Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin

Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin April 8, 2015


This post has been removed because I’m editing it and it will appear in a full-length book, which is due to release in 2019.

The book will features the shocking beliefs of C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, John Wesley, Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and others — the “greats” who shaped evangelicalism.

The point of the book — which is titled ReGrace: What the Shocking Beliefs of the Great Christians Can Teach Us Today — will be to encourage civility and grace when Christians disagree over theological (and political) issues.

When we recognize that even our Christian heroes held flawed, surprising, and even shocking beliefs on some things, it will give us pause before we bid another sister or brother in Christ to hell over an alleged doctrinal trespass.

I can’t wait for the book to release and to share it with you. I promise you will be entertained, intrigued, laugh, and perhaps even cry from it.

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  • Friends, this is from the Blog Manager.

    “I’m deleting comments that (1) violate what I clearly specified not to discuss, like the fact that you don’t find any of this shocking. (2) dispute any of the history WITHOUT CITING A CREDIBLE SOURCE THAT REFUTES THE SOURCES PRESENTED which anyone can read for themselves and which have been confirmed by a reputable Calvinist scholar. Just saying you disagree without giving a source is unconvincing (3) are off the topic. The point of the post is why Christians must be tolerant toward other Christians they disagree with.

    My advice is to read the entire article, not just skim it and comment. Then read all the comments. Then answer the question that Frank put forth in blue. You will have a much better chance of seeing your comment approved. Thank you.

    ~The Blog Manager”

  • You’ve hit on something in history that’s hugely debated. Durant, one historian, in his “The Reformation” tome quotes people who say Geneva was a utopia, an impeccable place. He quotes others, however, believe it was a legalistic, oppressive, scary place. The laws I listed and stats are in fact documented. It all depends on how one views those rules and laws really.

  • Joshua, thanks for the kind remark and especially that you recognize all of it is true.

    Calvin’s influence in Geneva is open for debate; most of the Calvinist scholars I’ve read agree that he had profound influence in the city.

    But that’s really not the point. The point made was that Calvin DID believe in the execution of heretics and severe penalties for the immoral. And he did agree with many of the laws outlined in Geneva. That’s undeniable.

    Again, the point being of all of this is that every Christian – Calvinists included – should be much more tolerant, less harsh, and less quick to condemn or ignore those with whom they disagree theologically.

    Calvin’s beliefs are the summary witness to this.

  • Joshua Morrison

    I greatly appreciate this article. Church History follows the ancient Jewish Tradition of telling a truthful history, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the beautiful, and the warts and all. This series I think will be good. Furthermore, I am a follower of John Calvin. 😀

    I am familiar with all of this, and virtually all of it is true. However, the comments on his influence over the City Council, and all this supposed power he had in Geneva is just a regurgitation of lies spread by his enemies.

    Calvin did not have much influence with the Geneva Government. The City Council hated Calvin, so much so that after he had left and been gone for a few years the City Council asked him to return, to which Calvin replied, “I would rather die a thousand deaths than return to Geneva.”

    Prior to Servetus coming to Geneva, Calvin corresponded with Servetus. Agreeing to meet with him in Paris where he was an outlaw to discuss the Trinity which Servetus rejected. Calvin snuck into Paris, but Servetus was a no show. Prior to arriving in Geneva Calvin met Servetus outside of the city and pleaded with him to not come to the city for he would be arrested. Servetus refused. Interestingly enough, Servetus was going to Geneva to persuade the city council to charge Calvin with heresy. Servetus was prosecuted by the city council, that council asked Calvin to be a prosecuting attorney. Upon Servetus’ conviction, the council decided to burn him at the stake, while Calvin and many native Genevan clergy pleaded with the council to simply cut off his head.

    Calvin’s influence in the City of Geneva is over accentuated greatly, especially with regards to Genevan Law. He was a foreigner in Geneva, not become a voting citizen until just a few years before his death.

  • Julian

    Thank you for your research in this matter. The comments of Strachan need be understood in the context of where he is a Professor. Southern Seminary is in the fore front of Reformed Theology, which has its origin in John Calvin. The Church in Geneva had the same problem we face today and that is pastor centered Church’s rather than Christ centered. When are we going to stop justifying Calvin and start being believers who exhibit and declare the Good News of the Lord Jesus. After all as the Apostle Paul says “He died for all” not a select few. I guess the women who was brought before Jesus, who had been caught in adultery, is glad it wasn’t John Calvin.

  • As someone who sides with Arminius, as opposed to Calvin, I think Arminius’ comment here is fitting: “I exhort all my students to read the Commentaries of Calvin, on whom I bestow higher praise than Helmichius ever did, as he confessed to me himself. For I tell them that he is incomparable in the interpretations of Scripture; and that his Commentaries ought to be held in greater estimation than all that is delivered to us in the writings of the Ancient Christian Fathers: So that, in a certain eminent Spirit of Prophecy, I give the pre-eminence to him beyond most others, indeed beyond them all.” (Works, 1:295)

  • Teri

    “The test of worship is increase in love, trust, and loyalty to God, and in love of neighbor.”

  • Greg Carlet

    Too many to list, and too long to post here, but this one sums up the others:

    “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”