reformation [which] had crashed against its shore,
and spent itself; a second now followed. Calvin’s star rose, and was soon in ascendancy.”
(McGrath, p. 197)
• Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (along with at least
nine of his other writings) had been officially banned in France
since 1542, but that could not halt the circulation of his books.
As a result, Geneva was identified as a subversive center because
of its publishing; and the 1551 Edict of Chateaubriand forbade,
among other things, important or circulating Genevan books.
“Calvinism”
• 1st introduced into the mainstream by
Lutheran J. Westphal to refer, primarily to his
sacramental views.
• The term began to be widely used by
supporters and antagonists alike.
• 1563 - Calvinism provided the backbone for
the Heidelberg Catechism, showing a
defection from Lutheranism.
Jacobus Arminius, 1560-1609
• Rejected the ultimate conclusion of predestination and a restricted
efficacy.
• Dutch Protestants, supporting Arminius’ teaching, called the
Remonstrants proposed:
• Fallen man is depraved and in need of being born again of God.
• God’s election is conditioned upon faith, foreknown by God.
• Christ’s death was efficacious for all but is only enjoyed by the
believer.
• God’s saving grace may be resisted by the free will of fallen man.
• Even those with true faith may still fall away from salvation.
Two Systems of Thought
Arminius & the Remonstrants
Calvin and the Dutch Reformed
At the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619
• Total Incapability
• Confirmational Election
• Universal atonement
• Cooperative Grace
• Determinative Assurance
• Total Depravity
• Unconditional Election
• Limited Atonement
• Irresistible Grace
• Perseverance of the Saints
Perseverance of the Saints
Irresistible Grace
Limited Atonement
Unconditional Election
Total Depravity
The T.U.L.I.P.
“Puritans”
Mayflower,
1620
Mayflower Compact
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal
Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great
Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken
for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour
of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern
Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence
of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil
Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the
Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just
and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to
time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of
the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN
WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the
eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of
England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth,
“Calvinism Lite”
• Embracing Pluralism
“Calvinism Lite”
• United States – 1775-1783
• Lawful rebellion against a tyrant,
• a “just-war” principle,
• and a morality that curbed cruelty.
• Formation of a republic
• with checks and balances,
• the rule of law
• regular, honored elections.
• and a separation of
church and state, the rule of law,
and regular, honored elections,
• united (informally)
under a biblical world and life view.
“Calvinism Lite”
• Embracing Pluralism
• Social Democracy
1804
“Calvinism Lite”
Voltaire
• France – 1789-1799
• Rejection of a biblical world and life view
encouraged cruelty & injustice.
• Rejection of aristocracy as a rightfully
superior class.
• Democracy based on libertarianism “’Calvinism’ thus came to mean something
different in each of its local manifestations,
• which led to inevitable return of tyranny.
reflecting local factors which combined
to give it a different shape, a different
persona, in its various locations.”
(McGraph, p. 208)
“Calvinism Lite”
• Embracing Pluralism
• Social Democracy
• Unbridled Capitalism
“ … the failure to maintain a proper dialectic
between God and the world leads to the collapse
of the divine into the secular. Calvinist moral,
economic, social and political structures and
values, although firmly grounded in theology,
could easily become detached from those
theological foundations, and maintain an
independent existence.”
(McGrath, p. 221)
Calvinistic Work Ethic
“The believer is called to serve God in the world. Calvin’s insistence
that the individual believer could be called by God to serve him in every
sphere of worldly existence lent a new dignity and meaning to work.
The believer is not called to leave the world and enter a monastery,
but to enter fully into the life of the world, and thus to transform it.
Mundane labor became an integral part of Calvin’s spirituality … it
was the religiously sanctioned ideal. … Action in the world was
dignified and sanctified. (McGrath, p. 232-3)
Calvinistic Work Ethic
“Capitalism and Calvinism were virtually coextensive by the middle
of the seventeenth century.”
“Even in catholic countries – such as France or Austria – it was
Calvinists who developed their industrial and capital potential. It was
not Protestants in general, but Calvinists in particular, who developed
capitalism. … Where Calvinism flourished, there too did capitalism.”
(McGrath, p. 237)
Industrial Revolution
1760-1840
• Calvin started with the 4th
Commandment –
• Honoring the Lord’s Day with a
holy rest from labor
• Led to the understanding that
work during the other 6 days was,
likewise, holy.
• Work was dignified, honorable,
and worthy as labor was a calling
from God.
• In setting aside the God of the
4th Commandment –
• Work becomes all-consuming –
every minute, every dollar counts.
• Work becomes mechanical,
segmented, inhuman.
• The usefulness of Sunday for even
more commerce is monopolized.
“Calvinism Heavy”
• A relentless inner momentum
for theological systemization
• More sophistication and universality
• Less attachment to piety and devotion
• Christian religion pressed into a logical, systematic unity and viewed
scientifically.
“Reason, regarded with a certain degree of suspicion by Calvin, was now seized
upon as an ally.” (McGrath, p. 212)
• Doctrine became more philosophical.
• Predestination, for Calvin, was an extension of the doctrine of salvation; later,
it became a part of the doctrine of God.
• The efficacy of Christ’s death limited those for whom Christ died.
2nd Great Awakening – early 19th c.
& Finney’s rejection of Calvinism
•
He appealed to Rationalism rather than the
Scriptures in his theology.
•
He denied the doctrine of Original Sin and Total
Depravity.
•
He affirmed a universal, governmental atonement.
•
He said that salvation is not a miracle from God but
the logical, compelling choice of a reasonable human
being.
•
He replaced the grace of God with moralism and
held to Christian perfectionism.
th
19
–
th
20
c. Variations on a Theme
• Debate over Literalism – Dispensationalism’s emphasis on wooden
literalism vs. the use of metaphorical language.
th
19
–
th
20
c. Variations on a Theme
• Debate over Literalism – Dispensationalism’s emphasis on wooden
literalism vs. the use of metaphorical language.
• Neo-Orthodoxy – A way to interact with Liberalism.
th
19
–
th
20
c. Variations on a Theme
• Debate over Literalism – Dispensationalism’s emphasis on wooden
literalism vs. the use of metaphorical language.
• Neo-Orthodoxy – God’s Spirit speaks through the word
• Accommodation –
• true history vs. myth
• challenge of the historical record itself
on all fronts (Did Moses exist? Jesus?)
th
19
–
th
20
c. Variations on a Theme
• Debate over Literalism – Dispensationalism’s emphasis on wooden
literalism vs. the use of metaphorical language.
• Neo-Orthodoxy – God’s Spirit speaks through the word
• Accommodation –
• true history vs. myth
• challenge of the historical record itself
on all fronts (Did Moses exist? Jesus?)
• New, “Restless” Calvinism –
• A forsaking of the institution of the church
• A forsaking of the covenantal structure of revelation
United
States
Presbyterianism
• Polity
• Calvinistic
• Covenantal
New Covenant
Presbyterian Church
Preaching God’s Sovereign Grace
to a World of Need
128 St. Mary’s Church Rd. Abingdon,
MD 21009
410-569-0289
www.ncpres.org
www.ephesians515.com
Handbook of the Christian Knight
• The church could be reformed/renewed
by the laity.
• The clergy may assist the laity in their
understanding of their faith but do not
have superior status.
• Religion is an inner, spiritual affair
• The institutional church is de-emphasized
and focuses on the growth of the
individual believer.
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